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Anonymous vs. Scientology

Overview


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Overview
Masked Protests
Videos War
The Fundaments of Anonymous
Anonymous Glossary

"Anonymous" is a loose-knit organization of readers and posters on message boards who declared war against Scientology after the removal of a Tom Cruise video from Youtube. They engaged in DDOS attacks on Scientology web sites and organized world-wide masked street protests. While they attracted a new generation of critics, these spouts forth the same tired argument they read on critical website and that proved of little use to stop Scientology. Most of it is outdated and much of it has been debunked already. Hopefully they won't turn into blind fanatics like the old generation critics did but there are already signs some of them do.


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Anonymous
Street Protests
Dissenting Views
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Anonymous

"Anonymous" is a loose-knit organization of readers and posters on image message boards, such as 4chan.org and 711chan.org. They claim that the total openness and anonymity of these channels "has nurtured the appearance of a unique and persistent culture". While "Anonymous" was initially a joke directed at certain news organizations (though sometimes with devastating results for innocent victims who got their life seriously messed up), the group began to come together as a response to the Church of Scientology's (CoS) January 16 request for Youtube to remove a Scientology video involving Tom Cruise and which was leaked out from the CoS.

On January 21, Anonymous posted a video on Youtube declaring war against Scientology (Yes, folks - on YouTube you can even declare war!). The video has been watched over 2 million times in the subsequent three weeks (though it is only 2 millions+ after two months). On this video, Anonymous states that they decided that the Scientology organization "should be destroyed", for the good of Scientology followers and mankind, but also "for the laughs". They boast about them being untraceable and about "the force of our ideas, malicious and hostile as they often are". They then justify themselves by demonizing Scientology before claiming that "our methods are a parallel to your own" and "the sum of suppression we could ever muster is eclipsed by that of the RTC".

Anonymous later claimed responsibility for a series of DDOS and cyber-attacks that slowed access to church Web sites. It wasn't long, however, before this war turned sour. Within a week they accidentally targeted a school in the Netherlands rather than a Scientology site, taking the school computer network and website down.

When Anonymous themselves became victim of a counter-hacking group calling itself the Regime, they posted the home address, phone number and cell numbers of a Stockton 59-years-old man who barely knew anything about computers, claiming he was a member of that group. This poor man then started to receive daily obscene and threatening phone calls. After receiving a death treat, he and his wife got really scared because their address was posted as well. Not knowing how to stop the unrelenting phone calls, they called three news places in Stockton "just to get something out there to let them know they have the wrong guy,". Wired.com picked the story and as soon as they published their article, Anonymous removed the information from the net. Wired.com did not take the incident lightly and called Anonymous "online vigilantes who think their righteous ends justify illegal means".

Street protests

As a consequence of these incidents but also after the intervention of some of the "Old Guard" in Scientology criticism, such as Mark Bunker, Anonymous started to back down from its hacking tactics and turned its focus on street protest instead.

The first protest, held on February 10, were a clear success, involving around 7,000 participants in 18 countries (according to Anonymous), and was largely reported in the press who had previously been accustomed with Anonymous through its hacking episode.

The second protest took place on March 15 and saw an increasing number of participants, most notably in London and New York who each peaked at around 700 participants each, leaving 3rd place Los Angeles, with 400 participants, far behind, and 4th place, Clearwater, with about 300, even further. Estimates for the total of participants world-wide are at around 9,000 - still according to Anonymous.

The April protests however saw a significant dip in number, with an estimated total of around 5,000 participants.

This trend continued through May (around 4,000) and June (3,000). Clearwater, that held the number 4 spot for March with 300 participants, was now down to 70. Toronto, that held spot number 6 with around 260 participants in March, was now down to 50. Washington and San Francisco, however, only lost about 30% to 50% percents. Other cities crashed in a more spectacular manner. Adelaide went from 215 to 45, Vancouver from 200 to 35, Detroit from 175 to 20. Even more spectacular was Dallas (95 to 3), Austin (180 in Feb down to 10 in June), Miami (105 to 5), and Salt Lake City (70 to 3). German cities, however, displayed a steady to increasing number, though these numbers are relatively low (in general hovering around 50).

For detailed statistics check out my Anonymous protests Statistics page.

 

March 15 alternative protest links:
Indy Media: Anti Scientology Protest. London
TMZ: Crazies Come Out to Boycott Other Crazies

Battle Creek Enquirer: Group protests local Scientology; one arrested
 

Unfortunately, this new generation of critics spout forth the same tired old criticism against Scientology found on critical websites and proved of little use to stop Scientology. Nothing new. Most of it is outdated, much of it are just myths that have been debunked already and about which better informed people hardly pay attention anymore. But I guess nothing beats the thrill of friends gathering in front of people's churches, wearing funny comic book masks, and feeling like "doing something" in favor of Free speech. To gather in front of mosques waving sign mocking the prophet and engaging in other offensive accusations towards Islam is just a little bit more risky for one's bodily integrity. At least with Scientology everybody can have fun while feeling like heroes.

