As you’ve probably heard by now, in the wake of the Tom Cruise Scientology video leaked on the internet, a group of cybergeeks have launched all-out war on the Church of Scientology this week. Under the name of “Anonymous”, they have posted a YouTube video with their mission statement:
Hello, Scientology. We are Anonymous.
Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. With the leakage of your latest propaganda video into mainstream circulation, the extent of your malign influence over those who trust you, who call you leader, has been made clear to us. Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind–for the laughs–we shall expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form. We acknowledge you as a serious opponent, and we are prepared for a long, long campaign. You will not prevail forever against the angry masses of the body politic. Your methods, hypocrisy, and the artlessness of your organization have sounded its death knell.
You cannot hide; we are everywhere.
We cannot die; we are forever. We’re getting bigger every day–and solely by the force of our ideas, malicious and hostile as they often are. If you want another name for your opponent, then call us Legion, for we are many.
Yet for all that we are not as monstrous as you are; still our methods are a parallel to your own. Doubtless you will use the Anon’s actions as an example of the persecution you have so long warned your followers would come; this is acceptable. In fact, it is encouraged. We are your SPs.
Gradually as we merge our pulse with that of your “Church”, the suppression of your followers will become increasingly difficult to maintain. Believers will wake, and see that salvation has no price. They will know that the stress, the frustration that they feel is not something that may be blamed upon Anonymous. No–they will see that it stems from a source far closer to each. Yes, we are SPs. But the sum of suppression we could ever muster is eclipsed by that of the RTC.
Knowledge is free. We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. WE DO NOT FORGET. Expect us.
To which the Church of Scientology responded as follows:
As the Church previously announced, the pirated and edited excerpts of Mr. Cruise were contained in an official Church event in 2004, an event attended by 5,000 Scientologists and their guests and further available for viewing in any Church of Scientology world over. Having presented these selective and out-of-context excerpts with the intent of creating both controversy and ridicule, nevertheless resulted in people searching for and visiting Church of Scientology Web sites as evidenced by “most searched for” lists of various search engines. Those wishing to find out the Church of Scientology’s views and to gain context of the video have the right to search official Church Web sites if they so desire.
And the Anonymous group posted a second YouTube video on Sunday in reply:
It has come to the attention of Anonymous that there are a number of you out there who do not clearly understand what we are or why we have undertaken our present course of action. Contrary to the assumptions of the media, Anonymous is not “a group of super hackers”. Anonymous is a collective of individuals united by an awareness that someone must do the right thing, that someone must bring light to the darkness, that someone must open the eyes of a public that has slumbered for far too long. Among our numbers you will find individuals from all walks of life – lawyers, parents, IT professionals, members of law enforcement, college students, veterinary technicians and more. Anonymous is everyone and everywhere. We have no leaders, no single entity directing us – only the collective outrage of individuals, guiding our hand in the current efforts to bring awareness.We want you to be aware of the very real dangers of Scientology. We want you to know about the gross human rights violations committed by this cult. We want you to know about Lisa McPhearson. We want you to know about former members of Scientology’s private navy, SeaOrg, who were forced to have abortions so that they could continue in service to the church. We want you to know about Scientology’s use of child labor and their gulags. We want you to know about Operation Freakout and Paulette Cooper. We want you to know about Operation Snow White and Scientology’s efforts to infiltrate the government of the United States of America.We want you to know about all of these things that have been swept under the rug for far too long. The information is out there. It is yours for the taking. Arm yourself with knowledge. Be very wary of the 10th of February. Anonymous invites you to join us in an act of solidarity. Anonymous invites you to take up the banner of free speech, of human rights, of family and freedom. Join us in protest outside of Scientology centers world wide.
We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. We will be heard. Expect us.
In a separate e-mail to CNET, Anonymous said it is planning action on February 10 in the following cities, although the message did not elaborate on any specific details.
UPDATE 1/29/08: A complete description of the February 10 gatherings may be found on the Project Chanology site; the event description is divided into the following sections:
1 CALLING THE DISAFFECTED MASSES
2 Lulz and Motivation
3 Locations And Times
4 Planning and Execution
4.2 PR & Media
Among other things, we learn the reason for the February 10 date:
February 10 marks Lisa McPherson’s birthday, so she is an ideal symbol of CoS abuses while remaining neutral about the faith itself.
