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Anonymous' Church of Scientology protest has some and gone
February 11, 2008 9:53 AM   Subscribe

If you have missed knowing about the 'declaration of war' from Anonymous, Jess Lee does a good job of summarizing the story. In short: some people don't like the Church of Scientology and have been waging a virtual war on the Church's various electronic presences. After some of that, someone called for a live action: protesting in front of CoS facilities. It happened this weekend.

You could look to traditional media for coverage, but this is an internet internet phenomenon - why not look at one of the over 4,600 Flickr pictures tagged with "Scientology" and "Anonymous" taken between the 8th and the 11th? Or look at one of the YouTube videos of events all over the world, linked by Jess Lee or sift through the two-thousand-plus YouTube videos from the last week.

The revolution will be televised? Maybe. But it seems certain the internet-based protests will be streamed. And, sometimes, rickrolled.
posted by phearlez (169 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
The really interesting bits about this- the crimes of the Church of Scientology aside- are all about what Anonymous implies about the future of activism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:01 AM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


It's nice that they stopped blowing up vans.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:03 AM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Rules 1 and 2 my ass.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, and sage goes in every field.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Scientology is no different from any other religion which uses electric resistance meters to gauge emotional health, charges thousand of dollars to access to advanced levels of knowledge concerning the ancient ghosts of aliens infecting human bodies, and engages in threats, harrassment, libel, and frivolous litigation to silence public critics.
posted by brownpau at 10:05 AM on February 11, 2008 [90 favorites]


The first rule of Anonymous is you don't talk about Anony...

wait...

hold on... ok.

The first rule of Anonymous is you DO talk about anonymous.
posted by tkchrist at 10:06 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


This wasn't activism so much as internet types taking their in-jokes and memes out into the real world for a couple of hours. Sort of like a Metafilter meetup.
posted by rocket88 at 10:14 AM on February 11, 2008



Scientology is no different from any other religion which uses electric resistance meters to gauge emotional health, charges thousand of dollars to access to advanced levels of knowledge concerning the ancient ghosts of aliens infecting human bodies, and engages in threats, harrassment, libel, and frivolous litigation to silence public critics.

As opposed to real religions. That used war, torture and murder to achieve those things.
posted by tkchrist at 10:16 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm not a big fan of the illegality of Anonymous's actions, but the fact that they were live-action Rickrolling people makes me giggle.
posted by dismas at 10:19 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


This wasn't activism so much as internet types taking their in-jokes and memes out into the real world for a couple of hours.

This this this.

Can we please stop posting about the antics of /b/tards vs Scientology? It's like watching retards fuck.
posted by Mikey-San at 10:21 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


This wasn't activism so much as internet types taking their in-jokes and memes out into the real world for a couple of hours. Sort of like a Metafilter meetup.

Of course, you're only paying the barest of attention to it, but hey, go tell the people organising protests and designing fliers and getting people on radio shows over at Enturbulation.Org that they're just "internet types" making in-jokes, you fucking jackass.

As opposed to real religions. That used war, torture and murder to achieve those things.

As we've been saying for some time now, our beef is with the Church of Scientology, not Scientology as a belief system/religion/whatever. If any other church behaved as the CoS behaves, we'd be after them, too. The crimes of, say, Christianity are largely in the past, but those churches which still behave poorly ought to be run to the ground- those outlaw fundamentalist polygamist sects hiding in the wilds of Utah, for example.

And anyway, this argument is hideously flawed, as its essential point is that being a religion/church gives you permission to kill, lie, steal, extort, or whatever. I'm pretty sure nobody here wants to argue that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:23 AM on February 11, 2008 [10 favorites]


You could read the traditional media but they are made of fail and lies, by and large.

The two hubs of information, to the best of my knowledge, are the Project Chanology wiki and the Enturbulation forums.

I'm not a big fan of the illegality of Anonymous's actions


The only blatantly illegal thing they did is the DDOS, and I don't even know how illegal that is since they weren't using botnets. Other than that they have slightly illegal things like copyright violations and prank phone call type stuff.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can anybody think of another global same day protest action with people wearing masks? I watched for ~20 hours just for the lulz... Just saying, people in major cities came out on the same day to protest something (or maybe just for the lulz), but still, it happened.
posted by zengargoyle at 10:30 AM on February 11, 2008


Hmm, lolcat versus Xenu? It's like the internet spasmed and kicked it's two top memes into the ring to duke it out.

I'll be shocked if anything useful comes of this, but I'll also be more than thrilled to watch CoS play wack-a-mole with regard to fighting a distributed attack against their structure. (Particularly in light of of the asymmetric style of Anon, going after phone lines and food delivery and the like.)
posted by quin at 10:32 AM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


“Rules 1 and 2 my ass.”

That would be Rule 34
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 10:33 AM on February 11, 2008 [17 favorites]


...why not look at one of the over 4,600 Flickr pictures tagged with "Scientology" and "Anonymous" taken between the 8th and the 11th? Or look at one of the YouTube videos of events all over the world, linked by Jess Lee or sift through the two-thousand-plus YouTube videos from the last week.

Because it would bore me to tears and I would learn absolutely nothing, that's why not.
posted by prostyle at 10:34 AM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


This is a teenager. Maybe two. Male. You can tell by the way that "Declaration..." video is written. The phrasing, wording.

A wonderful hoax. Kudos, kid(s).
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2008


Because it would bore me to tears and I would learn absolutely nothing, that's why not.

Congratulations, you have reached the archetype of a bad comment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


but hey, go tell the people organising protests and designing fliers and getting people on radio shows over at Enturbulation.Org that they're just "internet types" making in-jokes

Yeah, that guy who played the Rick Astley song really struck a death blow to Scientology, you fucking jackass.
posted by rocket88 at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is a teenager. Maybe two. Male. You can tell by the way that "Declaration..." video is written. The phrasing, wording.

A wonderful hoax. Kudos, kid(s).


Once again, having no idea what's actually going on with Project Chanology leads to idiotic statements about it. Do you people have some kind of stored-up desire to bash on 4chan that you finally have an outlet for?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 AM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that guy who played the Rick Astley song really struck a death blow to Scientology, you fucking jackass.

Yeah, and he's just as representative of anti-war sentiment as the idiot taking a "Free Mumia" sign to anti-war protest.

Jesus Christ, it's like you're trying to make your arguments maximally stupid.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:38 AM on February 11, 2008


This is a teenager. Maybe two. Male.

Actually, it has been proven that all /b/tards are really just one guy named David.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:40 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can we please stop posting about the antics of /b/tards vs Scientology? It's like watching retards fuck.

Heh. I just love that Scientology is finally being dealt with on its own terms. It's so much more appropriate than going after them with lawyers and media exposés.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:42 AM on February 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


From the 3rd link: do Scientologists really run "child labor" "gulags" and force women to have abortions? It seams like the BBC would have picked up on this by now.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2008


You could look to traditional media for coverage, but this is an internet internet phenomenon - why not look at one of the over 4,600 Flickr pictures tagged with "Scientology" and "Anonymous" taken between the 8th and the 11th? Or look at one of the YouTube videos of events all over the world, linked by Jess Lee or sift through the two-thousand-plus YouTube videos from the last week.

I hate traditional media as much as the next person, but one thing they are good at is constructing a narrative. Usually the narrative is moronic and exploitative, but there's a narrative. The internet allows you to construct your own narrative that highlights the parts of events that are most important to you or to organize facts into a cohesive whole that makes a persuasive case for some objective that's important to you.

But you have to construct a narrative. You have to tell me why I should care about whatever you are talking about. You have to tell me why I should weigh the sign that reads "Co$ KILLS" differently than the sign that reads "LONGCAT IS LOOOOOONG" within the same crowd.

Don't just point me to flickr photo pools and crappy cellphone videos of idiots in masks shouting on top of one another. What is happening? Why is it happening? Who is behind it? What is their motivation? What is the objective? How does what happened advance the objective? Was it a success? Etc.

Otherwise, this is just a message board meetup, and nothing more.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:44 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


It's cute/tragically short-sighted the way some people insist on characterizing anything that comes out of this hooplah as eminently dismissable tard-versus-tard action.

Let me say this: if you happen to know someone who's been caught up in the Org's dangerous malarkey, you're going to be pretty damn pleased at some attention coming to the issue regardless of how was seeded.

If your family were torn apart or you had to give up on some of your friends because of their hopeless devotion to that destructive farce masquerading as a church, you might not be so picky. You might say, "Anything that turns up the heat on those avaricious devils is positive."

I can understand that some people are tired of hearing about it. Hell, I'm tired of hearing about the contest for the next King of America -- nevertheless, it's news and it's consequential news so I can appreciate why folks are talking about it.

I don't care what Anonymous' true (or original) motives are. Frankly, if you're someone who feels that less-than-solid motivations cheapen actions, you're probably a good candidate for being anti-Scientology. Think about it.

I know I've got my own reasons to cheer Anonymous on.

If some folks had a little more compassion, they might think twice before bleating their candy-assed whines about how nobody gives a shit about all this, and how they'd rather read about rumours of pink iPhones or glow-in-the-dark Lego depictings of Hawking radiation.
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 10:45 AM on February 11, 2008 [27 favorites]


Too make my comment more clear, the Jess Lee blog does this well but the thousands and thousands of photos and videos don't.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:46 AM on February 11, 2008


From the 3rd link: do Scientologists really run "child labor" "gulags" and force women to have abortions? It seams like the BBC would have picked up on this by now.

Rehabilitation Project Force and Forced Abortions.

Between Operation Freakout and Time Magazine spending years fighting off a $400,000,000 lawsuit for reporting on Scientology's crimes back in 1991, news organisations as a whole have been reluctant to run negative stories on the Church of Scientology.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:48 AM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Burhanistan's link in MeTa last night to this page about the London protest is good. Haters can snark all they want, but this is an impressive goofball protest. Seriously. Anonymous got hundreds of people in dozens of cities around the world to do this on the same day, and a lot of them had a blast while drawing attention to specific injustices committed by a horrible worldwide organization.

Why on earth anyone would rush to sneer at that is beyond me.
posted by mediareport at 10:49 AM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


The Church of Scientology: You Can't Stop The Signal.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:50 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


this would work better with toilet paper and shaving cream
posted by pyramid termite at 10:50 AM on February 11, 2008


Having Been Personally Hassled (Not to any point as to be Violent or full on illegal harassment) I can only look at this and Chuckle, The Ice truck Surveillance Van really capped it off for me. I like the Idea of getting all the license plates of all the surveillance vehicles on list so we can verify it is the Co$ following you and not paranoia.

I personally have never witnesses any other religious group go after someone with such zeal and vengence and even anger when called on their message. Not Catholics, Islam or even Satanists, perhaps I have a limited view, but I can say those i have met from the Co$ have been extremely aggressive to me.
posted by Elim at 10:52 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Can we please stop posting about the antics of /b/tards vs Scientology? It's like watching retards fuck.

