FutureNet : .net 5, Apr '95 - Electric Planet - Scientology [ref001] [ref002] [ref003] _Le
FutureNet : .net 5, Apr '95 - Electric Planet - Scientology
The bitter Internet war between Scientologists and their critics has reached an unprecedented level of hostility after cult documents were leaked into the Usenet newsgroup [ref004]alt.religion.scientology just before Christmas. The bizarre cult "secrets" - apparently sold to initiates for tens of thousands of pounds each - are the wacked-out beliefs of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard, and were posted anonymously. The gospel according to Ron describes how, 75 million years ago, an evil space tyrant called Xenu rounded up all the renegades on neighbouring planets, dumped them on Earth, and set about destroying them by dropping H-bombs into volcanoes. The surviving spirits
were then "packaged together" into "clusters" and shown strange movies for 36 days. This, says Hubbard, is part of our history, and explains why we're so messed up today.
Within hours of the leak, cult lawyers had threatened each of the remailer operators with legal action on grounds of copyright and trade secret violation. They were told to disable all anonymous posting to alt.religion.
scientology or face the consequences.
Almost simultaneously, messages started disappearing from the Scientology newsgroup within moments of being posted. A forged Netcom account was discovered, sending out hundreds of "cancel" instructions for any message critical of Scientology, copyrighted or not.
But messages continued to pour in. Some remailer operators publicly defied the Scientologists and kept their anonymous service open. Other Net groups started to take an interest, angered by the attack on free speech.
It was then that the cult made a [ref005]foolish move. Someone intercepted an "rmgroup alt.religion.scientology," sent from the Netcom account of one Helena K Kobrin, a Scientologist lawyer. This was far more serious than a cancel instruction - the purpose of an rmgroup is to automatically obliterate the entire newsgroup on every site receiving it. Attached to the control instruction
was a note to sys admins asking for confirmation that alt.religion.scientology had indeed been removed from
Thankfully, the pre-emptive strike was largely countered by an immediate return fire of "newgroup" instructions from sys admins far and wide. They attached their own notes vociferously condemning the action.
Reports suggest that the Net cult war is now overflowing into the real world. Sysop Tom Klemesrud was allegedly framed by a Scientology agent for "assault with a deadly weapon" when returning from a BBS sysop convention in Denver, Colorado. He had refused to remove the Net account of high profile cult defector Dennis Erlich when threatened with legal action by Scientology. Sysop Jon Noring has instigated a Net-wide electronic petition to gather e-mail signatures of all cybercitizens opposed to the cult's heavy-handed tactics. The signatures are reportedly flooding in.
Scientology's reputation, which has already taken a severe beating, despite its influential celebrity following (Tom Cruise, Kirstie Allen and John Travolta
are just three of its many high profile followers), has now sunk even further as a result of these reprehensible actions. More and more Internet users are hanging out on the Scientology group, waiting to see what will happen next. Veterans predict that Scientologists will continue to use every means possible in their mission to wipe alt.religion.
scientology off the face of Usenet.
The battle rages on. What would Xenu have made of it all, one wonders?
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank