Copyright 1995 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.
Mail, articles and comment may be directed to email@example.com. Netiquette will be observed with all communication, except for the following: harassing or threatening mail will be posted to the net immediately.
Table of Contents for Biased Journalism.
Note by the editor: In contrast to the regular issues of "Biased Journalism", these bulletins are slightly edited to remove any unnecessary repetition or catch up with the events. If you don't like this, complain by email to Cornelius Krasel (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A) FACTNet is a nonprofit 501(3)(c) educational lending library and historical preservational archive.
B) Arnie Lerma has been a member of the Board of Directors of FACTNet since mid-July, 1995.
C) Arnie Lerma's home was invaded and his records seized by Scientology on August 12, 1995 after he posted an sworn affidavit from the Fishman-Geertz case to the Internet.
In violating Arnie's home, Scientology seized not just Arnie's computer and disks but also his scanner, his mouse, and other materials which have nothing to do with any possible copyright issues.
D) The Fishman-Geertz affidavit was and is a legally obtained document. It came from the public court record obtained by FACTNet almost a year ago during the Fishman-Geertz case.
E) When Scientology raided Arnie Lerma's location and seized his records, Scientology also illegally obtained confidential FACTNet records that were in his possession and appropriate to his position as a voting board member. (These records did not include our mailing lists or compromise any victim who has contacted FACTNet for information.)
F) In distributing the Fishman affidavit, Arnie Lerma was acting within his powers as a member of FACTNet's Board of Directors. The 7 key purposes of the FACTNet library and historical archive which guide Lerma's action, as designated in our corporate structure and in our IRS educational status, are:
G) The full Board of Directors of FACTNet stands behind its fellow Board member, Arnie Lerma, who acted in accordance with our organizational purposes in distributing the legally obtained court record called the Fishman affidavit.
H) FACTNet's full financial, insurance, informational and human resources will be used to defend Arnie Lerma.
B) Scientology has waged war on FACTNet since its inception: It has threatened FACTNet with four lawsuits using three different law firms, for everything from copyright infringement to libel and slander.
Scientology is suing a former member of FACTNet's Board of Directors, Jon Atack, in England, trying to drive him bankrupt with legal expenses in a frivolous and malicious lawsuit.
Scientology is suing a former member of FACTNet's Board of Directors, Gerald Armstrong, in the US, to prevent him from saying anything about Scientology in the future. In the Armstrong lawsuit, Scientology asked the court for a preposterous and over-broad court order that would remove all information concerning Scientology "from any and all data bases electronic or otherwise within the possession, custody or control of FACTNet."
Scientology appears to be trying to buy up 10-15 year old debts of another current member of FACTNet's Board of Directors to force him into silence by threatening or creating a bankruptcy.
Scientology or its agents have stalked, intimidated and continued to "fair game" harass our staff and their families and friends in spite of being warned repeatedly to stay away from everyone in our organization. Scientology's agents or members have called potential FACTNet financial donors and threatened that they could "get in trouble" by supporting FACTNet or that money they gave would be misused personally by one of FACTNet's Directors.
Scientology's agents or members may have attempted to infiltrate our electronic library and hard copy archive to possibly sabotage our organization by hacking through our BBS's security system or by surreptitiously trying to place incriminating documents into our archives. Scientology's agents or members have threatened our original Internet Web page provider with an expensive lawsuit if they continue to provide web page services to our library. They have threatened to sue our secure mail and office services provider (Mail Boxes Etc.) if they even send another fax for us.
Scientology's agents or members have initiated a widespread anonymous Black PR smear mailing. In one document, FACTNet's Board of Directors and network associates were called everything from criminals, perverts, con men, CIA operatives to insane. Using the same smear tactics, Scientology has repeatedly written the IRS in an effort to get our non profit educational status canceled.
Scientology seems to be taking every step to destroy our ability to archive and preserve public records and research and make those records available to the public who wants them now or will want them in the future.
In its latest raid and lawsuit against a Director of FACTNet, Arnie Lerma, Scientology has initiated a radical new tactic to intimidate and silence their critics. This is the most serious new step in suppressing public debate and freedom of speech ever entered into by Scientology.
In its attack and lawsuit against Arnie Lerma, a FACTNet Director performing functions appropriate to the FACTNet organization, Scientology has gone from attacking individuals who privately possess information critical of it to attacking the very vehicles set up by society to collect and preserve information: our public libraries and public archives.
