Hot on the tail of a DDoS attack on the Global Atheist Convention site, the Discovery Institute is reporting that the Shepherd Project Ministries website was attacked earlier this month in a similar way. The reason for the attack? The website contained information about upcoming talks by Discovery Institute fellows Stephen C Meyer, Michael Behe, David Berlinski, and John West, which the attackers apparently didn’t want publicized. Ouch. Nasty.
The reason I mention this is because any form of Internet-based attack is… stupid. Sure, they may be done for “noble” reasons, but when you have to resort to any type of sabotage in order to get your point across, a few things happen:
- You make yourselves look like the only way you can combat their ideas is through a brute force attack.
- You lower your image as a respectable opponent in the eyes of the fence-sitting public.
- You give the other side free ammunition to shoot you with in the aftermath.
It’s that last point which makes me so annoyed – as you can already see, if you look at what was written on Evolution News & Views recently, the Discovery Institute is already laying out the event as an attack on free speech.
Let’s look at what the author, Anika Smith, had to say:
These attacks involve multiple people coordinated in an attempt to make a website unavailable, shutting down access to information in a form of modern-day book-burning.
These attacks reveal how even having a discussion about intelligent design is threatening to those who can’t countenance free speech on evolution.
Modern-day book-burning? Not quite. However, you can see how easy it is to exaggerate the events to place not only the lone attackers but the whole evolution-defending community in the spotlight of guilt:
…Craig Smith said, “It’s stunning to me how threatened they seem to be about the conversation that is taking place. It’s not a matter of, ‘I disagree with the content’ or ‘I disagree with the conclusion,’ it’s ‘I disagree that the conversation should be allowed.’”
Great. Just great.
When you plan an attack like this, what must be going through your mind? “This will permanently cripple their Internet use”? “They’ll be so shocked they won’t be able to put together press releases, blog posts and podcasts about the event”? The lack of foresight on the part of the attackers is amazing – how did you think they would react? Of course they’re going to lash out and paint every “Darwinist” with the same tainted brush – it’s the Discovery Institute, it’s what they do best!
Some advice – don’t do things like this. It gives them free publicity and gives them the ability to hide behind the claim that they are victims of denial of free speech. It may remove the site from the web for a while, sure, but the drama surrounding the attack just gives them more chances to plug the event that you didn’t want people to know about. In short, you lose, they win.
There are plenty of things you can do to help combat the messages of the Intelligent Design movement without resorting to attacks. These include writing blogs exposing the falsehoods that they post online, making videos showing how evolution really works, and turning up to events that they hold and ask the difficult questions that you know they can’t properly answer.
Don’t insult them, don’t be rude, and for heaven’s sake, don’t call yourself a Darwinist.