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On how to avoid this in the future

Recently, members of Anon and the WBC came to a head over what appeared to be little more than a shouting match, with threats of future violence implied, but nothing actually gained.  While I believe very few people would like to see this future violence become a reality, this humble one offers a few pointers.

1. To the WBC

I, personally, come from a Christian background, and I can see where you are coming from.  Through scripture, I can understand your point of view.  God hates fags; that's a nice way to put it.  A little direct, but to the point.  I think I found the right website for you.

Anyways, I believe I should point you to one of my most favorite verses, and one that, as a person in an increasingly secular culture, has relied on to get along with people whose beliefs are different than mine: "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35)  I thought "Love the sinner, hate the sin" was biblical, but that's just a good idea, not His law.  However, this particular verse, if followed, is very similar.  Any person, or group of persons, who so radically informs the world of their beliefs in such a manner should expect another person, or another group, to respond in a similar way.  You are part of God's people, a city on a hill (Matthew 5:14).  People are supposed to look to you and say, "What is it about them?  I want what they have."  True, the Bible instructs us to "Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (II Timothy 4:2), but there have to be more Christ-like methods.

I have to respect one aspect of your protests: you are incredibly brave.  Though your website is currently in decline, your Wikipedia page is quite robust.  Of the 11 documented instances of counter-protest, your members are outnumbered considerably.  This takes great courage, and that, I admire.  However, look at it from another perspective.  If your message was sinking in, shouldn't there be more and more people on your side of the protest?  A shift in methodology might be all you need to truly rid the world of fags.

Also, on your website, which I found hard to access this particular day, possibly due to other Anons' efforts, I found a link named "Dear Anonymous Cowards".  To those newfags who have not lurked enough, this may come as a surprise, or maybe not.  However, this is, to use an interesting metaphor, turning the other cheek after your first one got cut off.  Not only are you protesting in a manner that, to even those who agree with you, is unwise, you are responding in a childish manner.  You saw the bully walking towards you during recess, and you drew a line in the dirt and dared him to cross it.  To simplify this paragraph, you're asking for it.

2. To All Other Anons

Just because they are asking for it does not mean they should get it.  Have any of your participated in, or at least seen the hilarious pictures of, the counter-protest at San Diego Comic Con?  That is more tasteful, gets better press, has more lulz, and, most importantly, is not a major sticking point for the WBC.  Why?  Because they aren't big jerks about it.  They see something that doesn't even come close to threatening their good time, and they decide to extend their good time to include this protest.

Now, some Anons have seen these protests, which don't even come close to threatening their good time, and they decide to become just as much a gigantic yelling head as their enemy.  This is what the great pundits of our time would call "escalation."  Each side has to make bigger and bigger threats, until one side finally caves and is forced to act.  A precedent was set with Operation Chanology, as Wikipedia calls it, in that religions are hard to bring down by yourself.  While the WBC is not a religion, their followers are extreme in their religious views, making them all the harder to convert.  Do any of you remember when that first person came to you and said they rooted for a different sports team than you, and tried to convince you that their team was better?  It's like that, but with nearly everything you believe.

I can understand if the Anons' true goal was only lulz, as they imagine the members of Westboro Baptist Church foaming at the mouth, driven into a strange rage.  However, you are not dealing with a teenage girl and her Facebook page.  You are dealing with people who have a national name, national face, and national respect, even if the respect they have isn't always for a positive reason.  I bring up again Operation Chanology.  While our intentions may have been good, our execution still leaves a little to be desired.  What did we accomplish?  A page on Wikipedia?  Pshh, we've already got one.  Did we enact real change?  I don't think so.  Did we change anyone's mind about their religious beliefs?  Maybe; that was never documented.  Did we have some lulz?  Yes, and that's the important part.

Now, Anonymous, how can we use the WBC for lulz without this turning into a warzone?  If you truly want to continue this pursuit, that is your true challenge.  I, for one, abstain from participating in this business.

3. To the Media

I'm sure someone out there in Media-land is reading this.  Before you start typesetting that big headline, or even open Twitter on your phone, think about this: Is this really newsworthy?  This is the equivalent of two American businesses arguing over who gets to have the loudest commercials.  This isn't news, it's filler.  Or maybe you can twist this to your own end, make one side out to be the bad guy in this whole thing.  Congratulations, you're no better than either side.  If you absolutely must turn this escalation into a story, please, for the sake of the teeming masses, be impartial.  Tell the story as-is.  Let people make up their own minds.  We have been your whipping boys before, sometimes for good reason, sometimes not.  Sure, we totally ruined a guy's Myspace page, which is reproachable in the eyes of some, but we have, and always will be, the greatest form of free speech you will ever find.  No other group, online or anywhere in the world, are you able to write about anything and everything.  Do you think that guy looks dumb?  You can tell him!  It's like Catholic confession, in that the anonymity of it all frees the soul, so it can speak unabashedly.  One day, I would like to see a news report on "Free Speech's Last Stand," where Anonymous and the various websites they frequent, get a slight positive spin.  You can still mention how horrible you think the sites are, with all their porn and gore and crass language, but just once, why can't there be an article about how cathartic this is?

We may be Anonymous, but we are still human.

We may never forgive, but we are still capable of compassion.

We may never forget, but we are still a bad memory for some.

Expect us.  Just not all of us.

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