"Anonymous" plans to protest Church of Scientology on February 10
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The Internet-based group "Anonymous" released a new video on YouTube Monday, announcing international protests outside Church of Scientology centers set for February 10. The video "Call to Action" uses the same computer synthesized voice as a previous video titled "Message to Scientology", which was posted to YouTube last Monday. The "Message to Scientology" video has been viewed over 1,400,000 times, and the "Call to Action" video has already been viewed over 237,000 times.
Anonymous is taking action against the Church of Scientology in response to what it sees as suppression of freedom of speech on the Internet. The group was first motivated after the Church of Scientology issued a copyright infringement claim to YouTube regarding a promotional video of Scientologist Tom Cruise speaking about his beliefs and using Scientology jargon. The Church of Scientology also issued a legal complaint to the website Gawker.com which is also hosting the video, but Gawker has stated it will not take the video down because it is newsworthy.
Anonymous set up a movement called "Project Chanology" to coordinate their efforts, and took down several Church of Scientology websites through denial-of-service attacks. Members of Anonymous have also participated in prank calls to Church of Scientology centers, as well as protests or "raids" outside Scientology buildings, and have posted some of their exploits to YouTube.
|Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing.|
—Anonymous, "Call to Action".
In the "Call to Action" video, Anonymous denies that they are composed solely of "super hackers", stating "Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing, that someone must bring light to the darkness, that someone must open the eyes of a public that has slumbered for far too long." The video goes on to state "We want you to be aware of the very real dangers of Scientology," citing what they term "gross human rights violations".
Specific controversial events in Scientology history are cited in the video, including Operation Freakout and Paulette Cooper, and Operation Snow White. Operation Freakout was the name of a Church of Scientology operation whose goal was to "get P.C. [Paulette Cooper] incarcerated in a mental institution or jail or at least to hit her so hard that she drops her attacks." Paulette Cooper had written a book critical of Scientology called The Scandal of Scientology. Operation Snow White was the name of a Church of Scientology operation where members of the Church's secretive Guardian's Office infiltrated United States government agencies in Washington, D.C. including the I.R.S. The F.B.I.'s investigation into Operation Snow White led them to discover the planning of actions taken against Paulette Cooper.
The video concludes by inviting the viewer to "take up the banner of free speech" and protest with Anonymous world wide. In an email to CNET News, Anonymous stated that cities where unknown activities are planned on February 10 include New York City, Montreal, Houston, London, Melbourne, and Los Angeles.
On Friday, two spokespersons for the Church of Scientology commented on the recent actions of Anonymous. A spokesman told News.com.au "These types of people have got some wrong information about us," and Church spokeswoman Yvette Shank told Sun Media that she regarded members of Anonymous as a "pathetic" group of "computer geeks". On Monday, Radar reported that the Church of Scientology has asked the U.S. Attorney General's office in Los Angeles, the F.B.I., and the LAPD to start a criminal investigation of possible criminal activity related to the Internet attacks. A source told Radar that the Church of Scientology is arguing that the Internet attacks are a form of "illegal interference with business." Radar also reports that the Church of Scientology is emphasizing its status as a religious organization in the United States, in order to assert that the Internet attacks can be classed as hate crimes.
|I'm mainly concerned because you shouldn't be doing things that are illegal, you just shouldn't.|
On Saturday, Mark Bunker of the website XenuTV.com posted a video to YouTube criticizing the illegal actions of Anonymous and suggested legal methods for them to retaliate against the Church of Scientology, including peaceful protesting, writing letters to their government representatives, and persuading the United States government to take away the Church of Scientology's tax exempt status. In the video, Bunker states "I'm mainly concerned because you shouldn't be doing things that are illegal, you just shouldn't. It's not morally right, and it's not right when Scientology does it, it's not right when we do it." Bunker's video post has been viewed over 156,000 times. On Sunday, Bunker posted a follow-up video to YouTube where he gives advice to Anonymous on how to peacefully picket. He also provides viewers with resources and weblinks to more information on how to hold a peaceful protest. He concludes this video by imitating Obi-Wan Kenobi's Jedi mind trick technique and voice from Star Wars, stating "And if I may, as Obi-Wan, tell you: You will do nothing illegal ".
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