Hell yeah! I hate free speech too.
posted by MillMan at 10:54 AM on February 11, 2008


There ARE a lot of extremely interesting aspects to Anon's chanology project and what it portends for the future of distributed activism. Yes, it's for the lulz, but if you can't see anything interesting in Anon's methods and means, I submit that you are an arrogant fuckstick that is too bored with the world to be allowed to comment.

in before, "Metafilter - arrogant fucksticks that are too bored with the world to be allowed to comment."
posted by Cathedral at 10:54 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'm jealous... I wish I would have thought up a pyramid scheme where I could make up some lame ass story and have people pay me millions a year. Maybe I could... Call it the church of scientificism... there that'll have to do. Anyone who wants to know the history of my church has to pay me 5$.... now all I need to do is sit back and let the cash roll in. Gotta love snake oil and idiots!
posted by Mastercheddaar at 10:55 AM on February 11, 2008


mediareport: "...Why on earth anyone would rush to sneer at that is beyond me."

Umm, because it's metafilter?
posted by symbioid at 10:55 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Scientology versus the Mysterons! Two fictions created by sci-fi writers in the middle of the 20th century slug it out.

If the Church of Scientology ceased its little extortion racket, I wonder if Scientologist belief would survive independently, a true-to-life faith? I understand that there are some Scientology schismatics who practise for free, so perhaps so. But the Church itself really must be stopped.
posted by WPW at 10:56 AM on February 11, 2008


If stupid group antics gets people to pay attention, then by all means keep it up, I say. I'd much rather see this than a bunch of unwashed dreadlocked pseudo-hippies having a sit in.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:56 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Elim: "I personally have never witnesses any other religious group go after someone with such zeal and vengence and even anger when called on their message. Not Catholics, Islam or even Satanists, perhaps I have a limited view, but I can say those i have met from the Co$ have been extremely aggressive to me."

Ah yes... no other religious group has killed people over being "offended"...

Don't get me wrong, I'm totally against CoS, and support anon, fully. But I wouldn't say the CoS is the only organized religion that has such a mindset. You could argue it's the only full-body of an organized religion that takes such stances, and the other incidents are individuals or sects, and I suppose that would be valid.

But it's absurd to say that only CoS has wingnuts like that.
posted by symbioid at 11:01 AM on February 11, 2008


If the Church of Scientology ceased its little extortion racket, I wonder if Scientologist belief would survive independently, a true-to-life faith? I understand that there are some Scientology schismatics who practise for free, so perhaps so. But the Church itself really must be stopped.

I don't think the Freezone would last very long without a slow stream of disenchanted CoS members to fill it. Are there really people coming to Scientology other than through the Church?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:02 AM on February 11, 2008


Don't get me wrong, I'm totally against CoS, and support anon, fully. But I wouldn't say the CoS is the only organized religion that has such a mindset. You could argue it's the only full-body of an organized religion that takes such stances, and the other incidents are individuals or sects, and I suppose that would be valid.

But it's absurd to say that only CoS has wingnuts like that.


You've kind of stated it there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 AM on February 11, 2008


The thing that bugs me about all of this is the protofascist "might makes right" attitude of Anonymous - not these protests, which I think are actually a very positive way of getting an anti-COS message out, but all the other juvenile "zomg internet raid" stuff on the Chanology site seem incredibly counter-productive to me. I'm with the xenu.net guy on that one.
posted by whir at 11:07 AM on February 11, 2008


Metafilter:
posted by casarkos at 11:11 AM on February 11, 2008


i'll log in to make a snarky comment while anonymous goes out and fucking does something.

armchairfilter.
posted by dopamine at 11:17 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is a ridiculously entertaining LJ entry from one such Anonymouse who participated in the UK protestes, complete with pictures and mockery.

Excellent post btw, I'd been hoping to get a bit more information about this as I found out about the event after the fact.
posted by Phire at 11:20 AM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Here are some . of . the . flyers distributed at these protests... ps: 2/10 NEVAR FORGET
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:25 AM on February 11, 2008


"Retards"? "Tards"? How old are you, twelve? Knock it off.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:27 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


symbioid , I agree I can only state that I have personally never been annoyed to the point of harassment by ANY other group in my life other than the few Co$ folks that have done that.

Trust Me I agree that religions have been and are being used to commit violence, and that is not my argument. I can only confirm the tactics they used with me would probably not have passed Legal muster in Europe and certainly would have gotten me arrested if not assaulted.

Whether, another religious group either historically or in another place in the world does the same or worse is irrelevant to my experience.
posted by Elim at 11:30 AM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Every time Pope Guilty makes a link I have to check for rickrolls.
posted by tylermoody at 11:31 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Retards"? "Tards"? How old are you, twelve? Knock it off.

I speak Jive. "LURK MOAR OR GTFO"
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:32 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


i think the really interesting bit in all this is the decentralized nature of the organization. there's no single entity organizing the "movement". there's no head to cut off. but it will take quite a bit more in both numbers of bodies out there and effectiveness in getting out the message to make a dent in the cause.
posted by ruthsarian at 11:32 AM on February 11, 2008


Every time Pope Guilty makes a link I have to check for rickrolls.

Why? I'm not a part of the greater /b/ collective.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:33 AM on February 11, 2008


Too make my comment more clear, the Jess Lee blog does this well but the thousands and thousands of photos and videos don't.

I agree, but I think this is an interesting coda to this phenomena. Some random person puts together an online screed and it captures people's interest. As an eventual result, at least hundreds if not a few thousand people world-wide make a public spectacle. Within 48 hours of its conclusion there's thousands of easily findable pictures and videos of the event.

*shrug* Perhaps I am making more of it than it justifies, but I found it intriguing the way this came together and how much it generated.

That aside, I'm not sure who you're addressing here, Pastabagel. Me? I generally think the CoS is whacky and engages in loathsome behavior, but I don't have a dog in this specific fight. I just wanted to comment on the prodigious citizen media coming out of this.

Are you directing it at the people assembling? The video I watched of the people who went to the CoS location in my area showed a number of folks holding up signs with XENU.NET on it, which contains information on the CoS and its past behavior, though it could certainly stand to be more accessible.

I think writing it off as just internet meetup shenanigans is a little over-simplified. The fact that there were people being doofuses is just inevitable. Any kind of protest attracts a certain kind of folk. The Free Mumia folk that Pope Guilty mentions, NAMBLA at gay pride parades. These people aren't representative of the crowd as a whole, and tarring everyone with that brush when you have an open-to-the-public gathering is unfair and unrealistic.

I think the Anonymous brigade could have been more useful if they'd made a point at creating at providing information about the CoS to non-involved passerby, but that's not their (foolish) stated goal.
posted by phearlez at 11:33 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, a science-ology thread! I haven't previewed, but did I miss the part of the discussion when some "enlightened" soul with absolutely no agenda declares how Scientology is no different and no more harmful than any other religion despite mountains of evidence to the contrary?

Someone please do so and get it over with so the literate mefites can discuss the articles in question further.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:34 AM on February 11, 2008


Oh, a science-ology thread! I haven't previewed, but did I miss the part of the discussion when some "enlightened" soul with absolutely no agenda declares how Scientology is no different and no more harmful than any other religion despite mountains of evidence to the contrary?

Someone please do so and get it over with so the literate mefites can discuss the articles in question further.


tkchrist, 8 comments in.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:43 AM on February 11, 2008


I take it from DoctorFedora's response that "tard" is some anti-Scientology lingo. If you're trying to spread a message, you might want to consider not using offensive slang in it... unless you're only interested in talking with people who already know all the cool words.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:43 AM on February 11, 2008


I'm pretty sure that the estimable Dr. Fedora is pointing out what a stupid comment the complaint about "tards" was.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:45 AM on February 11, 2008


I take it from DoctorFedora's response that "tard" is some anti-Scientology lingo.

FAIL!


Sorry. It's what the Anonymous people self-identify as. They're reclaiming it, or something.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:45 AM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


1: I wish I still lived in DC to see that Scientology church get rickrolled live. I used to walk by that all the time. Lived right up the street a few blocks.

2: Can I point out how great it is to see a protest where none of the protesters are being sanctimonious pricks, and no one apparently has any sense that The Movement must be Purged for the Greater Good? For God's sake, they're having fun out there! Right on. And I also think that silliness and mockery are exactly what the COS should be fought with. It's a completely laughable and absurd cult, and the only thing that protects them is that they've managed to make people act seriously about it. Longcat might be our only hope here.
posted by rusty at 11:47 AM on February 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


Oh, is that what the question is?

"/b/tard" is the in-jokey word for members of the greater /b/ group, spread out across the *Chans, similar to how Something Awful forumites call themselves "goons".
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:48 AM on February 11, 2008


Yeah, but LONGCAT IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG
posted by influx at 11:50 AM on February 11, 2008


Actually, my intention was to translate the original complaint into a form that the idiot in question would actually respond to.

Hasn't anyone here seen Airplane!?
posted by DoctorFedora at 11:52 AM on February 11, 2008


Scientology is but one, perhaps the biggest, of groups called "cults." While many non-believers consider--witness some comments here--Mainline religion cults, is it possible to clearly distinguish between a religion and a cult? Example: one person told me that for a religion to be "real" it had to be some two thousand years old...ok, then what of Mormonism and Protestantism?

Can you distinguish or is simpler to dismiss all religions because you can not?
What do religions and cults have in common? neither pays taxes.
posted by Postroad at 11:53 AM on February 11, 2008


It looks like the MeFi SPs with the BTs are now a Type 3 PTS. This OT is I/C, and we're gonna KSW by dropping some AVC and having the OSA D/A these DBs all the way into the RPF. THen I'm driving my BMW back to the CC and drinking a PBR PDQ, ya heard? Teegeeack represent!
posted by Tom Cruise at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


The really interesting bits about this- the crimes of the Church of Scientology aside- are all about what Anonymous implies about the future of activism.

What would that be? That in the future, all activists will ignore the long-standing, pre-existing movements that have already learned their lessons and paid the price and make the same mistake by doing the same kind of stupid shit all over again?

Still, I'm pretty sure Grady Ward didn't think he'd be stuffed by a $2m settlement, or that Keith Henson didn't think he'd be spending that much time in jail the last time Scientology fever gripped the internet either.

Wise beard man nails it for me.

That live Rickroll was pretty sweet though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:05 PM on February 11, 2008


I think it's funny, "Do a barrel roll!"

Are people complaining that they aren't "protesting right"? What the fuck is that?
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:07 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's like watching retards fuck.

