This week, Jim Underdown, executive director of the atheist/agnostic/skeptic organization, Center for Inquiry West in Hollywood, received a rude awakening when his popular Hollywood Reality Check blog was hacked into and all content removed. The blog was an uninhibited reflection of the atheist viewpoint, turning a skeptical eye toward issues local and international. But someone took issue, it seems, and the blog disappeared.
"This happened once before," says Underdown, "and we were not smart." Once the content had been recovered, Underdown and his staff changed passwords and other identifying information. "It seemed too routine," he says. And it was. When the hackers struck again, Underdown began to contemplate the possibility that the offenders were not bored kids randomly shooting into the night, but disgruntled bullies with a bone to pick.
"I want to think it was not directly targeted. But [if it was], it’s clearly people who don’t have the ability to argue a point or be heard, one or the other… Or they can’t hold their own in the arena of the discussion." Underdown and the Center for Inquiry have long been outspoken proponents of free speech, as evidenced by the Center's first annual Blasphemy Day this year. So perhaps the hackers took offense to the Center's (and Jim's) unapologetic criticism of religion.
"Or," offers Jim, "they’re just malicious little pricks who have no way to express themselves."
Underdown expects the site to be back up and running soon.