Anonymous vs. Scientology protest in LA today


Sean Bonner writes on Blogging.la (where he and other contributors have been covering this story for weeks):

Since I first posted about Anonymous Vs. Scientology I've been following it rather closely which you've probably noticed. When the Feb 10th call to action I knew things were getting interesting. Then Newsweek picked up the story and photos started trickling in from other protests around the world this morning. I've been following the coordination efforts and planning to attend the protest today to take photos and see how many people would actually show up. In fact when I posted asking how many people you all thought might be there the response seemed to imply that most people thought no one would really show up. As Mack posted this morning that was pretty far off, and from my count over 300 people were there.
Link to full post with photos. Images: Sean Bonner.

Below, a "Frosty Ice Co." truck presumed to be a Scientology mobile surveillance unit, with cameras inside, to document the protestors -- some of whom were masked, others not.

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  1. I just stumbled across this great LJ entry on the protest in England:

    http://deathboy.livejournal.com/1082404.html

    Which includes great photos, videos and a stunning LOLCat style captioned pic of the demo.

    (i am not affiliated with ‘deathboy’ or any of his friends, afaik – just stumbled on it using the random LJ image generator)

  2. This thing kind of teetered into the surreal realm of internet talk and real world politics. I somehow woke up this morning in -40 degrees Celsius weather and took part in a small protest in Edmonton Alberta.
    battymcdougall.livejournal.com
    Even still, people are pissed, yet what is scary about this is the fact that nobody knows what they’re pissed off for. Call it the first global sceanster/websurfer protest, it could appear that people seem to be ridiculously willing more than ever to take part in something, or it is the spasm youth reactionism. Even still, it’s interesting to take part in and watch at the same time…

  3. This thing kind of teetered into the surreal realm of internet talk and real world politics. I somehow woke up this morning in -40 degrees Celsius weather and took part in a small protest in Edmonton Alberta.
    battymcdougall.livejournal.com
    Even still, people are pissed, yet what is scary about this is the fact that nobody knows what they’re pissed off for. Call it the first global sceanster/websurfer protest, it could appear that people seem to be ridiculously willing more than ever to take part in something, or it is the spasm youth reactionary involvment. Even still, it’s interesting to take part in and watch at the same time…

  4. Tom Cruise is inside that car with a mask of Aretha Franklin with a mask of Ronald McDonald with a mask of Divine Brown with a mask of Tom Cruise.
    brokenglish.blogspot.com

  5. why are so many expending so much effort to ‘wise up’ or reform the scientologists, rather than thinking up a clever scheme to free them from their burdensome earthly monetary units? they seem so willing to donate to whack-job fairy tales; someone please phish these guys! i will help for a small cut! don’t waste time ‘protesting’! take action! take their money! take their money! take their money!

  6. #5
    You can’t do that. Otherwise you ARE a $cientologist. It would be one thing to fleece the “leadership”,the flock are just pathetic people who need help – not more leeches.

  7. I just don’t get it. How can a protest motivated by boredom and misguided hatred accomplish anything? If these people cared about getting rid of Scientologists, why haven’t they put themselves in the shoes of an actual Scientologist and tried to figure out how they would be convinced to stop being one?

    If you were a Scientologist, and a bunch of people came and told you that your religion (and it is a religion, to a Scientologist) was a sham, would that make you stop being one? If they made your fax machine waste toner, and your phone was ringing off the hook, would you just throw up your hands and say “you know what? maybe they’re right.”

    This whole ‘movement’ is nothing more than a limp dicked lynch mob, eager to make clever posters illustrating how angry and unforgiving they are. This will not weaken Scientology, if anything, it will make Scientologists feel more of the same alienation and self-satisfaction that likely drew them to Scientology in the first place.

  8. This is soo cool, that there is concerted action against these guys. They are so arrogant – I know because I once was one of them ;-)
    One good story about their actions I read recently, I found at http://www.DelphiParents.com – but I guess being kicked out was a good thing for them.

  9. SONGE: That could be said of any protest, really. As far as I can figure, people don’t protest to change the opinion of those who have made up their minds about something. They protest to bring attention to an issue and to possibly sway those who are undecided.

  10. #11
    No, but you call them a pathetic flock. How do you feel when someone says that about you?

    #12
    No, not all protests, just those motivated by intolerance. I think standing outside of Scientology centers with information about the inner workings of the organization would work, because such an approach respects the dignity of the so called “flock”. Wearing masks and saying that you ‘don’t forgive’ is just obnoxious, and saying that their organization murders people is just counterproductive, since Scientologists wouldn’t be convinced anyway (even if it is true).

