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Anonymous' E-War against Scientology is ... kind of cute?

Published: Thursday, February 14, 2008

Updated: Friday, March 4, 2011 18:03

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Ali Moonan

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Lionel Hahn

Ever since Tom Cruise's couch-jumping incident on "Oprah," taking a good-natured swipe at the 5-foot megastar has been a little too easy. However, when Cruise's Scientology beliefs became more newsworthy than his marriage to actress Katie Holmes, the swipes turned to claws.

Spearheaded by a hacker organization known as Anonymous, attacks toward Scientology and its practices have grown. In the past month, Anonymous has launched an e-campaign against Scientology websites; overloading their servers, black faxing Scientology offices, running up phone bills and ordering unwanted pizzas: you know, diabolical stuff like that.



The origins of Anonymous' wrath can be traced to a promotional video featuring Tom Cruise praising the joys of Scientology. A few days after the video leaked onto YouTube, the Church of Scientology ordered YouTube to remove the video for copyright infringement, which YouTube did. Gawker.com has the original video and because they claim it's newsworthy, they're not taking it down.



Because of the Church's tactic to get the video removed, Anonymous members rallied around Free Speech rights, and on January 21st, Anonymous used YouTube to declare war on Scientology. The video, which you can find here, is the cinematic equivalent of sticking out your tongue at someone. They end the video with "We Are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget." Scary .



Anonymous' D-Day fell this past Sunday, February 10th, also known as the birthday of Lisa McPherson, whose death sparked a civil wrongful death lawsuit. Critics have charged the church was responsible for her death.

This past Sunday, in the United States, Britain, and Australia members of Anonymous appeared at Scientology Church offices to protest the religion's practices, some wearing Guy Fawkes masks for dramatic effect. Even Phoenix's chapter felt Anonymous' presence, with some 60 masked protesters showing up to disrupt the day-to-day business.



The whole event comes off as kind of silly, especially if you check out Anonymous' protest page, which is full of adolescent humor, poor grammar and a mish-mash of ideological reasons why Anonymous has taken up this fight. Funny enough, Anonymous has their pin-up girl to support the effort (Gas Mask Girl) and their sage advisor (Wise Beard Man). All of this adds up to a "Neener neener neener" kind of vibe.



Anonymous' campaign certainly shows that the internet gives everyone a voice and an opportunity to find like-minded people: they just use that voice to complain about everyone else.



Scientology, meanwhile, is a heavily criticized organization and this is hardly the first time that the Church suffered some sort of attack. Check out Scientology's Wiki page for the laundry list of claimed offenses. Anonymous' aspiration of ruining the religion is a tall order to fill.



But when you weigh the facts, we've got enough people in the world killing each other over their beliefs. If Anonymous wants to choose this non-violent way to wage its war, so be it. There are worse things that could happen.

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