Torrentz Plz.
posted by sourwookie at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I just thought it was funny that their video mentioned that some of them were "veterinary technicians"
posted by delmoi at 12:35 PM on February 11, 2008


Are people complaining that they aren't "protesting right"? What the fuck is that?
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:07 PM on February 11


That isn't what I'm complaining about. My complaint is that for any kind of reactionary movement to have an effect, someone needs to contextualize it, i.e. someone needs to write and direct the story of it. What is the menaing of the event having taken place? etc, like a I wrote above.

The problem is that if anonymous or the associated groups don't place these protests into some context ("They are different than previous protests because of X"), the Church of Scientology will be happy to do it for them. That why the Church's official response brands them as "terrorists" and highlights the DDOS activities. Furthermore, unless Anonymous or another group describes what happened and what is or is not sanctioned activity, some jackass acting in Anonymous's name is going to do something stupid or illegal (getting into a fist fight, trespassing, etc) that CoS will pin on the group as a whole.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:45 PM on February 11, 2008


Did you mean "cum"?
posted by Curry at 12:51 PM on February 11, 2008


I understand Pastabagel, but I think that Anonymous is just bored and dicking around at the heart of it, if Scientology gets a thumb in the eye, well... Can't say they don't have it coming.
posted by Divine_Wino at 12:58 PM on February 11, 2008


sourwookie: "It's like watching retards fuck.

Torrentz Plz.
"

Believe me, sourwookie, I've tried. The closest I've found is some grandmas in what appear to be a nursing home.

That just ain't right.
posted by symbioid at 12:59 PM on February 11, 2008


This is fucking awesome. It's great to see Anonymous (and his Anonymous masses) engaging in something a little more useful than spamming Second Lif-ers. Sure, many of them might still be doing it for the lulz - and that's interesting/cool in its own right - but it's refreshing to see their target move to something equally as absurd, but a great deal more dangerous.
posted by lunit at 1:02 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the 3rd link: do Scientologists really run "child labor" "gulags" and force women to have abortions?

Cadet Org
Children's RPF
posted by scalefree at 1:03 PM on February 11, 2008


The problem is that if anonymous or the associated groups don't place these protests into some context ("They are different than previous protests because of X"), the Church of Scientology will be happy to do it for them. That why the Church's official response brands them as "terrorists" and highlights the DDOS activities. Furthermore, unless Anonymous or another group describes what happened and what is or is not sanctioned activity, some jackass acting in Anonymous's name is going to do something stupid or illegal (getting into a fist fight, trespassing, etc) that CoS will pin on the group as a whole.

I'm not sure it matters in this case. Scientology just might be the ultimate example to support the concept that free speech is the best disinfectant for bad ideas. Their beliefs are so stupid that you don't have to contextualize anything. The biggest danger you have - and the only way I can see the Anonymous group's irreverence harming them - is that they're just SO nutso that people will think you're making them up.

But most people aren't aware of the volcanos and the aliens and the inter-stellar 737s, so when a group like this goes out there and shines the light on Scientology it's much more inoculated against member misbehavior than most other movements. They don't have to look good to make Scientology look bad.
posted by phearlez at 1:15 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure they're interstellar DC-10s.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:16 PM on February 11, 2008


Yeah, Peter, because all of the "long-standing, pre-existing movements" have done such a bang-up job dealing with the CoS. Give me a break. You sound like Hillary Clinton arguing that Obama is the "Establishment" candidate.

Anonymous has more in common with a flash mob than a movement.
posted by Cathedral at 1:26 PM on February 11, 2008


I'm pretty sure they're interstellar DC-10s.

See, I thought it was Douglas DC-8s. Clearly their misinformation campaign is working.

If we can't accurately identify such an important piece of information, how can we possibly hope to refute their beliefs.

Related: Either way, that Xenu dude is a cheap bastard. I mean, if I have to spend time on an interstellar flight, the least he could do is hook me up with a Concord, or a 777. But a DC-8/ DC-10? No thanks.

I guess I'll just stick with worshiping Satan.

posted by quin at 1:34 PM on February 11, 2008


I have to admit I've been following this with some amount of interest. I guess it's just the guilty little thought, prompted by wishful thinking if by nothing else, that perhaps this is simply trial run and the most interesting antics are yet to come.
posted by CheshireCat at 1:39 PM on February 11, 2008


I saw this, and was amused.

Not a comment on the rightness/need for the protests, I think we're dealing with some weird folks in the Co$, and only weird responses may work...
posted by pupdog at 1:41 PM on February 11, 2008


That why the Church's official response brands them as "terrorists" and highlights the DDOS activities.

Which, in 99% of people's minds, just casts further ridicule on the COS. A bunch of people in funny masks carrying funny signs, are "terrorists"? That either completely dilutes the term "terrorist", or confirms that the COS are nutcases / running scared / don't know how to react. As for the DDOS activities, there's plenty of evidence that the COS retaliated with cybervandalism of their own.

some jackass acting in Anonymous's name is going to do something stupid or illegal (getting into a fist fight, trespassing, etc) that CoS will pin on the group as a whole.

Except "Anonymous" isn't a group, and I don't see how anyone can act in its name. Anyone, anywhere can call themselves Anonymous. The online presence of Anonymous is spread over a few dozen chans, countless blogs, forums, IRC. I don't see how anything could ever be pinned on the group as a whole, except in the media. And when Fox News innocently tried to do just that a few months ago, great mirth was had by all.

It's just pretty amazing and surprising to see these people get off their arses, take a break from making pedobear macros, and do something. I'd bet most of the protestors knew next to nothing about COS a few months back, and now it appears a significant majority of them have bothered to learn something and grow an interest in a decent cause.
posted by Jimbob at 1:44 PM on February 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't have a horse in this race either way, but I was disturbed to see Australia's internet news provider (news.com.au) provide this: copy of photo on news.com.au.

The unbearable thing they had to blur out to protect the public? The word "cult".
posted by b33j at 1:53 PM on February 11, 2008


Not to say that news.com.au is Australia's only internet news provider, just the most obvious one.
posted by b33j at 1:54 PM on February 11, 2008


Longcat might be our only hope here.

Why they fight.
posted by ryoshu at 2:04 PM on February 11, 2008


Pope Guilty If any other church behaved as the CoS behaves, we'd be after them, too.

Ha! Now that's an unimpressive and foolish promise if ever I saw one. I don't believe you. I'm calling you boastful, PG.

The Saudi Arabian religion, Wahhabism, or Salafism, is a belief system so much morally worse than Scientology that the comparison is absurd. This is the subset of Islam that declares women to be slaves, advocates death and maiming for a long list of activities most of which anywhere sensible consider basic human rights (for example, exercising freedom of religion), and maintains the huge Saudi "royal" extended family in astonishing luxury amid the poverty of ordinary Middle Eastern Arab existence.

Care to take them on?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:07 PM on February 11, 2008


Speaking as someone who attended the London events, I would say that a significant number of the people who attended were perfectly aware of the significance of the events wrt CoS as opposed to a meetup. Yes, there were internet memes paraded, and immature chants. But that's a good thing. The fact is that I and many others could stand there for 8 hours was partly down to the fact that it was a fun place to be.

We DID hand out flyers to passerbys, and I personally talked to 4 media outlets. We also made passing Londoners look, smile, and take the leaflets in a city where looking past people giving merchandise is an ingrained reflex. A message leavened with humour is a good thing, it breaks the pofaced nature of many protests and was an excellent contrast to the Scientologist people on the day.

Don't think of the false dichotomy between the energy of channers and the seriousness of traditional protesters, think of it as a synergy.
posted by jaduncan at 2:07 PM on February 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


The unbearable thing they had to blur out to protect the public? The word "cult".

Oh! You mean it was an "L"? :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:08 PM on February 11, 2008


At this rate, I give it about 5 years before they get organized enough to buy an attack submarine to go hunt down Freewinds in international waters.

The Pirate Bay would be jealous.
posted by cecilkorik at 2:08 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The unbearable thing they had to blur out to protect the public? The word "cult".

Typo?
posted by rokusan at 2:11 PM on February 11, 2008


Huh. B/tards. People getting called 'fucking jackass' for expressing a different opinion.

I've always thought that Scientology was the sackful of assholes. Maybe I was wrong. Thank you, Anonymous, for helping me to re-examine by beliefs.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 2:23 PM on February 11, 2008


At this rate, I give it about 5 years before they get organized enough to buy an attack submarine to go hunt down Freewinds in international waters.

Sounds like an interesting premise for a straight to DVD movie.

Hell, I'd watch it.
posted by quin at 2:25 PM on February 11, 2008


Naysayers should see some of the thing ex-scientologists and critics write:
Arnie Lerma
Emma
In praise of Anonymous
and finally Tory Christman's interview on Point of Inquiry.
posted by magnusbe at 2:27 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I thought it was good.
I'm very impressed with Anonymous. It almost makes me want to don the mask myself.
posted by seanyboy at 2:45 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kids today are fucking awesome.

They put my generation to shame, all we wanted to do was get high and dance.
posted by fullerine at 2:46 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I have to admit that the stories magnusbe linked are very inspirational and warmed the cockles of my black little heart towards Anonymous just a little bit.
posted by whir at 2:48 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Beej, I could swear that when that photo first appeared on news.com.au, CULT wasn't pixellated out...I'm pretty sure there was no pixellated bits on the picture at all to begin with.
posted by Jimbob at 2:55 PM on February 11, 2008


tkchrist, 8 comments in.

Oh. Shut the fuck up. I responded to another poster who was claiming that other religions have'nt used intimidation or violence to silence critics. Which is patently not true. Even in recent history.

I suppose you can let the bullshit lay to serve your whipping up the hate agenda but what good does it do?

You can fetishize your hysterical Scientology Hate all you want but anybody with a god damned brain in their head places SoC pretty low on the give-a-fuck-a-meter. Especially when compared to any number of other larger more egregious social wrongs being committed in the name of religion and/or profit.

Picking on SoC is low hanging fruit. They're loony. Kooky. And do some scandalous things. It easy. Nobody likes them.

It's South Park Outrage and so inert it's a laughable use of laziest of efforts. But seriously. What the fuck ever. Go for it. OMFG! SCIENTOLOGY!!!
posted by tkchrist at 3:02 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


But what do you really think about it?
posted by whir at 3:05 PM on February 11, 2008


Ha! Now that's an unimpressive and foolish promise if ever I saw one. I don't believe you. I'm calling you boastful, PG.

The Saudi Arabian religion, Wahhabism, or Salafism, is a belief system so much morally worse than Scientology that the comparison is absurd. This is the subset of Islam that declares women to be slaves, advocates death and maiming for a long list of activities most of which anywhere sensible consider basic human rights (for example, exercising freedom of religion), and maintains the huge Saudi "royal" extended family in astonishing luxury amid the poverty of ordinary Middle Eastern Arab existence.

Care to take them on?


As opposed to you, who are doing nothing more useful than masturbating.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:24 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


But what do you really think about it?

