Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why We Worry for Xenophon

Take Keith Henson's story --just one example of the the Church of Scientology's (CoS) heavy-handed response to criticism.
In 1996, many of Scientology's secret writings were released onto the Internet, and the Church of Scientology embarked on a massive worldwide campaign to keep them from being spread to the general public. Henson examined these writings, entitled New Era Dianetics (NOTS), and from his examination of these secret documents, claimed that Scientology was committing medical fraud. The NOTS documents, he said, contained detailed instructions for the treatment of physical ailments and illnesses through the use of Scientology practices. ...To prove his claim, Henson posted two pages from the NOTS documents onto the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology.

Henson's Usenet post was ruled a copywrite violation, for which he was fined $75,000. This apparently pissed him off, as he subsequently began to picket regularly outside of Scientology's Gold Base. The CoS complained about the picketing to the Riverside County authorities, who then charged Henson with three misdemeanors: making criminal threats, attempting to make criminal threats, and threatening to interfere with freedom to enjoy a constitutional privilege.

Sheriff’s Detective Tony Greer, Riverside County lead investigator, said: "In reviewing all of the Internet postings I did not see any direct threat of violence towards the church or any personnel of the church." Nonetheless, the jury did find Henson guilty of "interfering with a religion," and for this he was sentenced to six months in prison.

Henson fled to Canada and petitioned for political asylum. Three years later, in 2005 when his case was finally reviewed, the petition was denied and he was ordered to present himself for deportation. Instead Henson fled to the US. In February 2007 he was arrested in Arizona, where he remained until his release in September 2007.

tl;dr: Dude stands around with a sign outside of a gated compound and for this he's sentenced to Federal prison.

Punishment not fitting the crime, I'd say.

1 comment:

  1. Henson posted about 10 years too soon; a YouTube video of actors clad in silly extraterrestrial costumes performing a slapstick pantomime to a reading of those two pages might fall under fair use for the purposes of satire, no?