November 29, 2020

The world wide web of hate

Caillin Murray is a junior journalism major and staff writer for The Journal

Less than four hours after Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs passed away due to complications from pancreatic cancer, the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) tweeted its intentions to protest at Jobs’ funeral. They tweeted these plans on an iPhone.
Oh, the irony. Margie Phelps — daughter of WBC founder Fred Phelps — tweeted, “No peace for man who served self, not God. #hellgreetedhim Westboro must picket funeral,” at 7:08 p.m. Oct. 5 via the Twitter application for iPhone. Apparently WBC was offended enough by Jobs to picket his funeral, but not offended enough to buy a Droid.
The tweet, with its prominent label of “via Twitter for iPhone,” received a Twitter backlash. One user posted, “You supported Steve Jobs by purchasing Apple products. Just saying.”
Margie Phelps responded with, “Rebels mad cuz I used iPhone to tell you Steve Jobs is in hell. God created iPhone for that purpose!”
OK, hold up. God created the iPhone specifically for Westboro to hurl empty threats and protest Steve Jobs’ funeral? Was Angry Birds created specifically for WBC to play  in between its picketing engagements? Did God create the ‘Hipstamatic’ app so WBC members could upload pictures of their “God Hates Fags” signs to their Facebooks,when they’re not “liking” pages dedicated to religious intolerance or predicting doomsday?
In February 2011, WBC said “The only reason the Internet exists is for Westboro Baptist Church to tell this nation and this world that your destruction draws nigh.”
A representative of the hacker group “Anonymous” asked Shirley Phelps, another of Fred Phelps’ daughters, why gay dating websites were allowed to exist on the Internet if God created it specifically for the famously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church. Shirley Phelps’ response was, “Psh silly, that’s called your proving grounds. Just because you fill it up with filth, you get to explain that during your day of judgment. Your destruction is imminent.”
That’s like saying the Bay of Lisbon was created specifically for an Anabaptist to drown in, and anyone who has read “Candide” knows how that turned out. Perhaps someone should send Westboro a copy.
Literary references aside, could this reasoning apply to everyone? If WBC thinks it’s OK to claim the Internet as its own personal tool, maybe I can say chocolate was created solely for my enjoyment, and anyone who eats chocolate is going straight to hell — because all chocolate is mine, darnit.
But  I couldn’t say that, because I would be mauled by several thousand chocolate-crazed pregnant women. And so WBC runs the risk of a Foursquare orchestrated flash mob beat down by iPhone-wielding techies.
Or maybe just a severe talking to from Al Gore, aka the inventor of the Internet.
There’s just no way to prove something as complicated as the Internet or the iPhone was created specifically by God for a single purpose. It’s silly to even try. The members of WBC need to realize that God didn’t create these things just for them and their ridiculous antics.
Even if the iPhone was created for WBC to announce its upcoming plans to picket  Jobs’ funeral, WBC failed to fulfill its threat after they backed out of picketing after learning the funeral service was going to be private. Jobs’ Oct. 7 funeral service was a quiet event with, thankfully, no WBC members in sight. Apparently, God doesn’t hate the sinners enough to violate the private funeral of an internationally respected entrepeneur.
OK, now I’m going to pull a WBC move and say something hypocritical: what I really believe needs to be done about WBC is to ignore it. I believe the media needs to drop the expansive coverage it gives this group and the ridiculous antics it pulls. This group could have faded away into crazy cult history if the media didn’t pick up on its desperate pleas for attention, and didn’t pump out countless stories informing the public, “This is what those kooks are up to now!”
I realize this statement is contradictory to the column space I just dedicated to WBC, but someone needs to say it. Perhaps we can make a deal, reader—I promise to never again write about WBC if you promise to stop reading about it.
Because, if a tweet is tweeted on Twitter, and no one cares enough to read it, does it still matter?
P.S.:  As the rightful owner of all chocolate, I request that all chocolate products be sent to The Journal newsroom. That is all.

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