Meant to cover this as it happened but I've been far too busy, so here's a quick overview of Scientology's latest footbullet. And a wonderful example of why "the kids today" are awesome.
May 10th: 15 year old EpicNoseGuy (ENG) goes to the London protests against scientology as part of Anonymous. (If you don't know who they are, here is an explanation). Unfortunately I couldn't make this protest, so I don't know first hand what happened. But, as covered in the Guardian ENG gets stopped by the police for this sign:
Now, ENG seems very awesome. The old media can't understand "The Kids" today unless they are hooded thugs, so the idea of political, opinionated, knowledgeable teenagers who communicate and play out their actions on the world stage of the internet are not typically represented in the media today. Which makes this quote from the Guardian is doubly delicious.
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and "strongly advised" him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.How beautiful is the part I bolded? Fucking phenomenal. And the moment they took the sign of him, Anonymous won.
The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" which was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous".
After the exchange, a policewoman handed him a court summons and removed his sign.
Scientology is a cult, and regardless even if it wasn't calling it a cult isn't hate speech. These new laws against religious hate speech are worrying indeed.
Why did the Police stop him?
There is actually more to this than meets the eye, it's a bit long winded but follow me on this one. Firstly it is important to point out that 1) Two police forces cover the protests, In the morning City of London (CoL) police at the Scientology HQ and when Anonymous move over to the Scientology "shop" on Tottencourt Road later in the day, The Metropolitan police (Met) take over. 2) The protesters have an extremely good relationship with the Police. I've typically seen than secretly laughing at Anonymous' light hearted protesting, and I've only heard them say nice things about them, one remarking that Anonymous are the only protesters he's ever covered that tidy up before they leave.
Now, It was CoL that served ENG. And they said this:
"City of London police had received complaints about demonstrators using the words 'cult' and 'Scientology kills' during protests against the Church of Scientology.So the City of London Police followed advice from the CPS? Ok, so what did they?
"Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service some demonstrators were warned verbally and in writing that their signs breached section five of the Public Order Act.
"One demonstrator continued to display a placard despite police warnings and was reported for an offence under section five. A file on the case will go to the CPS."
A CPS spokesman said no specific advice was given to police regarding the boy's placard.Now that doesn't fit does it? They gave general advice, and didn't advise of the use of the word cult. A term the European Court of Justice has used to describe Scientology.
"In April, prior to this demonstration, as part of our normal working relationship we gave the City of London police general advice on the law around demonstrations and religiously aggravated crime in particular.
"We did not advise on this specific case prior to the summons being issued – which the police can do without reference to us – but if we receive a file we will review it in the normal way according to the code for crown prosecutors."
So then, why might CoL's treatment of the protesters be so different to the Mets treatment (who have happily allowed signs with the C-word every month since February)?
Might it be due to the fact that The City of London Chief Superintendent, Kevin Hurley topened the head quarters? Could it be the thousands of pounds of gifts Scientology has made to the CoL and its' officers?
As psychiatrist Mark Salter says:
"They are a cult who are trying to maximise their influence by putting feelers out and using spin to make contacts and network in quite dangerous ways."
Now this is only my opinion on what I think happened, but it seems to me that Scientology has a number of high up members of the CoL who've they befriended with gifts. They've realised that the protests weren't going away, so they decided to fall back on their old strategies of suing thoe who criticise them. But they've realised that when they do this, the whole internet lights up in outrage and they shoot themselves in the foot. This *footbullet* does more damage to them than the original protester could ever hope to do.
So they thought that if they could convince the CoL that this was hate speech they could push any backlash onto the Police when the police did something about it.
And to a certain extent they succeeded. But they've achieved a massive footbullet in that they've managed to galvanise the Anonymous movement. It was getting bored, and attendance was dropping. But then they pushed for this and put anonymous on the BBC news, and all over the net. For example they've giving a youtube video advertising the next June protest over 2,000 diggs and 30,000 views.
By kicking the internet you only get it's interest.