Subject: Biased Journalism Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 22:17:04 GMT Biased Journalism : a net m
From: email@example.com (shelley thomson)
Subject: **Biased Journalism**
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 1995 22:17:04 GMT
**Biased Journalism** : a net magazine designed to compensate for
the shortcomings of the professional news media.
Copyright 1995 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.
Mail, articles and comment may be directed to .
Netiquette will be observed with all communication, except for the
following: harassing or threatening mail will be posted to the
**Biased Journalism** Volume I, issue 2 March 14, 1995 Part 1 of 2
Contents: Erlich Update; Netcom gets the Bunny; Of Rice And Beans (Food
and Scientology); Live Report of the New York demonstration; Welcome to
Read at your own risk. This is **Biased Journalism**!
1. Erlich Update
Readers of Issue 1 will recall that Dennis Erlich was given
an opportunity to present his comments on submissions by the RTC (c of
scientology) attorneys. In an earlier part of the story, Erlich's home
was raided by church representatives on the basis of alleged copyright
infringements. Judge Whyte requested an itemized list of the seized
materials together with supporting information about their protected
status. The plaintiffs were instructed to provide the information by
In the interval between the hearing and the issuance of a written
instruction by judge Whyte, Dennis Erlich decided to express himself. He
posted commentary containing exerpts from the transcript of a lecture by
L. Ron Hubbard. Erlich assumed that this was permitted under fair
Kobrin and Small were not amused. They quickly issued a letter
accusing Erlich of compounding his crimes and requesting that he be cited
for contempt of court. Erlich, horrified, immediately wrote a letter to
the judge telling his side of the story. The judge went on vacation,
leaving the matter to stew.
Erlich's letter to the judge was quickly posted to the net by an
acid-tongued supporter of official church policy. This began a trend in
which all parties posted their legal documents to the net, greatly
simplifying the task of keeping track of this case.
Kobrin & Small's documentation was delivered by one of the original
raiding party, "an OSA guy," Erlich specified. The first batch arrived
about 9:30 p.m. on the 24th and consisted of a chunk of legal paper some
6" thick. More has been dribbling in ever since. Erlich estimated the
current stack at fourteen to sixteen inches high.
The post which provoked Kobrin's letter contained exerpts from a
transcript of a class 8 tape. When Erlich received the documentation
asserting that this too was protected material, he was astonished to find
sections of the document deleted. The result resembled the FOIA as given
to ufo researchers by reluctant government agencies. Important parts were
blacked out. "They don't want the judge to know about body thetans,"
Erlich requested a postponement in order to prepare his response.
Kobrin promptly wrote a letter to the substitute judge opposing the
postponement; the church lawyers argued that they had only had three days
to prepare their material and it was unfair to give Erlich more time.
[BJ detected a hint of resentment here. The judge's request
for evidence bearing on the copyright and trade secret violations was
received by the plaintiffs with barely concealed dismay. Apparently they
had hoped he would simply take their word for it. At issue were the files
and documents taken from Dennis Erlich during the seizure action and some
data deleted from his hard drive. The seizure was massive and from
Erlich's perspective indiscriminate. Then the c of s was hoist with its
own petard. They were given only three days to explain and justify
each item. What will they say about the bank statement? The hair from
Erlich's hairbrush? BJ wondered.]
The postponement was granted. Barring unusual developments, Erlich
is now required to submit his response on March 17. A hearing will
subsequently be scheduled, perhaps on April 8, to deal with the Temporary
The contempt charge is a separate issue. This week Kobrin and
Small filed a letter requesting that the contempt hearing take place on
March 17. At this writing the outcome is unclear. If a live hearing
takes place, **Biased Journalism** will be there. Stay tuned.
2. Your Hippity Hoppity Days are Over!
On March 1 the estimable Ron Newman finally lost patience with
Netcom. After almost two months of behind the scenes negotiation with
the company and public pleading with netters to give Netcom the benefit
of the doubt, Newman heaved a sigh heard round the net. He posted the
email addresses of four Netcom employees and suggested that citizens
contact them directly to discuss the CancelBunny. It is not known how
many citizens followed his advice or what, precisely, was said. However,
the forged cancellations suddenly became a high priority at Netcom and the
CancelBunny was quickly snuffed. It has reappeared sporadically from other
ISPs but system administrators, collectively, seem to have learned how to
deal with it. Netters 4, Bunny, 0.
Meanwhile, Helena Kobrin (acting for Bridge Publications, i.e.
the church of scientology) renewed her request for a temporary restraining
order against Netcom and support.com.. The request advances the idea that
Netcom can and should police its users' messages. Netters predictably
gave a great deal of attention to the technical problem of screening
messages for forbidden text, but as **BJ** reads the documents Kobrin and
Small actually want specific people locked out of the net. They propose
to screen for user name. Netcom is expected to maintain that it is a
common carrier comparable to the telephone company and should not be
required to censor its users' messages.
Kobrin complained feelingly that it took an entire week for Netcom
to respond to her letter: an unconscionable delay, Your Honor (paraphrase).
This was greeted with laughter from the net, Netcom having one of the longest
response lags this side of the Gamma Quadrant. An awed subscriber praised
Kobrin for getting such quick service. We wish we knew how to do that,
It occurred to us that if the c of s _really_ wanted to stick a pin
in Netcom, they would not bother to swamp alt.religion.scientology with
boring, off-topic posts. All they really need do is spam netcom.netcruiser
and other news groups with nasty remarks about Netcruiser. Netcom then
would either have to tolerate the offensive posts, which they have been
historically unwilling to do, or else terminate those accounts, thus
undermining their own common carrier argument. (If Netcom *really*
wanted to shoot themselves in the foot, they could devise a cancelbot to
kill all posts that had "Netcruiser" in combination with any such words
as "overpriced," "crap," etc.) By missing this move the c of s once
again displayed its ignorance of cyberspace.
3. The editorial staff of **Biased Journalism** would like to thank the
readership for detecting the spelling error in issue #1. The widespread
misapprehension that citizens online do not know how to spell has now
been laid to rest.
We wish to thank our readers for the many friendly replies to issue #1.
We are especially grateful for the kind words from professional writers.
This inspires us to do our best in future issues.
**Biased Journalism** will continue to cover the Erlich hearings. We
welcome suggestions from the readers about future stories. We will
respect the confidentiality of our informants. If you would like to be
on the mailing list, please let us know.
4. Of Rice And Beans : Food and Scientology
To the non-initiate much of the action of alt.religion.scientology
(scene of the best flame war on the net) consists of insider slang and
acronyms: OSA, RPF, ROTFL. In response to public demand, an acronym faq
has been assembled.
In order to acquaint the public with some features of the situation
that cannot readily be explained in the faq, **Biased Journalism** will
explain the food jokes.
Food is often mentioned in a.r.s. posts. The emphasis is upon
rice and beans rather than gourmet or health foods. Various expressions
referring to 'bean eater' figure in arcane food-related insults. Eating
legumes is equated to ineptitude, powerlessness and humiliation. "Shuddup
and eat your beans!" Some ex-members take fiendish pleasure in taunting
the churchies, viz. "I'm sitting down to dinner now. I'm getting ready
to eat a nice thick steak and have a glass of red wine with it, too!"
The churchies don't have much of a comeback for this. Their usual
response, roughly paraphrased as "I'm going to kill you, you son of a
bitch!" doesn't add up to much in net repartee.
Here are the facts:
Auditing does not include meals. The escalating prices
for auditing make joining the church in one capacity or another an
attractive option. It is a common practice for the church to accept
contract labor in exchange for auditing services. The contractee will be
paid a token sum per week for his labor and must feed himself. However,
if a person joins the church and signs a billion year contract, the church
will provide his meals and lodging.
Of the various church bodies, the highest management group is
the SEA ORG. Each organization (ORG) has its own chefs. An ORG may
number perhaps 200 people. Each organization likewise has its own
penal unit, the RPF (Rehabilitation Project Force). Individuals who
break rules or bungle their assignments are sent to the RPF.
Throughout the ORGs, rice and beans are punishment food. ORGs
are usually punished for 'down stats,' failure to produce enough income.
The RPF eats leftovers. BJ was informed that this includes plate
scrapings. Leftovers in a prosperous ORG, such as FLAG (where Dennis
Erlich was posted) are better than what would be available in other orgs
but seldom include the main course. Of course if the entire ORG has
been put on rice and beans as a punishment for down stats, the leftovers
will consist of rice and beans.
In sum, people guilty of individual transgressions will be sent to
the RPF, where they will eat leftovers which may or may not consist of
rice and beans, but will probably not include whatever tasty items were
served to the more deserving. People whose ORGs fail at a task may be
placed on rice and beans for no fault of their own, merely for flawed
policies the ORG had been ordered to implement.
[BJ took a moment to wonder how the c of s lawyers will fare if
they lose the Erlich case. Rice and beans? RPF?]
BJ interviewed Dennis Erlich on the subject. He explained that
the meal consisted of large red kidney beans and rice, served in various
combinations. "The chefs had a bit of pride," Erlich said. He was in
FLAG, the best ORG "where all the rich people came to get their
auditing." Asked what specific rice and bean dishes had been offered,
Erlich could not remember any, but stated that refried beans had not been
The minimum acceptable production for FLAG was $500,000 per week.