Eh. It's okay I guess.
posted by tkchrist at 3:24 PM on February 11, 2008


Care to take them on?

Choose your battles wisely.
posted by Jimbob at 3:25 PM on February 11, 2008


Masturbating is extremely useful! Why, we could power our lord Xenu's re-entry vehicle with the energy if only w... I have said too much already.
posted by tkchrist at 3:27 PM on February 11, 2008


I don't have a horse in this race either way, but I was disturbed to see Australia's internet news provider (news.com.au) provide this...

This man may find that language inflammatory

And we wouldn't want that

So we can probably expect more of this




posted by Tuatara at 3:30 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I mean, it's impressive how there's this organisation which is at this very moment actively engaged in tearing down freedom of speech, brainwashing people, ripping off hundreds of thosuands of dollars from its adherents, and most of the people in this thread are desperately trying to justify their failure to do a fucking thing about it by acting like their inaction makes them better than those who are trying to rectify the situation.

Well, fuck them, and fuck you for thinking that you're far too hip to care, way cooler than those lame people who give a fuck about things and actually try to make the world a better place. The world is horrible, yes, but none of your pathetic squealings will wash away the blood that your indifference and inaction puts on your hands.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:31 PM on February 11, 2008 [12 favorites]


In a less snarky vein, tkchrist, I agree that it's low-hanging fruit and that in the grand scheme of the evil that men do, the excesses of the CoS are probably not all that big. Nonetheless, there have been a bunch of people who have been demonstrably hurt by the church, and I don't really see what harm it does to raise awareness about that in the population at large.

Also, can we tone down the rhetoric a tad? If I get too much more blood on my hands, I'm going to need to wash my shirt.
posted by whir at 3:36 PM on February 11, 2008


our beef is with the Church of Scientology, not Scientology as a belief system/religion/whatever.

I understand the appeal of making this distinction because it protects you from the charge of attacking another person's sincerely held beliefs, but I actually totally disagree with it. I understand the faction which holds that there was a "pure" Scientology devised by Hubbard which has been corrupted in the years since his death, and that's undoubtedly true...but there is absolutely no getting around the fact that Hubbard was a sick, sick, sadistic motherfucker in the first place. The practices are inseparable from his writings, and the writings are totally saturated with his need to control and break down other people. I'd certainly be satisfied if the official Co$ could be dismantled or starved out of existence somehow and the practices left in the hands of the freezoners, but I really think the evils of the organization are outgrowths of the evils of the practices themselves, to the extent that they are inextricable from each other.
posted by anazgnos at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2008


Pastabagel: someone needs to write and direct the story of it.

I think it's part of this new Anonymous/"Oh Fuck! The internet is here!" ethos that each individual directs the story. The information is available. (Here's the summarizing "anti-manifesto" if you insist on being so TL;DR.) But in this trend, the narrative is now yours to construct, not Rupert Murdoch's, not George W. Bush's, and not Hillary Clinton's.

To quote Anonymous, albeit a bit melodramatically:

"It has no leaders. It has no authorities. This movement is self directed by each member's own moral compass, and every individual walks in the same direction because that compass points to what is right."

And it's not just Anonymous: It's Wikipedia, it's here, it's all over the Internet. Read a Scientology article on Wikipedia and the facts shine through even through NPOV. Read the comments here, no one's afraid to call Scientology a dangerous cult. Meanwhile, read a traditional media report and the most you generally hear is that Scientology is a "controversial religion" when if they had the research skills or balls to do the bare minimum of typing "Scientology" into Google they'd find tons of hard evidence for a bit more than controversy.

This is a teenager. Maybe two. Male.

I have it on good authority that there are OVER 9000 Anonymous, and that even though there are no girls on the internet, it's not all that hard to find female Anonymous.

(Anyone added up all the individual protests yet? I'm sort of hoping they actually did get over 9000. I saw one of the traditional media news articles a few days ago and they actually stated that 9000 were expected to attend, and I had to wonder if some Anon they talked to pulled a joke or if they just pulled that off a chan somewhere without LURKING MOAR.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 3:50 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


As opposed to you, who are doing nothing more useful than masturbating.

Indeed so. However, at least I have enough dignity to refrain from putting it up on YouTube and calling myself a hero for doing it.

Look, I don't object to you protesting Scientology. I will admit to having heard about it, sneered, and said that I expected five nerds to turn up each of whom is there to "watch" the protest. I was wrong about that, and happy to be wrong. Jolly good. Go "Anonymous". And I strongly agree with your point about what this implies for the future of activism.

However, as tkchrist points out, Scientology is Low. Hanging. Fruit. Strawberries.

It was you who said, boastfully (I still think you're boastful. Windbag. Pufferfish. All hat and one scrawny cow. Blowhard. Big-talker. Nyah-nyah to you.) that any other church that behaves as Scientology behaves, you would be after them too. I will grant the Wahhabis are ... well, damn small fruit and high up the tree. But there's some gooseberry bushes around. Amway, for instance. Benny Hinn and so forth.

Or would you like some cream and sugar for your strawberries?
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


this thread are desperately trying to justify their failure to do a fucking thing

I'm not trying to justify anything. I'm telling you flat out: I am NOT doing anything about it becuase I don't give three slightly warmed shits.

But I admire your almost Jedi-like selfless dedication to the destruction of what you see to be the ultimate evil of the universe. Seeing such earnest dedication is almost enough to inspire one to found a puppet theater or start a secret society.

Almost.
posted by tkchrist at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2008


Wow. The snark is strong in this thread.

There's no net "lose" for Anonymous raiding CoS. Because they are not raiding Wahhabism or Benny Hinn doesn't mean that their actions mean any less. Reading this thread feels a little bit like reading the howlings of linux zealots that the Gates Foundation is morally bankrupt because Bill made his money at Microsoft.

The kids did something good, they did it in a new, novel way, and they managed to do it without falling into a lot of the obvious pitfalls. What's more, they maintained a sense of humor throughout the whole endeavor...

I'd bet that Anonymous doesn't take itself too seriously, but some of the responses to this thread clearly do...
posted by Cathedral at 4:04 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Picking on SoC is low hanging fruit.

Well, Anonymous isn't strong enough or situated properly to take on, say, evil multinational corporations, the Republican party, or fundamentalist Muslims, but I look forward to the lulz if it can scale up to that point.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2008



In a less snarky vein, tkchrist, I agree that it's low-hanging fruit and that in the grand scheme of the evil that men do, the excesses of the CoS are probably not all that big. Nonetheless, there have been a bunch of people who have been demonstrably hurt by the church, and I don't really see what harm it does to raise awareness about that in the population at large.

You know I went to the VA with my dad a little while ago. He needed a new hearing aid. There was a group of four Iraq vets waiting to get a van pool over to some kind of PT session or something. One dude didn't have a nose. I mean he had an open frigg'n cavity in his face where there was a nose. Another guy looked totally normal except he only had four fingers on one hand...and then you looked close and his legs and his other arm were partial prosthesis. These guys were young enough to be my kids. I call that demonstrably hurt.

One could make the argument that these soldiers were volunteers to a war that disfigured them. That maybe they should have known better sp why should I care? I'm not making that argument. Sure, all of them knew the risks, accept it, and try to get on with life the best they can. But they need my help to make sure they get the justice guaranteed them becuase it's my tax dollars and my complacency that is partially responsible for sending them to a bad war and fucking them up. I owe them.

When I think of SoS I DO make that argument. If you have somebody involved with a church post 1995, when all the information was widely available about it's practices and kookery for over twenty years, then I have hard time mustering much sympathy. How stupid do you have to be to believe in alien ghosts living in volcanos? I don't owe those stupid people shit.

But that is just one man's opinion.
posted by tkchrist at 4:07 PM on February 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


TheOnlyCoolTim, here is an attempt to tally:
http://forums.enturbulation.org/viewtopic.php?t=1737
"Overall Total: 107 raids, 17 countries, 7725-8250 people"

However, I find it likely that this list is not yet complete.
posted by magnusbe at 4:20 PM on February 11, 2008


Or would you like some cream and sugar for your strawberries?

Or maybe Hal Turner?

btw, not your personal army.
posted by ryoshu at 4:26 PM on February 11, 2008



Well, Anonymous isn't strong enough or situated properly to take on, say, evil multinational corporations, the Republican party, or fundamentalist Muslims, but I look forward to the lulz if it can scale up to that point.

And I will too. I am impressed by the technique used by these guys. But face it. The furor expressed over CoS has nothing to do with a principled stand over free speech or individuals being hurt by these church and everything to do with a virtual adolescent turf war over what these Anon guys see as THEIR territory. And the Cos is an obvious and simple target that get good LULZ.
posted by tkchrist at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2008


If you have somebody involved with a church post 1995, when all the information was widely available about it's practices and kookery for over twenty years, then I have hard time mustering much sympathy.

Well, fair enough, although I don't agree with you. The reason that people get pulled into cults, in my understanding, is not that they are stupid or uninformed, but that they are in an emotionally vulnerable period of their lives and they happen upon someone who exploits that vulnerability. I can't really fault them for that, though it doesn't give them a pass to participate in CoS shenanigans like "fair game" either.

In terms of the damage that's been done by the church, I don't personally find it easy to place these things next to one another on some sort of absolute scale of good and evil. But I agree with you, I think, in that for me, all of the wrongs perpetrated by the CoS together pale in comparison to the awful suffering caused by the Iraq War.

But, I don't know that this comparison would be the same for me if I knew somebody personally who had been hurt by the church, and I don't think the CoS side of the equation (NSFW) is zero, so I'm having a tough time understanding why some people are getting so angry about Anonymous's actions here. What should Anonymous be doing instead?
posted by whir at 4:34 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm still pissed at the Church of Scientology. Not for hawking a stupid scam of a religion (lots of those around), but because they cheated the New York Times Bestseller List back in the 80s, thus causing me to question my taste in reading. All og Hubbard's books were screaming to the top, and I love a good book, but those were just mediocre space opera stories...at best. For a while, I thought my ability to detect a good book had gotten dated or something and that Hubbard's books were what the 'new generation' *liked* to read. I was much reassured to find out that peoples' reading tastes don't stink *that* much.

As for the scam...er, religion, itself, well, I can't feel too sorry for anyone who gets sucked in by them. I mean, c'mon, Hubbard's own son explained it was all a tax-evasion profiteering scam run by ruthless and immoral folks, his father being first and foremost among them. All the info you could ever want to know about their fakery and dishonesty is out there, available to all. People need to do some due diligence before deciding on something as central to one's life as a religion.

Remember the quacks of the 1800s, selling folks fake remedies in a bottle? That's basically what the CoS does, except their quackery involves electrodes and mysterious machines, and the cures they promise are more of the spiritual kind than the physical. Preying on the hopes of the forlorn is what religions do, so in that sense, I suppose they are a religion. Most religions aren't so blatant with the profiteering though, which gives the CoS that strong scammy smell.

