An ambitious plan by the Westboro Baptist Church to picket Silicon Valley’s biggest names may run into a problem that neither God nor technology can solve: traffic.
The Topeka, Kansas-based hate group, which made its way to infamy by picketing funerals of soldiers and sundry other dead folks of note with “God Hates ____” signs, is taking its “God Hates The Media” act to the San Francisco Bay Area on Tuesday, August 12.
The church group’s schedule is more exhausting than your average tech IPO. The planned protests span almost 70 miles, with the hateful faithful aiming to hit nine tech companies between 11:35 a.m. to 5:45 p.m., allowing just two hours for travel time.
Yeah, good luck with that.
God Hates I-280
Recently ranked among worst commutes in the United States, Silicon Valley’s rush hour runs roughly between the hours of Burning Man and TechCrunch Disrupt. San Francisco drivers spent 56 hours in 2013 just sitting in traffic, according to research firm Inrix. And in San Jose, drivers spent 35 hours they’ll never get back.
How the Westboro protesters plan to get from Facebook and Instagram in Menlo Park to Reddit’s office in San Francisco—hitting Google, Apple, Skype, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest in between—remains a mystery.
ReadWrite repeatedly attempted to contact the Westboro Baptist Church, and were continually met with an endlessly ringing phone. We didn’t even get voicemail. Does God hate Google Voice, too?
Church Of The Poison Mind
The Westborovians have been making some concessions to Silicon Valley realities. They finally noticed—two years after Facebook splashed $1 billion on Instagram—that Instagram had moved out of its startup offices in San Francisco and into Facebook’s corporate headquarters. That and other changes have added 25 minutes of travel time to the original protest schedule.
What’s more, the updated travel time no longer seems to rely on the travel time suggested by Google Maps—which anyone in Silicon Valley knows is a wishful fantasy at best.
Perhaps the Westboro congregation put some seed money into a quantum teleportation startup using funds inherited from WBC founder Fred Phelps, who went to his just reward in March.
Or maybe the church is counting on using ridesharing services to surmount a Jericho’s Wall of Tesla-driving VCs and brogrammers in Google buses. Uber Pool isn’t out quite yet, but the new Lyft Line carpooling app is out just in time for them to get from Point A to Point B efficiently.
We do know that the Westboro Baptist Church sometimes uses the very same technology it condemns. Case in point: The Westboro Baptist Church is participating in an “ask me anything” interview on Reddit on August 10, just two days before the group marches on its San Francisco office.
Navigating Silicon Valley is always tough, especially when you’ve just dropped in from out of town. To help the protesters get around, we’ve created this handy map of Silicon Valley. And in case traffic stymies them from getting around, they can at least see what they’ve missed.
Illustration by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite