Program Transcript of cyber.cafe segment on Scientology
Transcribed by Lance S. Buckley
Wingham Rowan: "There's nothing to stop anyone setting up internet pages about anything. Martin has spent month setting up a site that does nothing but viciously attack the Church of Scientology. Tonight he's going to discuss his months work with the church. Martin, just take us through your site."
Martin Poulter: "Well what I've done is collect together the information that scientology doesn't want people to read. I've collected many first-hand accounts from ex-scientologists, many documents from legal cases, several documents that were siezed by the FBI when they raided Scientology headquarters and many of the postings from the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology."
Wingham Rowan: "Right. What is that newsgroup? What sort of messages accumulate in it?"
Martin Poulter: "It's a big fight in cyberspace really. There are some pro-scientology posters. Some who seem to be authorised by the church, and there's many people who are protesting. Many ex-scientologists who are speaking about their experiences. Many people who've joined in the debate because of concerns about civil rights."
Wingham Rowan: "Over here we have Greg and Rachael Ryerson from the Church of Scientology, husband and wife Directors of... Joint Directors of Special Affairs waiting to talk to Martin. What do you want to him?"
Rachael Ryerson: "Alright. So, ah.. one thing that Martin had brought up was that umm.. threats on the Internet, or people feeling threatened, and I'd like to say that Scientologists actually do feel threatened by confidential materials, scriptures from the church, being put on the Internet, because it's part of our core religious beliefs that these scriptures do need to be kept confidential until a person is at the required spiritual and ethical level to be invited to participate with those scriptures."
Greg Ryerson: "There's actually millions of scientologists whose deep seated religious beliefs they feel are being violated by this. You know they also should have some consideration taken of their belief."
Wingham Rowan: "OK, so this is about, there are.. are documents that you only get after years and years as a scientologist. The scriptures of the church that have suddenly arrived completely in their entirety on the Internet for anyone to read, and that is what you find offensive."
Greg Ryerson: "And owned by because those documents only arrived in the Internet after they were stolen from one of our churches."
Wingham Rowan: "Stolen documents?"
Martin Poulter: "I would dispute that. Nobody knows really where the documents came from, ahh.."
Greg Ryerson: "And I would dispute that. I know exactly where the documents came from. They were stolen by [bleeped out] from the church of scientology advanced organisation [RR: "No no no.."] I certainly may mentioned it. This is not sub-judicae. The fact is there was a final ruling in 1984 when Mr. Justice Kennedy said "It is common ground. The documents were stolen"."
Wingham Rowan: "OK. It is justifiable to put stolen documents up on the Internet?"
Martin Poulter: "Ah, no I don't want to speculate about that because I don't really know where the documents have come from, and nobody really knows. [minor background babble] I don't think it's justifiable to put the documents up myself, but whoever's doing it, putting these documents wholesale is breaking the law. But the people, the many people who have debated the contents of these documents, perhaps using tiny extracts, like myself, we're not guilty of anything and yet we're getting threatening letters from Helena Kobrin, and so on."
Wingham Rowan: "Helena Kobrin is...?"
Martin Poulter: "A lawyer for scientology."
Greg Ryerson: "Well I think that get's into a legal issue, whis is what constitutes fair use, becaue there is wholesale copyright... I'm glad actually that you agree with that. We have some common ground. That's very nice,and I appreciate that."
Martin Poulter: "I don't want to break the law. I don't want anybody to break the law."
Wingham Rowan: "This is really about freedom of speech isn't it? It's about whether documents that are.. however they arrived at, they have a certain importance to a lot of people. Because a lot of people on the Internet want to read these documents."
Martin Poulter: "It's certainly in the public interest I think that what.. that the content of these things be discussed because these things reveal what scientology is really like, what it's activities are. I think it's important for the public to know."
Wingham Rowan: "Martin, where do you think the future of this debate, this heated debate about the way scientology is portrayed in cyberspace is heading? What happens next?"
Martin Poulter: "It's very difficult to say. I think they're just going to get more and more unpopular, just going to irritate more and more people with their tactics."
Wingham Rowan: "Rachael?"
Rachael Ryerson: "OK, I..."
Wingham Rowan: "What's the future of scientology in cyberspace?"
Rachael Ryerson: "Ok. I obviously think scientology will get more popular in cyberspace, and as people do become aware of the issues, you know, and copyright law does adapt to this new meduim that we have, the Internet, you know, Intelligent people will assess and they will see that, you know, what we're saying on the copyright is just a portion of freedom of speech. I mean we are pushing freedom of speech as well..."
Wingham Rowan: "But you are going to continue to clamp down on the higher level scientology documents that are floating around the internet."
Rachael Ryerson: "Well if we need to. I mean in every case we have sent letters to the people asking them to please take these documents off because, you know, they don't belong on the internet because, you know, they are confidential materials that were originally stolen, and were never meant to go out to the general public. And it's only when people have, you know, refused to take them off we've had to resort to the next step. I mean it's unfortunate."
Wingham Rowan: "What's the next step?"
Rachael Ryerson: "Well, you know, issue legal proceedings."
[end of segment]