Metro Weekly

Anonymous Attacks

Battling the kooks from Kansas with illegal hacks feels good, but we know better

There’s a church I’ve had to name when writing news stories. But since this is merely my opinion, I’m not naming it. I prefer to deny them the attention when possible.

Then there’s Anonymous. Not so anonymous, but not so identifiable beyond being some conglomeration of various activist ”hackerati.” Unlike the unnamed church, these guys I generally don’t mind. When governments can jail people in perpetuity and seemingly at whim, when ”neuromarketing” takes consumerism to its most Pavlovian, some independent anarchists aren’t such a bad idea. It’s somewhat comforting to know that some unlicensed contrarians are roaming the wild, wild Web.

The unnamed church also does some good. Certainly, its adherents must think of themselves as doing good, warning the world that ”God hates fags.” When the Supreme Court upheld the rights of these foul bigots to speak freely, it offered an affirmation of our social system. On some small level, the decision let the bad guys win. In the big picture, it left them tilting at windmills while illustrating a societal good: We value free and open discourse to the degree that will defend all rather than stifle the most offensive. It’s evidence we take these values seriously.

Following the gun madness in Connecticut, the bad guys announced they would protest at the wake of school principal Dawn Hochsprung. To save souls, they are compelled to warn Americans against being so kind to homosexuals, as this leads to a vengeful God exerting his wrath by pulling celestial puppet-strings that make an unbalanced adolescent with access to an obscene amount of firepower gun down 6-year-olds.

Anonymous went on an offensive of its own, hacking the churlish church’s websites, broadcasting church members’ personal information, making every online effort to disrupt these delusional godchildren. Some rough and tough bikers also entered the fray, following Romaine Patterson‘s lead. Where the friend of Matthew Shepard donned angel wings to block the message ”Matt burns in hell,” the bikers planned to create a barrier between mourners and the malice – who were no-shows. The bigots, bikers and Patterson – all on a level, legal playing field.

But the Anonymous action against the bigots is on a different level. Anonymous is not on the legal front line.

As Lord Acton wrote, ”Power tends to corrupt.” Although Anonymous does not enjoy absolute power, having no identity certainly emboldens. And when the group decides that it knows better than the Supreme Court – a noble institution of a democratic government – and that it will answer to itself alone as it metes out what punishments it can, I smell a whiff of corruption.

But why is it any of my business? I’m about as tech savvy as a tomato – not even the fancy hydroponic kind. Mention binary and I’m thinking gender studies, not code. As for those supposed Christians from Kansas, I think they could all use years of therapy, but don’t otherwise concern myself.

It becomes my business when I read about this latest battle between the holy and the hacking, on the right-wing Town Hall blog. A reader posted: ”Anonymous is mayhem and anarchy. … This is a leftist’s wet dream.” Hey, I’m a leftist! And the hacking is not giving me pleasant dreams of any sort. Looking at the coverage where my fellow lefties tend to gather, The Huffington Post, there was a ”quick poll” asking for a show of clicks. ”Do you support the hacks against [the unnamed church]?” At the time I logged my answer of ”No,” I joined a 12.37 percent minority. Answering ”Absolutely” would’ve put me in the cool-kid majority of 63.66 percent. ”I’m torn” got the remaining share.

I know this church pushes our buttons. It’s all they do. But, Anonymous, if you bully them with illegal attacks, you make them the victim, and that’s more perverse than hate grandstanding at a child’s funeral.

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.