This is a major and important acceleration of Scientology's coercive and abusive tactics -- not just against FACTNet -- but against the vital social mechanisms to preserve and distribute information for public debate, public education, and public safety.
C) This acceleration of Scientology's abusive tactics must be met with the strongest of public condemnation and immediate action to defend the social institutions and functions of public libraries and archives from this new generation of "book burning" tactics
D) FACTNet needs the help of all individuals and organizations who believe that our public information system of libraries and archives must be protected to help defend the very rationality necessary to protect democracy through informed public debate.
E) FACTNet and its key executives and advisors have more than 80 years experience successfully defeating Scientology in and out of the courts. From this experience we have learned several things about the organization's nature and tactics that are relevant to this situation.
It is this simple. The intentions behind Scientology's tactics is to stop information distribution and to stop public debate. We must increase both overwhelmingly. Here's why.
The trance producing processes of Scientology tend to create fanatics. Scientology is currently run by the most fanatical of those fanatics. These leaders are in an isolation bubble where normal reality and normal feedback from their actions seldom reach them. To cut through their isolation and numbness, the response of those trying to protect public dialog and the libraries and archives that preserve the information for this debate must be OVERWHELMING!
I estimate that FACTNet and a corps of emergency volunteers needs to immediately begin putting up 100-1000 times more Fishman affidavit type public records on Scientology into world wide distribution on the Internet. Scientology needs to learn that attacking critics, illegal and immoral raids do not work any more. They need to learn that each unjust attack on their critics, other than in the arena of public debate, will only make the distribution of information they are trying to hide 100-1000 times worse.
Scientology needs to learn that when you attack one of us you attack all of us, and that we as librarians and archivist at FACTNet have learned the historic lessons of the bullies and book burners of other totalitarian organizations. We have learned the lesson that to prevent possible social catastrophe one must aggressively fight against coercive tactics and the organizations that use them while they are still small.
Three, If you have a computer scanner and modem and have some time, FACTNet has about a million pages of uncomputerized public records that we need volunteers to scan, correct and post to the Internet. (To help, email email@example.com and we will get you the details.) Four, get your local library association and BBS operators involved in distributing information about Scientology and discussing Scientology's attacks on the Internet, Arnie Lerma, Dennis Erlich and now on FACTNet's electronic library and archive.
601 16th St. C-217, Golden CO. 80401, USA
The FACTNet electronic lending library and archive can be found on our BBS, 1-303-530-1942. Log on and follow the instructions on the screen. Selected information can also be found at the following sites.
Internet FTP Sites:
Keyword Religion; select 'other religions'; goto other religions file area, scroll back to Oct 25, 94 and you will find many affidavits. Also, select ''Philosphy" then "philosophy file area" and scroll back to March 25, for affidavits from Fishman and Scarff.
OTHER WWW WEB SITES: (Information may still be on most of these sites. Some may have been removed )
Additional details will be forthcoming shortly.
A great deal of lawyer talk ensued. Biased Journalism is grateful to our on-site observers, who must remain anonymous.
As most readers will know, on August 12 the Church entered Lerma's residence, conducted a search, and seized his computer equipment and floppy disks. This was a catastrophe for Lerma, who earns his livelihood with his computer and is, furthermore, a writer and publisher. The seized computer contained his private correspondence and all his business records. It was has not been returned.
At the hearing, observers said there was long argument between the Washington Post and the Church. The Post introduced evidence of the past conduct of the Church. However, Judge Brinkema deferred ruling on the Temporary Restraining Order issued against the Post.
The Judge agreed with Lerma's attorneys that the computer should be in the hands of a mutually agreed upon third party. The party currently holding the computer on behalf of the Church, I-Net of Gaithersburg, said that so far three word searches had been done in Lerma's computer data: for "Hubbard," "OT Course" and "Thetan."
The judge asked Earle Cooley [Church attorney] "Isn't this too broad?"
Cooley yammered. [Don't blame us. This is exactly what our correspondent said.]
Judge: I understand you want to do another search?
The judge thereupon gave a direct order to I-Net: no more searches. I-Net was also ordered not to alter the hard disk.
