back to article Anonymous hacks Westboro Baptists over Sandy Hook protests

Anonymous has posted personal data of many members of the Westboro Baptist Church and is promising to shut down the religious sect after it announced plans to protest the funerals of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. "We have unanimously deemed your organization to be harmful to the population of the USA …

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  1. Andrew Moore Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Probably...

    ...one of the first Anonymous actions that I actively approve of.

    1. Kevin 6

      Re: Probably...

      ditto, and the way they seem to act, and choose targets it will probably will be the only one

      1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
        Meh

        Re: Probably...

        And likely as not their attention will be drawn away by the next shiny thing to capture their eye as soon as this one stops producing the requisite number of lulz they need...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably...

      Oh, the scientology thing was the right action at the right time too, in my humble opinion.

      These days, I wouldn't go picketing a Scilon bunker because it probably would be verging on harrassment. However, back in 2008, when the RTC was sending out DMCA takedowns willy-nilly, steaming about in an asbestos-filled failboat, and their shadier practices were less well-known, making them look like utter fools was absolutely the right thing to do. Plus it was kind of fun to be sat outside the bunker with a radio transmitter and some boom boxes and amps, turning the whole street and any radios in range into a distributed Party Enhancement System.

      Now, and I think some people might be saying "finally", it's the turn of the God Hates Fags loonies. After their actions over the last.. several years.. they really do have it coming to them. Internet Karma: It's a real bitch.

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Probably...

      I don't even really agree with the DOXing — like when The News of the World publishes lists of paedophiles there's too much of a risk that an error will have identified the wrong person or the message will get confused somewhere and someone not even identified by Anonymous will suffer. In general I don't support any similarly one sided attempt to render justice; any system created by people is just too fallible.

      What I am thoroughly in support of is the online petition mentioned in the article to get the WBC legally recognised as a hate group. Let's have any measures against this sort of disgusting activity administered by people that are accountable and subject to appeal.

    4. Pet Peeve
      Megaphone

      Re: Probably...

      I don't know about first, but I would say one of a small but increasing number. Attacking a hate group with the Internet Hate Machine seems logical to me.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably...

      Third one for me. I'm right behind them attacking the Scientology Cult and did snigger when they went after the race-hate DJ.

      As much as I like to see this on one level, there is something rather disconcerting about a vigilante group deciding what yo can say and do.

    6. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Probably...

      Normally I don't think I would agree with this but under these circumstances wbc are just dealing with the responsibility of exercising their right to free speach in such a hateful way. If I walk down the street and insult your wife, I should expect to get punched, I would have deserved it. A right to free speach does not absolve you of the responsibility not to be a lawsuit hunting cunt. I hope these sad money grabbing little shits boil in a vat of cat vomit. These kids couldn't have voted for anything, why picket ther funerals if it isn't to provoke an attack so you can sue? wbc don't believe in god, they believe in inciting hatred to make money.

      Way to go anonymous! No god as I know them would ever support what wbc do. When somebody blows them the hell up for being sick, twisted little hypocrites there will be fucking cake all round. They are going straight to hell.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Probably...

      Had to downvote you.

      As abhorrent as the WBC and its actions are, this bunch of skiddies do not have the right to determine who can and cannot protest or who can and cannot form a group. Those decisions are for the democratically elected government and the judicial system.

      1. Ian Yates
        Unhappy

        Re: Probably...

        I'm with AC @ 08:55.

        The right to free speech has to be universal.

        While I don't condone the WBC in any way, if you believe a particular group is abusing their right in order to preach hate, there should be proper channels to correct/punish this behaviour; Anon's kind of vigilantism (while funny) does breed a "we're louder so we know best" skew on what free speech is.

        Or in this case, "we're more technically competent, so we control your interwebs".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probably...

          A right must be tempered with responsibility. If this group was in the UK they wold have been arrested by now for the shit they say. because its illegal to be racist or homophobic etc here.

          1. Ian Yates

            Re: Probably...

            "A right must be tempered with responsibility. If this group was in the UK they wold have been arrested by now for the shit they say. because its illegal to be racist or homophobic etc here"

            And that's exactly my point: "there should be proper channels to correct/punish this behaviour". Although, I'm personally not a fan of how far the UK laws go, due to the ease with which they can and have been abused.

            Anon's biggest "win" here is in highlighting the WBC to the world (again) for being the twisted individuals they are. While we'd probably normally try to starve them of publicity, what needs to happen is more people in the USA get riled up and actually raise complaints against them.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Probably...

            "because its illegal to be racist or homophobic etc here."

            50% true. Racist is racial discrimination. Homophobia is an irrational fear of homosexuality. It is illegal to discriminate, not to suffer an irrational fear.

            People keep getting the phobia bit wrong: It's been used as an excuse to discriminate and that undermines the effect of a phobia and the understanding and acceptance that phobias exist.

            WBC are not homophobic. They are aggressively anti-homosexual. They are hate mongers. They are attention seekers and opportunists.

            I am homophobic. It is the result of years of harassment and abuse during my childhood. It is something I have learned to manage, and I would rather avoid situations where it might become a problem than to cause others upset as a result of it. I also happen to support equal rights for homosexuals: I truly believe in treating people as people as far as is practicable. I am most certainly not a hate monger, nor do I agree with discrimination.

        2. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Probably...

          Who it is applied to is universal, what you can say is not. False statements, sexist \ racist etc statements, terroristic threats, inciting hatred and a few more are all illegal to some degree in many contexts.

