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UK Teen Cited For Calling Scientology a "Cult" 995

Posted by kdawson
from the what-it-is dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A 15-year-old in the UK is facing prosecution for using the word 'cult' to describe the Church of Scientology at an anti-Scientology demonstration in London earlier this month. According to the City of London police at the scene, the teen was violating the Public Order Act, which 'prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.' There's a video of the teen receiving the summons from the City of London police at the demonstration (starting about 1 minute in), and now he's asking for advice on how to handle the court case."
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UK Teen Cited For Calling Scientology a "Cult"

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  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:41AM (#23487860) Homepage
    The boy will surely be let off, but not before the whole world hears--and SEES--the story.  All that will do is draw attention to the protest.

    I predict: Score 1 for the good guys.

    The only way this could be worse for Scientology is if the boy turns up dead anytime soon.
  • Oh, Great. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:45AM (#23487908) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    "The City of London police came under fire two years ago when it emerged that more than 20 officers, ranging from constable to chief superintendent, had accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology."

    That's comforting. I wonder how many American cops, politicians, etc. the cult has on its payroll? Might as well disband the FBI and enlist Scientology as our intelligence service -- they seem to be much more effective at getting away with domestic espionage and dirty tricks.
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:46AM (#23487924)
    ..of Human Rights. [wikipedia.org]. I'm pretty sure the law is in violation of Articles 10 and/or 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. [wikipedia.org].

    This court actually works and has authority to rule in these cases. Might have to exhaust the legal avenues in the UK first though.
  • 1st amendment (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Robert1 (513674) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:48AM (#23487952) Homepage
    Gotta love it! It is disheartening that it seems every European country, and Canada too, seems to have some kind of idiotic anti-speech law(s).

    The scientology thing just serves to unmask this rather gigantic lapse in liberty. I think a better question than whether the kid is guilty or not is why you Brits have such laws. Further why aren't you outraged that such laws exist and why you aren't actively trying to overturn them? This isn't a flame but a serious question, since when the slightest bit of censorship rears its head in America we tend to jump all over it - as evidenced by the Youtube article still on the frontpage.
  • Re:Not censorship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:49AM (#23487962) Homepage Journal

    Why the heck is this tagged censorship? There's a law against insulting signs.
    So you're of the opinion that declaring something illegal is not ever under any circumstances a form of censorship?
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:54AM (#23488006)
    A cult turns into a religion once nobody is alive anymore that knows the founder. It makes it easier to deify the guy who thought it's neat to be god.
  • by cynicsreport (1125235) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:55AM (#23488022) Homepage

    Whats the difference between religions and cults? As far as I can tell they really are the same thing.

    A religious cult, to the best of my understanding, shows the following features:
    1) Is widely accepted to be a cult by those not involved. [like Scientology]
    2) Is secretive regarding the beliefs of its members. [like Scientology]
    3) Is secretive regarding the hierarchical organization of its members. [like Scientology]

    To me, #3 is most concerning, and the best way to be labeled as a religious cult. Notice that almost all 'mainstream' religions are not guilty of #3 (e.g., the Catholic buck stops at the Pope), and rarely guilty of #2 (e.g., Muslims can point to the Koran), and also rarely guilty of #1.
  • in other news (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:56AM (#23488038)

    I'm speechless. Just contrast the 'cult'-sign to those signs, also held on a demonstration in London:

    http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2006/08/muslim220806_600x400.jpg

    I wonder how they will explain the inaction on behalf of police and justice in the latter case.
  • I don't understand (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Auckerman (223266) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:58AM (#23488062)
    Can someone explain to me how this works. Someone can be summoned because they express a non-violent opinion about a group, yet religious groups who advocate the violent over throw of the government and the establishment of a theocracy falls under protected speech. From this side of the pond, Britain clearly needs to get it's priorities straight before the movie "Brazil" because a reality.

    He may have been better off advocating the death of all Scientologists because the FSM needs their blood to build the greatest pirate ship of all time.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:05AM (#23488122)

    This is why we need open source governance [wikipedia.org].

