Archive Message - 1995

From braintree!!!!newsmaster Wed Sep 27 15:57:02 1995 Path: braintree!!!!newsmaster From: J R Burrows <> Newsgroups: alt.censorship,alt.religion.scientology,talk.religion.misc,no.misc, Subject: Update --- Cult Internet Censorship in Norway -- 24/9/95 Date: 24 Sep 1995 23:37:39 GMT Organization: Internet Freedom Urgent Action Network Lines: 173 Message-ID: <444q44$> NNTP-Posting-Host: Mime-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Mailer: Mozilla 1.2b4 (Windows; I; 16bit) Xref: braintree alt.censorship:66181 alt.religion.scientology:111796 talk.religion.misc:180682 Update --- Cult Internet Censorship in Norway ============================================= News Release - 24th September 1995 On Thursday, 21st of September, news broke of another cult attempting to silence its critics with the closing down of a student's account at the Univeristy of Bergen, Norway. Within hours, this action had been reported worldwide and many representations made by e-mail; the staff responsible at the University have peddled various alternative stories to those concerned net.citizens who wrote in protest. To set the story straight and to record his gratitude for the enormous support he has received, the student at the center of the affair, Mr Jan Steinar Haugland, has released the following statement: <beginning of statement> In the autumn of 1993, when I was a Jehovah's Witness [JW], I met a fellow Witness at a pub. His name was Kenneth Hostland, and I was delighted to discover that he was a real Internet expert. I told him about several JW resources that I had found on the Internet, such as the "Friends" mailing list. I had an email account at NHH, the Business School in Bergen, but at the time the computing department there had closed all Internet access except email and gopher, believing this would help them avoid viruses. Kenneth said that since I was a student, I could get a less restricted account at the University of Bergen (UiB). The University and the NHH Business School are closely related. NHH uses the University's computing facilities. If you are matriculated at NHH, you can study at the University. Because of this close connection, I decided to accept Kenneth Hostland's kind offer. I dropped by his office, where he filled out a paper form. I signed it and I was apparently officially authorized to have an account. In the spring of 1995, after wrestling with many disturbing questions about JW doctrine, I came to the conclusion I could no longer be a Jehovah's Witness. I was finally disfellowshiped (excommunicated) for not believing the 90-year-old JW teaching about the significance of the year 1914. Ironically, the very teaching I disagreed with was recently rejected by the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses. The doctrinal reversal was announced to the Witnesses this month (September 1995) in their official publication, the WatchTower. When you are disfellowshipped, all Jehovah's Witnesses are instructed to shun you. Their leaders say that you deserve nothing less than "complete hatred." (Watchtower, 1 Oct 1993, page 18) My interest in the Witnesses continued, however. From time to time, I posted material on the Internet that was critical of JW doctrine. I also posted quotes from old Watchtower publications which demonstrated a history of failed predictions and doctrinal "adjustments". These were no doubt embarassing to the Witnesses, who believe that the Watchtower organization is God's sole channel of information to the world. Kenneth Hostland, who was still a loyal Witness, decided to terminate the account he had set up for me. Even though I was now a student at the University, and had submitted the proper University paperwork to secure my access, Hans Morten Kind <> was instructed to cancel my account. When Kenneth Hostland first set up my account, I had no idea that getting an account through the University was more difficult than the studies themselves! The procedure was simpler at the NHH Business School; students automatically got an account. They didn't even have to ask. After my account was removed (September 21st, 1995), a number of concerned individuals spread the news on Usenet groups and other forums. Those who sent inquiries to the computing department were told that my objections were "pure nonsense". Mr. Kind and Mr. Hostland later claimed that this was simply a technical matter, involving the cleaning up of accounts. Later still, they appealed to rules and regulations at the University, saying that the account had been set up improperly. Their inconsistent and evasive replies to questions about this matter lead me to only one conclusion: if I had stayed a Jehovah's Witness, my account would not have been cancelled. I am certain it was removed because I was critical towards the Watchtower Society, the multi- billion dollar corporation that uses Jehovah's Witnesses to spread their gospel. Most censorship is done without actually breaking any laws. For example, a newspaper has no legal duty to let all sides of a case be heard. Yet, if they do not, they practice censorship. This practice can be dangerous to democracy and freedom of speech, even when it is technically legal. The individuals responsible can provide credible excuses for their actions; they have done nothing illegal. But it is still censorship. Fortunately, even in cases of "legal" censorship, we all have the right to protest. Thanks to the global stage of the Internet, I am able to tell the world: I was taken off the Internet because of my beliefs. I believe that what they did is offensive to the Internet community, where free speech is accorded the highest value. We all know that the next time, censorship may hit someone who can not obtain another account. When you join in the protest directed at these individuals, you demonstrate that the Internet community cares about censorship. Things like this may happen again, but perhaps next time, the malicious system administrator will remember how people rose up in protest, and decide it isn't worth the trouble. Mr. Kind is publicly calling me a liar, though it appears that he has not read a single public statement I have made. He does not cite any specifics; he simply says I am lying. Before the protest gathered steam, Mr. Kind supported Mr. Hostland. Now, however, his replies to protesters (apparently auto-mailed) claim that my account was illegal from the start. This change of position indicates that the protest is producing results. But I still do not have my original account. For justice to be done, I need your support. My sincerest thanks you to all. Jan S. Haugland <end of statement> However, the efforts of this cult to silence all dissidence continues apace. Cult members themselves have been warned in an internal bulletin this September of the dangers of on-line participation; immediately following this many loyal cultists dropped out of religion forums on the major on-line services, web sites were taken off or emptied of content, and of the two main cult internet mailing lists, one ("friends-chat") was closed down, and the other ("friends-all") began strict moderation of mail. A classic cult pattern of information control. Cultists are not, alas, satisfied with self-censorship and a new campaign has begun to harass postmasters - including the Finnish anon-server administrator who has been a previous target - and SysOps of on-line services with the aim of closing down internet accounts of those who dare to utter a dissident voice in defiance of the supposed God-given authority of their ruling council in Brooklyn, NY. The postmaster of one of Norway's independent Internet providers,, has resisted the mail-bombing by cult members in defense of his customers right to free speech - however there are reports this weekend that ex-cult members on other Internet service providers may also have had their accounts closed or suspended. These are independent individuals of limited means and influence, faced with a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation and millions of loyal followers taught to shun and hate anyone who dares impede their business or uncover what they prefer to keep covered-up. Your support is needed *now* to help protect internet freedoms of speech for *everyone* - there are many other powerful corporations and governments, ready to follow up such a trend of repression if the cults are able to do so with impudence. If the first window is left broken, all the rest will follow. TowerWatch ------------------------------------------------------------------------ "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties" - John Milton ------------------------------------------------------------------------ CopyLeft 1995, TowerWatch <end of press release>


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