    I know it can seem impractically idealistic, but this is really one of those times where love is the only way to success.

  11. any time you find me in the ranks of the lost, call me pathetic too. The word does have a precise meaning. I see no hypocrisy on my part to call them such as a group and to be respectful with them on a face to face basis. I will not sugar coat the basic situation. If any present victim/followers read these words, it is my hope that they would ask themselves why “pathetic”, rather than taking offense from the faceless commentator.

  12. #14
    Honestly, not this time. I hold no hate for any members of Scientology (outside of the program’s upper echelons, at least), but I observe the “religion” itself to be a fairly transparent scam, and a scam that has driven numerous people to bankruptcy, corruption, and death at that. You’re right that protest will only reach an insignificant segment of the members of Scientology in a direct fashion. Most are too brainwashed by the auditing process to be reachable.

    What protest will do is draw public attention to the group’s highly questionable history of crime and abuse. That attention can provide a modicum of education that may prevent additional people from falling for Scientology’s false promises (and providing it with the money that fuels its machinations).

  13. #16
    The lost do not believe they are lost. Calling them pathetic does not make them realize they are lost. It makes them annoyed, or afraid, or something like this.

    You hope that present “victim/followers” would wonder why they were bing called “pathetic”. Do you really think that after calling someone a victim/follower, they would give you the benefit of the doubt and ask themselves if they were “pathetic”?

    You act like you can see this from their point of view, but your thought experiment here demonstrates nothing but your unwillingness to address the fact that your opponents are human beings who are just as convinced that Scientology is good as you are convinced that it is bad.

  14. #5 – You’re on to something there, but not just about getting their money.

    The best source of converts and proponents for every new cause is to raid the “True Believers” of another, preferably failing, organization.

    (See: http://www.erichoffer.net/)

  15. I think the best outside perspective was from Bigger than Cheeses “http://www.biggercheese.com/?comic=732”

    I’m terribly amused by the whole thing, but I can’t imagine it having any real effect or being more than some quasi-cult inside joke activity.

  16. RE: #8 — my thoughts exactly. This pitiful excuse for activism is nothing short of poorly thought-out vigilantism (notably from the Anonymous bunch). WeTheGeneric on YouTube has the right idea as well. The Anonymous message to Scientology reminds me immediately on the complete nonsense that are the Kenya protestors rioting in the streets over an election. “You know, now that you’ve burned my business down and killed my family, I’m really considering changing my vote.” All Scientology has to do is fart in the Anonymous’ general direction and will win by a technicality that Scientology opted for a strategy that made worlds more sense.

  17. I’ve been paying attention to this for quite sometime now and there were those who were saying total numbers 30k-300k showing up worldwide, then otherside were thinking a hundred or so worldwide… the numbers are leaning towards 10,000 people. Now whatever side your on, whatever you think 10,000 people protesting an organization in a worldwide protest that was started almost as an aside a month ago (yes the regular $cio critics have been laying the groundwork for years) thats freaking impressive. Infact I would probably say unprecedented, but I am sure someone here will prove me wrong. Will it change things? They are working on getting their tax exemption status revoked (its better than any other established religion in the US, they have special status, I wonder what they had on the IRS to pull THAT one off, mustabeen a doozy) will it totally shut down the corporation known as ‘The Church of Scientology’ or ‘The Religious Technology Center’? Only time will tell only time will tell.

  18. This discussion has missed the point. The protest wasn’t to convert people. It wasn’t to make a global point. It was funny. Funny to anonymous, and it doesn’t well matter to anonymous what others think. Even looking for social political meaning in this event will automatically lead to fail. Give it up and enjoy the ride.

  19. #23, I’d agree, and say that if the Anonymous folks were actually seriously behind any cause, they would try to stay on message, and avoid distractions like signs that say “longcat is loooooonnnng”. I like my lulz as much as anybody, and frankly I think I dislike Scientologists more than these jokers – that’s why I am so annoyed at this counterproductive charade.

  20. $cientology will be defeated by starving it of new victims. Those already inducted are pumped dry soon enough. Protests like this prevent them from getting fresh blood.

  21. If you were a Scientologist, and a bunch of people came and told you that your religion (and it is a religion, to a Scientologist) was a sham, would that make you stop being one?

