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.
Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!
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 use.
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 confided.
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 Restraining Order.
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.
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, he said.
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.
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.
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!" [Martin Hunt]
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 served.
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 said wryly.
[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.
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]
"alt.religion.scientology ..."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 the entire net.
"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 email@example.com for details."
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 easier.
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 tolerated.
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:
"From: firstname.lastname@example.org 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."
"Better buy that Glock 23 while you can.
Remember, everything tastes like chicken."
"Special Notice to the Cof$
"+++ WELCOME to the Cyber-Corporation +++
+++ Warning : Not for Amateurs +++"
"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 folks..."
[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*