The Internet group Anonymous confronted Shirley Phelps-Roper from the Westboro Baptist Church on the David Pakman show claiming the alleged letter threatening Westboro was a hoax and then hacked the Westboro website as a warning and display of power.
The Westboro Baptist Church recently went public with claims, that some are calling a publicity stunt, that the hacktivist group known as Anonymous is targeting them for a large scale hacking attempt. The Phelps family has referenced a posting allegedly written by a member of the group on the AnonNews blog warning of an attack against the church if they continue with their protest at military funerals, funerals of children and other public events.
The posting read:
TO THE CONGREGANTS OF WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH:
We, the collective super-consciousness known as ANONYMOUS - the Voice of Free Speech & the Advocate of the People - have long heard you issue your venomous statements of hatred, and we have witnessed your flagrant and absurd displays of inimitable bigotry and intolerant fanaticism. We have always regarded you and your ilk as an assembly of graceless sociopaths and maniacal chauvinists & religious zealots, however benign, who act out for the sake of attention & in the name of religion.
Being such aggressive proponents for the Freedom of Speech & Freedom of Information as we are, we have hitherto allowed you to continue preaching your benighted gospel of hatred and your theatrical exhibitions of, not only your fascist views, but your utter lack of Christ-like attributes. You have condemned the men and women who serve, fight, and perish in the armed forces of your nation; you have prayed for and celebrated the deaths of young children, who are without fault; you have stood outside the United States National Holocaust Museum, condemning the men, women, and children who, despite their innocence, were annihilated by a tyrannical embodiment of fascism and unsubstantiated repugnance. Rather than allowing the deceased some degree of peace and respect, you instead choose to torment, harass, and assault those who grieve.
Your demonstrations and your unrelenting cascade of disparaging slurs, unfounded judgments, and prejudicial innuendos, which apparently apply to every individual numbered amongst the race of Man - except for yourselves - has frequently crossed the line which separates Freedom of Speech from deliberately utilizing the same tactics and methods of intimidation and mental & emotional abuse that have been previously exploited and employed by tyrants and dictators, fascists and terrorist organizations throughout history.
ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action. Thus, we give you a warning: Cease & desist your protest campaign in the year 2011, return to your homes in Kansas, & close your public Web sites.
Should you ignore this warning, you will meet with the vicious retaliatory arm of ANONYMOUS: We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover. It is in your best interest to comply now, while the option to do so is still being offered, because we will not relent until you cease the conduction & promotion of all your bigoted operations & doctrines.
The warning has been given. What happens from here shall be determined by you.
"Westboro fired back with a 'ballsy tweet' that dared the hacktivists to "Bring it, cowards," according to New York Magazine.
A few days later another post on the AnonNews blog claimed that there were no plans to attack Westboro and this was all a stunt orchestrated by Westboro for publicity purposes. "Anonymous warned its members not to participate in DDoS attacks against Westboro Baptist Church in case it was a trap," reports the BBC.
NY Magazine reported "days of denial of service attacks on the church's sites followed, but responsibility was eventually claimed by a separate hacker named The Jester."
The battle of words continued to heat up and the exchange came to a head this week when Shirley Phelps-Roper appeared on a live radio interview on The David Pakman Show. CBS News reports "a source claiming to be from Anonymous called in to confront church spokesperson Shirley Phelps-Roper from the Westboro Baptist Church, saying that the letter was not in fact real. The caller then proceeded to hack a Westboro Baptist Church-owned website during the interview (which you can hear at 8:24 in the above video)."
Is this the beginning of an all-out-war between Westboro Baptist Church and Anonymous? Is it wise to taunt groups that specialize in hacking? Was this a publicity stunt that backfired? We may never know the answers to those questions but PC World summed it up best by saying:
"Assuming for a moment that the initial Anonymous threat was not orchestrated by WBC as a publicity stunt, there is still a lesson to be learned. When your supporters can be counted on your fingers, and your enemies outnumber the population of China, it is unwise to brazenly invite attack."
Perhaps Shirley Phelps-Roper will keep that in mind next time she responds to purported threats with insults and the taunting words "Bring It, Cowards."
Cached Google Page
A cached page available on Google of the Westboro website following the alleged hacking by the group Anonymous.