    Scientology is a cult. It is not a religion and yes, there is a difference. Anyway, the goal is not to deprogram existing member but to starve the corporation of new victims and to remove Scientology from the internet. Who knows? Perhaps it’s possible.

  22. #29, you are both missing my point and proving it. The Scientologist believes his faith (or belief at least) is legit. Put yourself in the shoes of that man. How would you convince yourself to get out of the machine? If I accused you of being ‘programmed’ against scientology, how would you react?

    As far as starving the corporation of new members – that is probably the one effect this whole thing could have. The publicity anon is getting is def. a good thing, and I expect Tom Cruise will be the next Michael Jackson.

  23. Conflict of interest alert. Cory of BoingBoing is a science fiction writer. L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer. Both of their science fiction books are on the same shelf at chain bookstores.

    “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.” – L. Ron Hubbard, 1949

    Too bad this wont work for Christianity. Or will it? Pastafarianism was a fairly good mockery of old-time “big creator in the sky” religion.

    Did people know that most creation myths involve really odd things, quite stranger than the relative clarity of Genesis? Inevitably some turtle or other mythical animal dives below the ocean to scoop up some mud and sculpts a few people out of it, and so on. It’s as if all religions have a common “flood” myth, probably meaning that ancient oral history carried old news of what was a real flood (tsunami) in Africa, where modern humans first developed.

    But Scientology is about UFOs and weird energy units they measure with simple resistance junk science instruments which they CHARGE thousands of dollars for. If that’s not a CULT, what is?

  24. They do have a plan for World Domination. Asking Scientology to share the plan is quite reasonable. Maybe they can mate with the other World Dominators and make baby Worlds. Then we can all die laughing at the outcome.

  25. While this all seems very inspirational, the fly in the ointment is the thought that to some this was simply another *chan raid. If you don’t know what that is check out 711chan.org.

  26. If they had a truck out there, why did no one bum rush it and flip it over? Is this a war or a bunch of nerds? Oh wait, nevermind…

  27. The point of Anonymous is that it is not centralized in any way shape, or form and thus operates purely on the whims of those who take part. I’ve been involved with the evolution of this movement for a while and I’ve been amazed at the change from DDoS attacks and fax spamming to a noble and peaceful attempt to raise awareness. Anonymous began for the lulz for sure, but it has become an incredible social phenomena and the first real proof that the internet is spearheading a new class of citizen.

    Global citizenry is catching on, and as time goes by, and as the Anonymous movement grows in number and in elegance, it is going to become apparent how powerful collective conscience can be.

    In the end, these protests aren’t just for laughs. They aren’t just to kill time. These protests are to prove a concept and to help define a class of person who believes in the power of information and the capacity for a cause to garner popularity without a figurehead. Only time will tell if this movement matures to become a truly noble endeavour or dies as meme-comedy tends to.

    We’ll find out March 15th.

  28. #36 : The point of Anonymous is that it is not centralized in any way shape, or form and thus operates purely on the whims of those who take part.

    So like a flash mob. There’s a plan, or perhaps some semblance of one, but no serious organization or coordination to speak of. As if the internet has taken the place of pheromones in an ant colony.

    #36 : These protests are to prove a concept and to help define a class of person who believes in the power of information and the capacity for a cause to garner popularity without a figurehead.

    I see what you are saying and think that is inevitable that society will bifurcate to some degree between the online and the offline citizens; interesting concept indeed. But why the Scientologists as the first target for assault?

    Are they seen as an evil, yet easy target? I could identify several other, higher priority targets for citizen action than the CoS. Perhaps this is a proof of concept, or like the hive mind of the ant colony, it’s just the current goal, however fuzzy, and unclear that goal may be.

  29. #25: you are correct.

    #23: “a strategy that made worlds more sense.”

    You are incorrect. Or correct. I don’t know. I’d never trust any motherfucker that makes sense. Remember, tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

  30. “Are they seen as an evil, yet easy target? I could identify several other, higher priority targets for citizen action than the CoS.”

    You must be new here (or on the web). There are a couple of longtime very hotbutton issues to netizens, some of which boingboing covers. You seem to have forgotten (or don’t know) about Dmitry Sklyarov.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sklyarov

    I think this demonstration may have been larger overseas, but by my simple estimations, nearly the same as “Free Dmitry” was in the US.

    So while there is a hive mind mentality, it does require a push above critical mass to reach. Also, it could be argued that the notion of censorship is probably one, if not the one most “hotbutton” topic.

  31. As if the internet has taken the place of pheromones in an ant colony … [b]ut why the Scientologists as the first target for assault?