    If you help get the Metagovernment [metagovernment.org] established, then it will be up to the people to decide how the people are governed. Weird concept, I know.

  • by westbake (1275576) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:06AM (#23488134) Homepage

    Indymedia has a good article about this [indymedia.org.uk]. The protester, ironically, was objecting to "Fair Play", which is essentially harassment of any and all perceived foes. The citation identifies him and now he faces the same retaliation he objected to.

  • by terrymr (316118) <terrymr@ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:09AM (#23488154)
    It's a ticket, cops love to write tickets ... here in the USA a group of local kids were arrested, shackled and prosecuted for carrying signs in a public park in protest of police brutality - there's irony for you. The cops even recorded themselves on video joking about taking off their badges and starting a fight.

  • by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:09AM (#23488160) Homepage Journal

    For authoritative British usage, the Compact Oxford English Dictionary of Current English definitions of "cult" and "sect" are:
    cult
    1. a system of religious worship directed towards a particular figure or object.
    2. a small religious group regarded as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.
    3. something popular or fashionable among a particular section of society.
    Wave that dictionary page in front of the judge and "I Rest My Case". All of those three descriptives apply specifically and directly to Scientology.

    Now if the Judge/prosecution want to base an arrest on "when you say that scientology is a cult, you mean it as an insult" it is near-impossible to prove intent in a court of law. (at least, until they work our how to read my mind from a distance in a scientifically verifiable manner)

    Anyhow, any defence lawyer would simply declare this "law" irrelevant and illegal - how can it possibly be legal to declare that writing a statement of fact on a sign and waving it around in public is illegal.
  • Re:Not censorship (Score:3, Interesting)

    by terrymr (316118) <terrymr@ g m a i l . com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:14AM (#23488218)
    There isn't a law against insulting signs as such - the public order act is one of those vague laws allowing an officer to ticket you for something likely to cause a disturbance ... it seems to me that the sign shouldn't be enough and probably won't be when this gets brought before a judge.

    If you think it's a funny law, try explaining the concept of a jaywalking ticket to a Brit :-)

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:31AM (#23488334)
    You haven't been outside recently, have you? The saying about better having a fast horse when you plan to speak the truth has never been more current than today.

    At least if the truth is somehow uncomfortable.
  • Hmmmmm..... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by IHC Navistar (967161) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:41AM (#23488408)
    As an American, I'm tempted to go to the U.K. and recieve the same type of summons, too. Then, after I have enough of them to wallpaper my room, I'd return to the United States and dare those Stalinist Brits to come and get me. I guarentee there would be *pleny* of outrage to go around, if not lead.

    Scientologists claim that Scientology is just as much a religion as any other religion. I say he difference between the two is you don't have to pay thousands of dollars for spiritual enlightenment with the other religions. Religions shouldn't be allowed to charge for religious or spiritual guidence/help/enlightenment. When you start charging money, it stops being a religion and becomes a business.

    The Bible, Koran, and Talmud aren't copyrighted, even though they could be, and are freely available to anyone. Yet, the "freedom-loving" (read: freedom-fucking) Scientologists charge HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars just to look at their "Holy Texts" (read: sci-fi alien circle-jerk), charge HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to practice Scientology (without being subject to their abuse), and charge HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS to gain "spiritual enlightenment". Plus, as much as people love to bash mainstream religion, none of the mainstream religions practise mind-control, brainwashing, blackmail, slander, libel, or lawsuit abuse.

    The charge that this poor kid got hit with could *easily* be challenged and won on Human Rights grounds.

    Politicians prefer unarmed peasants. Scientologists prefer just the politicians.
  • by Workaphobia (931620) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:48AM (#23488470) Journal
    Which is why even censoring hate speech is dangerous to our freedom of expression. A group should not become immune to certain criticism simply because it gets itself listed as a religious institution, and if this means the mainstream religions have to put up with more crap from ignoramouses, so be it.
  • Plead not guilty (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vorlich (972710) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:57AM (#23488520) Homepage Journal
    engage a pro bono and use your time in the witness box to introduce every single piece of evidence you or anyone else can think of to prove the case, subpoena the entire board of directors and introduce the public to their Naval Division. I should imagine the tabloids will devour this case.
    M'lud I would like to submit exhibit a) as evidence for the defense - The McLibel Case http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mclibel [wikipedia.org]
    I would hazard an ejimacated guess, however, that it will never go to trial. The again, perhaps the present government is in need of a circus to distract everyone from their present poor standings. What could be better than a cult of goats?
  • by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:57AM (#23488524)
    The question is, did the kids record video?