UPDATE (1/29/08): Just discovered that the resistance movement has an Obi-Won-Kenobi figure — Mark Bunker from Xenu TV — who has been researching/documenting Scientology for years and has been posting YouTube videos this week like there’s no tomorrow. Mark cautions Anonymous about their methodology. I think he makes some good points. If you’re going to confront demonic powers, you can’t use demonic tactics to do so, unless you’re interested in lending the demons your support…
UPDATE (2/3/08): Anonymous has posted a third video, detailing the rules for the February 10 demonstrations.
Rule #0: Rules #1 and #2 of the internet still apply. Your memes are not, at this juncture, something that the real world can appreciate. Although meme speak between fellow Anonymous is acceptable, focus on the target and keep it to a minimum.
Rule #1: Stay cool.
Rule #2: Stay cool, especially when harassed. You are an ambassador of Anonymous. Although individuals trying to disrupt your demonstration will get on your nerves, you must not lose your temper. Doing so will harm the protest and tarnish the reputation of Anonymous.
Rule #3: Comply with the orders of law enforcement officers above all else. Doing otherwise is harmful to the demonstration as a whole and may compromise your performance as a human being. Do not request badge numbers unless you are being treated in a very abusive manner, as doing so will anger officers.
Rule #4: Notify city officials. Most jurisdictions either have rules about public protests, or would prefer to be notified that they are taking place. Know the rules for your jurisdiction and abide by them.
Rule #5: Always be across the street from the object being protested.
Rule #6: In the absence of a road, find another natural barrier between yourself and the target of protest. Doing so will make it more difficult for individuals hostile to your cause to come and harass you.
Rule #7: Stay on public property. You may be charged for trespassing if you do not.
Rule #8: No violence.
Rule #9: No weapons. The demonstration is a peaceful event. Your weapons. You will not need them.
Rule #10: No alcohol or pre-drinking. Violating this rule may easily precipitate a violation of rules 1 and 2.
Rule #11: No graffiti, destruction, or vandalism.
Rule #12: If you want to do something stupid, pick another day. These should be self explanatory. Violation of these rules during a demonstration will tarnish the reputation of Anonymous, harm the demonstration itself and leave you vulnerable to attention from law enforcement.
Rule #13: Anonymous is legion. Never be alone. Isolation during a protest marks you as a target for handlers who wish to provoke an angry reaction from you and other hostiles. In keeping with this principle…
Rule #14: Organize in squads of 10 to 15 people.
Rule #15: One or two megaphones per squad. A megaphone is helpful for maintaining the overall cohesion of a demonstration and spreading your message. However, too many will confuse the public and render you hearing impaired.
Rule #16: Know the dress code. Forming a loose yet reasonable dress code for protest members will help to maintain cohesion and get the public to take you seriously.
Rule #17: Cover your face. This will prevent your identification from videos taken by hostiles, other protesters or security. Use scarves, hats and sunglasses. Masks are not necessary, and donning them in the context of a public demonstration is forbidden in some jurisdictions.
Rule #18: Bring water. A dehydrated, thirsty Anonymous is not a useful Anonymous.
Rule #19: Wear good shoes. Following these rules will assure your comfort during the demonstration. Keep in mind that demonstrations may often be quite lengthy.
Rule #20: Signs, fliers, and phrases. Have yours ready. Make sure that signs are large enough to read. Also ensure that the text on your signs and your phrases are pertinent to the target of the protest.
Rule #21: Prepare legible, uncomplicated and accurate flyers to hand out to those who wish to know more regarding the motivations behind your actions.
Rule #22: Document the demonstration. Videos and pictures of the event may be used to corroborate your side of the story if law enforcement get involved. Furthermore, posting images and videos of your heroic actions all over the internet is bound to generate win, exhorting other Anonymous to follow your glorious example.
Finally, I’m still inviting people to join the Facebook group to pray for Tom Cruise… — maybe you could take it up as a positive Lenten discipline, if God so inclines your heart.