Judge Brinkema stated that there certainly was not enough evidence to uphold the action against the Post, and that the material in the Post article fell within fair use.
The case was taken under advisement. No rulings were made today.
Another source reports:
The Post introduced evidence documenting past abusive actions by the Church of Scientology. There were allegations made that private mail on Mr Lerma's computer was the only available source of some claims made by the Church against the Post.
The judge did not like this, and stated that another occurrence would result in immediate sanctions against the Church of Scientology.
Any readers who suspect that they are being harassed on account of private correspondence they may have had with Mr. Lerma are encouraged to notify him <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
[A note of clarification: for simplicity, we have used "Church of Scientology" in this article. We assume that the actual plaintiffs are Bridge Publications, Inc. and the Religious Technology Center, who have been responsible for the recent spate of copyright/trade secret infringement lawsuits. In fact it has not yet been established that Bridge Publications and RTC have standing to sue; this is one of the issues in the Dennis Erlich case. Who really owns the copyrights? How do Bridge Technologies and RTC relate to the Church of Scientology, International? These questions will be addressed in court in the coming months.]
Law Offices ofThe letterhead inside had the same data, plus a telephone number (310) 282-8975 and a fax number, (310) 286-2420. Under this information was the statement "of counsel James L. Keane." [We wondered briefly what this meant. Is Mr. Ableson so used to being sued, or countersued, that he includes his own counsel's name on his letterhead? We do not know, and invite clarification from the readership.]
ELLIOT J. ABELSON
2121 Avenue of The Stars
Los Angeles, California 90067-5010
Note by the editor:
Mark Eckenwiler (email@example.com) commented:
The letter continues:
"Of counsel" refers to an attorney who works with another attorney or
firm on a continuing basis, but is neither a partner nor an associate
in that other firm. IOW, Keane is evidently something like a special
legal consultant to Abelson, not his lawyer for purposes of defending
The letter continues:
August 21, 1995Now what does this mean? We have no idea. Biased Journalism has never published any of the disputed sacred texts. It appears that this outstandingly rude and threatening letter was sent merely to intimidate Biased Journalism and deter us from our mission of exposing the funny side of the truth.
Shelly Thompson (sic)
This letter will put you on notice that on August 15, 1995, the Honorable Harry L. Hupp, United States District Judge, of the Central District of California, issued an order sealing the copies and versions of the Scientology religion's copyrighted and trade secret protected documents pending final resolution of issues now pending in Church of Scientology International v. Fishman, et. al., No. CV 91-6426 HLH (Tx).
This order blocks access to the Advanced Technology filed by the defendants in that case, thus foreclosing unauthorized persons from mistakenly claiming entitlement to copy and distribute any of those materials without the permission of Religious Technology Center (RTC), the exclusive copyright licensee and trade secret owner. You are now on notice that you should cease and desist from any copying or distributing or publication of any document that purports to have come from the sealed file, and should immediately send all copies of such documents in your possession, custody or control to the undersigned.
Copying or other distribution or publication of use of any such documents or copies without the consent of RTC violates copyright and trade secret law and will subject the infringer or misappropriator to an enforcement action which could expose the transgressor to restraining orders, writs of seizure and impoundment, injunctions, and in the case of copyright infringement, damages of up to $100,000 per infringement.
Very truly yours,
Elliot J. Abelson
We have not so far even parodied the sacred texts, although we believe that falls within our rights as fair comment.
We are taken aback by this letter. Perhaps we are soon to join the company of Arnie Lerma, Lawrence Wollersheim, Bob Penny and Dennis Erlich.
Had we written a letter to a strange attorney we would have selected a more polite form of address and we would have spelled his name correctly.
As it is, Elliot, FOAD.
According to an informant, Judge Brinkema ruled today on Religious Technology Corporation vs. the Washington Post and two Post reporters.
The Church [of Scientology, for those new to this discussion] lost this round. They were denied the Temporary Restraining Order, Impoundment and expedited Discovery they had asked for against the Washington Post. While this decision did not deal directly with the case of Arnie Lerma, a defendant in the same suit, portions of the 15-page opinion could be taken to reflect the judge's views of the action against Lerma.
Lerma's computer and disks have not been returned.