          I'm not saying it's wrong or right, but we do not have truly free speech, we generally all have the same restrictions \ responsibility for our speech, but we do not have the right to say anything we want without any comeback.

          So having established there is a line, we need to consider where it is drawn and by whom. If I was a police officer and I saw a parent attack one of those protesters at a funeral I would have a hard time seeing the justice in prosecuting the parent. If you spend your life provoking people to attack you, you shouldn't have any legal recourse when they do.

        3. Swarthy Silver badge

          Re: Probably...(@Ian Yates)

          I am inclined to agree with you in regards to WBC, but if their hate-filled, provocative speech in search of assault an d the subsequent lawsuits counts as free speech, so should Anonymous's hate-filled provocative speech in search of lulz.

          1. Rampant Spaniel

            @swarthy

            given freedom of speech is commonly extended to cover acts such as flag burning \ bible burning \ standing on flags as expressions of free speech, you may be onto something :-)

        4. steward
          Boffin

          Re: Probably...

          There shouldn't be "proper channels" as regards the Interwebs, Ian - that's what that ITU thing was all about LAST week.

          As for the posting of personal information, there is a proper way at least in the US: post it. It was approved by the US Federal Courts previously in posting the names and addresses of physicians who perform abortions, on a site called "The Nuremberg Files." See http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs181/handouts/14-NurembergFiles.pdf . Anonymous has no less rights than the WBC.

          1. Ian Yates

            Re: Probably...

            "There shouldn't be "proper channels" as regards the Interwebs, Ian"

            That wasn't what I was talking about. I meant proper channels with regards to free speech in the state; in this case, the USA.

            It should be pretty clear that the WBC are purely abusing their right to free speech and there should be sensible ways of curbing that. IANAL, but I would think banning their right to protest in public, initially for a short time, would be a fair and just response.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Probably...

        > calls Anonymous "skiddies"

        > thinks democracy works for anything except the interest of its corporate masters

        14 year old wannabe detected.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Probably...

          > protects anonymous skiddies

          > thinks evil corporations in secret lairs control everything.

          anonymous skiddie detected.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Probably...

            anonymous skiddie detected.

            Nah, I've never used a downloaded script (although I have written a few, mostly SQL for admins).

            Also, I don't think corporations have secret lairs. I think they have VERY public lairs and I think they buy politicians of all stripes in order to maintain effective control.

            But hey, you want to call people "skiddies" which is short for script kiddies - I suggest the script is yours, you 1st-line support drone. "Have you tried turning it off and on again?"

            Have fun with that.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Probably...

        Except that your right of free speech is broken when this sort of thing can go on.

        NO body else is stopping them.

      4. Blane Bramble
        FAIL

        Re: Probably...

        @AC 08:55:

        "Those decisions are for the democratically elected government and the judicial system."

        As I understand the US legal system, it is the exact opposite. The right to free speech is the right to NOT have the government make that decision.

        Their right to free speech does not mean they can demand or expect that having pissed others off, those others are not allowed to drown out their speech.

      5. steward
        Boffin

        Re: Probably...

        If the WBC has the right to form a group to attack funerals, anyone else has a right to form a group to permanently defend those funerals. Sauce for the goose, eh?

        1. Kevin Fields

          Re: Probably...

          The Patriot Guard Riders is one of many groups who participate in anti-WBC activities. Primarily composed of motorcycle enthusiasts, they freely offer their services of riding around a funeral, gunning their engines to drown out the megaphones of the WBC, and waving large American flags to block their signage. The American rock group Foo Fighters showed up at one rally and staged an impromptu performance on the back of a flat bed truck to drown out a WBC protest in Kansas City. Many groups have turned to outright mockery, such as zombie crawls or clown conventions.

          Very curiously enough, if the WBC follows through with this protesting at the Newtown funerals, they're going to have an interesting counter-protest... from the Ku Klux Klan. While the group also opposes gays (as well as minorities and other groups), WBC upset them by protesting military funerals and at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.

    8. Psyx
      Stop

      Re: Probably...

      "...one of the first Anonymous actions that I actively approve of."

      Meh. Not really feeling it, myself.

      WBC are scum and trolls of the highest order, but they still have a right to Free Speech and Protest, no matter how dickish it is. If I only supported the Rights of speech and protest when I agreed what was being said, I'd be a hypocrite.

      Plus Anon are just being popularist again and jumping on an easy target. If you want kudos from me boys, how about taking on the NRA?

      1. Rampant Spaniel

        Re: Probably...

        You are right, and this is one of the strongest tests of those convictions. Granting people free speech (which we don't actually have anyway) so they can criticise government without fear of free midnight trips to Cuba is how it should be. A side effect of that is scum like wbc hide behind that. They have no religious or political motive, they are simply trying to get people to attack them so they can sue and it is a failing of our courts that they do win. Now. if we view that as a 'cost' of free speech then are we not telling our kids it's ok to be grossly offensive money grabbing scum? I think this is a situation where we are left choosing between the lesser of two evils right? further restrictions on free speech vs a bunch of hunts making a mockery of our judicial system.

        If pushed I would have to admit that I would favour free speech winning out, with no legal recourse against them, however, if they happen to get the crap beaten out of them I can't see it being right to charge anyone. Not because it's ok to attack people you don't agree with but specifically because they are choosing to protest in the most provocative way.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
          Headmaster

          Re: Probably...

          fixed it for you

          WBC are inbreed [1] scum and trolls of the highest order

          [1] All members of the extended Fred Phelps[2] family.