I want my money back for those crappy books!
posted by jamstigator at 4:46 PM on February 11, 2008



I don't see people attacking environmentalists for not fighting AIDS-- people pick different causes and I don't know why anyone who knows about how Scientology operates would oppose those who oppose it. The argument that other religions do the same thing simply isn't true-- other religions which aren't cults do not charge people thousands of dollars to "advance" spiritually.

There are clear, concrete differences between religions and cults and they have nothing to do with the beliefs involved or the newness or oldness of the religion: they have to do with whether the organization has a totalizing immersion process and works to cut people off from outside influences completely until they have internalized the idea that the group is the one true way and its ends justify any means.

Other organizations have not terrorized big media into watering down any coverage into lulz or non-expose exposes: the fact that the mainstream media steers clear is frightening and serves as an example of how money and lawyers can indeed silence almost everyone.
posted by Maias at 4:52 PM on February 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


To be honest, I'm just disappointed that simply by going to see the protest here and taking pictures (while taking flyers and offering thumbs-up and etc), my friend and I appear to have been branded Scientologists. I'm hoping they decide to re-title their photos on flickr which feature us ("The Head Clam"? Really?)

I love the movement for the fact that it translated so well into RL, but there was a certain air of paranoia about it. I guess I can't blame them, really. But I definitely felt like the 'welcome civilians, focus on educating the public' angle wasn't quite coming together right.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 5:15 PM on February 11, 2008


What should Anonymous be doing instead?

They should do what ever they feel they should do. My problem is other posters over hyping the threat posed by Scientology.

The argument that other religions do the same thing simply isn't true

And for the ump-tillionth time nobody is arguing that Scientology is NOT a cult. Nor are they saying they are all the same. What we said is that in comparison to the sins of the mainstream religions, sins that include fucking genocide and complicity in genocide mind you, bilking people out of their money is somewhat tame but no less wrong. And some people were saying that other religions don't intimidate or use threats. And I'd say slaughtering entire societies is a pretty major form of intimidation that resonates hundreds of years.

I don't see people attacking environmentalists for not fighting AIDS-- people pick different causes

Yes. You can choose expend your energies bringing the CoS to justice. But frankly comparing that expenditure of energy to dividing resources up between environmentalism and AIDS is goofy. In the grand scheme of things CoS is not anywhere near the same level of civilizational threat.

If I came in yelling about my pet cause, say, legalization of de-clawing cats or say how the City of Seattle illegally used Parking Ticket fines to fund capitol projects against city charter and then "intimidated" people (by slowing permit applications and the like) from making hay about it... whatever... would it be okay for me to accuse other posters of masturbating becuase they DON'T think that is the biggest cause on the planet?

Is my cause as important to somebody else spending equal time and resources fighting the genocide in Rawanda? Are there priorities to causes? Are there degrees to which we should be outraged? I think so.

Not every outrage is created equal.
posted by tkchrist at 5:25 PM on February 11, 2008


The only thing I object to about the /b/tards attacks on the CoS are the DDoS aspects. If they wanna protest, wearing Guy Faweks masks or no, that's their right. The DDoS attacks I object to.

But I'm not going to applaud them, for reasons others have pointed out. They've invested their time, energy, etc in an ultimately meaningless protest against a powerless and largely meaningless group. I'm supposed to be impressed? To think they are heroes? Pfft, they're a bunch of /b/tards who took the lulz off the net for a while, they aren't heroes, they won't make even the faintest bit of difference to the CoS one way or the other.

I do admire the way they managed to take report from the initial sucker at FOX who breathlessly reported on "Anonymous" as if it were an actual group, and parlay that into an even bigger joke on all the suckers who *continue* to think that Anonymous is a real group. That takes some chutzpah, and a lot of luck. So yay /b/tards for getting ever more media idiots to fall for the joke.

I can see how people who personally know someone harmed by the CoS would feel, irrationally, that the CoS is bigger and more powerful than it actually is. What I can't see is how anyone not so personally involved can get so worked up over a bunch of powerless kooks. I spend my time worrying about kooks with power, like Pat Robertson, or the Ayatollah, or the Pope.

I don't insist that others worry only about what I worry about, but I don't take people who spend their time worrying about the CoS much more seriously than I take, say, people who spend their time worrying about ChemTrails, or the Illuminati. Yes, the CoS is real (unlike ChemTrails and the Illuminati) and has hurt a tiny number of people; but, no it isn't a threat to anyone but people stupid enough to get suckered into it and therefore I find all the sound and fury expressed at the CoS annoying because I *do* see that as a distraction from real threats.

I guess I could have shortened that to: "Meh, wake me up when the /b/tards do something interesting and/or important"
posted by sotonohito at 5:32 PM on February 11, 2008


Yes, shame on Anonymous for not toppling Al Qaida. Come on guys, pick up the slack.

Get something REAL done. Y'know, aside from getting OVER 9000 youngsters at least vaguely interested in activism of one sort of another and making a point that has been needed to made loud and clear for some time now.
posted by davros42 at 5:35 PM on February 11, 2008




I have to say, Rickrolling has much more class than goatse.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:00 PM on February 11, 2008


I have to say, Rickrolling has much more class than goatse.

That's true, I actually would have expected a /b/ protest to consist mostly of 14-year-olds shouting "fag" at the top of their lungs.
posted by whir at 6:11 PM on February 11, 2008


I think a lot of the snarkers here are missing the point. I hear a lot of people decrying this as improper for a "movement" since it lacks a narrative, or doesn't accomplish anything. The real campaign against the target is happening almost entirely online, and I think it's effectiveness should be measured there. The internet showing up is really just gravy.

And tkchrist, I don't think the cause here is what is noteworthy. It's the means. This is the kind of shit that happens in Mangas; a Standalone Complex. There is no narrative.

I personally would like to see similar tactics employed in fighting the Iraq war. I lived in DC and went to every rally, but can't say that I really miss the experience. This on the other hand is pretty awesome, and I wish I hadn't missed it.
posted by butterstick at 6:24 PM on February 11, 2008



And tkchrist, I don't think the cause here is what is noteworthy. It's the means. This is the kind of shit that happens in Mangas; a Standalone Complex. There is no narrative.

Yes. I agree. Certainly. Hence the value of the OP. And I already said I admire the accomplishment of the general technique.
posted by tkchrist at 7:12 PM on February 11, 2008


"I personally would like to see similar tactics employed in fighting the Iraq war. "

What tactics? DDoS attacks? You wanna measure the "effectiveness" of this campaign online? What actual, measurable effect has it had past those hacks? It's pissed off the CoS? Man, a speculation about Tom Cruise having a fused skull got their panties in a bunch.

What the fuck is "noteworthy" here?
posted by klangklangston at 7:13 PM on February 11, 2008


What tactics? DDoS attacks? You wanna measure the "effectiveness" of this campaign online? What actual, measurable effect has it had past those hacks? It's pissed off the CoS?

Well, I know about several dozen or so deaths under suspicious circumstances related to Scientology that I didn't know about before, along with all the other financial-related chicanery of the CoS. And knowing about all that makes me a helluva lot more likely to inform other people and

Hey, I'm no fan of Anonymous - a bunch of them went on a trolling-and-DDoSing spree of a bunch of my favorite websites late last year, and there's nothing quite like having all the threads of your favorite forum replaced with racial slurs and porn - but hey, CoS does hurt people, and they're out to stop the hurting (for once). It may not be working for the Peace Corps, but it's more than I did yesterday.
posted by bettafish at 7:36 PM on February 11, 2008


Rickrolling has much more class than goatse.

Some of the Rickrolls are pure genius.
posted by meehawl at 7:46 PM on February 11, 2008


Stand Alone Complex
posted by BeerFilter at 7:46 PM on February 11, 2008


The revolution will be anonymous.
posted by Espoo2 at 7:53 PM on February 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Well, I know about several dozen or so deaths under suspicious circumstances related to Scientology that I didn't know about before, along with all the other financial-related chicanery of the CoS. And knowing about all that makes me a helluva lot more likely to inform other people and"

So? You inform other people. They all sit around and go "Yes, yes, Scientology is fuxxored." So what?

Instead of this bullshit hippy-dippy "awareness raising" crap, how about you try to quantify the effects of this "campaign"? That's the fundamental disconnect for me in this thread—no one seems able to or interested in quantifying, preferring to babble on about how, like, it's, like, negative publicity or some such shit. Wow, they got a bunch of pizzas delivered. Thank God scientologists hate pizza and wouldn't eat it.

As for the revolutionary new methods of social networking that some here seem taken with, it's nothing that the Paultards haven't done, and hey, how effective has that been?
posted by klangklangston at 7:54 PM on February 11, 2008


klangklangston: What protest groups when they start have ever quantified what effect they have?

Are you sure Ron Paul's followers haven't had an effect? What effect did Goldwater have after he lost the presidential race? Showing that real limited government and war opposition has real popularity within the GOP is important. It's far to early to make pronouncements about Ron Paul's impact.

That said, surely the information that has been made available about the CoS is the most devastating thing. It would be very interesting to see how the membership of Scientology is going now that you can so easily get info on the net about what a farce it is. With wikipedia and xenu.net being the 2nd and 3rd hits on google you would have to figure the CoS is in serious trouble.

Scientology could be neutralised by removing their tax exempt status and requiring them to report more to the government. What the Germans have done is a good idea. And protests like these may get more governments to act.

Kudos to Anonymous, it'll be interesting to see how it all pans out.
posted by sien at 8:21 PM on February 11, 2008


For Halloween one year I was a generic "revolutionary". I wore a beret and dressed in black. I came up with my own vague slogan, carried around my the Little Lavender Book and wrote the same meaningless acronym on the walls of my high school. It was fun.

I bet this is too.
posted by spaltavian at 11:55 PM on February 11, 2008


I like that goal #3 is "Obtain epic and memorable lulz". CoS is obviously a very bad thing (tm). It's nice to see people believe they can fight it partially with humor.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:59 AM on February 12, 2008




sien I'm all in favor of the CoS losing its tax exempt status, as long as we also remove it from all the other religions. I've never understood why religion is granted special privilages that other groups aren't, and I think its wrong that it is.

But, if you want, say, the Roman Catholic Church to be tax exempt and the CoS to pay taxes I've got a problem.
posted by sotonohito at 4:26 AM on February 12, 2008


I'm torn. I think live rickrolling is hella awesome. But I also get a big whiff of something similar to the antiwar/G8 protests of the late 90s/early 00s. You know the types, the protests that were rife with giant puppets, chicks in missile-shaped bikinis, and other weird costumes.