A normal performance was $1,500,000 per week. Regardless of past
performance, if FLAG production fell below $500,000 per week the entire
ORG was placed on rice and beans until stats improved. This happened every
few months, according to Erlich. "It definitely gets your attention," he
[BJ thought about this. Does that mean you can't go out for a
cheeseburger? We asked Erlich to elaborate.]
You earn [he said] $17.50 per week. It costs $12.00 to do your
laundry. This must be done on Saturday morning, which is your only free
time: "hygiene time," it is called.
At 8 a.m. you report for work. Everyone lines up in rows for
attendance check. This is followed by a brief talk and three cheers for
the Commodore [L. Ron Hubbard], addressed to his picture. You do your
job until 10:30 p.m.; after that, everyone reports to "all-hands"
projects, such as stuffing envelopes for mass mailings to get the stats
up [and forestall further meals of rice and beans].
There were a number of dining rooms at FLAG. The meals were
decent, sometimes including an inexpensive filet mignon. People were
free to interact during meals, and dinner was a noisy occasion.
BJ: Did the high-ranked officers eat the same food?
He took a brief detour into a subject plainly very important to
him. The really high-ranked officers were in the CMO, the Commodore's
Messenger Organization. While Hubbard was alive these Messengers relayed
his commands everywhere in the ORGS; they spoke with Hubbard's full
authority. It is these people, according to Erlich, who overran the church
and took control. By the time Hubbard died everyone was used to obeying
them, Erlich explained. They knew the system. They knew the bank account
numbers. They were ruthless...
At FLAG Erlich and his fellow workers were expected to wear
naval uniform, blue with lanyards and hashmarks [rank insignia on your
arm--BJ]. Members of the CMO wore white. They had a private dining
room in which other FLAG staffers were forbidden to eat.
BJ: Did the ORG serve beer or wine?
DE: No. You can't have alcohol within 24 hours of getting
audited. It wasn't part of the fare.
BJ: And what did people do for fun?
BJ: For fun, Dennis.
DE: They got their stats up.
BJ: Would you order rice or beans now, in a restaurant?
DE: *Never.* Well, maybe in a Mexican Restaurant. That's
_Spanish_ rice and _refried_ beans, he explained carefully.
5. Live From New York
Dissidents decreed a week of protests against the Church of
Scientology. The week began on Saturday, March 11 with a demonstration
in front of the Scientology headquarters at 46th Street and Broadway.
A source gave the following eyewitness report to **Biased Journalism**
staff member Arlene Fortiori.
Source was surprised to find that the majority of the 30-odd
participants were East Indians. From a caste mark he inferred that
they were Hindu. Most of these people were members of a single
extended family with a grievance. A son (judging from the age of his
brother, perhaps in his late teens or early twenties) had joined the
Church and become separated from his family. They tried to persuade
him to return, to no avail.
The Scientology building is large. It is a well known structure
in New York, not far from Times Square. There were books in the
windows. It was a cold day; nevertheless, protesters displayed their
signs and handed out leaflets to the public for more than an hour. Their
best moment came when a theater across the street let loose a flood
of curious onlookers.
The signs said, "Beware of Scientology!"
"Stop Cult Mind Control"
"Let Our Son Go Home"
Scientologists inside the building ignored or laughed off the
demonstration. However, a television crew arrived and filmed the protest.
The following dialogue ensued between reporter Fortiori and the Source:
AF: What station were they from?
S: Well, I don't know, really. It seems more like they were
independent. They talked to the family. Seemed to know what they were
doing. But I kinda don't think they were from one of the regular stations.
AF: Did their truck have a logo?
S: I don't think they had a truck. Just a couple of people with
a video camera.
[further dispatches from the field will be printed when we get
them. Email hot tips to our publisher, firstname.lastname@example.org]
6. Welcome to the NETWAR
The following extract is from "Usenet Newsgroups of Interest to
Scientologists, posted by email@example.com (Evan Robatino)
"Here's the newsgroup that REAL scientologists have grown to love
to hate. It was started by some CAN people and is currently our
biggest PTP on the net. Due to the general entheta content (a
large number of entheta articles are regularly posted to it by
a large number of confirmed SPs) and due to reliable reports that
squirreled OT materials have also been posted here, it is strongly
suggested that scientologists who are not at least New OT V case
level NOT read this group - doing so may be hazardous to your
case. (OSA is taking steps to handle this, including getting
regular theta posts placed in here - I know; I'm one of the
posters. I post to a.r.s but do NOT read it. If you wish to
help clean up this group, contact Buz Cory at firstname.lastname@example.org
MiniFAQ: a.r.s apparently was not started by CAN members.