          [2] They call me _Mr_ Phelps.... They do like fuck.

    9. This post has been deleted by its author

    10. Lars Silver badge

      Re: Probably...

      Perhaps, but then again there would be no reason for Anonymous to do anything if the press just decided to shut up completely about mad people like these. Give them no "space" at all, and they do not exist. Better than a bullet in the head.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Puzzled

    Though they seem to be a bunch of nutters they have a god-given (or constitution-given) right to protest. Fair enough, but I would have thought that a funeral would be considered to be a private occasion hence only those approved of by the families would have a right to attend. Or does the right to protest override even this?

    1. O RLY

      Re: Puzzled

      The churches or other venues themselves are private and the WBC cunts don't enter. However, the streets outside the churches or cemeteries are public and the US Supreme Court ruled they have the right to spew their bile from those streets.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Puzzled

      Right to protest throughout the world is a limited right. Protest can and should be prohibited on public order grounds when deemed necessary. There are well defined democratic means of doing so as well as a system of well defined checks to ensure that the system is not abused.

      Ditto for gun control, etc. We do not live next to a wild frontier any more. The world is a very crowded place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Puzzled

        So, they get away with it by keeping to the public right of way. It's a shame that the police don't have the will or the wit to apply public order laws (if they exist) to keep them away. I hope such grossly uncivilised behaviour would, in the UK, be classed as conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace and lead to them being moved on.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: Puzzled

          The UK does not have the same laws as the US... the whole constitution thing simply doesn't exist here.

          1. ThomH Silver badge

            Re: Puzzled (@JDX)

            Since Factortame there's been official recognition that certain statutes are of a constitutional nature with the effect that they're not subject to implicit repeal — the normal rule is that if one act says one thing and another says another then the later one wins because the earlier Parliament can't bind the later; however if the earlier is recognised as a constitutional statute by the court then it'll override the later unless the later explicitly says that the former doesn't apply.

            Amongst those acts recognised as constitutional is the Human RIghts Act. Since the ECHR which the HRA incorporates protects freedom of speech in Article 10 technically, even in the UK, there are constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression. Though they're explicitly subject to concerns about national security, public safety, etc, etc, so a WBC-style organisation wouldn't be safe.

    3. Pet Peeve

      Re: Puzzled

      They certainly have legal rights to act like raging jackholes in public, but everyone else also has the legal right to counter protest, and hopefully this will teach them that the proper use of "free will" is often "free won't".

      It's one of the rare situations where I wish their god wasn't make-believe, because these asshats would get front-row treatment in their own hell.

      1. Psyx
        Stop

        Re: Puzzled

        "everyone else also has the legal right to counter protest"

        Someone's funeral is not the time or place for it, though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Puzzled

          AC with the radio transmitter from above here.

          After looking through the Anonset channel last night, inbetween the discussions of hacking and loldongs, a promiment idea was one of a silent counter-protest. Following them around with V masks, not saying anything, just being classically Anon-creepy.

          Oh, and maybe stroking strap-on banana-penises in simulated gay sex acts, but yes. Generally not being loud.

  3. IglooDude
    Thumb Up

    I'm very much looking forward to these two "organizations" (for lack of a better word) beating the living hell out of each other, legally, technologically, and in any other way possible.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      I noted that Anonymous said they would spare no enjoyment... the WBC's hate videos are a hoot and look they they had a lot of fun making them, using the pastiches of the same popular culture that they claim to attack.

      Loius Theroux and Keith Allen have both visited them... Theroux did better, since they couldn't quite work them out.

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Pint

      Beer and pretzels all 'round. This should be much better than the Apple/Samsung shenanigans.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. nuked
    Holmes

    My money's on the techies...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I wish would happen to WBC

    What I wish would happen to WBC is both consistent with Free Speech, and with the Bible which they ever-so-love to thump.

    Shunning.

    Every business should say "Sorry, we reserve the right to refuse to serve anybody, and we refuse to serve you. You are not welcome on our property, you are trespassing, you have been formally notified of the same, if you remain I will call the cops and have you arrested for trespass on private property, if you want to sue here's my lawyer, and I'll file counter-charges of barratry and request the Bar association disbar your attorney. BEGONE."

    Perfectly legal. Doesn't violate their rights of freedom of speech. Has precedent in the Bible. Let's see how long they can go without any support from society - no groceries, no health care, no service on their vehicles or homes, nothing.

    1. Christoph Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

      One slight amendment there, medical ethics mean it shouldn't apply to health care - you can't demand that a doctor refuse to treat a patient. Otherwise, definitely yes.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

        I wish that their prophecy comes true, and they move to Israel. As Loius Threoux (who when meeting the WBC had not long come back from meeting Ultra-Zionist Settlers in Israel- total nutters) noted with sublime understatement: "Oh, that will be interesting..."

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

          Although finding out someone is in the WBC without breaking any laws would have to be followed.

          Anyway, surely the WBC ARE widely shunned?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

          I can see your point, but does Israel really need any more Ultra-nutters.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

        For doctors: yes, they should not refuse to care for any life threatening illness.

        Like, say, colon cancer or prostate cancer.. Can't be too careful, Mr. Phelps, you need a screening, the sooner the better - Nurse, fetch the colonscopy camera and my gloves.... What, you were screened the last time you were in here? Well, y'know, it can develop rapidly, best to check again. Yesterday? well, it could be very rapidly developing....