    The local Anonymous have cameras out the ass. There is one person with a Canon 40D semi-pro DSLR, a guy with a 714mm superzoom setup that can resolve 2mm at 100 yards, people with polarizers to shoot through windows, several video cameras, a bunch of point-and-shoots, and camera phones.

    If the cops or the Scientologists try to pull anything, it will be documented and, if necessary, spread to the media and the internet within minutes.

    It sounds like if even one of the kids had gotten video of the cops, they could've gotten some of them fired at the very least.

  • by mark-t (151149) <[markt] [at] [lynx.bc.ca]> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:59AM (#23488528) Journal
    Do you have to pay for detailed knowledge about the religion, or is all the information that is available offered freely and without reservation to anyone who asks? If the former, it's a cult. If the latter, it's a religion.
  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:59AM (#23488956) Journal
    How does bizarreness matter? The cult of scientology believes that evil space aliens murdered billions of other aliens by stuffing them into DC-10 like spaceships and blowing them up in earth's volcanoes with Hydrogen bombs. The cult of christianity believes that you can telepathically communicate with a dead god-fragment and tell him you love him and that he will accept you into his kingdom and cleanse you of a taint that was placed in all humanity by a rib-woman being tricked by a talking snake.
    Scientology is insane, but so are pretty much all other religions.
  • by trillex (1080579) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:09AM (#23489038)
    According to this [wikipedia.org] Scientology is not considered a religion in UK, but then what is it, if not a cult? As stated by a lot of other people, their practices shows that they appear more as a cult, than anything else. So what's the crime? What's the charge other than a threat?
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hal_Porter (817932) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:17AM (#23489102)
    In addition to the Human Rights Act, Britain has subtle legal system which is full of checks and balances.

    E.g. post the "Behead those who insult Islam" demonstration there was much hostile media coverage.

    http://www.speroforum.com/site/article.asp?idarticle=6403 [speroforum.com]

    The government responded to this by advising the police and CPS to use existing legal powers to stop people inciting violence at demonstrations. They also decided to amend the Public Order Act 1986.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_and_Religious_Hatred_Act_2006 [wikipedia.org]

    Now in this case, under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, it seems like the original act was too strict.

    However, this guy has to go in front of a jury. A jury is likely to be more sympathetic to him than the "Behead those who insult Islam" types. You can think of the British system pre Human Rights Act as follows

    1) Bad things happen like the Sloan Square demonstration.
    2) The Media covers them and whips up a firestorm of panic
    3) The government gets legal advice as to whether existing legal powers are enough to stop Bad Things happening again.
    4) They introduce new legislation and/or brief the police/CPS to use their powers more aggressively. The police arrest people and the CPS decides whether there is a case for them to answer in court.
    5) New legislation might cause false positives like this case where harmless people are prosectuted
    6) Hopefully the government will advise the police/CPS not to do this in future and possibly amend legislation
    7) The people prosecuted should be found not guilty because the jury is briefed, or maybe the judge will throw the case out. Or maybe they will get busted in which case the media will stir up a firestorm and force the government to legislate.

    It's kind of funky but the system does have checks an balances. Of course the Human Rights Act allows people prosecuted in step 7 to appeal to the EU Court of Human Rights or judges to strike down legislation which breaks the HRA. Which is not really a good thing if you believe in the concept of "parliamentary sovereignty", but there you are.

