Amazon sales skyrocket!
of book critical of Scientology
May 27, 1999
After Amazon.com, the internet book dealer, had restored the controversial anti-Scientology book "A Piece of Blue Sky" by Jon Atack back into its selection, the book soared into the top 150 titles sold by the online book distributer.
In the book by the British author the history of the Scientology sect is told. Before the dispute, the book occupied position 700, by Tuesday it had climbed, because of the publicity, up to spot 148.
Amazon.com had removed the volume from its distribution program, but reinstated it after world-wide protests against the "censorship" of the book which is critical of Scientology (ZDNet reported.) Prior to that, Scientology had instituted proceedings against the book.
"A Piece of Blue Sky" contains excerpts from the sect's internal regulated works. Because of that, the sect's lawyers had accused the author of violating copyright law. Despite the sect's lawsuit against it, sale of the book is legal. It is only in Great Britain, according to Amazon, that a suit is still open, which would throw the legality of sales there into question.
Amazon withdraws Scientology book
May 21, 1999
(ZDNet Germany) - The internet book dealer Amazon.com has pulled the title "A Piece of Blue Sky" by British author Jon Atack from its selection. The book relates the history of Scientology from a very critical point of view.
The first ones to notice the disappearance of the book were the Scientology opponents who gather on the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup to protest the sect. There have indeed been complaints by the sect against the book, however its sale is now and has always been legal. Amazon is exercising an unfathomable censorship, believe some voices on the newsgroup.
An Amazon representative was tight-lipped about the situation. "under certain circumstances, for legal reasons, we need to stop selling a book. I really just can't comment any further," stated Amazon spokeswoman Lizzie Allen.
The religious community, on principle, takes action against all critical publications. "A Piece of Blue Sky" was alleged to have contained excerpts from the writings which the sect follows. Accordingly, the Scientologists accuse Atack on their internet site (www.scientology.org) of violating their copyright.
Scientology wants to conquer the internet with mass testimonials. However, the world wide web is still the best method of disclosing the dealings of the sect.
From: "Die Woche"
June 19, 1998
by Tom Schimmeck
Bonnie is currently "a successful, working mother," and is therefore, she shares with us, "a splendid listener." David is also proud. "I have saved lives and alleviated pain," he writes. Betsy knows she is "on the way to spiritual fulfillment." Mary recognizes that it is her "greatest joy, changing the lives of people." Glen has "found the answers," and Karen uses "that which I have learned with Scientology every day" - for 23 years.
Lately, the internet is teeming with this kind of testimonial. Thousands of them are found on the Scientology server in the USA in English, as well as in Russian, Japanese and German. Private home pages of sect members are also doing a brisk business. Hotbot, a major internet search machine, is reporting over 2,000 hits these days on "Scientologist" and "my success."
The members' home pages are just a shade different from each other. They have an identical beige background, graphics and construction, which consists of a couple of personal sentences about the member's fully effective function in life as a happy business person and spouse, some words of praise for the Scientology organization, and a "favorite quote" of Lafayette Ron Hubbard, the founder of the sect. Then comes a profusion of links which leads exclusively and directly to the network of Scientology associations and companies.
There is a method to the digital mass testimonials. Since March 13, Hubbard's birthday, Scientologists have brought their operation on-line. Perhaps a simple calculation lies behind this. Previously, critical information on Scientology was easy to find on the internet. However, the thousands of Scientology testimonial sites will clog up the search machines used by millions of users to navigate their way through the net. Since people are now referred to the sect's internet provider en masse, this will increase its ranking with several of the automatic search systems.
Their enthusiasm could pay off. Up to now the international computer network has served as a common meeting ground for active Scientology critics. News is exchanged daily in the news group alt.religion.scientology. Imposing on-line archives have sprouted up on numerous web sites containing: articles, legal documents, [Scientology] internal documents, scientific analyses, statements by former members, also photographs of activists and private detectives and plenty of ridicule in words and pictures.
The sect, feared for its hair-trigger lawsuits, has not been idle on the net. The organization has brought about several court-ordered searches with the help of their lawyers and computer experts. Former member Dennis Erlich was one of the first, then Arnaldo Lerma, long term member of the Sea Organization, the elite corps of Scientology. Also came Lawrence Wollersheim and Bob Penny, two ex-members who founded Factnet, the anti-sect network. Internet providers are sued as well. This past mid May, a California court decided that critic Keith Henson would pay $75,000 punitive damages to Scientology - he had cited a secret scripture of the sect on the internet in order to warn of medical charlatanism.
These legal processes pivot, for the most part, on the copyright law. Hubbard's multitudinous works - which include over 500 written volumes plus recordings and filmings - are well protected. This applies especially to secret instructions which are meant only for Scientologists who have reached "clear" and the "Operating Thetan" (OT) levels. This OT material is reportedly kept in special, electronically secured portfolios, and may only be read a piece at a time under tight security.