        Also, I need to check for hernia while I'm "in the neighborhood" - cough please. And have you been screened for testicular cancer?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

          I do believe the oath is "do no harm".

          Not "do no harm unless they are hateful cunts."

          Though yes, the mental image does amuse.

    2. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: What I wish would happen to WBC....Shunning

      Is fine for this life, but for the afterlife:

      First off, I expect to get a shitload of downvotes for this, so go ahead, vote me down.

      It is judgment day, the "Day of Reckoning" (aka the day "you meet your maker"), and a WBC member approached the "Pearly Gates"[1] and expects entrance to Heaven.

      Instead, the voice of God bellows out: "Who the hell is that?"

      St. Peter replies: "It is a member of Westboro Baptist Church".

      God replies: "Westboro Baptist Church, aren't those the meshugge that hates gays?"

      St. Peter replies that they are.

      "Hmmmm!" God says, "I have considered exactly what their eternal reward will be."

      "What is their eternal reward" asks St. Peter.

      "Send them straight to HELL!!!!" bellows God. "Lucifer will make sure that they truly get what they

      deserve."

      The Westboro Baptist Church member sees a flash of light, and suddenly it is hotter than hell.

      "OOPS!" The Westboro Baptist Church member says to themself, "I think this IS hell!!!!!"

      Lucifer notes the newest arrival, and says: "Guess what all, I have a new BITCH!!!!! Bring it to me!!!"

      A group of demons grab the Westboro Baptist Church member by the arms and legs, and drags it toward the Devil himself. Lucifer looks down at the Westboro Baptist Church member, and spits in its face.

      "We may be evil", he says, "but there is a line we do not cross. When it comes to spouting your brand of lies, and to claim that the deaths of innocent children, are the result of 'failing to heed the word of God', and not the work of a sick individual; you PISS ME OFF!!!!!"

      Suddenly the demons in hell burst in hysterical laughter. One demon says: "Show it how pissed off you really are!"

      With that, Lucifer pisses in the face of the Westboro Baptist Church member, to the rancorous laughter of the assembled demons. One demon says to Lucifer, "in the modern vernacular, would you say that those people SUCK!"

      "You just gave me a good idea." Looking down at the Westboro Baptist Church member, he continues "Get down on your knees and smd[2] for the rest of eternity."

      To the demons he says: "Feel free to join in any time you want."

      It should be clear to anyone, that I consider these peoplepieces of shit, the most despicable humans walking the earth, and nearly as evil as Hitler and the Third Reich. While, I don't approve of the tactics of Anonymous, here, I can be persuaded to make an exception, these people deserve it.

      [1] Not to be confused with Billy Gates. (The IT angle here.)

      [2] 'smd' - Politely expressed as "perform oral sex on me".

    3. LateNightLarry
      Mushroom

      Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

      There was an incident a couple of years ago where all four tires on a WBC van were slashed while they were spewing their hate (in Oklahoma, I think)... When they were ready to leave, they couldn't because of the slashed tires, and every independent tire shop in the town refused to sell them even one tire. They finally had to have the van towed to a nearby city where they bought the tires at a chain store tire center... They had to wait for a break in the line of cars wanting service before they could get their tires... several more hours. The chain store tire center manager said he would have refused them service too, but the store manager gave him a direct order.

      Time for the nuclear option on Westboro Baptist Church of Hate...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What I wish would happen to WBC

        They should literally be treated as vermin animals.

  7. SwedishCodeMaffia

    Perhaps

    prayer could halt the attack?

  8. Martin Howe

    Hacking is wrong; but since Westboro Baptist Church are racist, sexist, homophobic bigots, who may picket children's funerals, its very hard to feel sorry for them.

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Hacking...

      I wouldn't mind if they took a more literal meaning to the word...

      and they went straight to the WBC web-servers with a very large axe and gave them a reprogramming they wouldn't forget.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    "Protest the funerals"?

    Are they protesting for or against the funerals? Or perhaps "at"?

    Grammar aside, WBC are no different from any other Christian sect except that they have the backbone to say in public what is implied by every copy of the Bible: if bad things happen to you it's because you deserve it or because God just decided on a whim to make an example of you, so if you're unhappy about it then you're unhappy with His will and will probably go to hell unless you grovel in the dirt and ask for more, sir.

    Yes, it is disgusting and repulsive. But so is all religion when you strip off the veneer and look at the rot underneath.

    1. CADmonkey

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happen to all men"

      (Ecclesiastes)

    2. Demosthenese

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      ... for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers.

      (Matthew 5:45)

    3. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      Actually, all New Testament bibles have the line "Treat others as you yourself would be treated", and "Blessed are the peacemakers". Kurt Vonnegut, a former head of the Atheist Association of America*, has made a great case for living in a world in which the Sermon on the Mount happened.

      Christianity started out as the religion of the poor, under the Roman empire. For much of the last two thousand years, political views and movements have been expressed in religious terms, culminating eventually in the enlightenment, a milestone of the very civilisation that has shaped your views.

      You make me embarrassed to be an atheist.

      *(in his first speech as president, he says "Isaac [Asimov, the former head] is in heaven now" to howls of laughter)

      1. Toastan Buttar
        WTF?

        Re: "Protest the funerals"?

        > Actually, all New Testament bibles have the line "Treat others as you yourself would be

        > treated", and "Blessed are the peacemakers".

        So all New Testament bibles ripped-off The Golden Rule. Job's a good 'un! There is a liberal sprinkling of other good advice in the Bible. Seriously, lots of good old-fashioned common sense.

