Biased Journalism Vol. 2, issue 24

Copyright 1996 Shelley Thomson; all rights reserved.

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Table of Contents for Biased Journalism.

Biased Journalism Volume 2, issue 24 December 20, 1996.


  1. Raiding Zenon: Amplified Article
    1. A Net Citizen Describes the Raid
    2. Zenon Tells The Story
  2. Correcting the Record
Read at your own risk. This is Biased Journalism!

Raiding Zenon: Amplified Article

1.1 A Net Citizen Describes the Raid

Thanks for posting the great bulletin. It was pretty cool, I just came home by train from Stockholm and found the bulletin on ARS. Things sure move fast...

I can give a more detailed account now perhaps. I arrived at 8.45, at the same time as the TV4 team. Zenon was really nice, and had good taste in music too. He had opened his balcony door to get rid of the smoke smell inside his apartment, but it got real cold after a while shudder. The coffee was great.

A middle aged man was present, he didnt say much but he helped Zenon with inserting new printer paper and stuff. First arrived a middle aged woman, I think Zenon said that she was a "neutral observer" from the bailiffs office. She looked tired, and like she would rather be somewhere else, and when Zenon rubbed his hands and said: "Well, lets get down to work now shall we? This is going to take a while!" with a big grin, she looked positively intimidated.

The TV4 team was pretty nice, we chatted a little with them about the NOTS and the internet.

Critics present was myself, Brian and Anti-Cult. I knew that Anti-Cult was coming and filming with a videocamera, but when a young guy was lurking in the hallway taking snapshots of people, I thought I was getting my first view of a real, in the flesh clam. It turned out it was Brian who was taking shots to be scanned later.

The big moment came when the chief bailiff arrived, she was a rather no-nonsense woman. Her male assistant hardly spoke a word during the proceedings, I dont know if he said anything in the kitchen.

First big showdown happened in the living-room with everyone present. The cameraman switched on the light on his camera and started running the tape, the light was almost blinding. The bailiff and Zenon started arguing in lawyer-speak, so I didnt understand much. :-)

She didnt like that it was a "public spectacle" with us critics there, but Zenon retorted that it was his apartment so there he did what ever damn he pleased.

Zenon talked a lot, he has obviously studied law at school some time or another. At one time the discussion became a bit heated, they were talking at the same time, and the bailiff finally said "Ok, Ok! Zenon, you have studied my brief carefully, could I get a moment to study yours in peace!?"

Zenon offered her to sit down at his kitchen table and offered her some coffee. "I can do without coffee THANK you." The three bailiffs, Zenon and the older man went into the kitchen and closed the door behind them. Zenon and his friend came out now and then (I think... Perhaps I should do some clam courses to improve my memory), the bailiffs stayed in there for 10-15 minutes. The cameraman was filming Brian as he was typing on IRC, and when Brian turned around to explain to the journalists what IRC was (they knew about WWW already) and how the NOTS were wandering around different homepages, I got my 30 seconds of fame at the keyboard. :-)

The cameraman did a real long nice close up of the cover of a Swedish pulp translation of one of ElRons early masterpieces, "Slave-ess (it can be in feminine form in Swedish) for sale!" On the cover was a busty woman smiling seductively at the reader. Appearently someone had sent it to Zenon when his named started to appear in the newspapers.

[In our bulletin, Volume 2 no 23, we said:

The raid was scheduled to take place at 0800 GMT on December 17. Anxious netizens gathered on irc channel #scientology to wait for news. It was determined that 0800 GMT was equivalent to 12 midnight in California.

Midnight in California is 3 a.m. in Virginia. Arnie Lerma struggled to hold out, but folded at a few minutes after midnight. Fate willed that the first reports from Zenon's raid came in about 15 minutes later.

Pretty typical. :-/

We asked what Zenon ate for breakfast. "Coffee and cigarettes," the netizen guessed.
Judging from the over-flowing ashtrays. :-)

Then the bailiffs came out of the kitchen. They announced that they were leaving. Execution of the [raid] order was terminated. TV4 filmed the scene, including the moment when the visibly unhappy chief bailiff refused to shake hands with Zenon.
Everyone came out into the living room. "So, thats settled then." Zenon and the bailiff shook hands, she even smiled (albeit briefly and not very warmly). The cameraman turned to the journalist and asked if he should shoot the bailiffs leaving, the journalist asked the bailiff if they could shake hands again while they were filming. The bailiff looked a bit annoyed and said something along the lines "I hardly think that is necessary..." and walked out. Zenon joked something about "well, I dont think it would be good for either of our reputations if we were seen together."

The bailiff agreed to an interview but declined to do it in the presence of Zenon and his fans, so the bailiffs and TV4 went outside.
The news crew wasn't sure if they would send the clip or not, we will see later this evening. I dont think the camera was ever pointed at me, but perhaps I can be seen lurking in the background for a split second or two....


1.2. Zenon Tells The Story

This was a day.

People begun to arrive just after 8.30. Not many, but enough to crowd my one-room apartment. A team from TV4 added the element of a pleasant surprise. Then came the bailiff, represented by three officials. They were not very pleased at the crowd, and even less were they pleased at all the video cameras and tape recorders, but I suppose they saw it as one of these extra hardships one has to go through sometimes.

As promised, I had made coffee. Although adversaries in the formal situation, both the bailiff officials and I could keep the social situation at an almost cordial level. It's good when people can make the distinction between work and person.

