3 days and counting!

3 days and counting!

“Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” 

L. Ron Hubbard – founder of the Church of Scientology

An internet movement called “Anonymous” has declared war on Scientology. They appear to have done so after Scientologist lawyers tried to have a video of Tom Cruise talking about scientolgy taken off Youtube. This followed many years of attempts by Scientology’s lawyers to stifle freedom of expression on the internet.

Here is the declaration of war video in full:

If you click through to the actual YouTube site, you’ll find a transcript of the message. It ends with:

“Knowledge is free.
We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
WE DO NOT FORGET.
Expect us.”

Anonymous appears to be something quite new. Since critics of Scientology get silenced with lawsuits, Anonymous has chosen anonymity. Anonymity makes association difficult, but not on the Internet.

Anonymous has grown organically into a (possibly) large, decentralised mass through web technologies, such as Internet Relay Chat, Message Boards, Wikis and sites such as Digg and Facebook. Anyone could be part of Anonymous! I say “possibly” because I don’t know how many are active in the Anonymous cause. This mass seems to work a little like a terrorist cell, except this cell is massive and everyone inside the cell is anonymous to one another.

In any case, their activities seem to be having some effect. Aside from the video of Tom Cruise, which has gained it enough publicity to feature in the Economist, Anonymous has called for the investigation of Scientology’s tax-exempt status, circulated damning documentation about the current Scietology leadership and (controversially) carried out Denial of Service attacks to disrupt Scientology websites. Internet chatrooms are buzzing with discussion of Anonymous, and other mainstream media is carrying stories about the group.

On February 10th, 2008, Anonymous is planning peaceful protests outside Scientology offices. It will be interesting to see how many people actually turn up for these protests, and whether this aggressive campaign towards the Scientologists will win them more sympathy than ridicule.

I’ve had personal contact with Scientology, and I’ve seen a friend of mine descend into the abyss and sign a billion year contract with them. I don’t think they’re heralding the “Truth”. I certainly don’t think the Earth was visited by an alien called Xenu. I feel uncomforable about the intolerance Scientology seems to show its critics. I see a lot said about their mistreatment of members and family of members. I do think it is a cult, and whilst I disagree with religion, I actually hate cults.

However, they should be allowed to expose themselves to ridicule. With their denial of service attacks, Anonymous is sailing very close to accusations of persecution of Scientology, and that is never a good thing because it can strengthen the faith of members already involved with Scientology, as well as winning sympathy and dividing Scientology’s opponents.

To learn more about the Anonymous movement, visit their wiki site here.

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