        Unfortunately for Jesus (and your apologist approach), there's also a shedload of batshit-crazy Judeo-Christian specific claptrap that makes even the Santa Claus story seem positively plausible by comparison. The Enlightenment happened /despite/ the best efforts of literal, fundamentalist Christianity - as typefied by the WBC - not as a result of it.

        There is no excuse for any scientifically-aware adult to buy into the nonsense peddled by a mainstream religion. Theory and experimental data trump dogma every time.

    4. Peter Fox
      Thumb Up

      Re: "Protest the funerals"? Hurrah!

      At last somebody civilised. You can no more 'protest the funerals' than you can 'sing the funerals'. While we're at it perhaps the dur-brains who think they speak God's English would like to rephrase 'write you' when they mean 'write to you'.

      1. Vic

        Re: "Protest the funerals"? Hurrah!

        > You can no more 'protest the funerals'

        Yes you can. "Protest" has both transitive and intransitive uses.

        > perhaps the dur-brains who think they speak God's English would like to rephrase 'write you'

        No, because English has a dative case. That you are unaware of such constructs does not change that...

        Vic.

    5. sisk Silver badge

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      WBC are no different from any other Christian sect

      As a Christian I strongly resent that. WBC are neither Christian (despite their claims they do not follow any of Christ's teachings) nor anything like any group with which I have ever had the pleasure of being associated.

      that they have the backbone to say in public what is implied by every copy of the Bible: if bad things happen to you it's because you deserve it or because God just decided on a whim to make an example of you, so if you're unhappy about it then you're unhappy with His will and will probably go to hell unless you grovel in the dirt and ask for more, sir.

      The Bible says no such thing. In fact it says quite the opposite. The closer you are to God and the more you follow His teachings the harder things will be for you in this world. I point you to the book of Job, where in Job is greatly tortured by Satan as a test of his faith, and the end times prophecies where Christians are prophesied to actually be killed in droves for daring to follow God. I point you to the writings of Paul, who was jailed for doing the very work of God.

      Yes, there are specific instances in the Bible of people being punished by God, but that's a far cry from saying that every bad thing is because you've offended God.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Protest the funerals"?

        "Yes, there are specific instances in the Bible of people being punished by God, but that's a far cry from saying that every bad thing is because you've offended God."

        Actually, I said (and you even quoted correctly) "because you deserve it or because God just decided on a whim to make an example of you".

        You can't have it both ways - if God is all-knowing and all powerful then anything and everything that happens to you is because that suited His plan in some way and you are wrong or misguided to oppose it. Which is exactly what the WBC are saying, and indeed what you are saying in your post too - God tortures us in order to keep us on message and only the weak in spirit break under this vicious and unjust treatment and complain about it.

        1. sisk Silver badge

          Re: "Protest the funerals"?

          Where in my post did I say anything about God torturing anyone? Stop putting words in my mouth (or in my post, whatever).

          if God is all-knowing and all powerful then anything and everything that happens to you is because that suited His plan in some way and you are wrong or misguided to oppose it

          You're making a very flawed leap of logic here. That's rather like saying that because you can go out and kick puppies that you must be responsible for every puppy that gets kicked in your home town. God gave us free will, which means that we screw up. That doesn't mean that our suffering is the result of our screw-ups. The way we act towards each other is not the doing of God. That's all on people.

        2. Notas Badoff

          Re: "Protest the funerals"?

          @ Robert Long 1

          The extent of your understanding of Judeo-Christianity is showing.

      2. Thorne
        Angel

        Re: "Protest the funerals"?

        "if bad things happen to you it's because you deserve it or because God just decided on a whim to make an example of you, so if you're unhappy about it then you're unhappy with His will and will probably go to hell unless you grovel in the dirt and ask for more, sir."

        So if they protest at little children's funerals and say one of the parent decides to shoot the morons, it's actually God's will that the idiots should be punished?

        Sounds fair...

        1. DF118

          Re: "Protest the funerals"?

          Don't you just love it when the comments to an El Reg WBC article descend into a theological pissing contest?

    6. JDX Gold badge

      @Robert Long 1

      Really is that the best troll you can come up with?

      Oh and Toastan, you misunderstand the Scientific Method.

    7. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      I can assure you that out of the 1 billion or so Christians in this world, 999,999,900 or so of them absolutely deplore what the Westboro Baptist Church is doing, and there is plenty of material in the bible that says that what they are doing is totally against God's teachings. This is absolutely not how Jesus would have done things.

      Secondly, it is not entirely clear that the word translated in the bible to "sodomy" refers specifically to gay people. It covers sexual deviance in general such as rapists, paedophiles and so on. Words change their meaning over time, and when you translate, there is never a perfect 1:1 relationship in the meanings of words in different languages. Take the word "gay" for example. 200 years ago, it would have meant "happy, carefree'. 100 years ago, it got the connotation of loose morals. 50 years ago, it referred to someone of homosexual tendencies. Now it is increasingly being used to describe an inanimate object that doesn't function as it is supposed to. Eg Windows 8 is gay, or Apple iOS 6 maps is gay.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      "they have the backbone to say in public what is implied by every copy of the Bible:"

      WRONG!

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Protest the funerals"?

      Actually, YES, they literally are protesting the funeral itself - they believe that everybody they protest died due to God being pissed, and therefor the deceased are not deserving of a "proper" funeral.

