Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More on the Kyalami Castle

More about the recently acquired Kyalami Castle from this Scientologist's blog.

Raids in France

An as yet unconfirmed news reports two raids (real ones, not Anonymous so-called raids) in France on December 16.

One in the Church of Scientology itself, the other in its Celebrity Center.

Bavaria Confirms the Closing of a Kindergarten Linked to Scientology

The Administrative Court of Bavaria confirmed Monday the decision taken in February by the town of Munich to close a Kindergarten linked to Scientology. The alleged crime is that directors and educators are Scientologists, and that the children are therefore "at risk" of being submitted to an education impregnated with "totalitarian" values.

The case is still ongoing.

Press article in French.

Anonymous Threatens Scientologists and Their Family in Their Private Houses at Christmas

One of the three videos that were at the basis for Angry Gay Pope's ban on You Tube can now be seen on Vimeo. Entitled "Christmas with the Handlers", it consists of a movie made filming Scientologists' private houses, together with their addresses being posted on the same video, and their car plates being filmed.

Once more, I fail to see how this constitutes any form of "peaceful protests" and how it is going to do any good in improving Anonymous' image.

Back in July, Anonymous was already speaking of going to picket their "handlers'" company. In that particular case, it seemed to me the guy was no "handler" at all but just a Scientologist having a friendly talk with anons (compare this with what AGP calls "just conversation").

Even if this Scientologist and others were "handlers" indeed, it would still not justify this kind of outright stalking and invitation to violence that threatens individuals and their family right in the middle of what should be a peaceful familial gathering and celebration of peace on earth...

Related blog entries: R-InvasionOfPrivacy-

Stalking Scientologists - Precedents

I blogged today about Anonymous filming private residences of Scientologists while also posting their addresses.

Back in 1999, a similar incident happened in which Kady O'Malley posted photos of Helena Kobrin's home and that of other Scientologists. She also suggested her intend to produce maps to direct others to these homes, and provided a link to considerable personal information that has been posted about Kobrin around the same time.

O'Malley later pulled off the page from the web but never published the apology she supposedly made privately to Kobrin (having seen the extend Kady is willing to go (claiming I pulled off a page which I never even created) in a lame attempt to justify the arbitrary ban she and her buddies imposed on me on their pet "free speech" IRC channel, I have reasons to doubt her truthfulness).

No later than three days ago, I made a blog entry about Anonymous "peacefully picketing" a Christmas party attended by Scientologists and their children.

Monica Pignotti also commented how anons on ARS "were encouraging people to go to a Toyota dealership where a recently departed ex-Scientologist is working and videotape him, presumably as a way to pressure him to go public about his experience as a top-ranking SO member".

This type of behavior is exactly what brought Keith Henson in trouble with the law. Henson wasn't just indicted for "peacefully protesting" or for making a Cruise missile joke. For days on end he followed Scientologists from their work place to their home, wrote down their address which was then used by Arnie Lerma to send them unwanted mail, took their pictures, wrote down their plate numbers, followed them with signs accusing them of killing their own companions who died in a tragic accident...

I am sorry but these examples, together with the incident I just reported, are not just "peaceful protests" to me. This is one of the things that is being discussed at the Riverside County, where supervisors are talking of imposing a 300 feet perimeter from a person's residence in which protesters could not enter.

PS - Check also how critics reacted vehemently back in 1997 at the simple suggestion they maybe could observe a Christmas Truce. I am sure they view themselves as "dedicated in their human right activism". To more cool-minded onlookers, however, they would appear instead as every bit as fanatical as the brainwashed cultists they supposedly are trying to help.

Related blog entries: R-InvasionOfPrivacy-

Angry Gay Pope and Jeff Jacobsen Forced Down the Tube

YouTube banned Angry Gay Pope (AGP) after he apparently violated YouTube's terms of service three times in less than six months. At the same time, Jeff Jacobsen received the first of three warnings as well, and has been forced to pull down one of his videos.