    And before Americans sneer that this is adhoc, you're right. But this system has led to a stable society where individual freedoms have either increased or stayed constant for hundreds of years, far longer than the US system has existed.
  • Fail. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uhlume (597871) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:33AM (#23489212) Homepage
    Dramatic or tragic irony is a dramaturgical and literary device. Unless you're claiming that the scene in question was somehow intentionally scripted, the definition you cite has no relevance.

    The relevant definition is, "an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected," which I think anyone familiar with Scientology will agree is hardly the case here.
  • Re:To be precise... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dark_Gravity (872049) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:49AM (#23489290) Homepage

    Scientology is a Criminal nut-cult. Although all cults are nuts, not all cults are criminal.

    Regardless of whether all cults are nuts, Scientology are clearly organized criminals [wikipedia.org] masquerading [merriam-webster.com] as a religion [merriam-webster.com] (cult, by popular definition), and it is pathetic that the US allows their ridiculous charade to persist.

    If real entheogenic [wikipedia.org] religions that use naturally occurring substances are denied First Amendment [wikipedia.org] protection, why is such an obvious front for murder [lisamcpherson.org] and extortion [raids.org] provided an undeserved safe haven under the same right?

    Dare I say: "F*** Scientology and F*** the UK (who forfeited their right to be considered a free society many years ago [wikipedia.org])?

    No. I dare not say it in this politically correct police state, now, do I?

  • by NimbleSquirrel (587564) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:05AM (#23489392)
    Under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 paragraph 3(c) he can defend his action, by saying it was reasonable. There is evidence to back him up: in a 1984 ruling, a UK High court JUDGE called Scientology a "cult" that was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous". Then in May 6th 1991 Time Magazine called Scientology the "Cult of Greed and Power". It is not like he is the first person to call Scientology a cult.

    The prosecution could go further to the UK Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. However it can easily be argued having a sign that uses the word cult to describe Scientology is simply criticism, which is specifically protected under the Section 26J of the act. I think the prosecution is going have a hard time bringing this to court.

  • by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:05AM (#23489400)
    No, a man called Steve Hassan wrote some good guidelines for the destructive behavior of cults, at http://www.freedomofmind.com/resourcecenter/faq/ [freedomofmind.com]. One key is the control over thoughts on members, insisting that they not only behave but that they think in certain ways. Scientology has this one down pat with their lie-detectors and 'auditing'. Another key factor is the pyramid scheme: Each level reports only to the upper levels, all data is centralized in thehands of a few, and any attempt to question leaders or shift dogma is met with harsh controls and even destruction of the questioning person.

    Take a look at factnet.org for some history of this cult, and take a look at Susan Meister's case and her book, 'Scandal of Scientology', or hte old Time magazine article. They claim they shut down the internal security group that harassed Susan, but they seem to have simply transferred the leading personnel to other groups, and some of them are still active. This includes Kendrick Moxon, the attorney who successfully destroyed Cult Awareness Network.
  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by davmoo (63521) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:21AM (#23489480)
    Sorry, wrong answer, but thanks for playing.

    I can stand on a public street corner and say "George W. Bush sucks big hairy donkey dicks!" all I want, and the government can't do a damned thing about it that would stand up in court. The only thing one can't do here, as far as insulting government officials goes, is make a direct threat against the life of the President (or other federal official).
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ushering05401 (1086795) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:36AM (#23489586) Journal
    "I can stand on a public street corner and say "George W. Bush sucks big hairy donkey dicks!" all I want..."

    Uh, no you can't. There are still obscenity laws, and they are enforced when complaints are made, especially if minors are within earshot.

    I knew a guy who was charged for shouting an obscene comment to a buddy while they were kayaking near a swimming area. The Christian youth group that was having an outing on the shore apparently called the police who were waiting when my friend came ashore. He ended up with ten hours of community service or some such nonsense, probably because the church members showed up at the court en masse as some sort of statement.
  • No, Correct (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Morosoph (693565) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @06:26AM (#23490176) Homepage Journal
    Prior to Alanis Morrissette's album, this is precisely how the word "irony" was used. In overcorrecting for "rain on your wedding day", which is simply bad news, it seems that people have turned to their dictionaries for the original literary menaing. Being geeks, the honest, popular yet informed meaning of "irony" is being dropped for an acedemic definition sepcific to the English department.