The following is a key exerpt from today's Memorandum Opinion, rendered 30 August 1995:
"IV. ConclusionIt is our understanding, subject to later correction, that the "AT documents" mean the advanced technology documents, presumably those included in the Fishman Declaration. The judge apparently does not wish at the moment to create another public court record which might be the subject of dispute between teams of church members, reporters and the inquisitive general public.
Having performed the analysis required under Blackwelder, this Court concluded that Plaintiff's motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injuction; for Impoundment of Infringing Articles; and for expedited Discovery against the Post Defendants must be denied. The balance of harms is heavily tilted towards Defendants, and the Plaintiff's likelihood of success on the merits is insufficient to right the scale. Finally the public interest and constitutional presumption against prior restraint weigh heavily against the Plaintiff. For these resons, Plaintiff's motion is denied.
Defendants must maintain the status quo as to possession of the AT documents and may make fair use thereof. However, Defendants are prohibited from making additional copies of the AT documents and distributing or transferring the documents. Should the Defendants incorporate or attach any of the AT documents to their papers in this action, such filings must be made under seal.
The Clerk is directed to forward copies of this order to the counsel for record.
Entered this 30th day of August 1995
Alexandria Virginia Leonie M Brinkema United States District Judge"
On Tuesday evening, August 29, ABC World News offered a story on the raids by the church of scientology against its best known critics. A brief explanation was followed by four sound bites. The first was Arnie Lerma; there were brief scenes of the search of his home and the removal of disks and files. Lerma looked directly into the camera; "They took my computer, my mouse, my records..." he said, his brown eyes filled with the innocent reproachfulness of a wounded deer. (Fortiori was still thinking about this when the next sound bite started.) Larry Wollersheim expressed indignation about his raid, which was sympathetically described by ABC. Then the raiders had their say, starting with spokeswoman Leisa Goodman. Goodman was tense and unfriendly. She defended the raids as acts to protect the copyrights of the church of scientology. The final sound bite belonged to senior scientology lawyer Earle Cooley. Cooley seemed defensive and ill at ease. His bite was a sentence to the effect that this is not an issue of freedom of speech, but of the protection of copyrighted material. Cooley's body language said Not Happy To Be Here. It was as if he had been caught doing something really evil, Fortiori commented.
The following essay by Arnie Lerma is presented without comment as a public service:
All buzzwords of an evolving technology growing, at an unprecedented rate. Much has been written describing the perils and adventures awaiting mankind in the years to come, as well as, most importantly, what controls, if any, should be imposed, and by whom they should be administered.
What follows is my view, after just celebrating my first year upon the "Internet", which was celebrated with a raid upon my home, as US Marshals stood by, when employees and officers of the cult of $cientology pawed through my personal belongings, seized my computer, modem, scanner, spare computer parts, keyboard, monitor, mouse & more than 400 diskettes & backup tapes, on Saturday August 12th at 9:30 AM, by means of a civil writ for search and seizure.
Allow me to provide some background, in which to frame these recent events...
Let's go back in time to before the American revolution for independence. There were small communities, hamlets, villages - in short, there was a sense of community so lamentfully lacking in today's urban sprawl.
At or near the center of town, oft-times at the fork in the road, was often a large tree, typically an Elm, (this was of course before Dutch Elm disease nearly wiped them out), which served the purpose of bulletin board, public notice board, newspaper, and legal notice section of the contemporary urban newspaper.
If there was to be a barn-raising, a citizen would post a written notice upon the tree. When an official decree or warrant, was wished to be known by all, a copy would be posted upon that tree. When a citizen had a complaint or petition, or perhaps, just news from a letter from England, the information was posted to that tree.
It was the first information system of the colonies beyond word of mouth.
I turned to the Public Library system, and researched, here in Arlington Virginia as well as in Savannah, Georgia, various accounts of pre-Revolutionary America in search of parallels to what I was witnessing in the present, in order to gain insight into what might occur next and how to preserve and nourish this awakening of citizenry to the true responsibility of government to represent the body of the people, as opposed to interests with money, influence and power, despite the mismanagement and heavy handed tactics of Perot's organization, which, while wearing clothes woven of 'grass roots' brandished a club called totalitarianism.
