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31 January 2008

Hackers destroy Scientology

Well not as such, but it's been an interesting couple of weeks.

Jan 15th, Andrew Morton's much heralded unauthorised (by a long way) biography of Tom Cruise was published. It revealed two shocking facts - Tom was heterosexual and he was a Scientologist. Not many people knew that.
So Tom isn't suing. Being caught lying about having been cured of dyslexia by his religion is it seems a small price to pay for a 'Not Gay' certificate.

The famously litigious Church of Scientology however was distressed to find that the book was in its second half mostly about it and its hitherto publically unknown leader, Mr David Miscavige. As Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center and the most ethical being on the planet, Mr Miscavige has been the absolute dictator of the Church since the death of founder L Ron Hubbard in 1986.
The Church put out a 14 page non-denial of the lies in the book but that as I predicted at once was it - no libel writ has been served.

It was then that the bombs began to go off. Cue repeat of the Panorama disaster - a short clip of Cruise from a 2004 Church promotional video, long known about by its critics, popped up on YouTube. Since it appeared to show that Tom had gone raving mad four years ago but we somehow hadn't noticed, the Church tried to get it off the Internet but failed, as it always fails against sufficiently annoyed Freedom of Speech advocates. More clips from the video were posted, and other videos are (I happen to know) queued up ready to roll.

A niece of Mr Miscavige blew her top and wrote an incensed open letter to the Church, which had made its routine denial that it broke up families. "Oh yes it does", she refuted, claiming she had been cut off from her parents.

From out of nowhere an Internet prankster community known as Anonymous (because they are) suddenly got serious, announcing in a series of hilariously over the top video manifestos that they were going to drive the cult off the Internet starting with a DDos attack. That's where you get lots of people to access a website all at once, so it overloads and crashes.

If they were expecting moral support from the existing critics of the cult they didn't get it, indeed a chorus of condemnation resulted. DDosing and hacking were Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Internet vs Scientology war, held by both sides but not used. Alarmed, Anonymous switched tactics and surprisingly decided to try to get their previously virtual people out onto the real life streets for a worldwide protest February 10th, which we await with some trepidation.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's somewhat inaccurate to refer to Anonymous as a coherent entity in this sense. It really is a collective with no real structure or organisation beyond some collective decision-making - any actions undertaken are those of individuals under the anonymous banner, not anonymous as a whole. Many are going to continue to DoS the sites, and many, like myself, who were initially uninterested in the whole thing got interested when the inspiring words of Wise Beard Man gave us the idea to actually take our fight to the streets and picket and protest and it seemed that things were really getting serious.

For the people online, the Anonymous banner is something of a mindset or calling card; for the people who are going to be out on the streets, the Anonymous banner is (or at least, I feel that it should be) more symbolic of the fact that the "Church" of Scientology's tactics of harassment and defamation of critics simply cannot work when there are so many of us with so little identification.

It is precisely the unique nature of the Anonymous phenomenon that makes this fresh attack on Scientology so interesting. They have always responded to criticism by targeting individuals, but how will they respond when they have nothing to target? No central organisation to blame? Anonymous can't be sued into non-existence or harassed outside his home. I don't wait for the tenth with trepidation; I wait with anticipation. I hope that when that day has passed, people will look back and remember it as the start of something big, and that when the 10th of February rolls around again next year, it will roll around with ten times as many people.

Anonymous said...

Rereading that, in the first paragraph, I meant to say some collective discussion. It is more that a general consensus is arrived at than decisions could be said to be made.

hartley said...

The Critics are a community similar to Anonymous in (non)structure, we just use the Internet differently. So far as we are concerned it's a Win whatever happens; the big wave may recede but the tide is still coming in.
I've always believed that the Internet would destroy the cult, not by driving it away but by exposing it to the light. Elementary guerilla tactics say that attacking fixed positions is the worst thing to do. Anonymous should pop along to Blockbuster and take out 'Lawrence of Arabia', or better read 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom'.

Anonymous said...

If the internet worked like a war then people like me would have already gotten rid of every stupid idea on it unfortunately you can't fight with any such tactics in a battle that has no field. unfortunately i only understand how to fight in real life