I set Netscape's disk cache to 0 kb, connected to Andreas' Clambake site and started printing NOTs. Just as I said. I had borrowed a laser for the occassion, whose capacity is rather more impressive than that of my old tired bubble jet. A stack of 1500 sheet of paper was calculated to last the working day. I then handed a brief to the bailiff. Brian (BOG) logged into the IRC and gave a live account of the action to about a dozen people there.

Good idea, Ron.

I don't know if I should go into the legal aspects of the situation; they are complicated enough to give anyone a headache. I'll try to simplify.

In a decision one and a half month ago, the bailiff ordered me to hand over all material that was targeted by the courts' decision of seizure. That decision is in turn worded in a way that specifies the material in legal, rather than in factual terms. It says that "infringing material" is to be taken into custody. Nowhere, neither in the courts' nor in the bailiff's decision, is it specified just which material is infringing. The sanction in case I do not comply with the order of the bailiff is a monetary penalty.

So I turned to procedural rules. I said that, as the order does not specify certain physical material in an unequivocal way, it is left to me to interpret it and decide just which material is infringing. I deny copyright infringment in general, but for the purposes of the discussion of this order (only), I will accept that the RTC has copyright to my version of the OTs and NOTs. That still doesn't make my possession of them an infringement. For the mere possession to be infringing, it is additionally required that the material has not been legally publicized, which I claim that it has been.

So with this view I agree - only for the purposes of this discussion - that an edition of the OTs and NOTs intended for spreading to the public would be infringing and that I would have to hand it over. Private copies not. Then I point at the fact that, if the bailiff has a different opinion on this subject, there is still nothing she can do **within the frame of the execution of the old order**, [other] than motion in court for the penalty to be levied. I argue that in order to take any other action, such as a seizure against my will, the bailiff has to make a new decision.

The bailiff is in principle free to make a new decision at once, communicate it to me verbally and execute it immediately. Against immediate execution I argued that, considering the fact that I am fully cooperative and, although fighting, yet not illegally evading the bailiff's orders, the bailiff should not execute any new decision at once, but give me time to appeal it before it's executed. I have a point in this argument.

So while I do have a pretty good (but not totally unbreakable) argument, the bailiff is begining to become conscious of the futility of a seizure in way far more manifest than what briefs can ever cause: that printer spitting out NOTs is screaming for some common sense to be added to the case. The bailiffs retire to the kitchen and close the door.

I will never know, but I believe that the stack of 750 pages of NOTs on the table, 90% of them fake, and the knowledge that there are NOTs in the garbage too, did play a certain role in the final decision. The bailiff simply agreed with my view that, not possessing any material intended for distribution, I had complied with her orders despite the fact that I didn't hand in anything. We shook hands and they left.

This is a total victory for today, but means nothing one way or another in the long run. The scienos are bound to inundate the bailiff with new demands of new orders and seizures etc. The bailiff can stick to her indirect acceptance of my claim that the NOTs have been publicized, or she can go to her office and write a new order, specifying the material that I am supposed to hand over in a way that leaves less room for my interpretations. As I had anticipated a new order to surrender material or a decision of seizure to be made on the fly today, my replying brief is already written; I'll just have to change the date if I need it. Then we'll see.

I intended to put the whole proceedings on the net in RealAudio. Unfortunately, the person that took care of the recording forgot to switch on the microphone. We have recorded 45 minutes of perfect silence. Sorry. But if Anti Cult's video camera worked as it should, BOG will be putting some stills on the net this evening.

It turned out that one of the bailiff officials reads ars. I find that reassuring; at least I know that there is one person in the authority that I don't have to explain the background of things to. Whether this affects decisions or not is another story. Decisions are supposed to be made strictly on the basis of the filed material, but then again, few are those officials that can resist being influenced by their personal knowledge from outside a case.

Later the mail arrived. And with it a decision of the supreme court not to hear an appeal by the scienos. It's about something that the scienos lost in both the primary court and in the court of appeals, but believe me, I just don't know any more what that something is. In the constant barrage of motions and appeals and new separate cases, I'm beginning to lose track.

I also noticed this when the TV reporter asked me how many cases I have right now. I couldn't answer, I had to use my fingers and try to count.


oracle@everywhere: The ephemeral source of the eternal truth...

2. Correcting the record

We wrote that the chief bailiff had refused to shake hands with Zenon. This was true, but it was not the whole truth. Our observer did not see the entire sequence. We apologize to the bailiff for an unwitting injustice.

Here is what Zenon said about it:

The events are described as well as they could be from the irc, but there is one thing I'd like you to correct when you have the opportunity:
Then the bailiffs came out of the kitchen. They announced that they were leaving. Execution of the [raid] order was terminated. TV4 filmed the scene, including the moment when the visibly unhappy chief bailiff refused to shake hands with Zenon.
This is unfair to the bailiff (and probably due to the confusion on irc). She did shake hands with me, spontaneously and without reservation. Only when the TV camera missed it and the reporter asked us to do it again for the sake of the camera, did the bailiff refuse. What she was refusing was not shaking hands, but acting.

I do hold some things against that bailiff, but I also have to give her credit for others. She has for instance a high ambition to be correct and impartial in her work (although she sometimes fails) and she has the same ambition to be correct in the social context (and hasn't failed once in this). The only person so far that has refused to shake hands with me is McShame, and I really don't want to compare the bailiff to him.


Raid pictures were available at:

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