    The conflict between Scientology and the Internet dates back to the early to mid nineties, at least. In Internet terms, that’s essentially forever. On occasion, it was network-wide news, as with the shutdown of anon.penet.fi in 1996; for most users, though, it is simply something that has always been there, referred to by old-timers obliquely in obscure in-jokes, shrouded in legend.

    If the Internet is developing a subconscious, is it very surprising for Scientology to surface as the enemy?

  32. Is Songe a Scientologist? BattyMcDougall?

    Perhaps some McCarthy-style hearings are in order.

    I don’t think anyone is particularly concerned about unbrainwashing those duped into the cult. There is little point in saving the gullible. I mean sure, it might have saved people like Lisa McPherson, but holding the cult accountable for its crimes is far more likely to improve the situation of its members.

    No, the point of the protests is to demonstrate to the cult’s leadership that the Internet will not be intimidated, and to bring attention to them that isn’t filtered through publicists and the Hollywood media machine.

  33. Shame we can’t get Fred Phelps to send his goons…er…family out there to picket the Scientologists.

  34. I was at the Montreal protest, it was great! The public in general was very supportive and most people already knew the CoS is a scam.

    We we not there to make fun of their beliefs or to convince them that they chose the wrong sect/religion. We were there to PREVENT people from being scammed. By spreading the truth and giving spoilers, maybe we can save a few lives.

  35. —Sunlight is the best disinfectant—-

    Scientology’s practices have not undergone enough scrutiny by the Government. Scientologys strong arm tactics try to bow all who honestly question their motivation$.

    If even half of the information on http://www.xenu.net about this cult is true, these protests are too good for them.

  36. How can a man made dogma that concentrates on dehumanization be considered a religion?

    A true religion and a true prophet are surrounded by the poor and the ravaged as a sign of their virtue.

    Look at the people of Jesus, and the people of Moses, and the people of Mohammed. A true religion makes the weak stronger, and it makes the strong aware of their duty of helping the weak.

    Scientology is a 25 cent peep-show fairytale.

    Period.

    The staggering number of wealthy actors and wealthy businessmen whole-heartedly supporting it should make it just that obvious.

  37. >> In the end, these protests aren’t just for laughs.

    No, no….it’s just the lulz. Otherwise you’re just killing the goose.

  38. @ #8: This protest was not about their beliefs, but about the criminal corporation that is the CoS. So stop crying religious persecution, you scientology sympathist.

  39. Stage 2:

    I will no longer give money to prominent $cientology shills (Tom Cruise. Travolta etc.) by patronizing any of their work. I wll do this consciously and will do the work of seeking out the information to avoid giving money directly or indirectly to this cult. Should be pretty painless.

  40. #51 TAKUAN:RIGHT ON! a message that will be effective -BOYCOTT- Sock ’em in the wallet.

    Adult Humans are motivated by four things: Money, Power, Fame and Sex (sometimes food, but food is only temporary). Adults are NOT motivated by someone telling them the difference between right and wrong! The time for learning values and morals is over at about age 7, as it is a personality trait, not knowledge or comprehension. I see a lot of “altruistic notions” in many posts here. Altruism too, is a value instilled by parents during formative years. So is learning to be (or not to be) a sucker.

    Demonstrations only demonstrate our right to free speech. “Consciousness raising”, “demonstrating”, and “protesting” is most often a feel good for those who prefer telling others what to do rather than taking personal action. Antagonistic demonstrations are most often counterproductive, in the absence of real activism.

    Sherman’s march to the sea, standing in front of a Chinese tank – that’s real activism. You want to defeat $cientology? Drive them into bankruptcy, strip them of their power source, or defame the leaders. Remove their motivation and they will go away.

    p.s. wiki “fairy tale”. LOTS of folks believe in all KINDS of fairy tales these days.

  41. #47

    “” How can a man made dogma that concentrates on dehumanization be considered a religion? “”

    Now that is hilarious.

    I can’t imagine the strength of will-power (or plain old look-the-other-way) it took to make that statement (and its following argument) without at least a smirk, or stifeled lol..

    I just think its funny when religious types hold up scientologly for making stuff up and reducing its followers to unthinking drones.

    POT > KETTLE > BLACK

    (besides the ludicrous amounts of money, property and political-influence in the hands of various ‘real’ churches around the world)

  42. Vancouver had a large crowd out protesting in front of the Scientology offices downtown yesterday.
    “Personality Testing” now there’s a leap of faith!

