I have taken a casual interest in the whole Anonymous vs. Scientology situation that seems to have arisen of late. Now it will all probably blow over without that much fuss or concern but it does have some rather interesting facets to it. Herein lies silliness, war, interesting uses of technology and criminal behaviour.
Now let’s begin by an admission; I do hold the personal opinion that the church of scientology are a bunch of whacked out, harmful and often criminal bastards. I make no apologies for that opinion and it is backed up by evidence as I’ve briefly highlighted elsewhere in this blog here, here and finally here. Calling them a church is also stretching the term rather a fair distance; it seems rather evident that the organisation is no more than a cult that started off as a crass money making scheme by a rather mediocre sci-fi writer.
The latest activities are just the latest in a long list of, really, can be only described as one hilarity (in the darkest sense of the word) after another. It probably started with Hubbard’s infamous “If you want to get rich, start a religion” quote and the huge criminal activities his scientology group got up to (and got caught for) in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
It all went up a notch when Tom Cruise went on his infamous couch jumping idiocy on Oprah, combined with his attacked Brooke Shield’s use of prescribed drugs and general idiocy led Paramount Studios to kicking his ass to the curb.
A more recent example has been a video doing the rounds which has the rather unstable actor speaking almost incoherently about scientology. The video makes him sound and to look to be in an extremely dubious frame of mind. It would not be much of a stretch to use such footage to label the man as a complete eccentric by all indications given. As you might expect, scientologists have been doing their best to keep the video out of the hands of the public which, in turn, has led to at least two different events in itself. ABC News summaries the video, rather briefly, here.
First of all, actor Jerry O’Connell stars in a video which does an excellent job of parodying the Cruise video. Normally I do not have much time for O’Connell’s work but, in this one instance, he manages to get all the mannerisms and speech patterns right to help create a really rather hilarious parody.
Secondly, it seems to have given rise to a bunch of online communities who have banded together under the banner of Anonymous. This group seems to be made up mainly from users of Ebaum’s World and 4chan.org (the later isn’t work safe by any means, be warned). This Anonymous group has apparently launched DDoS attacks against pretty much all the scientology websites, bringing them either down or slowing them greatly. Through the Project Chanology (mirror) site, live rallies (or raids) also appear to be in the middle of being organised. The movement seems to have spread to social websites such as Facebook and appears to be gaining members rather quickly. Project Chanology even appears to have their own wikipedia entry. To add icing to the proverbial cake, it also seems that supposedly secret scientology documents have been leaked onto the ‘net, which has also caused headaches for the CoS.
Now the CoS hasn’t been taking this lying down, it seems clear they’ve been launching their own DDoS attacks on several servers related to this whole situation which probably just makes it all the more interesting. They also seem to be breaking out the lawyers, copyrighting anything that isn’t nailed down and even calling in the FBI. Which is probably playing into the hands of the Anonymous group anyhow, since what they seem to be aiming for is general media attention so the CoS gets looked at good and hard.
The whole thing has certainly started some rather fascinating discussions across some message boards as well. Some examples include threads on:
Even noted scribe and comic book writer Warren Ellis has jumped in and given approval.
Now what does this all mean? It could all well mean nothing at all. Diddly-Squat. Zip. Or it could be the start of an example of a bunch of internet using people actually using a new age of communication and technology to bring about a common goal.
Which would actually be kind of neat.
But is their goal one worth chasing? Considering all the complete insanity and harmful practices the CoS has performed and apparently continues to do up to and including the present day … I’m forced to say yes. It is one thing to hold your own personal beliefs but when those beliefs actively harm or disadvantage others then they are just morally wrong and inexcusable.
For example, the Jehovah Witness group hold the belief that blood transfusions can not be performed on their own members. Members of that group have died with that belief in mind when every shred of evidence indicates that a blood transfusion would have saved that particular life. Do I think that belief is batshit insane? Yes, I do. It’s completely irrational and ludicrous without any evidence at all to support it. But are they harming anyone else with it? Well, not really. While the world would probably be a better place if such irrational beliefs were halted, there is no harm to society as a whole in that particular JW belief.
Scientology, on the other hand, does seem to actively hurt people. Blackmail, murders, fraud, theft and a huge number of cases of harassment and intimidation present a strong case indeed that the CoS is indeed an organisation that society would be a lot better without. It just saddens me that people are gullible or vulnerable enough to be ensnared by the nonsense they present as the truth.
Do I agree with the goal? Yes. Do I agree with the methods? The DDoS attacks are a bit childish but the rallies seem like a good idea. Will I be taking part? No, though it does look like a bit of fun.