The 'Sons of Liberty' were a secret society, with many members of influence, who wished not to be known; one of the famous members was Paul Revere, in Boston. The Boston Sons of Liberty would meet in the 'Long Room' above a tavern called 'The Dragon', which had a copperplate of a dragon on its sign out front, that had turned, as copper does, green with age and corrosion, and was known to its patrons as "the Green Dragon". It was in this long room, above the Green Dragon, that the various protests and demonstrations were planned, including the Boston Tea Party. John Hancock, shipper and rum smuggler, was the financier of this Boston group's activities. The 'hero' of the Sons of Liberty, was a Member of the British minority party at the time, one John Wilkes, son of distiller, who published a political rag called "The Penny Advertiser". In the 45th issue of this newsletter, John Wilkes said the following. "A man is a sovereign unto himself, and may only be ruled by his own consent." John Wilkes was most popular, and was elected Lord Mayor at one point. Reading these populist writings, in his home north of London, in the early 1760's, that said that elected officials should truly represent the interests of 'the body of the people', was a man named Thomas Pain.
When Thomas Pain came to America, and began his writings, he signed his name with a flourish that was misunderstood by the Americans to be an 'e', and tiring of correcting people, he began for the sake of brevity, to call himself Thomas 'Paine'.
I found these accounts fascinating, as well as puzzling, that so little of this story of the roots of liberty are taught in the American Public School system...I considered this 'lost knowledge'. Knowledge I now consider essential for maintenance of that Liberty that our forefathers sought in coming to this 'New World'.
"We do therefore, in the name and behalf
of all the true SONS of LIBERTY in America,
Great Britain, Corsica, Ireland or wheresoever
they are dispersed throughout the world, dedicate
and solemnly devote this tree to be a
TREE of LIBERTY.----
May all our councils and
deliberations under its venerable branches be
guided by wisdome, and directed to the support
and maintenance of that liberty, which our
forefathers sought out and found under trees and
in the wilderness. ---May it long flourish, and may
the SONS of LIBERTY often repair hither, to confirm
and strengthen each other. --When they
look towards the sacred ELM, may they be
penetrated with a sense of duty to themselves,
their country, and their posterity:--And may they,
like the house of David, grow stronger and stronger,
while their enemies, like the house of Saul,
grow weaker and weaker. AMEN
It was a nominal tax, but one of its intents, was to end 'anonymous' postings upon these trees at the center of communities, and to suppress criticism, of the government.
This tax was never allowed to be implemented, and an uproar ensured throughout the colonies, led by The Sons of Liberty.
Local, community, posting trees, were quickly dedicated by citizenry, as TREES of LIBERTY, and festooned with imagery, -
A boot, with a devil effigy climbing out, was the symbol for Lord Bute, - the King's agent in the House of Commons, who led the effort to tax and discipline the 'Colonies' in opposition to populist, John Wilkes.
The number 45, in celebration of the 45th issue of John Wilkes Penny Advertiser.
The phrase "Liberty & Property", used by John Wilkes, and chanted by crowds in support of Mr. Wilkes, protesting his imprisonment in England for his outspoken statements about the inalienable rights of man, by the Americans.
A tarred and feathered effigy of the local 'Stamp Tax collector'
And "Long Live John Wilkes"...
Along with various exhortations to rally citizenry against whatever incendiary actions the Crown was pursuing at the time.
Which brings us back to today, on the internet.
And who shall rule it.
I consider the worldwide Internet, to be merely a way for citizenry from far flung physical locations, to form, 'virtual Communities', around 'Trees' called mailing lists and newsgroups. If a citizen does not like a particular community of ideas, he may MOVE, effortlessly, instantly, at the touch of a keyboard. If a citizen, considers a particular poster's ideas offensive, he may choose to not read them, automatically....
However, when any individual or group, tears these posters from this virtual tree of liberty, or seeks to censor, harass or prosecute those who post upon this tree, this is an affront, to Freedom, Liberty and the constitutional guarantees of our Founding Fathers to Free Assembly, (upon a newsgroup), Free Speech, separation of Church and State, and Free association. It is also my opinion, and only an opinion, that the PUBLIC INTEREST should be SENIOR to any fine points of copyright law.
Actions such as above, should be considered the gravest threat to Liberty, and it was these same threats, two hundred and thirty some years ago, that produced the American Revolution.
"The Internet is the Liberty Tree of the 90's." Arnaldo Lerma
(c) Arnaldo Lerma 1995 - all commercial & for profit duplication rights reserved, non-profit distribution encouraged.