The religious group, based in Topeka, Kansas, usually pickets soldiers' funerals, reasoning that they died defending a gay-loving country. Thursday, they set their sights on a larger target: the headquarters of the social-media giant Twitter.
Apparently, God hates Twitter. Would it help matters if Jesus turned 140 characters into 280 characters?
At 4:30 p.m., surrounded by a police escort, the motley WBC crew -- comprised of 4 women and 1 large, clunky dude -- marched in front of the Twitter offices at 795 Folsom and kicked off the circus. But San Francisco's finest and funniest, who launched a counter-protest, were ready for them.
And so was Asylum. Keep reading to see more images from what we're calling "the Titter outside Twitter."
Everyone played their part as the Westboro Baptist Church immediately antagonized the crowd of several dozen with a rousing chorus of "God Hates America," while dancing the twist on an American flag.
S.F. loves a protest. This is the town that pulls out their stilts and unicycles each time there's a war protest. Like railbirds, hecklers positioned themselves against the police barricades to fling insults that, in turn, elicited such astute WCB retorts as:
"God hates the city of San Francisco. What part of that you fools don't understand?"
"Why don't you shut your mouth and open your Bible, sir!"
"You stand there with feces dripping out of your mouth! Get the feces out of your mouth -- then talk about shame!"
As the verbal assault continued, I raised my hand and asked the obvious: "Why Twitter? Does God hate Twitter?"
"We have not quarrels with Twitter. Twitter is a great platform," stated a gray-haired WBC woman juggling several signs that could be interpreted as funny and ironic if they were actually funny and ironic. Gesturing to one of the younger WBC women, she added, "Meagan, she's Twittering right now."
But she explained the reason behind the protest: "Twitter should be used to tell the punks of doomed America that God hates you!"
The vibe quickly began to turn from angry confrontation to something not unlike a gay disco with dance music thumping from a large boom box. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church even became sort of bored themselves when the attention was diverted away from them. Many spent the rest of the protest checking text messages.
While spontaneous sign-constructing erupted, the battle of bad street versus bad street theater raged on. Here are a few choice ironic and non-ironic signs from the Twitter protest. Yes, it's showtime!
"Oh, no! Oh, no! They better not better not be saying God hates Obama!" exclaimed a large African-American woman passing by.
I don't know what a "bitch burger" is, but if it were served at McDonald's, I'm sure it would be a part of an Unhappy Meal.
Computer nerds unite in the war against the WBC.
Apparently God doesn't like gays or crustaceans.
This man was stating the obvious. Perhaps the most controversial sign of the entire protest.
Was this sign directed at me, or at Twitter? I know I'm going to hell, but at least I'm going to enjoy the ride.
God sure hates a lot of things these days. Does he hate ponies because gay people like to ride them? Or is it because tiny horses really tick him off?
Good question. Maybe this protester should Twitter for more help on this matter?
Yes, this is one of my favorite Bible verses from the silly version of the scriptures.
Amen, fellow protester, a-fucking-men!
"Why should prisons be on the moon?" I asked.
"It's better than Mexico," she said. Pause. "Sometimes you just got to hold a sign!"
Westboro Baptist Church earns the revenge of the computer nerds.
Eeeew. Google the word "santorum" and cringe. But in the case of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps, I think it's true.
Boom! You've been served, Westboro Baptist Church. Put that in your gay-hating pipe and smoke it!
What doesn't God hate these days?
If this is true, I'd like to high-five God in agreement.
The best use of an obscure reference to a 1960s British TV show at the entire protest.
It's hard for one person to juggle so much hate.
Now this protester is right on target with his sign. The big question is, does God hate Facebook? We all know he hates MySpace.
Someone get this protester a cookie -- and a Snuggie.
Aaaah! She's so right! God only hates ugly people.
God has got to understand this message.
At 5 p.m. on the dot, the Westboro Baptist Church packed up its hate signs and swiftly left the scene, with their police escort in tow. Their moment of wearing the hateful emperor's new clothes had ended.
"Twitter only gets a half-hour of hate!" a confused protester exclaimed at the WBC's sudden departure. "I guess Twitter really isn't that gay."
WBC protests aren't really news anymore, I know, but I thought this one was worth posting for the counter protestors' signs. "God hates #tags" is my favorite. :-D
ETA: A few more counter protest signs here.