My pal Zach Weiner is a good guy. Smart, funny, talented -- and he draws Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, my favorite web comic bar none. And it's that last bit which has elevated him into my exclusive pantheon of personal heroes. Let me tell you this tale (and you can read Zach's version too). On Thursday, he posted this cartoon:
Pretty funny, and like most of his stuff, also kinda true. What it isn't, by any stretch of the imagination, is an endorsement of "traditional" modes of insemination, or an indictment of the homosexual lifestyle. But that's how the National Organization of Marriage interpreted it. This is a group that believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, and you can imagine how I feel about that. To give you an idea of how low this organization goes, I'll remind you of this truly vile and despicable ad they put together a couple of years ago against gay marriage. Yeah. So this group decided somehow that Zach's cartoon supported their cause, and they used it on their site.
Thing is, they hotlinked it: instead of grabbing the image and uploading it to their server, they linked it straight from Zach's server. So whenever someone went to the NOM site, Zach's server had to send the image. Hotlinking is a big net no-no; it puts the burden on the other person's server (that they pay for, as well as for bandwidth, the amount of data sent), and is considered at the very least to be rude. But from that group, which espouses hatred and inequality, it was far more than merely rude to Zach.
[UPDATE: My mistake: Zach doesn't mind hotlinking his comics, so the above is incorrect. It was just, and justifiably, the intolerance and bigotry of NOM that prompted Zach's following actions!] So he decided to play a prank. He swapped out the cartoon image on his server with another one, so everyone who went to the NOM site saw this instead:
BRILLIANT! The rainbow flag is the symbol of equality and support for LGBT folks, and the quote is by a Founding Father, whose ideas routinely get mangled by narrow-minded ideologues. Zach tweeted about it (and so did I), and minutes later so many people were clicking the link that the NOM site went down. This is a double win: people looking for support of their homophobia either couldn't get it, or if they did they saw a message of support and freedom for LGBT people. Note that Zach could've replaced the cartoon with something mean, but he didn't. He chose to deliver an even better message. As he put it:
There seems to be this idea out there that action through the Internet has no important effect. Even people I really respect, like Jon Stewart, promote this idea. Well, today, I probably got a message of equality to over 100,000 people, among them members of the other side. This generation fights in a new way, but we fight just as hard.
And that, dear friends, is why Zach Weiner is a personal hero of mine.