Entheta translates loosely as "bad vibes." There is a
malevolent bite to the expression that loses in translation.
PTP: Present Time Problem
SP: Suppressive Person. It is the stated mission of the church to
handle SPs by any means possible.
To handle: to eradicate or to fully control, whichever is
Months ago a poster to a.r.s. predicted that the church of
scientology would eventually declare the entire net SP. This has
apparently taken place. For the first time, someone is at war with
This is the first NETWAR.
The church opened with forged cancels followed by efforts to rmgroup
(remove) alt.religion.scientology, lawsuits against Netcom and support.com,
the attack on anon.penet.fi and the current spam assault on a.r.s.. Most
observers expect the church to follow up with attacks on individuals after
first depriving them of the ability to communicate. The church intends
to destroy or control the net. There is no doubt in the minds of
knowledgeable observers that this war will be fought to a conclusion
no matter what happens in court.
Is this San Juan Hill or the Charge of the Light Brigade? The
decision is up to the netters, who are slowly beginning to take an interest
in the matter. In recent weeks new posts have arrived from the cyberspace
elite to the effect that the church is seriously outgunned in the battle
of wits, and efforts to suppress communication are viewed with disfavor.
The church has received solemn warnings that its conduct will not be
To date the warnings have been ignored.
The engagement of individuals who are responding purely to the
cyberspace issues involved would appear to be an ominous development for
the church. The church's efforts, if successful, will lead to the
regulation of cyberspace and the abolition of free discourse. It remains
to be seen how the netters will enforce their edict.
High points in the war, so far:
* Nobody noticed when the c of s hid this gem among the spam:
Subject: FAQS (2)
Date: Mon, 27 Feb 95 13:37:32 -o500
DOES THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY VIEW THE PRESS >>>AS HOSTILE?
[snippity snip snip]
"The Church has also taken a number of steps
to provide the media with basic facts about Scientology, such
as publishing the booklet you hold in your hand."
* "The church is not going to smell of roses after this."
* "Digital samizdat is here to stay. Deal or die, we're stuck with
* A reminder to all, by Pope Charles: [why are these people so
preoccupied with food?]
"Better buy that Glock 23 while you can.
Remember, everything tastes like chicken."
* From someone whose return address doesn't work:
"Special Notice to the Cof$
"+++ WELCOME to the Cyber-Corporation +++
+++ Warning : Not for Amateurs +++"
* From a helpful net citizen:
"They look to be fed from the Little Garden, if I believe
Of course the problem with having a site directly connected
is you are vulnerable to Mitnick-style attacks. You can also be pinged/
sendmail swamped, etc. to death in short order if you piss off enough
* And a sinister jibe from Keith Henson:
[to the c of s] "Do you know the long form of the Chinese curse?
May you live in interesting times
*and attract the attention of important people*
Coming in next issue(s): live coverage of the San Jose hearings
and an interview with Dennis Erlich: SLAVE OF THE CLAM CULT, Part 1.
From: email@example.com (shelley thomson)
Subject: Re: Biased - correction
Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest)
X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2]
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 17:32:28 GMT
: Biased Journalism misreported:
: > In the interval between the hearing and the issuance of a written
: >instruction by judge Whyte, Dennis Erlich decided to express himself. He
: >posted commentary containing exerpts from the transcript of a lecture by
: >L. Ron Hubbard. Erlich assumed that this was permitted under fair
: > Kobrin and Small were not amused. They quickly issued a letter
: >accusing Erlich of compounding his crimes and requesting that he be cited
: >for contempt of court.
: This request was sent several days after my letter to the
: Judge. (below)
: >Erlich, horrified,
: ... at seeing the Amended TRO (which arrived by mail the day
: after the contested posting) didn't reflect his understanding
: of the judges's verbal instructions about his continuing fair
: use rights ...
: >immediately wrote a letter to the judge telling his side of the
: >story. The judge went on vacation, leaving the matter to stew.
: > Erlich's letter to the judge was quickly posted to the net by an
: >acid-tongued supporter of official church policy. This began a trend in
: >which all parties posted their legal documents to the net, greatly
: >simplifying the task of keeping track of this case.
: Not a bad idea.
: Rev. Dennis L Erlich * * the inFormer * *
: that person (tm)
You are correct. We should have said, "...in the interval
between the _receipt_ of a written instruction..." and clarified the
Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
publisher, **Biased Journalism**
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank