Florida police reportedly harass anti-MS Linux protestes

Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2001 07:25:05 -0400


Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2001 06:59:30 -0400
From: robin <robin@roblimo.com>
To: declan@well.com
Subject: Clearwater Allows Scientology, not Linux, Evangelism

Dear Declan and Politechnics:

Last week, across the street from the Church of Scientology's Sandcastle
Center in Clearwater, Florida, Microsoft representatives harassed
members of a local Linux Users Group [LUG] who were handing out CDs
containing free software in front of the city-owned Haborview Convention
Center. With the aid of Harborview security guards, they forced this
seditious activity to stop.

"You can't pass out free software here," was the phrase a number of LUG
members specifically recall hearing from Microsoft staffers and
convention center security guards. My NewsForge colleague Tina Gasperson
wrote this lighthearted story about the event:


Microsoft was holding an Office XP "rollout" seminar in the convention
center, and perhaps they felt that, as paying exhibitors, this gave them
the right to stifle free expression (and free software) not only inside
the building but in the open air nearby. But the Suncoast Linux Users
Group was a legitimate exhibitor at the Computer and Technology Showcase
being held on a separate floor of the convention center at the same

Apparently none of the LUG members thought of saying, "No, we're not
going to leave. This is public property, and we have as much right to
pass out literature and software here as anyone else, especially since
most of us live here and are, therefore, part-owners of this facility."
When confronted by uniformed security personnel they left quietly and
returnd to their display booth inside, which got far more visitors than
the Microsoft booth a few hundred feet away despite having a decidedly
amateur, "thrown together" appearance.

Meanwhile, Church of Scientology members were handing out fliers on
nearby city-owned beaches, as they apparently do every day, unmolested
by security guards or police.

It's amusing, really, to think that Scientologists are allowed to spread
their material and philosophy freely in Clearwater while Linux advocates
are not allowed to do the same thing, at least while Microsoft is in

The Church of Scientology has a history of calling for security and
police assistance whenever anyone demonstrates against them, no matter
how peacefully, near their Clearwater buildings. Apparently Microsoft
marketing people are following in Scientology's footsteps by trying to
quash those who publically speak out against their practices.

Is it possible that Microsoft has been infiltrated by Scientologists?
Could Bill Gates be a secret member? Or has Microsoft developed an
internal culture so cultlike that it acts like an obnoxious religious
cult without realizing it, not only internally, but in the way it deals
with the outside world and any perceived competitors?

Scientology did not start out as a religion. It became one to shield its
activities from prying eyes, especially those of government. Could this
be Microsoft's ultimate defense against antitrust actions and all other
government regulations: to become a religion?

- Robin 'Roblimo' Miller
Editor in Chief, http://osdn.com
(publishers of Slashdot, freshmeat,
NewsForge, and other fine Web sites)