Anonymous vs the Westboro Baptist Church vs the Media

Note: this is a disorganised rant written in the wee small hours of the morning. I take no responsibility for grammar, swearing, or whether or not there’s a point to any of this.

Oh media, when will you learn…

It seems that Anonymous, everyone’s favourite gang of cyber-bullies/hacktivists/Internet-based heros of our age/cyber-terrorists (delete as appropriate) is at it again. In this case, “it” is the announcement that they’re out to destroy the Westboro Baptist Church’s evil propaganda machine. Or something. I’m sure there’s a game plan in there somewhere amongst all the fun rhetoric about Freedom of Speech and eradicating detestable doctrine. What gets me every time (yep, every single time) is just how seriously the mainstream media takes this. Sure, there may well be consequences, ask Scientology and all the fun press they got when Anons started turning  up outside their offices, but to think that this is some great alliance of über-hackers which has now decided to target their might against Fred Phelps and his kiddies is to fundamentally misunderstand what Anonymous is.

Anonymous is not an organised structure, it’s not somewhere where plans and strategies are drawn up and then decimated, Anonymous is a mob, and in this mob someone shouts “hey, I’ve an idea! Let’s screw with those ‘God Hates Fags’ people!”, and if enough of the mob thinks it’s a funny idea and has the motivation to do something, then something gets done. If not, then it doesn’t. So far, all that’s happened is someone has shouted an idea, and the mob is debating.   Anonymous is not an organisation, it’s a label people give themselves while participating in this wonderful experiment we call the Internet.

I wonder how many people bothered to click the “view comments” button on that “press release”? (Oh, point of interest: the “News Site” that comes from states pretty clearly “AnonNews uses an open-posting concept. Anyone can post to the site. No censorship takes place!”) If anything is the voice of Anonymous, it’s the comments. This is where the mob debates and if there’s a decision to be made anywhere, it’s there.

So, if the Open Letter is just the opinion of a single person, what do the comments say? Well, there are an awful lot of them there, so feel free to browse them yourself and come to your own conclusions, but from my quick scan it seems the majority of people (and a sizeable majority) are saying “No, leave them. WBC is the ultimate troll-bait and we don’t feed the trolls. They have a right to protest.”  Many, many people are shooting this person down because free speech is something the Anonymous collective super-consciousness is quite fond of, and the best trolls on the net are quite good at spotting the best trolls in America.

But hey, don’t let me spoil your sneering at their hypocrisy. You carry on, I’ll be over here, quietly sneering at you for not doing your research. Somewhere, someone (probably anonymous) is sneering at me. It’s turtles all the way down, really…

Update: In the time since I wrote this it seems more members of Anonymous have got together and put out another “Press Release”. It’s still only the opinion of some people, but seems to better reflect the general opinion than the other one did. Also, it made me giggle.

Anonymous vs the Westboro Baptist Church vs the Media

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