    Besides, in terms of prediction, what matters is whether the 15-year-old kid would have predicted the outcome. If you'd done the same thing, it wouldn't have been irony, but rather would have been civil disobedience.

  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @06:59AM (#23490366) Homepage Journal
    What makes him (and me) so sure it's without legal merit is that even if a judge were to consider calling Scientology a cult, despite the fact that they've been called so by the judiciary in the UK before, "insulting", restricting him from putting it on a sign is almost certainly inconsistent with the Human Rights Act, and British judges have a history of not being afraid to strike down bad legislation (and if they don't, the European Court of Justice seems to have striking down bad UK laws as something of a hobby, to the point where parliament sometimes seem to find it acceptable to vote for bad laws to satisfy their electorate safe in the knowledge they'll never pass a legal test).

    And GP is right that this can be brought before a magistrate prior to, or instead of, a jury trial.

  • by BakaHoushi (786009) <Goss.Sean@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @07:31AM (#23490524) Homepage
    At a protest outside a Scientology building, I saw a rather appropriate sign:
    Ask a Christian about the Bible, and he'll tell you.
    Ask a Jew about the Torah and he'll tell you.
    Ask a Muslim about the Koran and he'll tell you.
    Ask a Scientologist about HIS holy books and he'll tell you... after your check clears.

    Say what you will about Christianity and other modern religions, (and I will) they're not, at their core, pyramid schemes for making profits. Scientology is.
  • by dfenstrate (202098) <dfenstrate@gmail ... minus physicist> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:30AM (#23490930)
    The devil can quote scripture for his purpose.

    That doesn't mean that any particular quote means a damn thing.

    The utility of the bible depends largely on the maturity of it's reader. If you're some juvenile just looking for a 'gotcha' quote, then you're really not going to get anything out of it.
  • Britain 1, USA 0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:06AM (#23491336) Journal
    When I saw this headline in iGoogle this morning (yes, slashdot is the most prominent site I have there) of course my reaction was WTF???

    It seems that English speaking countries are in a race to see who can become "Oceania" first. Britain is winning, but then again Eric Arthur Blair [wikipedia.org] was British. I'm starting to believe some of the wags at slashdot who say he was an optimist (I think someone's sig says it too).

    The thing is, the fact that this kid was prosecuted says to me that any British subject can be thrown in jail at any time at all for saying anything at all. The dictionary [reference.com] puts no derogatory meaning at all to the word "cult".

    1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
    3. the object of such devotion.
    4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
    5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
    6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
    7. the members of such a religion or sect.
    8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

    -adjective
    9. of or pertaining to a cult.
    10. of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie.
    The only one of the eight definitions posted that can in any way be considered derogatory is fittingly #6 [wikipedia.org], and Scientology is certainly unorthodox and extremist. Then again, so are Islam, Bhuddism, Hinduism, Shintoism, and Judism (not to mention Atheism) in Britain (afaik), and Christianity is unorthodox and extremist in Muslim countries.

    It is now illegal to discuss religion in Britain. If you are British and you post a comment in this thread, your government can throw you in jail.

    But we in the US don't have a lot of room to talk. As I wrote [kuro5hin.org] two years ago,

    But our own freedom to speak carries such heavy limitations that to think we are better than the Chinese is laughable. You can be arrested for "hate speech." If you badmouth the wrong corporation (and face it, the corporations are the government here, the politicians only being figureheads who do the corporations' bidding) you will be slapped down with a S.L.A.P.P. suit. You won't go to jail, but you will be financially ruined.

    2600.org wasn't allowed to link to an algorithm (DeCSS). The courts have held that you have no freedom of speech when writing in a computer language.

    Our freedom of speech is illusory.

    Religion? Again there's China, and Cuba. However, I don't think that Christianity or Hinduism are illegal in Saudia Arabia.

    On the other hand, children have been suspended and even expelled from school for evangelizing. They're being punished both for their speech and their religion.

