Tired of being goaded by the Westboro Baptist Church during a live internet talk show, the online collective known as Anonymous hacked one of its websites in the middle of the confrontation.
The Westboro Baptist Church, the hate-spewing religious organization known for picketing the funerals of soldiers and running such sites as godhatesfags.com, stirred up some attention for itself earlier this week with a claim that it had been threatened by Anonymous, the loosely-organized group known for its attacks against everyone from Gene Simmons to the Tea Party and even the U.S. Copyright Office. But Anonymous denied responsibility, saying the whole thing was a ham-fisted publicity stunt perpetrated by the WBC itself. "When Anonymous says we support free speech, we mean it," the group said in a press release. "We count Beatrice Hall among our Anonymous forebears: 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.'"
But poke any bear long enough and it will eventually turn on you, as the WBC found out during the latest episode of the David Pakman Show. Posted on YouTube earlier today, the show featured a "debate" between Shirley Phelps-Roper of the WBC and a representative of Anonymous that unsurprisingly grew rather contentious. The Anonymous rep denied that the group had any involvement with attacks that recently took down various WBC sites, saying it was actually the work of a hacker known as "Jester," while Phelps-Roper was insistent that the whole thing was good for her church because of the attention it brought to its message.
But around the seven minute mark, in response to Phelps-Rogers' statement that Anonymous could not take down its site, the Anonymous rep mentioned that he was working on something; a little after eight minutes, he noted that it had in fact hacked the WBC download site at that very moment and posted a message from the group. "We just did it right now, this very second," the rep said. "You just told us we can't do anything to harm your websites. We just did."
The site, at downloads.westborobaptistchurch.com, is now offline, as are the WBC's other sites, although the Anonymous rep maintained that the group had nothing to do with those attacks. Whether or not that's true, I'm inclined to think that at this point, the WBC has pretty good motivation to quit while it's ahead. And while the site is down, a screenshot of Anonymous' message to the Westboro Baptist Church can still be seen at browsershots.org.