You will never believe who owns the “jihad.net” domain. A bunch of obviously talented and intelligent people—refugees from the newsgroup “alt.dinosaur.barney.die.die.die”—have constructed a vast fantasy universe around the idea that Barney the Dinosaur is not a boring but harmless children's television character; he is, in truth, “the demon B'harne”, a threat to all mankind who must be destroyed. Their “jihad” is the struggle to overcome him and his “sponge minions”.
They have created a dense mythology, a roleplaying game (think Dungeons and Dragons for the Tivo generation) and Web pages and books so richly illustrated and conceived that they put the promotional output of many small corporations to shame.
What I like most are the alternately incredulous and offended reviews of their works by visitors to the byzantine nexus of their polymorphously ironic cult:
“I have never seen a group of people who so desperately need to 'get a life' as you folks. Perhaps the recent events in the U.S. will give you an excuse to stop acting like such idiots.AB”
— 'Abu Nidal'
“You must have so much time and money to do such a sad thing so why not spend this time and money wisely, you people are aged from 18 and above and you are doing such a sad thing why not use this brain and talent in a useful way… ..what are you sado's thinking of doing next, a terrorist attack on the teletubies hill!!!”
— 'bernadetto spera' foolishly gives the jihadists ideas
“you should change your url. both in regard to the 9/11 attacks, and regardless of the attacks, your title is pathetic. it not only offends me, it probably is also offensive to members of the Islmaic faith.”
While I am waxing pretentious, this phenomenon is a wonderful example of geeky silliness triumphing over po-faced fundamentalism and the fools who accord unearned respect to the delusions of the religious. The ideas behind their spoof are easily comparable to the fabricated absurdities of Scientology, but what criteria could you possibly use to judge them as any more ridiculous than the beliefs of the adherents to the major religions?
I believe Barney the Dinosaur is a malignant alien intelligence; you believe in the virgin birth. I hang out with my weirdo friends, roll dice and invent silly character names; you chop chunks of sexually responsive tissue from your offsprings' genitals because you think it's God's will. Who's crazy?—the slackers playing daft games or the respectable adults throwing parties to celebrate the ritual mutilation of their infants? To quote from the jihadists' “Jihad Universe for Dummies” page:
“Let's get this one out of the way. The Jihad to Destroy Barney the Dinosaur is a FICTIONAL organization. Fictional as in “not real.” None of the stuff below, or in the story archives, or on the message board, actually happened. The Jihad to Destroy Barney the Dinosaur is not affiliated in any way shape or form with al-Quaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah or any other terrorist organization that uses Islamic symbology.
We do in fact understand that using the word “jihad,” to say nothing of owning the jihad.net domain name, is something of a hot-button issue. God above knows that we've been wading in it for the last three years as it is. Nevertheless, we continue to hold onto the word and the domain. Consider it a public service: while a group of geeky Western gamers keep hanging onto jihad.net, people with less pleasant intentions are unable to use it.”