    As to freedom of assembly, that's been gone for quite some time. You want to "petition the government for a redress of grievances" by protesting en masse in front of the statehouse? You're going to go to jail for not having a permit- in short, you must have permission to petition the government by peaceful assembly. Having to ask permission doesn't seem too free to me.
    As I argued in the linked story, the US bill of rights in "our" Constitution has become meaningless in the last two centuries.

    Welcome to Oceana, formerly called "Earth", number six.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:10AM (#23491362)
    This is part of the Church of Scientology's ongoing campaign against the Internet, which traces its roots back to the early nineties and the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. Persons interested in the greater picture should take a look at the Wikipedia article on Project Chanology [wikipedia.org], and the project's material at youfoundthecard.com [youfoundthecard.com], among other things. The rest you can find through links at the latter site.

    The short of it is that tens of thousands of activists collectively known as Anonymous are taking the cult organization known as the Church of Scientology (aka the Religious Technology Center, among other things) on, originally due to the CoS' being complete dickheads on the Internet but the matter has expanded since [ytmnd.com]. (Warning: link contains graphic material, may shock people who haven't already seen thousands of murders in feature films and prime-time television.)

    As for results, insider reports from within the CoS suggest that their leadership are pissing and shitting all over themselves over this. They cannot harass masked protesters, though they do try.

    It should also be pointed out that Anonymous is not after Scientology-the-religion, only the so-called Church of Scientology, the organization. This is not about suppressing a religion.
  • by Jester998 (156179) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:35AM (#23491614) Homepage
    Anyway - one person's view can be "Religion", another "Cult" and a third it can be "Lifestyle".
    Cult: A small, unpopular religion.
    Religion: A large, popular cult.
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by corbettw (214229) <corbettw@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:41AM (#23491712) Journal
    Further proof to support your point: the US Declaration of Independence sites as one the grievances against George III that he tried to deny the colonists their rights as "Englishmen". So obviously those rights must have been previously recognized in England, for the colonists to have assumed they had them.
  • Re:Britain 1, USA 0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:21AM (#23493016) Homepage
    It is fairly clear that the article is in fact pointing out far more sinister overtones "the City of London police came under fire two years ago when it emerged that more than 20 officers, ranging from constable to chief superintendent, had accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology".

    It would appear that an independent investigation by another regulatory authority needs to be carried out to investigate possibly corrupt links between the scientology cult and the London police force.

    The cult has a history of being willing to traitorously infiltrate government legal authorities to serve it's own subversive and criminal purposes. Perhaps this flagrant abuse of the law will justly trigger that investigation. I am sure a lot of other countries will be taking a very close look at what happens in this case and whether the cult intends to or already has extended this pattern of behaviour into other countries.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:04PM (#23493690) Journal
    The "Open Source" government may be closer than you think.

    The phenomenon of anonymous, whatever you may personally think of their current "war" on Scientology, is something rather unique in human history. We have a relatively well coordinated, well mannered, peaceful "organization" having no membership, no particular leaders, no apparent fund-raising mechanism, and no organizational structure. Rather than being coordinated by a chain of command with structured communication channels, it seems to be organized chaotically by "memes" - ideas that become something like a cliche.

    Despite all these properties which, in times past, would have been severe limitations, anonymous has now coordinated an international protest at dozens of cities around the world involving many thousands of people. This is simply incredible!

    I believe thisto be an artifact of the Internet age, and a sign of things to come. While anonymous "members" appears to mostly consist of the younger college age, remember that the college kids of today are the first generation to grow up with ubiquitous global telecommunications. Just like hippie movement of the 1960's was the first generation to grow up with ubiquitous global communications in the form of television, so does the current new generation of anonymous represent the first generation to grow up with the Internet.

    As a self-proclaimed Internet addict, I've watched anonymous with interest - the "memes" that provide so much power within anonymous apparently comprise nothing more than an idea posed by someone that others enjoyed and repeated. Anybody can throw up an idea, and the classic value of "reputation" seems to be lost, here. Ideas are presented by anyone, and when repeated by others who like the idea, they become memes. And memes are, as much, a way of doing or presenting information as it is the information itself. For example, there's a common theme in Digg articles of repeating adjectives. EG: "The lame article is lame". Of course, there's Rick-rolling, variations of "LOL", and a few others.

