Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Six Months into the Protests

Anonymous has a video on Youtube, six months after their initial video. While this may seem a sort of six month reports on the part of Anonymous, I believe the video is a sort of fake. Not that it is not from some anons, but it does not have the elevation of the other Anonymous announcements, such as the original video above, or the recent announcement concerning Tory/Magoo.

What is more, while the original video of Anonymous had 2 million views virtually overnight, the present one barely passed the 2,000 bar after more than 3 days. This either reflects its fake nature, or reflects more than anything the tremendous fail of Anonymous effort over the past six month. I am going to be generous and vote for the first alternative: that it simply is a fake.

This being said, we can check out the claims being made in this video as a measure of six months effort. As I said, they are voiced in a petty way, such as "Oh! By the way... how are your booksales going?" - this simply is not the style of the original Anonymous. Nevertheless, let's check them out:
  1. PR Nightmare The initial and sudden rush of nearly 9,000 anons members from the Feb. and Mar. protests all over the world was indeed spectacular and phenomenal. What is more, nobody knew where these people came from. They seemed to emerge from the Internet made visible. This remains the "Epic Win" of Anonymous, and will probably remain so down history.

    However, as I wrote on my web page when these protests started, the big weakness of Anonymous was that they brought nothing new to the arguments that have been made before hand (apart for a weak claim to dissociate Scientology and the CoS). Much of it being culled from the "old guard" (OG) critics page, much of it outdated (Operation Snow White, more than 30 years ago!), and much of it debunked, even if the Old Guard keeps on repeating their lies as if nothing happened (Scientology Kills, McPherson, Keith Henson, etc).

    As a result, the numbers dipped. People lost interest. Many realized that their initial assumptions about Scientology weren't true, or at least weren't as bad as they thought, and certainly not as bad to sacrifice more interesting lulz on the Internet. Anonymous also made the mistake to moderate its fora and lost quite a few members who became disappointed with anons free speech stance.

    Aiming at the decrease in the numbers of Scientologists, Anonymous was the one to suffer a total stats crash, not Scientology. The numbers as of July 12 are a ripples to what they used to be. Their National/International DC event was a disaster, and their latest actions have left the press completely indifferent.

    After six months of protests, Scientology is still around, and they are stronger than ever. Why? Because they survived Anonymous onslaught, barely touched. All the CoS had to do, really, was to ignore anons, because, as I said, Anonymous slogans were old, over-used, and easily debunked.

    What Anonymous should have done was to protest against things like the German discrimination towards Scientology at the same time as they protest Scientology. Then they would have made their marks and brought something original. They should have seen through the OG bullshit sooner and dissociate them from their exaggerations and cultic behavior, while at the same time protesting Scientology on key points that can stand on their own rather than using the same old myths. Instead they chose to play along the OG line, a line that did not succeed to shatter Scientology for a decade and which propaganda cannot survive a more serious scrutiny. That was their mistake...

  2. Surge of Press articles. There has been a few press at the start of Anonymous protests, and some article that followed later on, such as the Maxim article. However, the situation such as Anonymous describe in this video is totally untrue. Quite on the contrary, the press article got rarer and rarer and nowadays they basically died down. Anonymous big " Over 9000 anons" flop did not receive a single article, their latest taunt using little girls can't even make it to Wikipedia, because not a single serious newspapers picked it up, their latest July 12 protests are virtually ignored as well. Even on the whole of the six months, the numbers of Scientology-articles did not increase, as has been demonstrated through a search of LexisNexis.

  3. Drastic actions. Anonymous claims the CoS had to resort to drastic actions to counter Anonymous. They cite the initial, later dropped, charge of a 15 years old for using the word "cult", ridiculously claiming that this was a result of bribing the police. They cite the "charging a crippled man for assault", when in fact the man in question was charged for possession of drugs, not for assault, even though it is true that this was uncovered after the man, an active critics, run over the feet of a Scientologist with his chair (probably by accident)..

    Though the CoS did try to defend themselves legally wherever they could, their action on the whole have on the contrary been very mild, and even at times so innocuous Anonymous had to twist reality in a ridiculous way to make themselves a victim. Check out the example of the case where they distort the words of A Scientologist to make it appear as harassment, when in fact that person was extremely motherly and patient with Anonymous. If anything, the CoS has just roundly ignored Anonymous, even though they also succeeded in many cases to push their protests farther and farther away from the CoS building itself.

  4. Flyers. What I like about this is the irony of Anonymous getting mad for the CoS doing the same thing they do. They accuse the CoS of distributing "Flyers that contain fabrications, dramatised misinterpretations and slanderous falsities." Why should the CoS be deprived of its right of free speech to distribute its own version of the truth? Why is that making Anonymous so mad that they have to harass and old lady, virtually assaulting her until she found a refuge back in the CoS, and claiming that mooning her was an "Epic Win"? Why to they have to make threads claiming Scientologists distributing their flyers are "infiltrating" anonymous, when in fact they are in plain clothes, not even wearing masks, as they could in fact do? In a way, this is just too funny. Anonymous can ditch it out, but cannot take it...

  5. Cut source of income. There is no evidence Scientology suffered financially from Anonymous protests. Quite on the contrary they are busy getting new quarters for themselves by buying expensive historical buildings around the world.

  6. Ex-members. "Ex-members of Scientology have now come out and are speaking against you." Ex-members have always come out of Scientology and spoken against it. This is nothing new. What is more, there is no evidence that this has increased with Anonymous, or decreased, not even that anonymous was at the origin of any of those who came out during the protest period. For all I know, they may even have been less defections than before Anonymous. Anonymous, with their scary masks and their stalking of individual Scientologists, just confirms the CoS' propaganda against critics, and draws sympathy towards Scientologists from onlookers.

    Of course, Anonymous dreams of people rushing out of the CoS building and seeking refuge in their arms. This has not happened, and the best they could do was to decide that someone watching from a window (probably thinking what a bunch of idiots these people are) was a "crying Scientologist", all the while shouting in desperation "come, come to us, escape from the CoS". Instead, this makes me sorry for anons, because these are people really motivated in doing good and not bad people and in their delusions they really think what they do is helping to anything. Their lack of result must be very sad for them. The solution is getting to understand Scientology better, in its positive and negative aspects, not just buying into OG propaganda.

  7. Charged. "When your leaders are facing a judge, being prosecuted for fraud, malpractice, criminal harassment, extortion, exploitation of children and perversion of justice, know that you've only got your greed...". Scientology has been around for more than 50 years. It has a long history of battling the society legally. Anti-cultists have already tried all they could to charge Scientology, but the CoS has won most of its legal battles. The reason critics cannot charge Scientology with all they claim it has done wrong is simply because their claims do not withstand legal scrutiny. Most of it are bloated and untrue, and all they can do is repeat them on the Internet where they find gullible people to swallow them, and to repeat them in turns in a stupid crowd phenomenon. If anything, Anonymous protests has just demonstrated that very phenomenon, just as their dwindling numbers and their failure to get any results either from within the CoS or from the legislature, shows the emptiness of their claims.

    Anonymous still seems to think they can bring any of the above about. Wake up Anonymous. Look beyond the OG claims. Yes, the intent was noble and commendable, and you should be proud of having mobilized yourself for a what you thought was a just cause. You have not wasted your time because you followed the noble impulses of your heart. But now, try to bring up your mind at that level too. Either step up your protest in a more intelligent way, or find something more meaningful to do.