August 29th, 2008

Tom Lehrer is Smug

Weird Little Clams Snap Snap Snap>

While gallivanting about Harvard Square earlier this week, I noticed that the lower level of the former Wordsworth bookstore had been turned into a Scientology front. One of those "FREE STRESS TEST" centers with pictures of kids taking pills on the windows that ominously ask WHY ARE OUR CHILDREN BEING DRUGGED? (Because joining a cult is crueler, perhaps?) Such an ignominious use of what was formerly one of my more favorite spots to go in Hahvahd Squayah.

The most prominent giveaway that this was a Scientology recruitment machine was the gang of young adults on the opposite corner dressed in bandanas and V For Vendetta masks. These were representatives of Anonymous, and there were about ten or so of them. Their gang is an offshoot of the 4chan message boards, where everyone posts anonymously. This unique requirement has given them a collective identity and a capital A for Anonymous. 4chan is split into many different topics and while some 4channers are content to post metric boatloads of hentai for the amusement of others, some actually do want to discuss serious topics. It's these folks who have, in recent times organized large-scale protests against Ye Cult of Xenu and their representatives, those of the vacuous thousand-mile-stares and creepy smiles.

But since Scientology doesn't play fair, the kids all put on V masks and hide their identities, even when going to and from the events. Paranoia mixed with social protest mixed with Alan Moore has created a curious hybrid in these folks. It's an interesting dichotomy when you realize that there is at least one group of 4chan members (those who frequent the "/b/" random forum) who'll do anything in their power to make life miserable for anyone who crosses them. If they find out your identity, you're hosed. Perhaps it's this knowledge that gives the Anonymous protesters an edge, as they know full well what can happen when someone else gains that Power Word: Name on you.

4chan is still an example of some of the lowest depths you can sink when hanging around message boards, but it's nice to know there's at least one subset which thinks they can do a little work hopefully for the common good. Even if it means just standing around in V masks waving signs at the little clams across the street.