Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Day in Court No-one Wants

During the May Anonymous demonstrations, a fifteen-year-old boy was singled out by the police and served with a court summons for persisting in holding a plackard that stated "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult." This story has been picked up by The Guardian, and leads to a curious issue. The article in question is by Anil Dawar, who wrote about Will Smith's forthcoming school which intends to make use of Scholastic Tech, the untested teaching method licensed from the Church of Scientology and "developed" by physics drop-out L Ron Hubbard. This is how the first sentence in that article reads:

"Actor Will Smith is funding his own private school that will teach youngsters
using an educational system devised in part by the Scientology cult."

Clearly the Church of Scientology wishes to choose its battles wisely, and sees more scope in taking a minor to court over exercising his freedom of speech than a national newspaper. The trouble is, should the Crown Prosecution Service feel that a child calling a cult a cult is a matter for the courts, then who will benefit from the trial? The defendent could probably do without the hassle. He's got GCSEs to prepare for. The Church of Scientology probably could do without the embarrassment of standing in court and describing how, against all knowledge of their modus operandi, the term "cult" is abusive and insulting. Those who will benefit, one can assume, are the media. A large and powerful organisation playing to type by pursuing a case against fifteen-year-old that will make McLibel look like the Queensbury Rules will cause heavenly column-inchage for reporters in any country the CoS maintain an org in.

This demonstrates with incredible clarity how lost the Church of Scientology has become. It finds itself in an idealogical combat with a group that was motivated primarily in pursuing a freedom of speech agenda. At a demonstration targeting specifically the Fair Game policy, which suggests that crimes of critics should be discovered or invented, they ensure that freedom of speech is curtailed, and potentially that people may be criminalised for daring to speak out against the criminal organisation in their midst. This can and will and has brought the wrong kind of attention to further the planet-clearing ambitions of Scientology. Why grass roots parishioners have yet to hammer CoS out of existence remains a mystery.

The Telegraph cover this story too.

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