Posted by: secretperson | May 21, 2008

Scientology is a Cult – Teenager Shouldn’t be Prosecuted

A teenager may be taken to court for holding a sign describing Scientology as a cult in London. The signs were apparently considered “threatening, abusive or insulting”.

Scientology has a range of crazy beliefs, to select just one passage from Wikipedia’s article

Among these advanced teachings, one episode revealed to those who reach OT level III is the story of Xenu (sometimes Xemu), introduced as an alien ruler of the “Galactic Confederacy.” According to this story, 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their souls then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living and continue to do this today. Hubbard called these clustered spirits “Body Thetans,” and advanced-level Scientologists place considerable emphasis on isolating these alien souls and neutralizing their ill effects

It is also known for harassing people who dare to leave the religion/cult, or even to investigate its beliefs. Its strange secretive ways, and the money it takes from members seem to me closer to a cult than a religion, though as an atheist I view even ancient organised religions with some scepticism. Scientology is not classed as a religion in the UK

But that isn’t really the issue, it is one of free speech, what can we write on a placard and what rights the police have to intervene in a protest. A policeman said:

“City of London Police upholds the right to demonstrate lawfully, but we have to balance that with the right of all sections of community not to be alarmed, harassed or distressed as a result of other people’s behaviour.”

Alarmed, harassed or distressed? Threatening, abusive or insulting? Such vague terms are open to interpretation and therefore open to abuse. Like the religious hatred bill, religions or governments can easily abuse these laws to restrict free speech. There are many who might be ‘distressed’ by a Gay Pride March, or ‘alarmed’ by the Countryside alliance. Practically any political demonstration could be considered ‘insulting’ to politicians (Bliar posters for one). These oppressive New Labour laws should be changed.

Only incitement to commit crime and current threats to public saftey should be grounds for police to interfere with protests. This incident falls under neither category. No one has the right not to be insulted.

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