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The Week on the Web reports on Scientology

Transcript of lead item from "the Week on the Web" broadcast by the BBC
World Service (radio) 31st October/1st November 1995

MB= Michael Bywater, the presenter  FV= Female voice  MV= Male voice (there
was more than one male actor)

MB: Perhaps the greatest thing about the Internet for many people is the
freedom of speech it seems to, well, almost guarantee. At last your voice
can be heard even if you aren't rich, powerful or part of the government
or the media. But maybe that freedom of speech has only persisted so far
because the 'net has only just caught the attention of the traditional
enemies of free speech: big business, politics and (of course) religion.
	-not just any old religion, but the Church of Scientology; the
world's first science-fiction religion, started in the '50's by the
american writer L Ron Hubbard. The "Church" of Scientology, or as its
opponents on the 'net prefer to call it...
	MV: The CULT of Scientology
MB: has spent the last nine months
	FV: attempting to quell unfavourable comment on the World Wide Web
	since former minister Dennis Erlich posted excerpts from the
	church's sacred texts...
MB: Sorry?
	FV: sacred texts
MB: I thought so.
	FV: ...to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.
MB: Yes, the merchants of mental hygiene have called in those celebrated
defenders of freedom of expression- the lawyers. They got a warrant,
raided Erlich's home and seized equipment since when, according to the London
	FV: the offices of an Amsterdam internet access provider have been
	similarly raided, and five internet users in the UK have been warned
	that they face legal action.
MB: One of those threatened last week [ooops- it was back in July that it
happened- MLP] was philosophy postgraduate Martin Poulter from the
University of Bristol in England, but was his university prepared to bow
to threats and legal bluster from the church...
	MV: Cult!
MB: ...of Scientology? Yes it was. Poulter had his internet access
suspended for 24 hours, but he's back on line again, albeit rather toned
down. But what was all the fuss about? We e-mailed Poulter, who said that an
	MV: attorney for the Religious Technology Center in California...
MB: Well it would be *there*, wouldn't it!
	MV: ...claimed that I had breached copyright and trade secret laws.
	I have had to remove some Fair Use extracts.
MB: ...which are those brief quotations with supporting commentary, on
which the entire world academic community depends- an unwritten agreement
upheld in the name of intellectual freedom by almost every reputable
publisher. As Poulter points out,
	MV: If the Church of Scientology gets away with its intimidation
	tactics, a precedent will have been set: anyone with enough money
	will be able to censor what you tell the world.
MB: But let's be reasonable. Isn't this just a dispute about copyright?
Not according to one 'netter:
	MV: I don't know of any religion that has trade secrets with
	commercial monetary value, like the Church of Scientology claims.
MB: And according to another:
	FV: Knowledge is power, and their inability to understand both
	free society in general and the 'net in particular causes them to
	make STUPID mistakes.
MB: Well frankly I don't want to get involved, certainly not if some of
Martin Poulter's wilder, and of course completely unsubstantiated, claims
are to be believed, for example that the Church...
	MV: Cult!
MB: ...of Scientology is planning to... No, let's just let it lie.

[End of item]
[note: there was a great deal of very British, understated humour in the
presentation of this item, which you don't get unless you actually hear
the voices. The way MB said "and of course completely unsubstantiated" in
particular had me ROTFL.]

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