    Could this meme-based anonymous evolve into a world government? In a sense, it already has, because this structure of memes is already coordinating the behavior of thousands! Why couldn't this evolve into a new way of governing? My guess is that anonymous evolves into a sort of meta-government. Rather than directly become a government agency, it becomes a sort of unstructured political party that exerts considerable power at the voting booth, and is able to reinforce its power through real-life protests and events, much like those going on against Scientology today.

    Fascinating times! Watch and see!
  • Re:Britain 1, USA 0 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bob.appleyard (1030756) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:29PM (#23494050)

    It's odd that they're still using the Public Order Act 1986, when the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 or Serious Organised Crime and Policing Act 2005 pretty much give the authorities carte blanche to silence protest. One would have thought the police would have realised the amount of power they actually have now.

    The Protection from Harassment Act allows the Crown to prosecute anyone causing a person "alarm or distress" if this involves "conduct on at least two occasions." Conduct, it tells us, "includes speech"(5). Under this law, in other words, it is not necessary to demonstrate "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour" to secure a prosecution. ... the first three people prosecuted were all peaceful protesters. It is now used routinely against non-violent animal rights protesters and people demonstrating peacefully outside military bases and at arms fairs.

    ...

    The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act would have been even more useful. Buried in the middle of this enormous piece of legislation, and missed by every MP who debated the bill, is a section on "harassment intended to deter lawful activities". Under this act, the definition of a "course of conduct" is broadened to include causing alarm or distress to "two or more persons"(6). In other words, Green would only have had to approach two revellers once to have fallen under suspicion of breaching the act. It appears to have been deliberately designed to criminalise protest. "Harassment" now involves seeking "to persuade any person ... not to do something that he is entitled or required to do, or to do something that he is not under any obligation to do."(7) Again, there is no defence for peaceful protest.

    Some nutty environmentalist. [monbiot.com]

  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:11PM (#23494662) Homepage Journal
    "You seriously want the people to vote on every single bill that is signed into law? Nothing would ever get done."

    You talk like this is a bad thing? I find I'm happiest with the federal govt. when they are in gridlock.

    "And no one has time to read through every bill that goes before congress and understand it. That is why congressmen have huge staffs -- to help them wade through the legislation that they have to deal with."

    Hmm..don't you see something wrong with this picture? It sounds like they are writing the legislation incorrectly!! It should be humanly readable......even by a normal non-lawyer person...since that is the person that is going to be governed by this law. He should be able to understand it.

    It would help if each law had to be single and simple....and unbundled from other non-related laws!

    Throwing shit laws together that are too long and hard to understand is JUST how we got stuck with that POS the Patriot Act.....apparently NO ONE read it before voting on it.

    I think we definitely legislation reform....change the rules to make it simpler and we do away with crap like this.

  • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:55PM (#23499496) Journal
    so, to repeat, get a proverbial shot across their bows:
    1. Get on to the IPCC [ipcc.gov.uk]. They're about the best avenue for getting the relevant officer held personally responsible for their actions.
    2. Write to your MP, they can get questions asked in the house
    3. Similarly, write to any member of the House of Lords that you think might be interested and could ask questions there
    4. Write to the Minsiter of Justice (but write to their House of Commons address)
    5. Write to the local newspaper
    6. Write to all the nationals, particularly the ones who like to kick up a stink about this sort of thing (i.e. the Daily Mail)
    7. Perhaps tip Private Eye off, they seem to like taking a pot-shot at corrupt police officers, and are quite used to dealing with legal threats, and if they go 'fair game' on Hislop, it's hitting prime-time national media at 9p.m. on Friday.
    8. Tip the BBC off as a news organisation.
    9. Look into getting legal aid, both for defence, and possibly to sue to get your sign returned - if they had no authority to take it, you can probably get it back. Repeat media-alerting when you get it back - big photo of you holding it up outside court.

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