Critics don't explicitely say the reason (maybe they don't precisely know it either) but it may have something to do with restraining orders.

Indeed, AGP writes in the post quoted above:
Although the videos are just conversations the cult has a restraining order against me over the incidents. That means they qualify as "harassment" by legal standards and that violates YouTube's terms of service.
What AGP qualifies as "just conversations", is, I believe, the video about which I blogged about back in July 7, and which I already qualified as "harassment and stalking" at the time. It seems like the courts agreed with that assessment later on. It may be that since the video has been considered as proof enough to justify a restraining order (and this is far from being the only "peaceful-protests-just-conversation" AGP did, as I blogged about on Nov 30), it is now illegal to post it on YouTube.

Jacobsen's video may fall under the same reason, though I fail to see how it qualifies either as Moxon being "dissed", as Jeff claims (on the contrary I think Moxon is coming out good), or as something illegal. They do speak about "restraining order" in that video, though, which makes me think it may have something to do with a reason similar as the one AGP talk about above.

Tom Turns Back Time

"he's not "lost a bit of weight" - he's looking gaunt and drawn. Makeup didn't do a great job hiding his paleness, and his sweater didn't do a great job of hiding his shrunken frame"
I quite disagree with this assessment. Of course, through the looking glass of hatred, anything will look ugly no matter how beautiful.

OK - some people sincerely dislike TC, Scientology or not, and that's perfectly legitimate.

But common! Even if you dislike him, you've got to admit that the before and after his slimming down is amazing. Stunning, even. Most people can never get back their youth shape after passing their 30's, and here you have this 46-years old guy almost looking younger and better than ever...

Both with his latest film and in real life, Tom turns back time indeed...

Here is a picture taken from his Valkyrie premiere (left), and one taken of him last year (right)!

Valkyrie - Mixed Reviews with a Positive Trend So Far

With a day or two from the release in theaters, reviews are starting to pour in. On the whole, the so-so initial assessment is confirmed so far, though there will of course be Scientology critics who are going to quote from the ultra negative reviews and claim it is a disaster.

The Metacritic web site now has five reviews, ranging from 63 to 75, making an average of 67% thus far. 75 is not very high but the fact that, so far, nobody gave it a really bad rating is again confirming that the film is not going to be a super hit, but that it is of a solid quality on its own.

IMDB still features the one initial review of Dec 11, giving the film an 8/10 and approved by 39 readers out of 62. All other users review on this site, except one, are overly positive to enthusiast so far. The forum, for its part, with arguments between Scientologists claiming the movie is going to rock, and Scientology critics asking people to boycott the movie (for no better reasons than the fact Tom Cruise is a Scientologist), can be safely ignored.

RottenTomatoes, however, has the most extensive number of professional reviews so far, 28, out of which 16 are positive and 12 are negative, giving a total of 57%. Not that high but also not that bad for such a controversial film and again confirming the trend so far.

From the look of it, thus, it seems that users may end up giving a higher rating than professional critics, even though the later have not really given a bad rating overall.

The big question is, of course, who the hell is going to go and see a war movie on Christmas day or even the following day? By all means, not me. I am going to spend it, as usual, with my family. I am going to see the film, though, but not during Christmas. If other people think like me, we may have to wait a while before making the final accessment on how the film was received by the public.

Tom Cruise: Human or Not?

From :
We all know Scientology has made Tom Cruise a little weird (couch jumping, etc.), but who'd have thought that his crazy-eyed devotion to the belief system founded by sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard could lead to deep psychosis? According to some sources, the group's techniques include activities that increasingly cut adherents off from reality. This could be Tom's biggest role ever.
The author lists a series of wild behaviors on the part of different celebrities, but attributes Tom Cruise's excesses to Scientology. What about the other celebrities it reports about? And what proof does he have that it is linked to Scientology at all other than possibly being just a celebrity symptom? Not even that, it could be questioned whether jumping on a couch out of enthusiasm for having found one's true love is that crazy after all.