I could never figure out who the audience was for these protests. It certainly wasn't Joe Average or Mary Voter. How could a horde of screaming 20 somethings sway opinions? It wasn't the Administration or G8 or anything. Why would they listen to a giant Uncle Sam puppet wearing a diaper? The closest thing I saw to an audience were all the cameras, from participants and the media, at the event. But even then, the media would just show all the neo-hippie costumes on the 5 o'clock news and totally skip over the message. The only people who would have an actual good idea of what the protest was about were the ones protesting.

The same could be said for these CoS protests/events. Only the core participants, both at the event and at home online, would have any idea what the hell was going on. They are their own audience, even more so than the G8 people due to the prevalence of internet memes and other injokes. The need for narrative mentioned above is important, even if it's just some sort of easy to access introduction/rundown like Improv Everywhere does with their missions. If Anonymous wants to actually produce change, they need to be more inclusive with their presentation.

All that said, were I younger and more inclined to weird hijinx, I would totally be there with Anonymous. I think it was about ten years ago when some friends and I went to go, uh, "plant some seeds" down at the CoS center on Bay State. CoS is a great target because they're just the sort of "send dread legal notice, ask questions later" group that takes itself very seriously and can be griefed for epic lulz. I'd like to see that, but accessing the point of the protest is totally tl;dr.

lookit me, use'n the lingo of them crazy kids!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:48 AM on February 12, 2008


From the pictures I've seen, the Anonymous protests seemed way more on message than the antiwar protests. I've seen 2 or 3 longcat banners, a couple rickrolls, and a bit of meme-type stuff that didn't really distract from the message, like Anons in suits or a "Scientology: EPIC FAIL" sign which is still pretty clear. Compared to giant puppets, half-naked interpretive dancers, and off-message Free Mumia or whatever protesters, pretty light I think.

The Anonymous consensus was bright enough to discourage off-message memes. I saw longcat mentioned specifically several times as something to avoid.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:17 AM on February 12, 2008


Metafilter: fuck them, and fuck you for thinking that you're far too hip to care, way cooler than those lame people who give a fuck about things and actually try to make the world a better place.

/smallest violin echoes into the night air

Instead of this bullshit hippy-dippy "awareness raising" crap, how about you try to quantify the effects of this "campaign"?

Don't you see, it's just the opposite! "I'd much rather see this than a bunch of unwashed dreadlocked pseudo-hippies having a sit in."

It wouldn't even do justice to wade into the territory of pretentious ascription, this is like a self imposed overarching narrative of elite and selfless motivation wrapped in lolcats and cute bows of rickrolls. If you question that you're obviously a horrible person, and are meant to be judged as such with no further information required. Look, I had a good friend from Gravenhurst attend the Toronto "raid", as it were. I've read a lot about scientology and their shady past and present dealings. Is it possible for me to not care and exist at the same time in your universe, or does that really make your eyeballs pop out of your skull and your tongue start swaggering around in your mouth like a goddamn hyena?
posted by prostyle at 6:36 AM on February 12, 2008


Pope Guilty If any other church behaved as the CoS behaves, we'd be after them, too.

Ha! Now that's an unimpressive and foolish promise if ever I saw one. I don't believe you. I'm calling you boastful, PG.

The Saudi Arabian religion, Wahhabism, or Salafism, is a belief system so much morally worse than Scientology that the comparison is absurd.[snip]

Care to take them on?


C'mon, are there often Wahhabis at a table in my local mall? Recruiting kids outside the grocery store? With offices in dozens of local cities? I happen to be close enough to DC that I could go stand outside the Saudi embassy with a sign, but how many other cities have enrollment centers that people could go out and make noise in front of?

If you don't think awareness campaigns have value then there's really nothing to discuss, but I can't say how completely I disagree with your stance, tkchrist. Those of us soaking in the internet may be well versed on CoS shenanigans but I continue to maintain that you could pick a dozen random people in the mall and ask them basic questions about the CoS beliefs and come up empty.

Hell, I heard an NPR story last week where they asked random people about some of Huckabee's biblical references. Out of ten folks who professed to have been raised in the Christian faith only one could identify the story he was referening when he said "There’s only one explanation for it, and it’s not a human one. It’s the same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves feed a crowd of 5,000 people" That's one of the most significant NT stories and the basis for the second more iconic symbol in Christianity and they couldn't figure it out when asked point-blank.

You think those people know diddly about what the CoS believes? It's not like the CoS is going to tell them about their moronic volcano crap in the initial meet, it's well established that they keep this nonsense under wraps till they more firmly have people in their grip.

So I think getting out of mom's basement and making other people aware - or at least giving people a reason to think twice if they're approached - has some value.
posted by phearlez at 8:48 AM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]



Well, I know about several dozen or so deaths under suspicious circumstances related to Scientology

Hey. I know about several million deaths under suspicious circumstances related to Trans Fats!

But I think you might want to call the cops with yours BEFORE you get set to Rickroll.
posted by tkchrist at 9:04 AM on February 12, 2008


If you don't think awareness campaigns have value then there's really nothing to discuss, but I can't say how completely I disagree with your stance, tkchrist. Those of us soaking in the internet may be well versed on CoS shenanigans but I continue to maintain that you could pick a dozen random people in the mall and ask them basic questions about the CoS beliefs and come up empty.

South Park has that small of an audience? Of the "potentials" likely to be wooed by the CoS, largely young people, I'm betting most of them can hit an on button to a computer and type "CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY" into google.

When I don't know about something that eagerly wants me to join, like The Borg did that one time, I ask the relevant authorities. Like Starfleet.

And thank god the Starfleet database had that search engine feature. While I was tipped off by the articulated biometric cables and laser eyes that extended from the skulls of The Borg representatives who had that table at the mall. And I found their constant repetitions of "Resistance is Futile" annoying. It was the million and a half hits on the Starfleet database screaming "stay the fuck away" that put me over the edge.

phearlez, sorry, I don't buy the doe eyed innocent thing in this case. Maybe in a tiny minority of of CoS members. But even so. the second they tell you about the alien ghosts living in volcanoes you got wonder what type of moron sticks around after that?
posted by tkchrist at 9:23 AM on February 12, 2008


phearlez, sorry, I don't buy the doe eyed innocent thing in this case. Maybe in a tiny minority of of CoS members. But even so. the second they tell you about the alien ghosts living in volcanoes you got wonder what type of moron sticks around after that?

That's completely unfair. The Xenu story is part of the materials for OT III. For those who aren't familiar with the progression of CoS ranks, you start out as a "Pre-clear", and at this level you're told that you are the thetan- the spirit- in your body, that you're "clearing" negative memories and attitudes from yourself. After years of "auditing" you can eventually be declared "Clear" and start working on your Operating Thetan levels, which supposedly give you super powers. (That nobody has ever demonstrated the superpowers that are supposed to come with Operating Thetan status is one of the things that contributes to the slow trickle of ex-Scientologists.) You start at OT I, and work your way up to OT VIII.

The Xenu story is something you don't encounter until OT III. It's called the "wall of fire" within the church, and members are told that if you learn the OT III materials before achieving OT III, you won't be ready for it and you will get sick and maybe die. By the time you get to OT III, you've spent something like a hundred thousand dollars and several years of your life in the Church of Scientology; you've shed your non-Scientologist friends and family. The "wall of fire" also explains why Scientology members will publickly deny the Xenu story. The pre-OT III ones hear it and say "That's silly! We don't believe anything like that!" The OT III and higher ones, depending upon how cynical they are, deny it either because confirming it would risk the lives of innocent people or because they know how stupid it sounds and how damaging it is.

My point is, by the time you get to the Xenu story, you've been so mindfucked and are so deeply invested in the Church that it's nothing even resembling a free choice of whether or not to believe it. No matter how ridiculous it sounds to those of us who hear it outside of the context in which the Church demands that people hear it, within that context it is extremely persuasive (whether you really believe it or have too much psychologically invested in the Church), and I cannot fault those who've been abused and mindfucked by the Church of Scientology for falling for it any more than I could blame any other victim of brainwashing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


Last things first - whether it be Scientology or any other cult, I don't think we can fairly question people who stick around after the moronic reveal, whether it be volcanos and DC-10s or hey go marry this dude who's 30 years older than you. Cults indoctrinate and brainwash, and expecting cogent thought from people who are already soaking in it isn't a realistic assessment of most people's mental strength.

As far as the ability to key things into search engines, sure, it's there. There's a LOT of things that people can do their research on and learn that maybe they're not good courses of action. But foreknowledge is much more valuable and more likely to get you out of trouble.

You mention transfats, and that's really a good way to compare. You can know just enough about transfats to google up specific things before you jam them in your mouth and then come up with some magic number where > okay and < bad. Or you can have a knowledge about healthy eating that not only tells you what kinds of foods are likely to have transfats but also what kind of balance in your food choices are going to make you more likely to be healthy.

Like most analogies it breaks down on closer examination, but an awareness about things beforehand is almost always more useful than the ability to go look things up on a case by case basis. Any chimp can use google to find an answer to a well-phrased question. Knowledge involves being able to phrase the question.

My question for you is this - even stipulating that the only people who get involved at this point are ones who are too trusting or naive to do a little research, do you really think there's no value in putting the information out there ahead of time and maybe 'saving' a few of those folks from mental or financial ruin by CoS?

Personally I'm okay with some people going out and investing their own time to have a little fun even if the only people they protect are the aggressively stupid, and if the choice was (and it almost certainly was for a significant group of these folks) was between them doing that or playing a few hours of Call of Duty.... I call that a net good, and I'm comfortable with them feeling a little pride in that choice.
posted by phearlez at 9:51 AM on February 12, 2008


"klangklangston: What protest groups when they start have ever quantified what effect they have?"

Ones that have goals? Ones that receive grant funding? Ones that aren't just greifers in it for the LULZ?
posted by klangklangston at 10:23 AM on February 12, 2008


The Xenu story is part of the materials for OT III.

That's funny. I'm OT minus 10 zillion and I knew about it over fifteen years ago.

Personally I'm okay with some people going out and investing their own time to have a little fun even if the only people they protect are the aggressively stupid, and if the choice was (and it almost certainly was for a significant group of these folks) was between them doing that or playing a few hours of Call of Duty.... I call that a net good, and I'm comfortable with them feeling a little pride in that choice.

Sure. I agree.
posted by tkchrist at 11:31 AM on February 12, 2008


More than almost anything else, Scientology craves legitimacy. If they can only be accepted as legitimate, then they can exploit that legitimacy to reach and convert many more people than they could when relegated to the fringes of society. "We are a bona fide religion!" "LRH was a respected writer, philosopher, statesman & explorer" "Narconon/ABLE/I-HELP works!" "Volunteer ministers helped out at Katrina, Chernobyl & Ground Zero" "Look at all the successful celebrities who practice Scientology"

Protesting challenges that legitimacy by forcing the cult to react according to its doctrines, which is to say attacking the protester simultaneously on legal, investigative & extralegal lines until enough pressure is brought to bear to either silence or delegitimize the target in the eyes of society at large. There is no such thing as legitimate criticism of Scientology, therefore anyone attacking it must be either insane or criminal & trying to hide their crimes & protect their insanity by making Scientology less effective. All you have to do is expose their crimes & they'll crumble.

