Hubbard was a science fiction writer, who based
his new religion „as an extension of his earlier
psychological theories of
From Science Fiction to Space-age Religion".2012).They are still fighting to be recognised as areligion. Many are critical of the church because of the aggressive way in which it handles criticism.Scientology has embraced both the light and dark sides of the internet. It has used the internet tobroadcast its message to millions, but has also usedit to protect itself, and attack others.
alt.religion.scientology is the starting pointfor an ongoing war, known in the public sphere asScientology versus the Internet. It has been
described as a „flame war with real bullets‟ (W
ired3.12: alt.scientology.war. 1995).alt.religion.scientology is a newsgroup set up inJuly 1991 (Official Software Consortium logs). Itwas set up to discuss the views and beliefs of thereligion of scientology. It became a place of frequent flame wars with strong opinions on bothsides. On Saturday, August 12, 1995, the home of
Arnaldo Lerma, „a Usenet poster and former
st‟ (Wired 3.12: alt.scientology.war.
1995) was raided and his personal home computerseized. Raids like this were carried out on a numberof individuals and other websites. These raids andlawsuits raised a number of questions. Questionsabout intellectual property, copyright and the rightto free speech were highlighted in the publicsphere. The newsgroup that exposed the story wascreated by Scott Goehring, an ex-scientologist. Thenewsgroup intended to cause a stir. His ex-wifewas still a scientologist when he created the group.
It was formed „half as a joke and half as a place todiscuss the truth about the organisation‟ (NYU
Press Electronic Title: NET.WARS by WendyGrossman; ch06; pg02. 2012). He used a forgedmessage to begin the group,
„email@example.com‟. Scientology has been
opposed to the site since its inception. Aside fromthe harassment and lawsuits against people andwebsites, it has called for the newsgroup to be shutdown. Scientologist lawyer Helena Kobrin sent amessage to Usenet servers asking for the group tobe shut down. They claimed the website was legal.This response was heavily criticised by free-speechadvocates. They were criticised for attempting toblock people from speaking freely, and expressingtheir own opinion. This request was dismissed byUsenet. They then began to flood the page with junk mail and spam. This made the site nearlyimpossible to read at times. It was another methodof self-preservation by Anonymous, whichmirrored how the group dealt with people whocriticised the church in public.
Scientology has been looking forvindication since 1984. A Superior Court of California Judge, Paul Breckenidge stated that
scientology was „corrupt, sinister and dangerous‟
(BBC Panorama - Scientology and Me). It is an
organisation which, he stated „harasses its enemiesand abuses the trust of its members‟
(BBCPanorama - Scientology and Me)
. In 2007, BBC‟sPanorama aired „Scientology and me‟. The
documentary was supposed to shed light onScientolo
gy‟s teachings and beliefs, and address
the question of the Church of Scientology being acult. The documentary however, turned into thestory of an individual being followed by theChurch. It became an account about how theChurch deals with its former members and critics.The presenter John Sweeney was viewed beingfollowed and watched throughout the documentary.Sweeney had many intimidating encounters withTommy Davis, a well-known spokesperson for theChurch of Scientology.
L.Ron Hubbard, the creator of scientologywrote many different rules for dealing withenemies of the Church. One of these is called
‟. Fair game states that the enemy „may be
deprived of property or injured by any means byany Scientologist without any discipline of theScientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to ordestroyed
‟ (Scientology: The Shrinking World of
L. Ron Hubbard - YouTube. 2012). It is nowrelatively easy to gather information about anindividual or organisation. An idea or statementposted in cyberspace has the potential to reachmillions of people. Any sensitive informationposted on the web can be very hard to protectyourself against. Amy Scobee featured on a
Panorama documentary called „The Secrets of Scientology‟. The program f
about Scientology „fair gaming‟ Scobee. She left
the church in 2005 after twenty-six years. Sheaccused the church of being a cult publically. Inresponse, the Church of Scientology postedpersonal details on its online magazine. Theyl
abelled her the „adulteress‟ and accused her of „wanton sexual behaviour‟. The magazine reached
over a hundred thousand people, and many moreare reported to have seen it online (Panorama TheSecrets of Scientology - YouTube. 2012).
Controlling the Internet and Anonymity
Controlling the Internet is a controversialissue. Many say that the Internet should remain aplace where free speech is unadulterated andallowed to flourish. Another view is that the