Since some of the materials which describe the $cientology cult could be
considered to be copywritten materials, I have censored myself and The
Skeptic Tank by deleting any and all possible text files which describes
the cult's hidden mythologies. I have elected to quote just a bit of the
questionable text according to the "Fair Use" legal findings afforded to
those who report. - Fredric L. Rice, The Skeptic Tank, 09/Sep/95
From news.interserv.net!news.sprintlink.net!howland.reston.ans.net!news-e1a.megaweb.com!newstf01.news.aol.com!uunet!in1.uu.net!news.nyc.pipeline.com!psinntp!psinntp!psinntp!bah.com!nntp.bah.com!ckaun Mon Jul 10 17:03:40 1995
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Carl Kaun)
Subject: More on the AOL situation
Date: 09 Jul 1995 17:42:28 GMT
Organization: Booz-Allen & Hamilton
I think we have a nasty little situation over on AOL (America On-Line).
Under "Religion & Ethics > Other Religions > Other Religions 1" there are
8 boards dealing with Scientology, and dominated by Scientologists like
our own RonArtistR:
- Scientology & Ethics
- Scientology & the Family
- Scientology & Dianetic Wins II
- Dianetics "Through the Soul"
- AOL Scientologists Communicate
- SCN: Clear Expansion Committees
- Celebrity Center & Scientology
- Scientology Community Outreach
BTW, some of these boards have several hundred postings. A lot of it
is typical Scientology pablum - either empty testimonials such as we
have seen posted here, or 2-line responses like 'keep up the good work;
a big win for Scientology' (most of these by RonArtistR). But there is
also obvious Scientology propaganda there.
There is also a board called 'Scientologie Free Zone'. The spelling
of 'Scientologie' is apparently intentional and enforced throughout
the group to distinguish it from 'Scientology'. As an aside, there is
a message under this from Sermoner1 (Jerry White, the 'moderator' of
the Religion & Ethics groups) that states "The board will not be used
for the purpose of bashing COS. And do not ask us to delete their
(COS) messages when they respond." This is followed by a similar note
from DNIII, the 'Other Religions' Board Host.
I posted several messages to the Scientology & Ethics board, and also
to the Scientology Community Outreach board. My messages were
successfully posted to the Scientology & Ethics board, but when I
returned 1/2 hour later, they had been removed. Apparently the censor
was active on the Scientology Community Outreach board, because
although I got feedback that the messages were posted, I never
actually saw them on the board. I saw messages from DianeR (Diane
Richardson) and another 'critic' on one of the boards when I started,
but these too had been removed by the time I finished. I saw one
message from someone called 'GTAdvocate' that simply noted that
Scientology was not without controversy, and pointed to other boards
on AOL where more information could be found. Even though this was
fairly early in the list, and had obviously been on the group for a
while, I could not find it when I looked for it again at the end of my
session. I would hate to think that my activity spurred a general
purge of the boards (I did not reference this message in any way).
In case anyone is interested, one of the messages I responded to was a
paean to the 'good work' going on at the Chilocco Narconon, with
testimonials and an 800 phone number for reaching Narconon. I merely
replied that the Chilocco Narconon was being closed because the medical
review board determined that appropriate medical procedures were not
being followed, and that the patients were endangered thereby.
Another of the messages I responded to started out something along the
lines of "people who say Scientology is a scam don't know what they're
talking about. Although I have spent a lot of money on contributions
in my 20 years in Scientology, it is my choice how I spend my money, and
no different that choosing to buy clothes". I responded by simply
pointing out the that cost of the Bridge to Total Freedom is $350,000 -
$400,000 if one doesn't stumble on the way, and that the 'contributions'
to cross the Bridge were required and not voluntary, and that could
buy a LOT of clothes. Oh yeah, I also asked "who says Scientology is
a scam?" Inquiring minds want to know.
A couple of my other messages said something about reading the full
story on the Internet news group alt.religion.scientology. I expected
those to get axed (they were).
All in all, a really tacky situation. Censorship in the absence of
guidelines for posting to boards, at least that I could find. Censorship
without advance or followup notice of it. Open propaganda by Scientology
without even a hint that the topic might be controversial, and indications
of where other discussion could be found. Horizontal spamming of boards
(8 boards for Scientology - come on). Content-free vertical spamming of
boards (messages without content that waste my $ to read). Tacky. Probably
not worse than what you'd expect from AOL, but tacky all the same.
I have already written one letter (as a subscriber) to AOL, indicating
my concerns, and also stating "I'd rather have my children exposed to
pornography than unadulterated Scientology propaganda". Despite an
auto-responder that said my message would be answered in 24 hours, I have
not received a reply in more than a week. I will be writing more letters.
It is difficult to know what action might be taken. Based on what I
read, I think it is possible that messages to the Scientology boards
are primarily scanned for negative comments, and that messages that
can appear upbeat and still get a message across (e.g. by satire)
might elude the censors for some time. If you take this tack, you may
need to avoid posting any message that gets removed, as I suspect that
the censor gets sensitized to names as well. I intend to pound on
AOL's potential liability as a publisher, given the recent Prodigy
decision, and based on my observation that some of the postings in
fact constitute advertising.
BTW, there was a lot of reference to a Scientology organization
called 'Criminon'. It looks like something paralleling Narcanon.
Does anyone have some substantial information on 'Criminon'?
Also, is Narconon a non-profit organization? Is it a religious organization?