Aggressive-looking protestors wearing masks freaks the hell out of scientologists inside the building. Even an ex-member who departed Scientology long ago found it a bad idea:

"A short time ago there were hundreds of people in white masks protesting outside the building where I did every school play since Kindergarten, where my sister works, and nobody bats an eye. They say they want to destroy the leadership of this church, and no one questions their intent. If this sight is inspiring to some, then Iíll say those people are on the wrong side of history".

Combined with the wave of telephone threats and hate mails they received during Anonymous hacking episode, groups of transformer-like protestors waving signs calling their religion evil may look threatening to members of the group. During the March 15 protests, the Battle Creek police received a call from Scientologists because they were worried about their safety. Protestors were forced to put their mask down and those who resisted were arrested (they subsequently were released without charge because the mask was not being worn "for the purpose of facilitating the commission of a crime"). In fact, masked protest has already been the subject of legal debate in the US when the KKK held its sinister rallies and various States have different laws in this respect. For example, there is a no-mask law in New-York City which is why you will often see people there wearing their Vendetta masks turned around on the backs of their heads or swathing their lower faces in scarves and dust masks.

There are also some concerns as to who are these Anonymous as they have been accused of having been involved in scare tactics such as bomb threats, anthrax scares, and other abusive behavior. On March 11, the CoS made its own video in which it claims it was victim of hundreds of such threats. I am not sure where the CoS took its statistics but, the incident reported by wired.com does show the potential danger of the combined effect of an anonymous Internet mob and mass hysteria against unpopular minorities, and I have no doubts that what wired.com reported is only the tip of the iceberg.

On March 12, the CoS issued a legal injunction against Anonymous seeking to keep protester at a safe distance from the CoS buildings. It bases its arguments on the "cyber terrorism" Anonymous has been guilty of according to the CoS. This does not seem justified. While Anonymous did engage in illegal and questionable activities on the Internet, its street protests were overall peaceful, with the crowd making its own ethical enforcement, as in Toronto, where one protester was in possession of a cap gun and where other protesters quickly pointed him out to the police who confiscated it. Anonymous also goes to great length on its web site to insist that the protests should be peaceful. The injunction was subsequently rejected by two different courts.

But then what about hacking web sites? Preventing people from expressing their opinion and preventing others to read what they have to say? Is this how you demonstrate your love of Free Speech? I don't think so...

I have read a few contradictory justification regarding this, from "we did this to get the world's attention" to "we realized it was wrong". Never mind the fact that "getting the world's attention" is exactly what terrorists are aiming too. As for "realized we were wrong", I have seen too many instances of critics trying to silence dissenters among their own ranks to believe they can live up to their own ideal. I have myself been banned from their IRC channel and have seen them trying to remove information that may damage their righteous cause, a recent example of this dates from last January, as reported at the bottom of Keith Henson' daughter web page.

Will this new generation turn sour as the old generation of critics did? It may be an inevitable outcome and there are already signs this is happening, as illustrated by a post on Anonymous own forum on Enturbulation.org:

I've joined anon in January, I was at the February protest, and I've already noticed changes in anonymous since then. At the start, there were posts calling to action, including the now famous youtube video, and topics on many *chans and forums. This made many people look into what scientology did, and many people joined Chanology, for they agreed that the church of scientology can not be allowed to continue. However, there's slowly been a bad thing creeping into our subconscience; a closed mind. People get declared OSA, scifag, or infiltrant rather easily, and many anon's are very quick to declare that xenu.net holds the absolute truth, and any countervoice by the scientologists are answered by cries of "Lies! you're brainwashed! Open your mind! Free yourself!" This is something we should avoid at all costs, do we want to be objective? Do we want to be believed?

Dissenting views

As usual, the number of people with insight in this mass hysteria are not legion (sic).  Here are a couple of  insightful comments from people who obviously are not newbies and know what they are talking about:

The problem with all the anti-Scientology conspiracy theory sites is that they start with the basic assumption that Scientology is inherently evil, and then they set about searching high and low for every nugget of negative spin they can find to support their agenda. In their desperation, they usually reach for very old news ("Fair Game" from the 1960s, "Snow White" from the 1970s) or they try to present any wrongs committed by any individual Scientologist as reflecting directly on the religion as a whole (like the death of Lisa McPherson). Anti-Catholic propagandists do the exact same thing in their sick attempts to blame the Vatican for the acts of any individual priest on the planet.

