The notorious "hacktivist" group Anonymous made waves on Monday by hacking the email and Twitter accounts of the virulently anti-gay group Westboro Baptist Church, whose members promised to picket the funerals of Sandy Hook victims to "sing praise" for the deaths:
Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment.
tweeted Westboro member Shirley Phelps-Roper. Her account was subsequently hacked and taken over by Anonymous activist Cosmo, who added the image above to her Twitter profile.
Many Twitter users clearly approve of Cosmo's work, barraging the hacked account messages like this:
Cosmo, as a sailor in the Navy, who's had friends funerals picketed by WBC, I want to say thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
Some commentators are less approving. Anonymous's hack merely gives attention to Westboro – a "deranged" group that's "best ignored," writes Will Oremus at Slate.On this occasion Anonymous hacktivists aren't just hacking: they've also launched a White House petition calling on Obama to "Investigate the IRS Tax-Exempt Status of the Westboro Baptist Church." The church is tax-exempt because it is a religious group, but as the petition puts it,
The Westboro Baptist Church is better-known for homophobic displays, suing people and picketing funerals than for providing Christian care to a community.
The petition already has 29,000 signtures.