On top of this, the author also has to bring in the myth of Scientology creating psychosis.

Fail is fail, and bad journalism is what it is - but then it also is the reflection of a popular opinion artificially promoted by critics in guise of Scientology "criticism".

Note that in a typical double bind, the fact that Cruise is now acting "normal" and even apologizing for his past excess and for trying to push Scientology on to the public, is also, ironically, the sign of the evil of the CoS according to some critics.

Indeed, in this article, Jean-Luc Barbier writes (in French):
Pour un scientologue dire qu'il a eu tort ne signifie rien. C'est une technique pour que l'autre au final accepte votre point de vue de scientologue.
In other words, he claims that Cruise's apology is only an evil Scientology technique of the ever evil Church of Scientology to manipulate people.

It not only is a double bind, as in the case I reported here already, it also is a denial of right. Indeed, Jean-Luc Barbier does not simply say that he personally feels that Cruise apologies are not sincere, he is saying litterally "For a Scientologist, to say that he was wrong does not mean anything".

Scientology is made SO evil that the mere fact of belonging to such a group removes any right "normal" people enjoy.

This reminds me of the argument of Ted Patrick, saying that since cult members are "brainwashed", for them to claim that they joined voluntarily, and for them to protest being abducted and forcibly deprogrammed, does not mean anything. It is not a human right violation, since being brainwashed has removed his humanity and have made of him a robot.

In effect, Jean-Luc Barbier does the same thing. He denies the possibility of Cruise being just a human being like you and me, who maybe does make mistake sometimes.

Jumping on a couch or apologizing has little to do with Scientology at all, but more simply with being a human being.

Copyright, Fair Use, and Criticism

Some time ago I webbed Alice Bailey's book, "Ponder on This", which is a compilation from the 30 or so Bailey's books, grouped on selected themes. Each excerpt was linked to a full version of every book some guy had put on the net.

I then received a cease and desist letter from Lucis Trust, who owns the copyright, and I had to put my pages down. The other guy who webbed the full version had to put it down too. However, I did ask permission to use at least some excerpts in a fair use spirit. They never replied to my request, something I was not very happy about and which prompted me to put all my Bailey's page down with a notice stating the reason why.

It now turns out Lucis Trust is making a page of their own that is, basically, identical to the one I had, except that they link each excerpt to the advertise of each book in which the excerpt is contained. I am not sure they are not even copying/pasting from my ex-pages, though I think they probably re-scan everything themselves to make sure it's identical to the original.

Well, I don't mind. I am glad I could contribute at least with the idea, maybe, though it would have been more easy for them to ask me to just link to the advertise of the books rather than to the full version.

Anyway, good thing it's back on-line. I shall update my notice page sometimes too.

PS - To bring this post back on topic, I would say that it may be a good idea for the CoS to do something like this too. Maybe they do it already, I don't know. If they prevent critics from publishing their copyrighted work, even in a fair use manner, then at least they could publish some of it themselves. Such a compilation could be a good enticement and would promote their basic views into society.

The CoS could even address the many distortions critics engage into by publishing clarifications and context, a bit like I did recently with my medical claims page, and a bit like what Louanne is doing. In this manner, they would turn criticsism into opportunities to clarify their teaching and fine-tune them to better target their audience.

Of course, this is not in par with the L. Ron Hubbard's philosophy regarding criticism at all, which is to never defend, always attack; to tag all those who criticize Scientology as some sort of criminals; to engage only in "good news"; and to keep at prospering instead.

Well, it's a choice. Who knows which approach is the best eventually. It's true that by not addressing anything they can just dismiss all critics with the same brush. and since critics do engage, on top of valid criticism, in grotesque claims as well, it does work somehow. If the CoS was to address that part of the criticism that is false, they would be left with that part of it that is true, and they would have to reform. Guess they just don't want that, nor is it compatible with LRH's spirit that present it as an ultimate planet-saving revelation of which every criticism bring us nearer to the doom.