  10. Vin King
    Thumb Down

    I'm amused by the fact that Anonymous apparently despises a right to free speech.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Causing riots at funerals? Like shouting 'Fire!' in a crowded theatre, no?

      Free speech is about being able to challenge your rulers without being banged up in prison or beheaded. It is not about being a prick.

      Likewise, freedom of the press is about bringing politicians and institution's to account- it shouldn't be about harassing innocent citizens for the titillation of others.

      1. Vin King
        Thumb Down

        "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." --First Amendment, 1789

        I'm not sure where in there it says it's only for being able to challenge my rulers. In fact, ti seems to simply say "freedom of speech." It seems to also address the right of the people to assemble. If the WBC decides to go stand on a street near a graveyard, and speak to the tenets of their religion, twisted or not, they seem to be satisfying the text of the Amendment. Thankfully, the Supreme Court agrees that the definition of freedom of speech and assembly has no restrictions when it comes to only applying to speech about the government. Where you got that idea is beyond me.

        1. Blane Bramble
          FAIL

          @Vin King

          The clue is in the first line "Congress shamm malke no law..."

          It does not say that anyone else cannot stop you, just that the government (the rulers) shall not be allowed to.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        @Dave 126

        >and institution's to account

        Dave, you pillock- how did that blasted apostrophe get in there? (Hangs head in shame)

    2. sisk Silver badge

      They don't. They recognize that the government's hands are tied when it comes to stopping these....yeah, got no words for WBC that I'd use in polite company (and I'm pretending for the moment that the commentards are polite :-P).

      Anyway, the government can't stop them. The Supreme Court dearly wanted to a few years back according to the majority opinion on that case, but couldn't find any way to do so without ripping the first amendment to shreds. What's legal isn't always right and what's right isn't always legal. WBC craps all over morality while sticking firmly within the bounds of the law. All anonymous is doing is stepping in to deal the a problem that our government and legal system can't. Does that make them right? Perhaps not, but I'll cheer them on anyway as the lesser of two evils.

    3. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Vin King is confused about what the US Constitution is, and is not. The First Amendment (that he goes on to quote) seems pretty clear on its face: CONGRESS shall make no law...

      This obviously only impacts government-on-citizen restrictions of speech, not citizen-on-citizen (well, actually, persons or people, but these days suggesting that the US Constitution may protect the rights of foreigners as well as citizens is a bit heretical, even if obviously the case).

      And you'll notice that the First Amendment does not offer any kind of guarantee that any citizen can speak, only that the government can't stop it.

      So unless Anonymous has become part of the US government, the First Amendment is utterly irrelevant.

      You're welcome.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a shame…

    Why is it that psychos all over the United States (Ok, and sometimes elsewhere), when they decide they want to to go with a bang, make the choice of shooting up a university, a teenager camp, or a kindergarten, when there are big fat juicy targets like the Westboro Baptist Church and its members?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: What a shame…

      Yeah, if only that wretched, maladjusted nutter had taken time to compile a list of targets based on rational criteria.

      1. dogged

        Re: What a shame…

        If he had, then attending an NRA meeting might have been interesting especially in light of that thing they say about guns making you safer.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What a shame…

          Just having a gun might not make you safer. Having a properly maintained and secured gun appropriate to what you want to shoot at, and being trained in its use, is more likely to make you safer.

  12. FordPrefect

    If I lived close to one of the <individuals> I would be happy to protest them when I had time. I'm sure if locals get together than can protest these people where they live, where the work and where they go for fun!

  13. Chad H.

    The only thing that bugs me more than the WBC is the people who don't get it. I'm glad to see at least the register hinted at what is really going on.

    The WBC does not believe the crap they preach.

    It is simply an ingenious money making scam.

    Here's how it works. A few decades ago, to stop little government bodies infringing on everyones liberties, like free speech, the big government brought in some civil protection laws that open up a legal liability when soemone like, say the town council or police chief, tries to stop someone expressing their "freedom of speech".

    The WBC, knowing this, and headed by a lawyer, goes into a random town, doing the most outregous things, and saying the most disgusting things that come to mind, all in the hope that someone is going to bite.

    And when they do, its payday. Papa Phelps files suit and starts counting his winnings.

    I know its common to say that the best response to bad speech is more speech... But when that speech exists only to exploit statutes put in place to protect the minority for financial gain... No amount of good speech can ever flood that out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly, it is also a scam that works by maximising offence to people trying to deal with tragic events. It is hard to understand why, in such a litigious country, no lawyer has been found to sue them to hell and back for causing emotional distress. Get them in front of a jury in a class action. If it really is not possible then US law is more broken even than people tell me.

      1. Esskay
        Facepalm

        I would have thought that by now amendments would have been made in the US to prevent the Westboro Baptist church from being able to get away with their lawsuits - sure, everyone has a right to free speech, but no-one has immunity from consequences - protesting at this funeral sounds a lot like poking a rabid dog with a sharp stick - if you know what's going to happen, and you still do it, why should the law allow you to do it over and over again whilst protecting you the whole time?!

        Sadly it seems that the Church of Punitive Damages has an even more devout following than any of the other religious freakshows in the US.

    2. mhoulden

      With behaviour like that, I'm surprised they haven't been done for extortion or blackmail. The US also has some reasonably powerful anti-SLAPP laws designed to stop vexatious litigants. Thankfully Fred and his daughter have been banned from entering the UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/feb/19/britain-bans-us-cleric. If they did try that nonsense here they'd probably be arrested for public order offences.

