|An Anonymous protesting Anonymous.|
This is the week of all Anonymous all the time in San Francisco. With one protest
that shut down four BART stations, and two major hacking incidents
of BART websites, the irascible online collective has shown that it can compel a very real-life response: Cops in riot gear, hovering helicopters, BART's accusations of being low-down "cyberthugs," and pissed-off commuters who just want to get the hell home.
Yet some of the harshest criticisms of Anonymous actually came from within its own ranks.
Since anyone can be a part of the Anonymous movement, there is little cohesive ideology to rally around. From talking to some Anonymous members both at Monday's protest and online in the days since -- or heck, just checking their Twitter feeds and message boards -- it's clear that Anonymous "members" diverge greatly on what is an effective protest of BART.
Some say the whole BART cause is petty to begin with, showing Anonymous to be "
spoiled hipsters that have more time and money on their hands than they know what to do with." Others say this shows Anonymous to be powerful force in the face of censorship of free speech. And then some believe the group is shooting themselves in the foot by hacking into BART's computer system.
We're going to feature some of the conversations here on the Snitch. We'll start with this man who we saw at the Civic Center BART Station during Monday's protest, holding a sign reading "What happened, Anonymous? You used to be cool" in front of his face. Hmm ... provocative. We approached.
Strangely enough, he had sunglasses on with big eyebrows pasted over them. He was Anonymous! An internal dissenter.
|The other side of the dissenter's sign. Hiss.|
So what's with the sign?
"There are so many more legitimate targets to be choosing [than BART], and really they're embarrassing themselves without realizing it. The people falling for this sort of action [hacking into BART's website and exposing people's information] are doing themselves more harm than good."
Why more harm than good?
"On the level of public relations it's a nightmare. They're making themselves look foolish and impotent, and that's not something anyone should be involved with. I think they're probably driving more people away. It's a bit of smokescreen from addressing the legitimate targets they should be addressing."
Do you think BART should be able to turn off cell-phone service?
"I have no problem with that. It's a recent development that people have the notion that people feel they have a right to cell-phone reception on private property. They should have been protesting the Muni chief getting a golden parachute of $350,000 dollars, they should have been protesting things like that. But this just makes them look silly."
Are you still involved in other Anonymous projects?
"I am, but I'm not going to get into that. I was a hardcore punk in the early '80s then got into animal rights, and I've been doing direct action for about 30 years. For the sake of sounding and feeling old, this is really kind of pathetic. This is not what I was fighting for in those years. We were fighting things like Reagan and Iran Contra and legitimate targets. It's a travesty. It plays into people's stereotypes, too, of spoiled hipsters that have more time and money on their hands than they know what to do with."
So Anonymous aren't spoiled hipsters?
"There is that element. They're more visible than is wise. If they are trying to remain Anonymous, they're not doing a great job of it."