The people who have turned hating Scientology into their own little cottage industry have hoodwinked a lot of well-meaning youths into committing illegal acts (harassing phone calls, hate speech, slander, hacking) and even terrorism (mailing white powder to churches). They lack even the basic clue to understand that prank-calling orders for pizzas and taxis to Scientology churches don't really harass the church as much as it harasses the innocent pizza company and taxi company. Proof positive that they couldn't care less about wronging innocent parties in their zeal for "lulz".

Anyone who posts any opposition to the anti-Scientology freaks or doesn't take a hard enough line against the cult immediately gets insulted, slandered, and accused of being a Scientologist themselves. The Anti-Scientology people have become a dangerous and harmful fringe group that put its own mission above all else and ruins innocent lives - in short, everything they ever accused the CoS of.


Yes it is all over the internet, what church does not exert its belief or try to in governmental affairs or have secretive efforts to gain influence ? Do not Christians, Muslims, Hindus etc. have influence in Government policy? What church does not expect Tithe of some sort? What Church does not have members lobbying or in Government positions that affect all of us? Where were all the Anon's last year? Did not Muslims riot over free speech in Newspaper Cartoon Editorials? People Died, if thats not stifling free speech not sure what is. Do Christians not try to outlaw abortion, birth control, the list is far to long to put here. Who Ran Europe until maybe 100 years ago? Who runs most Muslim Nations? Have you looked South of the Border Lately, who is trying to run that Government and have made significant inroads? Would it not be the Fundamentalist Religious Right?

If all of you still have this intense interest in a few years I will be surprised, most will get bored and move onto the next trendy thing. I am sure some will keep up the effort but most interest will wane over time. You think this will defeat them, that is funny. They have a better tax exemption in the US than all other religions. When you have an army of people willing to stand in front of their buildings daily, year after year with pamphlets that show why it is wrong you may have a chance to stop them from growing as much at best. This is a useless and inept attempt at best. If you think this will stop them you really have no idea on who you are dealing with.

you have no idea who you are dealing with?
you sound like a scientologist

I most certainly do, if you cannot differentiate between a hardcore Atheist and a Scientologist this is a lost cause from the get go. Do you really think Scientology is worried about all this? They had the American Feds go after them for 25 years and they walked away with a better tax deal then all the other religions, and they are worried about the likes of those protesting? I am still laughing at the thinly veiled threat, you think far to highly of yourself. I will allow all you protesters the illusion of grandeur and leave it at that.

[The above opinion is echoed in a February 27 editorial of the Recorder stating that Anonymous does not really bring new arguments to the debate nor anything dramatically different about Scientology than what other religions do already and which would be worth fighting for.]


Links

In this Section

Anti-Scientology
Pro-scientology
Independent

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Anti-Scientology

  • Enturbulation.org - The main web site organizing Anonymous protests. It also contains Anonymous fundaments for opposing Scientology. I made an analysis of these fundaments that you may want to read.

  • Project Chanology - The channel created to organize Anon work after his announcement. Their statement that the list of dead Scientologists is a sign of "the insane murders and such that they executed" shows how misguided they are. Ironically, they also claim that his is "a sign of them taking the world as too much serious fucking business".

  • Anonymous on Encyclopedia Dramatica - The best description of Anonymous so far.

  • Nerds To Protest Outside London's Scientology Centres - Informative and funny pre-Feb 10 article.

  • Wikinews - Full and detailed report of the Feb 10 protests. A better overview is to be found on the enturbulation.org page (subsequently to the dip in numbers this pages (and the March page) have been taken down by Anonymous - not a very honest move).

  • Why We Protest - with the headless logo of Anonymous and available in several languages. Boring recitation of their motives, including of course the myth "Scientology has also been implicated in numerous fatalities among its members".

  • http://www.youfoundthecard.com/ - apparently the web site of one of the Anonymous. Very nicely made from a technical point of view, but boring content as it mostly rehashes old news

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Pro-Scientology

  • Jonathon Barbera - the Youtube page of an Independent Scientologist and writer opposing Anonymous. As is typical for hypo-critics, he was harassed for expressing his view, with critics advising him to commit suicide, trying to post information and photos of his house, and giving his books bad rating without having read them.

  • Church of Scientology responds to protest plans - Published in the St. Petersbourg time

  • Scientology Myths 2.0 : comment on Anonymous by a Scientologist.

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Independent

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Disclaimer :

This web site is NOT created by a Scientologist. It is created by a Scientology EX-MEMBER who is critical of Scientology. However, this ex-member is ALSO critical of the anti-Scientology movement. This does not make him a Scientologist, nor a defender of Scientology.

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