  14. swschrad
    WTF?

    the badly inbred Phelpses of WBC are plain wack

    they're a "church" like klansman David Duke was a "church." WBC is a collection of inbred dimbulbs that, reading their bibles upside down, has determined that everybody who is not guzzling their Kook-Aid is pushing the gay revolution, and thus 10 pounds of sin in a 5 pound bag.

    they go to prove that there are indeed abnormalities on the tails of the distribution, and until God sorts them out, I favor marginalizing them to the fullest extent possible in society.

    meanwhile, you go, "anonymous."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the badly inbred Phelpses of WBC are plain wack

      Sadly, they aren't all dimbulbs. At least one of them got a law degree, argued their case at a pretty high level (Supreme Court) and won. That isn't the action of an dimwit, inbred nutter, Ok it might be the action of a nutter but not a dimwit.

      The programme with Louis Theroux is really good, he looks completely bemused by everything the WBC are doing, as each time they do something more insane than the last time. As if to say "Surely they're not going to....they are...bloody hell..."

      I have to think that their rage against homosexuality is more than likely due to their own repressed gay urges. Me thinketh they protest too much.

      As somebody else said, and I paraphrase, "where's a tooled up nutter when you need them?" I have a strong suspicion that the person who goes on a murderous rampage against WBC would get a a really strong slap on the wrist, told to sit on the naughty step for a whole five minutes, possibly even without speaking and then driven to a beach hotel of his choice by the local police force whilst been given the proceeds of a whip round done by the local thankful populace.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: the badly inbred Phelpses of WBC are plain wack

        Fair play to US servicemen for their restraint and self-control, is all I can say. When the WBC routinely picket the funerals of dead soldiers- attended as they are by soldiers who are very much alive, kicking and combat trained- I'm surprised that no-one in the WBC has been seriously hurt.

  15. sisk Silver badge

    As much as I hate it when the press gives WBC any sort of attention I'm glad to hear that Anonymous is going to be taking the fight to them in a serious way. I don't think they can win that fight (WBC are determined people and knocking them offline won't do much to shut them up), but I'll be rooting for them.

  16. heyrick Silver badge
    WTF?

    Huh?

    "Even before the bodies of the victims were removed from the scene of the shooting, the WBC announced its intention to protest the funerals of those slain. In her twitter feed, Shirley Phelps-Roper originally blamed the shooting on Connecticut's decision to legalize gay marriage, and said the group would be at the funerals."

    As a Brit with little interest in religion, I don't really get this whole WBC thing, but I am wondering what kick of sick bastard would go to the funerals of a bunch of murdered six year olds and protest.

    So, what is the logic? These unfortunate children were in Connecticut, which legalised homosexual marriage, therefore they (the children) deserved to be murdered? Oh, please, WBC tossers, please turn up, because then YOU will be in Connecticut (which legalised homosexual marriage) and when everybody beats you unconscious, that'll be why... ...yeah, okay, it makes no sense, but I'm getting the impression that this is a logic free zone.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      It's very logical,

      They turn up and say that the children were satanist gay commie VB programmers.

      The local police ,fearing a riot, stop them. They then sue the city under free speech legislation and get a huge out of court settlement.

      .... repeat...

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Huh?

        "They turn up and say that the children were satanist gay commie VB programmers."

        Ah, I see. So it's okay to be a satanist gay commie C programmer...

        "They then sue the city under free speech legislation"

        So free speech now translates to "offensive wankers [*] think they're legally permitted to spout bollocks"? <sigh>

        * - Note to El Reg legal: is there any other way to describe people who would (or would to want to) protest at the funerals of slain six year olds?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Huh?

          I could think of a few other descriptions but yours seems to more than do the trick so feel free to run with it

        2. sisk Silver badge

          Re: Huh?

          So free speech now translates to "offensive wankers [*] think they're legally permitted to spout bollocks"?

          Unfortunately, yes. That's what the Supreme Court decided when they heard one of WBC's cases a few years back, though you can practically hear the justices grinding their teeth as they're forced to come to that conclusion if you read the majority opinion. Basically the opinion was 'the law and Constitution say you can do this, but you're still the lowest form of pond scum possible for doing it and if we could find a way to justify shutting your bigoted asses down we would.'

  17. Jim Carter
    Trollface

    Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

    I mean, what can you say about a bunch of people whom even the KKK brands as, and I quote... "Hatemongers". There aren't enough spoons in the world for this amount of irony.

    1. wowfood

      Re: Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

      You know something is bad when the KKK come out and act like the good guys.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of people.

        Wasn't there a case a few years back when the KKK got permission to stage a demonstration march, but near to the time decided to cancel it? The cops had prepared to police the event, and when the KKK called it off, the cops decided to sue them for the cost of their unnecessary preparation: The KKK were sued for NOT putting on racist march!

        (I know this because it formed part of my post-doctorate in "What some bloke told me down the pub", so please correct me if wrong)

  18. YARR
    WTF?

    Ignore them...

    Anonymous might be able to shut down WBC's servers for a while, but they won't succeed at stopping their protests.

    Given that WBC ignore rational argument (obviously there is no connection between homosexuality and the murder of innocent children), a better strategy might be for everyone to just ignore them. Just blank them at their protests, give them no media attention, don't sue them and eventually they may give up. This is the strategy that was adopted by the media after several terrorist groups in Iraq captured Westerners and threatened to behead them.

    Another possibility is that the WBC could be agents trying to provoke a public outcry against themselves, working on behalf of forces who would like the law changed to curtail freedom of speech. The strategy of ignoring them would avoid falling into any such trap.

