I had a fantastic time at the Secular Student Alliance leadership convention two weeks ago, and wrote enthusiastically of what a juggernaut of secular awesome the SSA is. Well, it seems that someone wants to slow that juggernaut, and is willing to break the law to do it.
Since the convention, the SSA’s website has been getting hit by repeated denial-of-service attacks. Basically, these consist of malicious or virus-infected computers that are programmed to send out a flood of requests, in the hope of overwhelming the receiving web server and preventing it from serving legitimate queries. The first few times this happened, it succeeded in temporarily knocking out the SSA’s website, preventing people from looking up information or making donations. Since then, the SSA has installed defenses that successfully thwarted the latest attack, but these cost $200 a month to maintain. That’s pretty cheap for this kind of service, but it’s still $2400 a year that isn’t going toward secular activism.
JT Eberhard has suggested that atheists donate to the cause, thus foiling the malicious party’s intent by repaying the SSA and then some. That’s a good idea, but I have a better one.
Last summer, when two churches in Oregon were graffitied with atheist messages, Friendly Atheist raised over $2,500 to help them with the cleanup. The same thing happened again this month at a Methodist church in South Carolina, and once again, Hemant and his readers are raising money for a local charity in a gesture of good faith. At the time of this writing, the fundraiser has garnered over $4,000.
The atheist community, though we oppose the ideas these churches teach, has proven time and time again that we don’t condone anyone breaking the law to retaliate against them, and that if it does happen, we’re willing to help out to prove our good faith and show that the criminals don’t speak for all atheists. Now’s the chance for Christians to step up and prove the same.
We don’t know exactly who’s trying to take down the SSA’s website, just as we raised money for the vandalized churches without knowing exactly who the guilty party was, but it’s safe to assume it’s someone who disagrees with their goals and aims. Are there any churches or Christian groups who’d be willing to prove they don’t condone this behavior by raising money to pay for the SSA’s hosting costs? Do they agree with us that the way to respond to speech you disagree with is with peaceful counterspeech, not criminal attempts to silence the speaker?
If you’d like to take me up on this offer, get in touch with me by e-mail or leave a comment. I’ll update this post with information on any who step up.
UPDATE (7/18): By popular demand:
If you trust me and would rather not donate directly to the SSA, you can chip in using the widget above. I’ll personally give the SSA the sum total of everything donated. I’ve set the amount at $2400, which will cover a year’s worth of web defenses. I know some people have already donated separately, so be aware that whatever’s gathered here doesn’t necessarily reflect the total amount.
UPDATE (9/20):Thanks to everyone who donated!