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May 21, 2008, 10:31:30 AM
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Offline Peter

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What a disgrace...

    A UK teenager has been ordered to appear in court for using the word "cult" to describe the Church of Scientology.

    The 15-year-old was served a summons by police when he took part in a demonstration on May 10 opposite the London headquarters of the controversial religion.

    Police confiscated the youth's placard with the world "cult" written on it, the Guardian newspaper reports.

    The teenager is a member of the internet-based movement Anonymous, which has been banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult because it was "abusive and insulting".

    Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager facing court said: "I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult."

    "Within five minutes of arriving I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use that word, and that the final decision would be made by the inspector."

    But the teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" that was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous".

    The decision to charge the youth has angered human rights activists and support groups for the victims of cults.

    "This barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain's free speech traditions”, said civil liberty group spokesperson Shami Chakrabarti.

    Scientology was founded by science-fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1952 and believes humans are descended from an exiled race of aliens called Thetans.

    The church continues to attract controversy over claims that it separates members from their families and indoctrinates followers.

May 21, 2008, 07:35:47 PM
Reply #1

Offline WasNotWas

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Re: 15 Year-old to Appear in Court After Calling $cientology a Cult...
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2008, 07:35:47 PM »
Gotta love that British Justice.  ;)

I don't imagine it will actually go to court. The way the law is set up in the UK is that the police don't get to decide whether to press charges, the they just send a file to the Crown Prosecution Service who (on behalf of the Queen, who technically is the prosecution arm of every criminal case). I would guess they will decide there is not a case to answer.

The Guardian story is here, and it hints very strongly that a number of officers, including the chief superintendent have been basically co-opted by Scientology, hence the agressing policing in this case. The Police Force involved , the City of London Police, is actually really small & confusingly only covers a fraction of London - they mention that the Metropolitan police, which is the main one in London didn't give them any trouble at a different protest.

I would guess in the long run this sort of thing is going play quite badly on Scientology. They have a genius for bad publicity, don't they - "We're sick of people portraying us as a sinister authoritarian cult. I think we should suck up to our local police force & have them arrest anyone who stands outside with a sign we find insulting. That should do it!"

May 21, 2008, 10:26:31 PM
Reply #2

Offline Peter

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Re: 15 Year-old to Appear in Court After Calling $cientology a Cult...
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2008, 10:26:31 PM »

The Guardian story is here, and it hints very strongly that a number of officers, including the chief superintendent have been basically co-opted by Scientology, hence the agressing policing in this case. The Police Force involved , the City of London Police, is actually really small & confusingly only covers a fraction of London - they mention that the Metropolitan police, which is the main one in London didn't give them any trouble at a different protest.

I remember reading about the police chief praising them, what a twit :(

This is priceless!

Quote
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and "strongly advised" him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.

The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" which was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous".

May 23, 2008, 10:34:02 PM
Reply #3

Offline WasNotWas

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Re: 15 Year-old to Appear in Court After Calling $cientology a Cult...
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2008, 10:34:02 PM »
Yay - I love a story with a happy ending.

Quote
A teenager who was facing legal action for calling the Church of Scientology a cult has today been told he will not be taken to court.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled the word was neither "abusive or insulting" to the church and no further action would be taken against the boy.

The unnamed 16-year-old was handed a court summons by City of London police for refusing to put down a placard saying "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" during a peaceful protest outside the church's headquarters near St Paul's Cathedral earlier this month.

Police said they had "strongly advised" him to stop displaying the sign but he refused, citing a high court judgment from 1984 in which the organisation was described as a cult.

The summons was issued under the Public Order Act on the grounds that the sign incited religious hatred.

A file was passed to the CPS, which today told City of London police it would not be pursuing the boy through the courts.

A spokeswoman for the force said: "The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behaviour at a demonstration might be considered to be threatening, abusive or insulting.

"The force's policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice."

A CPS spokesman said: "In consultation with the City of London police, we were asked whether the sign, which read 'Scientology is not a religion it is a dangerous cult', was abusive or insulting.

"Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness, as opposed to criticism, neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression. No action will be taken against the individual."

The teenager's mother said the decision was "a victory for free speech".

"We're all incredibly proud of him. We advised him to take the placard down when we realised what was happening but he said 'No, it's my opinion and I have a right to express it'," she said.

Human rights activists were outraged when news of the police action against the teenager broke earlier this week.

A simultaneous demonstration on May 10 outside a Scientology office in London's West End featured protesters waving similar placards but the Metropolitan police did not confiscate them or issue any summonses.

Two years ago, the City of London police attracted criticism when it emerged more than 20 officers, ranging from constable to chief superintendent, had accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology.

The City of London chief superintendent, Kevin Hurley, praised Scientology for "raising the spiritual wealth of society" during the opening of its headquarters in 2006.

Last year, a video praising Scientology emerged featuring Ken Stewart, another of the City of London's chief superintendents, although he is not a member of the group.

Scientology was founded by the science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard in 1952 and espouses the idea that humans are descended from an exiled race of aliens called Thetans.

The church continues to attract controversy over claims that it separates members from their families and indoctrinates followers.

May 24, 2008, 07:30:35 AM
Reply #4

Offline Peter

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Re: 15 Year-old to Appear in Court After Calling $cientology a Cult...
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2008, 07:30:35 AM »
Yay - I love a story with a happy ending.

Sanity prevailed.

Did you see this one?


Scientology arrest makes a mockery of the law

By George Pitcher

The teenage boy facing prosecution for holding a placard saying that scientology is a "cult" serves to demonstrate the ridiculous mess that the Government has made of its attempts to protect religious observance in law.

This nameless boy has been served with a summons under section five of the Public Order Act, which seeks to restrict signs that might be considered "threatening, abusive or insulting." Meanwhile, we have a Racial and Religious Hatred Act, which passed into law in 2006 with the express purpose of making it an offence to incite hatred on religious grounds.

By co-incidence, it was in 2006 that militant Muslims demonstrated at the Danish Embassy in London over the publication in Denmark of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Their placards variously read "Slay/Annihilate/Butcher/Massacre/Behead…those who insult Islam." I am unaware of any charges that were brought against the bearers of these placards under either the Public Order Act or, more pertinently, the Racial and Religious Hatred Act. That's because the provisions of the legislation are almost meaningless in action.

But if the law is an ass, those who enforce it are whipped mules. The police in these circumstances are too inclined to side with the bullies. The violent Islamists outside the Danish Embassy were protected; far easier to feel the collar of a teenage boy with a harmless slogan. The bullies in the latter incident are those who worship their own lifestyle at the Church of Scientology.

Theirs is not the brutish violence of the Islamists. The Scientologists mess with people's minds. That's why the BBC's John Sweeney memorably lost it on air, while shooting a documentary on them. The pity is that they now seem to have warped the minds of the City of London Police.