Regular readers know how this agnostic likes to tweak the noses of atheists. I want it to go on record that I do not condone attacks on atheists or any other group of believers that either do them physical harm or prevent them from expressing their point of view. Such an attack happened on Myspace recently when the atheists/agnostics group run by Bryan Pesta was hacked and renamed “Jesus is lov”:
The 3000 “friends” of the group are gone.
The regular posters on the group’s message board have been banned.
Many discussion threads were deleted.
I can’t even access the renamed group.
Bryan is working on getting his group back, but things aren’t looking bright.
He told me he was having difficult getting customer service at MySpace to listen to him.
First, I want to state that I am not sure that “Christian” terrorists are to blame here, though it wouldn’t surprise me either. This seems like an adolescent prank. I don’t think you will find any minister or even a person who attends church regularly on Sunday. On the other hand, Christianity is full of self-appointed “ministers of the Gospel” who think it is their duty to silence all opposition/criticism. We need more facts.
Second, this could be a troll. Trolling is specifically designed to get people fighting and from the looks of things at Friendly Atheist, the war has begun in earnest. Atheists are taking the bait and the perpetrator is no doubt laughing histrionically. Classically terrorism is calculated to inspire fear. Even though the damage is relatively small as far as impact on their daily lives, atheists/agnostics are looking over their shoulders, wondering if the next step is going to be a physical attack on their computers or themselves. A troll is a special kind of terrorism: the object is to inspire the kind of fear that causes the victim to lash out blindly. “Damn those Christians! Let’s get ‘em!”
Third, a classic net issue has arisen, namely getting people at Myspace to do something. At FA I said that this was probably due to “a bunch of second-rate techies who like to sit on their asses not solving problems”. Oh, they say, we’ll have to go down and find the tape backup. Then we’ll have to close down Myspace while we restore the group. Ya-de-dah-de-dah. The response to this is “There are 34,000 people affected by this. Do it.” It’s like not rebuilding the World Trade Center or not flying after the 9-11 attacks. When you allow a terrorist’s works to stand and the terrorist to go unpunished (oh where oh where has Bin Laden gone?), you encourage further acts of terrorism.
Fourth, We should not rule out the possibility that this was done by an atheist/agnostic who wanted to inspire a jihad of his own. Small chance, but it points to the importance of not charging ahead without more facts. Stick to what is known. The focus should be on restoring the group. That means getting Myspace moving on repairing the problem.