Archive Message - 1995

From!!!!sun4nl!xs4all!announce Thu Sep 14 09:45:19 1995 Path:!!!!sun4nl!xs4all!announce From: (announce) Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology,,,alt.censorship,alt.activism Subject: Scientology raids xs4all - Press coverage (Volkskrant - 2) Date: 11 Sep 1995 16:01:22 GMT Organization: XS4ALL, networking for the masses Lines: 94 Distribution: inet Message-ID: <431mgi$> NNTP-Posting-Host: X-Newsreader: NN version 6.5.0 #666 (NOV) X-Posted-By: Xref: alt.religion.scientology:95508 alt.censorship:42640 alt.activism:67304 From 'de Volkskrant', September 11, 1995 (national netherlands newspaper) INTERNET CORNERS SCIENTOLOGY WORLDWIDE A veritable electronic war is being fought over texts that are used by the Church of Scientology. The cult threatens everyone who quotes them with legal action. Now it has got into trouble with Internet-users. Last week the usher and two American cult-officials raided the office of an Amsterdam Internet-provider `1. Find some plants, trees, etc., and communicate with them individually until you know that they have received your communication. 2. Got to a zoo or any other place with many life-forms and communicate with each and everyone of them until you're sure that the communication has been received and, if possible, answered.' Over the past months, this text has been the cause of a true electronic battle that's as futuristic and exciting as the script of a movie like War games'. The remarkable sentences are part of the secret religious doctrines of the Church of Scientology, a worldwide cult. Almost everyone who quotes them is threatened with legal action. But the problem is, that these quotations can be found in the legally obscure world of the Internet. The controversial cult has got into trouble with Internet-users. The Church of Scientology was founded by science-fiction novellist L. Ron Hubbard in 1954. The`religion' is based on the theory that the planet Earth is crowded with the wandering souls of aliens that landed here 75 million years ago. These spirits are supposed to be responsible for all the world's misery. Strangely, the religious documents of the cult are considered top-secret and they are treated accordingly. Cult-members who want to develop themselves, are obliged to follow classes. The total cost of these lessons can amount to hundreds of thousand guilders. This makes secrecy one of the most important resources of the cult. The most expensive part of the material can only be studied under strict surveillance. Nevertheless, parts of these documents have been revealed to the general public through the Internet. On Tuesdayafternoon, September 11, a small army under the command of two American cult-officials raided the office of the Dutch Internet-provider Xs4all. Amongst them was an usher who was urged by the cult to seize the computer-system. The legal action was meant to force Xs4all into the removal of a certain document from the public accessible part of their system. In this document, also known als the Fishman Affadavit, the condemnable practices of the cult are exposed. It is the confirmed statement of former cult-member Steven Fishman, made by him on May 3, 1993 during the trial in which the cult accused him of libel. According to Fishman, these practices are the official guidelines of the vult, but Scientology calls them inventions'. Fishman describes in great detail how the cult protects itself against criticism and how it makes legal action by its opponents impossible. As Hubbard once said: "We don't go to court to win, but to terrorize and disencourage. It's very easy to use the law to harass an individual. Proper appliance of this principle will in most cases be enough to cause the professional demise of a person who is already on the verge of the abyss. If possible, he should of course be completely ruined." Another tactic is to take a person to court in several states on the same day. This way, the costs for the defense will rise to extreme heights. No wonder that almost every former cult-member that dared to battle the cult, has been ajudged bankrupt. Apart from those actions, many trials are being held because the cult finds certain press-releases not pleasing. As is he case with all legal papers that are open to the public, the Fishman Affadavit was filed in 1993 in the library of the court that handled the case. However, from the first day on it's been virtually impossible for interested parties to study it. As soon as the library opened its doors, eight cult-members went in and one of them asked for the documents. After that, they worked' in shifts in order to keep het documents under their custody until the library closed again. This went on for over a year, until August 15, 1994. On that day, the cult managed to persuade a judge to declare the documents as not accessible to the general public. In spite of all these precautions, criticists managed to obtain a copy of the document and they published it on the Internet. As a reaction, Scientology opened a witch-hunt on everyone whom they suspected to have a copy of the Fishman Affadavit. But the isolation- and intimidation-tactics appear to be less successful on the Internet. Instead of an individual criticist, the cult is confronted with an electronical legion that seems to grow in numbers with every action Scientology undertakes. The seizure of the Xs4all-hardware was relieved after the user concerned had removed the documents. A cult-spokesman declared triumphantly that the goal was reached. But the question whether or not this has been a Pyrrhus-victory remains: the documents can still be read and downloaded. The only difference is, that they no longer reside on the Xs4all-system, but somewhere else in the world. After all, the characteristic of the Internet is the unimportance of the exact location of data. Francisco van Jole


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