This is only getting started. Anonymous woke a sleeping dragon by yanking on its tail. Now they get to see what's at the other end of it & expose the beast for what it truly is. Unfortunately they've started out hamstrung by their usage of illegitimate tactics, which will come back to bite them.

"We are not a 'turn the other cheek' religion" - LRH
posted by scalefree at 11:36 AM on February 12, 2008


phearlez, sorry, I don't buy the doe eyed innocent thing in this case. Maybe in a tiny minority of of CoS members. But even so. the second they tell you about the alien ghosts living in volcanoes you got wonder what type of moron sticks around after that?

I think you might be overestimating the average person's level of skepticism, tk. By that logic, there couldn't possibly be anyone out there who actually BELIEVES that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

The CoS doctrine is no more or less illogical than that of any other church, but its methods of enforcing social control are a whole lot more brutal.
posted by Mayor West at 11:38 AM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


scalefree I think you just inadvertently put your finger on why the /b/tard's act annoys me.

"Legitimate", you say, a term which only applies if one thinks that there is such a thing as a legitimate religion. That there is an actual, meaningful, significant, *genuine* difference between the so-called "real religions" and the dread "cults".

There isn't, and it always pisses me off when I'm told to assume that there is. The nonsense preached by the CoS is absurd, laughable, and utterly without value. But the nonsense preached by every other religion on the planet is absurd, laughable, and utterly without value. The CoSers believe in Xenu, and the Christians believe in the Devil, you're asking me to think that the latter is superior to the former and I just plain can't.

Let me repeat: there is no such thing as a legitimate religion. Its all a crock of lies, and its all harmful. Some, I'll concede, are more immediately harmful than others, but all have caused harm in the past and all have the potential to cause harm in the future, and I've yet to encounter one that wasn't causing harm right now. Some are more controlling than others, but all center around control.

"But the CoS relies on brainwashing" you wail, and that's true. But so do all the others. The CoS has the illusion of being more aggressive in its brainwashing than, say, the Southern Baptists, but that is solely because the Baptists have a lot of their brainwashing done for them by well meaning parents, and by a society that teaches children that laughable nonsense is to be taken seriously as long as the laughable nonsense has the tag "religion" attached. Believing in an invisible man who wants you to eat the flesh and drink the blood of his son (who is actually him) so you can live (after you die) in a cube made of transparent gold is easy only because children are brainwashed into thinking that set of nonsense is worthwhile from birth on. Believing in Xenu and OT superpowers is harder, but only because children *aren't* brainwashed into thinking that from an early age, so the CoS has to use more intense brainwashing than the so-called "real religions".

There are rumors that the CoS is involved in deaths, threats, etc. I say "so what". In Afghanistan a person was tried for the "crime" of apostasy, convicted by a court of law, sentenced to death and only alive today because he claimed to be insane and fled the country. This is not a singular event, there are dozens of nations on the planet that have similar laws. And you're asking me to get worked up because the CoS, maybe, possibly, killed one or two people?

The Roman Catholic Church murdered Olga Reyes. Bishop Albelardo Mata didn't, in fact, beat her to death with his miter, but he might as well have. And Ms. Reyes is only one of countless women killed in cold blood by the RCC; the policy of the RCC is nothing more or less than murder by litigation, and Nicaragua is only one of dozens of nations where the RCC has imposed their beliefs with the force of law.

But Islam and Christianity as "real religions", they have "legitimacy", so it can't be their fault, right? Its the nasty radicals, it's the evil fundamentalists, its *anything* but the fact that religion, all religion, is harmful.

So, when people like you and the /b/tards tell me that there is something special about the CoS, something uniquely dangerous in their religion that, magically, doesn't exist in every other religion on the planet, it pisses me off.

Mayor West Except the CoS isn't particularly more brutal, nasty, or vile than any other religion. Look at Islam, where entire nations have been enlisted as enforcers to kill anyone who dares to attempt to leave the faith. Scientology simply doesn't stand out when it comes to atrocities. Look at the RCC, which helps protect thugs who rape children.
posted by sotonohito at 12:26 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


there couldn't possibly be anyone out there who actually BELIEVES that a cosmic Jewish zombie who was his own father can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree

Ironic, huh.

Not that there couldn't be belivers. But, according to objective logic, there SHOULDN'T be anyone who believes in the magic flesh eating Jew ghost. But there is. And there has been for 2000 years and we can't with any exactitude go back 2000 years and easily expose the various manipulation and frauds of that religion. 2000 years is a long time for a belief and it's associated myths to gain momentum. But I agree most religions are logically absurd.

But we can point to EXACTLY when LRH, a science fiction author, invented out of whole cloth his religion and invented it's myths. And we can pin point exactly each and every fiction including his own machinations and edits to the doctrine.

but its methods of enforcing social control are a whole lot more brutal.

No. No it's not. Not by a long shot. It's just one of the most recent. The big R religions have committed inexcusable atrocities through out history that CoS simply pales in comparison.

Er. What sotonohito said.
posted by tkchrist at 1:08 PM on February 12, 2008


If you're going to hold religion accountable for the evils committed in its name, you should also give it credit for the soaring works of beauty & compelling acts of compassion it's also inspired. From the Gutenberg Bible to the Basilica in Rome to Martin Luther King's faith that kept him working for freedom to Corie Ten Boom forgiving her Nazi prison camp guard, religion has been an undeniable force for good for many throughout the world.

Religion brings out both the best & the worst in us. You can't simply condemn an entire aspect of culture like that, it's absurdist reductionism.
posted by scalefree at 1:24 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The big R religions have committed inexcusable atrocities through out history that CoS simply pales in comparison.

Unless you're John Titor you can't effectively protest the Inquisition or the Crusades. Scientology is doing these things here and now.
posted by scalefree at 1:28 PM on February 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


No. No it's not. Not by a long shot. It's just one of the most recent. The big R religions have committed inexcusable atrocities through out history that CoS simply pales in comparison.

Fair enough. I was actually trying to keep the frame within the last 50 years, but I don't think that would hold up either. Hmm. I guess I'm with phearlez--there are worse offenders out there, but most of them haven't set up shop in major US/Canadian metropolitan centers. If radical fundamentalist Islam sects who want to make women into third-class citizens start gathering a following in my own backyard, I guess I'll be out there demonstrating against them, too... in the meantime, CoS hits a lot closer to home, so they're the more immediate threat to me.
posted by Mayor West at 1:33 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


The nonsense preached by the CoS is absurd, laughable, and utterly without value. But the nonsense preached by every other religion on the planet is absurd, laughable, and utterly without value.

Right off the bat we disagree. I'm not a religious person but I think most of the commandments and much of the new testament are commendable and Good Ideas. Certainly there's been shitty behavior on the part of many or most (hell, maybe even all) religious denominations, but there's several major differences.

One, radical islamist behavior in Afghanistan? Not something I can be directly involved in altering beyond encouraging my government to fix its rectal-cranial misplacement. How the Pope runs the Catholic Church? Also beyond my control. Etc ad infinitum. So right off the bat we have the problem that even if you accept that every single operation is just as bad there's radically different possibilities for actually impacting any change. The fact that some countries choose to make religious law their law is only something we can impact via our own government's relationship with those countries.

Two, the actions of the CoS involve the harassment and abuse of outsiders in the way that most of the other religions haven't approached since before electricity. The fact that a lot of Christian organization are lobbying for their own form of shara'a does impact me, and I vote and campaign against it when I can. However there's no indication that the Baptists, Catholics, Protestants or Mormons (or anyone else I forgot) are, as an institution, breaking the law in a systematic way in the manner of the CoS.

Have they ever? What difference does it make? I'm concerned with the present and future.

Three, only the Mormons begin to approach the level of secrecy about their practice that the CoS exhibits and by comparison they're pikers. I certainly am not aware of them attempting to suppress information with the same vigor and legal tactics as the CoS.

Which is sort of the largest point. The Roman Catholic church's effort to suppress abortion access and birth control may seem repugnant to us but it's no secret that they have those belief and that they're attempting to push that viewpoint. The CoS attempts to operate in the shadows by hiding their core beliefs and suppressing speech and discussion about them.

When I see the RCC suing people to prevent bible study I'll think this is a good comparison.
posted by phearlez at 1:40 PM on February 12, 2008


phearlez I think you're misunderstanding my point. You appear to be focusing on one thing, secrecy, that the CoS is into that many other religions aren't. Ok, fine, they're secretive. BFD. I'm worried about *harm*, not secretivity.

I'm as peeved as the next civil libertarian that the CoS broke anon.penet.fi, possibly moreso as I'm a geek and I believe passionately in the importance of anonymous remailers.

But that also has squat to do with the fact that mostly what gets people's panties in a wad over the CoS is that they can safely use the word "cult" to describe them. It isn't that their beliefs are weird (they seem about the same as the beliefs of other religions to me), or that they're abusive and dangerous to the apostate (other religions match them there as well). You appear to be clutching at straws, seeking desperately to find something, anything, which you can use to distinguish the CoS from the "real religions", from the "legitimate religions", and you've found that they're more secretive than the average religion.

I'm saying that you, the /b/tards, and all the other people working themselves into a froth over the CoS are simply reluctant to admit the truth: there is no legitimacy to be found in religion.

As for specifics. "Most of the commandments" you say? Fully half of them are tripe meant to do nothing but benefit the priest/con-men who wrote them. The others are, at best, a character of moral philosophy. "Thou shall not murder", no shit, really? Gee, if it hadn't been for that commandment I'd be out there killing with abandon.

The truth is that no one gets their morality from the Bible. You've got to cherrypick to an amazing degree to get anything even remotely moral from the Bible. I mean, let's check the Bible, as a moral guide. Let's start with the question "what should I do if a gang of men want to rape a guest in my home?" What's the Bible's unimpeachable morality say the answer is? "Give the men your virgin daughter and the guest's concubine to gang rape all night." Yup, that's real morality there....

Don't tell me religion brings morality, it doesn't. People are moral despite the religious lies they believe, not because of them.
posted by sotonohito at 1:59 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


phearlez I think you're misunderstanding my point.

You point seems to be that religion is all a sham and fucking sucks. I get it, I just said I don't happen to agree. There's no reason for you and I to bother to try to give porcine voice lessons since neither of us is going to budge on the matter. I simply have a belief that largely pivots on Joseph Campbell's writings and a belief in the power of myth to instruct.

You appear to be focusing on one thing, secrecy, that the CoS is into that many other religions aren't. Ok, fine, they're secretive. BFD. I'm worried about *harm*, not secretivity.