The church company does not at all find it amusing that portions of these writings, with which Scientology makes a lot of money, are circulating about the internet accompanied by insolent comments. Even the Washington Post, which cited 46 words from the secret scriptures, ended up in court. In that proceeding, Scientology attorney Helena Kobrin ranted about "theft and violation of our copyright protected property" by "internet anarchists."
The attorney works for the highest level of management in Scientology, the Religious Technology Center in Los Angeles, under "Captain" David Miscavige. Anybody who quotes the OT texts can count on receiving a long fax from her. Kobrin and friends have been busy in Finland and Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Her threats to sue are passed back and forth between net activists as badges of honor. A Helena Kobrin Love Page gathers favorite quotations and ugly photographs of the lawyer. "American Lawyer", a US professional magazine, found Kobrin's "blitzkrieg" to be "characteristic overkill." "The church has never shied away from suing with an aggressiveness that leaves the tobacco companies looking like little boys: she floods courts with transactions, objects to every appeal, re-initiates every process, accuses opponents of mental illness and worse, and even investigates and sues the attorneys of the opposing party."
Tilman Hausherr, the German Scientology critic, had some trouble last January. Besides an abundance of material on his web site, he also hosts caricatures of all kind, one of which included an altered sect symbol with "$cientology." Scientology saw that as a violation of trademark, and demanded its immediate removal. Hausherr's internet provider, Compuserve, promptly obeyed. However, he re-hosted the page with another provider, Snafu - so far without problems.
The sect's battle against those who litter the net with its scriptures appears to have only piqued the interest of ex-members. "The internet is their nightmare. Scientology correctly feels threatened by the net," say the Factnet pages, and estimate that, in the past years, Scientology has lost up to 80 percent of its income due to its dispute on the internet. "The internet," said Robert Young, once on Hubbard's staff, "will be for Scientology what Viet Nam was for the United States."
However, the most terrible weapon against Scientology is probably the material contained in its home-made propaganda. www.scientology.org alone offers over 20,000 pages; numerous sub-organizations manage their own web sites. A sect organ called Freedom Magazine also hosts Hatewatch Germany, which is a campaign that fights "ethnic cleansing in Germany" and sensationally places Norbert Blum, the Scientology critic, side by side with Joseph Goebbels.
At times the tirades and effusions are unintentionally comical - especially those having to do with Hubbard, deceased since 1986. Respects are paid to him at www.hubbard.org and www.lronhubbardprofile.org. Scientology has even created special web sites for the talents of the former science fiction writer: the great philosopher, Hubbard, is presented at www.ronthephilosopher.org, his attempts at piano are celebrated at www.ronthemusicmaker.org. Ron the word smith - quite stylish with his artist's cap - in honored at www.ronthepoet.org. Under the terrible poems, one can actually find a beautiful line: "There is no war not based on lies." [Note: on July 1, 1998, the referenced poem can be found at http://www.ronthepoet.org/p_jpg/compro1.htm.]
From: "TAZ" Nr. 4953
June 20, 1996
© Contrapress media GmbH
For weeks the usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology has been flooded with anonymous nonsense contributions.
Previously, drowning someone out was not at all that easy: you had to swing a majority over to your side first. That has become much easier on the internet, in that an automatic electronic heckler cripples each discussion - without any sort of majority opinion.
In the usenet group alt.relgion.scientology followers and opponents of science fiction author Ron Hubbard ardently discuss his teachings. For several months, someone has been trying to stifle this discussion. His method, "vertical spamming", is simple: in a relatively short interval a huge amount of nonsensical computer-generated posts (in this case almost 10,000) have been made to this group. The number of posts is intended to overtax the computer, thereby forcing discussion participants to work their way through hundreds of robot letters in order to read a single intelligent contribution. Many of the discussions end in frustration.
The net community can hardly defend itself effectively against such attacks. The nonsense has to be sorted by hand. Temporary "throw-away accounts" veil the true originator. Despite this the American Jon Noring thinks he has been able to make out the true originator: the Scientology Church itself. He has submitted a petition to the internet that is supposed to motivate Scientology to diminish the spamming (to the undersigned until June 30 an empty e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org). Noring's index for a authorship of the sect: all contributions of a discussion-stopping nature are pro-Scientology, all are short excerpts out of home-written publications, all begin with the same opening sentence whereby "many lies about Scientology in alt.religion.scientology" have been spread.
Some time ago, when secret training documents of the sect were published on the net, Scientology had used similar "throw-away accounts" and standard text in order to make their publication retroactive - why asks Noring, are they silent this time, despite the fact that a large portion of the shot-gunned posts contain a copyright mark? The silent approval is an indication of the participation of the money-grubbing organization. Noring also believes that the Scientologists have been planning this spamming for a long time - the secret plan is available from his directory at ftp://ftp.netcom.com/pub/no/noring/spamplan.txt.