Who wins when an anarchist group of computer hackers take on the Westboro Baptist Church?
Westboro Baptist Church is an organization that claims everything bad that happens is a message from God and that people who are suffering deserve the pain because they brought it on themselves.
Along with their anti-gay message, they are known for getting media attention by picketing the funerals of victims of the Aurora, Colorado movie theater massacre. They have also protested at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan
At solemn moments, Westboro members are often laughing and appearing with kids who join in their way of thinking.
They have vowed to protest at the funerals of the children killed in Newtown, Connecticut.
But Westboro has a new rival.
“Hello Westboro Baptist Church. Allow us to introduce ourselves. We are anonymous,” a video message begins.
“As you may not have acknowledged our existence, we, on the other hand, have recognized yours. We have seen your depraved methods of disseminating your message of hate throughout the United States of America.”
Members of the hacktivist group Anonymous are targeting the Westboro Baptist Church in several ways. They are posting the names and addresses of members of Westboro and encouraging people to bombard them with messages of their own.
For awhile, they hacked into the Westboro Baptist Church twitter feed and took it down.
Anonymous also posted a video with veiled threats against Westboro.
“We are coming. We are Anonymous. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us,” the video concludes.
Anonymous is filing a petition against Westboro’s tax-exempt status. Because of its status as a religious entity, the Westboro Baptist Church is able to avoid paying taxes.
Another petition wants Westboro to be recognized not as a religious group, but as a hate group.
Anonymous has done its own controversial things including cyber-attacks on the Pentagon. The group merged with the Occupy Wall Street movement and other anarchist groups, but for the most part their specialty is online hacking.
More mobilizing online comes from Reddit users, who announced plans to travel to Newtown to hinder any possible Westboro protests.
You’ve heard the phrase “fight fire with fire,” that’s exactly what Anonymous is doing to Westboro.
By LINDA THOMAS