  43. Fairy tales like return to life stories (zombies), indeed. I agree with the poster’s comment that at least gives credit to institutions as religions when they help the downtrodden more than the victors. But certainly a religion that celebrates the victors more, if only to motivate the downtrodden, could be considered a religion. In fact, many could say that is the real world situation with many religions. The fact that one is clothed and fed only serves a cult’s purpose more, usually after a series of humiliations and stripping of traditional familial ways. Such as missionaries perform in Africa and South America and Alabama.

    Scientology is a perfect target of the internet’s subconscious and Anonymous is a good representation of this in human flesh. Refraction will allow the internet to have this effect on us. Fractal.

  44. “Adult Humans are motivated by four things: Money, Power, Fame and Sex.”

    Has the definition of “adult” really gotten that grim? Or is that just a recording of Rust Limberger’s testicles descending?

  45. If my religion entailed robbing banks as a sacrament, would it then be OK to rob banks, and morally repugnant for you to criticize my beliefs??

    That’s perhaps hyperbole, but I know of no other religion that is uninterested in helping the poor (after all, how can you afford to take their “courses” if you have no money to speak of).

    Does anyone have any figures on how many people have actually been reasonably HELPED by Scientology? And how much money did it cost them to get to that point?

  46. Cowardly bullies have as much power as you give them. Up till now, their terror tactics have been effective since there have been few standing up and openly denouncing $cientology.

    I suspect they really don’t know what to do about the tidal wave they are facing now.

  47. These are quotes from the age of Voltaire:

    “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

    “Call it the first global sceanster/websurfer protest.”
    (illegal printing press pamphleteer protest).

    “How can a protest motivated by boredom and misguided hatred accomplish anything?”

    The French Revolution is no longer in your textbook, or the candidacy of Obama? Boredom is the MOST effective catalyst for benign change. Do you want war with China instead? See, we fight little wars (Korea, Vietnam, Afganistan, Guatamala, etc.)

    It’s called a proxy war. I call it the soft spot of an alligator, attacked when the have just fattened themselves up, just like a Doctor Who episode, when they steal the nuclear geode.

    This WUSSY PUSSINESS ABOUT ATTACKING UFO IDIOTS does not become you, young america. I am 42. If you are 24, kill the whore, lest your only other option will be drafted force feeding to you, which is called war.

    Making fun of people is unfair or ineffective? Download Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’.

    Compost the easy weeds first, and do not call spooks and sneaks mere temporality misguided souls. Let’s first kill the gurus. Now, lest they suddenly take over the media, and thus our minds.

  48. #60 JPhilby: what motivates you?
    (i should qualify – rational motivation)

    to motivate means to cause to move – take real action – do something that requires real effort or significant risk. why do you think he was standing in front of that chinese tank? human rights? what rights? free speech? who cares? that man wanted the right to earn a living in a free (market) society. i dont think he was there to demand his right to recite his poetry in a public place.

    i’m sure this ‘protest’ or whatever they want to call it was fun, but just as sure they deprogrammed no followers, nor turned away any potential converts unless they were just too embarrassed to cross the line that day.

    my cyclops can kick his noodlinesses ass!

  49. i’m also pretty sure if there were no money, power, fame or sex to be had, $cientology would fold up like a house of cards.

    sorry bout that cyclops crack.
    how do i do penance? i already gave up ramens for lent.

  50. What an incredible waste of energy.

    With the Patriot Act and phone/email surveillance, Guantanamo and waterboarding, Bush and crew are turning the country that once stood for Freedom into the biggest prison/mental hospital on Earth.

    For God’s sake, if you want to protest something, protest something meaningful.

    JohninSapporo

  51. ILL ICH asks:

    “Does anyone have any figures on how many people have actually been reasonably HELPED by Scientology? And how much money did it cost them to get to that point?”

    I personally don’t, but I do know that each course a person takes in Scientology, however short, is thoroughly checked by several independent people. The person has to be completely satisfied with what he has done and make a statement to that effect and write a success story that shows this. Each person.

    And in case any doubting Thomas thinks that hypnosis, drugs or persuasion of one kind or another are used. THEY ARE NOT. If they were, you can imagine the uproar.

    So, each person who completes a course of one kind or another is – according to his evaluation (what other is there) – helped by Scientology. That’s a lot of people.

    As for how much it cost. Some courses take years – the equivalent of a university course and others might only take part of a day. Some are free. Others, due to their length and the number of people involved might be considered expensive.

    Yours sincerely,

    John Davis

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