    1. Chewy

      Re: Ignore them...

      Easier said than done if your child was murdered

      1. Thorne

        Re: Ignore them...

        "Easier said than done if your child was murdered"

        Shoot them instead

        The courts would have a hard time finding a jury who wouldn't think it was a justifiable homicide

    2. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Ignore them...

      Another possibility is that the WBC could be agents trying to provoke a public outcry against themselves, working on behalf of forces who would like the law changed to curtail freedom of speech.

      No, they're vigorous defenders of free speech. They're method of operation is

      1) show up at a funeral and behave as vulgarly as possible

      2) wait for some upset family member to beat the crap out of them

      3) sue for assault

      4) never have a real job because the income from your lawsuits allows you to live a comfortable life.

      It works well for them, sadly.

  19. Tom 35 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Westboro Baptist Church

    Are a bunch of Trolls of the worst sort.

    Don't feed the trolls.

  20. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Anonymous vs. Westboro Baptist Church.....

    It's ALMOST enough to make me forget my commitment to free speech and cheer on Anonymous.

  21. southpacificpom
    Angel

    The end is near!

    Well WBC will be shut up in about 3 days, as we all will be - end of debate :)

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    UK has a constitution

    @JDX

    While the UK is one of the few countries not to have a single written constitution, you are mistaken if you think that means we do not have one. We do have one it's just a little hard to track it down. It's made up from the Magna Carta, the bill of rights, the settlement act, the parliament acts etc.

  23. MJF

    1. outrage people 2. sue for free speech 3: profit!

    The group, which has barely 100 (mostly family) members, also has a lucrative sideline in suing those who attack them, of whom there are many.

    Sideline? Isn't that actually what they're about? The more people they provoke, the more opportunities to keep the money rolling in.

  24. MJI Silver badge

    How come noone has shot them?

    I am surprised no one has put a WBC out of everyone elses misery.

  25. ukgnome Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Does this make Anonymous cowards?

    Why would you need to be anonymous to against this group is beyond me. If I lived in the states I would happily break a few windows at the church, or to put it another way - put the church beyond economical repair.

    *I use the word church in a loose meaning, as whilst it is a congregation of fucktard minded twazzocks it isn't a collection of people striving for world peace.

    1. sisk Silver badge

      Re: Does this make Anonymous cowards?

      Their church (I'm not going to blame the building for the people who use it as a base of operations) has been bombed at least twice (it was twice last time I checked, years ago). It failed to shut them up. In fact, if anything it's made them more obnoxious since they occasionally play the martyr card because of the bombings.

  26. Senior Ugli
    Joke

    I like the WBC sign that has the raster colors on it, not very christian though is it.

    1. Anonymous Coward 15
      Headmaster

      As opposed to the vector colours?

      Think you meant Rasta, short for Rastafarian.

      1. Senior Ugli

        indeed I did. used to writing raster more than rasta to be honest

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          >not very christian, is it?

          Rastafarianism seems to have more parallels with Judaism than Christianity.

  27. Lamont Cranston

    The only good vigilante is Batman.

    Anonymous, are you Batman? No? Shut up, then.

    On the other hand, WBC deserve everything they get, so full steam ahead!

    Oh, I'm so conflicted...

  28. teebie

    WBC

    I don't like them very much

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the self-righteousness stakes, they seem neck-and-neck...

  30. The Islander

    Distraction?

    While there may be people who genuinely adhere to this WBC insanity, it perversely distracts from the issue at hand.

    The appearance of such a group acts conveniently like those odd persons from Porlock, no?

    The WBC may illustrate some of the dangerous undercurrents that shape a society which witnesses frequent slaughter of the innocents. Otherwise they should be treated with the contempt they so clearly deserve

  31. steward
    Facepalm

    On the slight chance that someone from Anon is bothering to follow this

    When you use a text-to-speech program, sometimes you need to deliberately misspell words so that they are pronounced correctly.

    Take "defaming", for instance, which text-to-speech often (and in the video) renders as "defamming".

    Use "defaiming" instead, and you're likely to get a better result.

  32. Mussie (Ed)
    Thumb Up

    Yay Anon

    Anon will make the world a better place one little fucked up piece at a time

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WBC are scum

    But they are sure doing a great job of undermining religion.

    They show it up for the complete nutjobbery that it is.

    FSM speed to that!

    1. Graham Dawson
      FAIL

      Re: WBC are scum

      Scum speaks to scum.

      You're willing to exploit the deaths of children to "undermine religion".

      Were he to exist, his noodly appendage would recoil from you in disgust.

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Kevin Fields

    Looks like the hack is off for now

    Just checked, and while Shirley's Twitter account has been taken down, the GHF website is back up and not being blocked. I imagine that won't last for too long, though.

  36. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

    Actions against WBC

    I'm suprised that no one has lobbied for WBC's status as a charitable organisation/religion hasn't been revoked yet. No shortage of history of that in the USA and there is little doubt that it could be proved that they aren't christians, let alone baptists. I've known a lot of baptists/methodists and whilst they are largely gullible religious types they don't generally have a nasty bone in their bodies and spend a lot of time spreading their "message of reconciliation, peace and love". I don't think WBC fits that image at all.

    But, seeing as they haven't been rejected by society and the church yet, I have some advice for the Anons from Machievelli..

    "If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared."

    1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
      Big Brother

      Re: Actions against WBC

      There is another petition for the US Gov to investigate their tax exempt status.

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