I'm as peeved as the next civil libertarian that the CoS broke anon.penet.fi, possibly moreso as I'm a geek and I believe passionately in the importance of anonymous remailers.


Thusly their pursuit of secrecy causes harm. Thanks for your support.

I'm not grasping at any straws. I think I very clearly indicated to you the ways I identify the difference in behavior and what we can do about that behavior where CoS and other religions are concerned. When my neighbor follows a religion that involves painting himself blue and howling at the moon I'm not gonna complain till he disturbs my sleep. I think I was pretty clear about what the difference is between CoS's behaviors and the RCC, who you mentioned as an example.
posted by phearlez at 2:30 PM on February 12, 2008


Unless you're John Titor you can't effectively protest the Inquisition or the Crusades. Scientology is doing these things here and now.

You don' think the genocides the major religions participated in or colluded (including the holocaust) with have resonance FAR beyond the decades in which they took place? I don't think ANYBODY can make that argument.

Besides. There are examples of some really ugly behavior of the major religions that have occurred with in the last fifty years. The well known complicity of the catholic church in all sorts of awful murderous repression (even against their own liberation theology clerics) in Latin America, for example. There are also some nasty examples of collusion with organized crime and money laundering by the Vatican banks. And of course the pedophile scandals and cover-ups. We have also some very nasty and litigious actions by the Mormon church to suppress unpopular and controversial historians in the 1970's and eighties. And then we have a host of terrible things done in the name of Islam in the last ten or twenty years. I mean, seriously, I could go on and on.

Does that make CoS any LESS culpable for it's crimes? No. But let's have some perspective here.
posted by tkchrist at 3:22 PM on February 12, 2008


I certainly am not aware of them attempting to suppress information with the same vigor and legal tactics as the CoS.

Then you need to inform yourself.
posted by tkchrist at 3:26 PM on February 12, 2008


I started to respond to this but decided against it. I think a number of us have perspective, and have tried to reasonably address what you've said. However your point keeps to keep shifting around from the CoS being easy to attack, to people patting themselves on the back more than they deserve to, to whether CoS is better or worse than any other religion, to whether any religion has any value and continuing on to CoS is just like all the others which are awful too. I'm done following the shifting target.

I think the whole Anonymous thing is kinda cool, DDoS aside, regardless of whether their choice of target was capricious. I don't much care if there are other better causes or equally deserving targets. Whatever conditions caused this storm, I'm glad for it.
posted by phearlez at 3:51 PM on February 12, 2008


I'm done following the shifting target.

Sorry if my opinion is complicated. The subject in question is complicated. I AM arguing ALL those things. And I am right.

You are not obligated to follow any target. And like I said I think the technique employed to organize the protest was as interesting. So we have common ground.

BUT. I still remain utterly unconvinced that CoS is a very worthy adversary compared to other things that are simply (and objectively) more important.

It appears many people were arguing to convince me otherwise and failed. I said right from the start I didn't care about CoS.

It's not because I am ill-informed about them (which seemed to be the tack most people kept taking) and their outrages. It's becuase what CoS does in the scheme of problems facing all of us - it doesn't amount to a hill of ant shit. So when I point that out people just went "But... But.... but..."

People seemed to way too easily dismiss current on going sins of the major religions (and governments and corporations) and choose to get hyped about CoS becuase IT'S EASY. That is all part of it.

It's a side show. Think of it like John Stossel yelling about earmarks and government pork on 20/20. His default level of "journalism." It gets the masses outraged. "OMFG! A bridge to NOWHERE!" But it only amount to 1% of the money wasted compared to the trillions wasted in entitlements and defense expenditures.

But taking a stand or doing something against complicated big issues is hard. So we produce side shows.

Anyway. No big deal.
posted by tkchrist at 4:24 PM on February 12, 2008


Wow, brownpau nailed it. Anonymous isn't protesting the right thing in the right way!!!! TARDS!
posted by generalist at 5:05 PM on February 12, 2008


I'm saying that you, the /b/tards, and all the other people working themselves into a froth over the CoS are simply reluctant to admit the truth: there is no legitimacy to be found in religion.

Here's something interesting. My impression of Anonymous is that many or most of them believe there is no legitimacy to be found in religion. I've seen in my reading statements like "Anonymous is mostly militant agnostic/atheist" and the talk about trying to get Christian churches on their side often had a tone of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." (Of course, as such a vaguely-defined group, there are going to be religious Anonymous as well - I'm just noting the overall tone I perceived.)

They've toned that down like they've stopped the DDoS and they've toned down calling everyone "fags"*, as a strategic measure, because it's not going to be productive to be against Christianity in this country, just like they're running it as "against Scientology's evil acts, not their beliefs," to try and resist claims they're oppressing religion.

*(It's not, at least directly, a homophobic use. For example, the first images advertising the protests addressed NYC and LA Anonymous as NYCfags and LAfags and so on, but that's a whole other argument.)
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 6:33 PM on February 12, 2008


tkchrist:
- "South Park has that small of an audience?" It's still just a subculture, and ultimately it's still an entertainment program. The news media should be on this story, not confrontational basic cable cartoons.
- Take your reasoning to its logical conclusion and the only thing people can ever fight against is the #1 threat at a given moment. That's obviously stupid, and even if it wasn't, it would take someone with perfectly objective morals just to determine what #1 was, which doesn't exist.
- You seem to be trying to take /b/, of all things, to task concerning the battles it fights. You'd have about as much success trying to convince them image macros are lame. Anyway, you fight the fights that are available to you.
- On the "not as bad as other religions" tack: It may be. Scientology could be the best religion in the world, but that doesn't mean it's not bad.
- Referring to your "And I am right" statement one or ten comments ago. Your absolute certainty would be charming if it weren't so tiresome. Everyone who argues believes his point of view is correct; that's why they hold it, after all, and why they're arguing for it. But just because you hold a point of view is not proof of its rightness.

But the question I'd like to ask is: why do you care? I sense there is more than ordinary Metafilter-level argumentativeness here. You're chasing this argument with the fervor of a dios. What is up?

Scientology may well not be the Worst Thing In The World right now. However, judging from its actions, the rhetoric it has built to justify them, their tendency to use the law as a bludgeon to get their way more than out of any sense of justice (and the tremendous resources, farmed from their followers, that they use to power it), their PR campaign, their startling rapaciousness, their subverting of the very principles of free speech, and the fact that it shows no signs of lessening any of these tendencies, and it becomes clear that the Church of Scientology has grand plans for becoming the Worst Thing some day. They should probably be stopped before this happens, along the lines that someone should have stopped (name other previously-abusive religion here) before they did it. The Dark Ages were a bad thing.

The CoS's suppression approach is that of the hacker. Using ideas of law and religion to their letter instead of their spirit. Yeah, other people do this too, but Scientology is particularly determined and good at it. Because of this people like Anonymous, who are strenuously unofficial and also of the hacker mindset, may very well be the best equipped to fight them.
posted by JHarris at 3:12 AM on February 13, 2008


JHarris I just don't follow your line of argument at all, can you explain what I'm missing? You appear to be saying:

1) There is a possibility that the CoS could one day acquire power.
2) It would be bad if the CoS acquired power.
3) Therefore efforts to stop the CoS now can be viewed as stopping a big problem before it becomes big.

I rather seriously doubt (1) is even remotely likely. The CoS has got to be one of the most roundly and universally mocked, distrusted and disliked groups on the planet. In Germany they're considering banning the religion entirely, and in the USA the phrase "I'm a Scientologist" is pretty much guaranteed to shitcan any credibility you might have.

I'll agree that, in the incredibly unlikely event of (1), that yes (2) is true. It would be bad if the CoS acquired power.

But, like Libertarians who go on and on about the threat of government infringing on rights, but ignore the threat of corporations infringing on rights, you seem to be ignoring the overwhelmingly important fact that there are *ALREADY* religions that have power, and they're very bad right this second.

My question is: Who gives a damn that one day, maybe, there is an extremely unlikely chance that the CoS could gain power? There are, right now, religions that have power, and are doing stuff that the CoS can only dream about.

Both Islam and the RCC have, right now and in actuality, immense power and are using that power for evil. It isn't a "one day, if events on the likelyhood of me winning the lottery take place there *could* be evil" deal, its right here, right now.

The only explanation I can think of for the behavior and reasoning of the people who are fretting about the chance that the CoS might gain power is cowardace; an unwillingness to take the socially unacceptable stance of challenging the Real Religions.

With the /b/tards its easy to see, they're bullies, and bullies like to pick on the weakest prey they can find. Challenging the RCC would be socially unacceptable, challenging Islam could actually put their lives in danger. The CoS is the only religion that is both socially acceptable to attack and has no real chance of retaliating.

But I'm reluctant to attribute that motive to you and some of the other people on here on MeFi. I often find myself agreeing with both you and Pope Guilty, and I don't see either of you as cowards. So what's going on?
posted by sotonohito at 5:08 AM on February 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


My question is: Who gives a damn that one day, maybe, there is an extremely unlikely chance that the CoS could gain power? There are, right now, religions that have power, and are doing stuff that the CoS can only dream about.

Well, sometimes it's just personal, sotonohito. My wife's grandmother was taken to the cleaner by the COS. They got about $30,000 out of her, and when she left they threatened her until she had to up and move house.

I don't know anyone who's been messed with by Catholics.

I don't know anyone who's had their hand chopped off or been stoned to death by Muslims.

But I have seen, up close, the actions of Scientologists, and that can have a big impact on your priorities.
posted by Jimbob at 6:38 AM on February 13, 2008


Hold on... The CoS has no real chance of retaliating? I respectfully submit that you need to re-read the publicly available literature on how the CoS attacks their enemies... Death? Check. Bankruptcy? Check. Jail time? Check. Fines in perpetuity? Check.
posted by Cathedral at 8:53 AM on February 13, 2008


Hold on... The CoS has no real chance of retaliating?

I guarantee you that at OSA INT, the Invest, Legal & PR departments are already executing their response to this protest & preparing for the next one by attempting to track down & identify the leaders of the movement, searching for participants with vulnerabilities they can exploit to discredit the movement or intimidate as a warning to others not to participate, working to obtain restraint orders & possibly search & seizure orders against servers & home machines as well as plans for deceiving law enforcement into giving them undue access to those systems so they can add others to their enemy list & also look for ties to previous enemies they can then use as fodder for further attacks. And don't forget the spin to create their counter-narrative in the press.

As far as I'm concerned the point of protesting Scientology is to force them to reveal the deepset paranoia, hatred & win-at-all-costs mindset that they spend so much effort hiding from the world at large. It's going to take time for the dragon to expose itself fully, but it will happen. When it does, then it'll be time for us to revisit the whole "low hanging fruit" & "are they really worth all this fuss?" issues.
posted by scalefree at 11:34 AM on February 13, 2008


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