Why Do Anonymous Geeks Hate Scientologists?

NYU professor Gabriella Coleman opened this profoundly profanity laced academic talk with a question: why have internet enthusiasts been drawn to denounce Scientology so vehemently for two decades? Scientology, she explained, has provided a perfect nemesis for geekery.

To the geeks, freaks and hackers of the net the Church of Scientology subverts the idea of technology to be about control instead of the freedom they cherish. Scientology has a long history of intimidation and litigation against its detractors and former members, which is abhorrent to the wilder ends of the internet. No end is quite as wild as 4chan, and it was out of 4chan's endless quest for the lulz that online organized resistance to Scientology would emerge. After the infamous Tom Cruise video on his own experience of being a Scientologist and the church's attempts to get it away of public scrutiny, Anonymous emerged from 4chan, a non-organization hellbent on the Church of Scientology's absolute destruction. Anonymous started out harassing the Church online, but eventually translated to sometimes hilarious street protests, and disgusting pranking. "They decided to emerge form the internet bunkers and hit the streets," says Coleman.

Coleman had a member of Anonymous come speak in her class, who talked about going from ultra-coordinated internet motherfuckery to confrontation with the church, including "Faxing my bare arse to them."

Anonymous had real consequence on Scientology. "It pierced the media," says Coleman,

"People were more willing to be critical to the church post anonymous." This included Coleman herself, who had studied Scientology for years but never felt free to come forward with her research. She talked about parallels between Anonymous/4chan and the trickster archetype in mythology, the trickster often not being a very clean and savory character, but perhaps vital for social renewal.

Brunton opened his part of the talk by saying "If anyone wants to start a band called ultra-coordinated motherfuckery, I have a tambourine." He went on to speak about what he called "lulzymedia" in general, touching on shock, humor, and action taken under collective pseudonyms by artists, writers, protestors and others. In particular he talked about protest media done under the name Luther Blissett by authors and social protests, largely independent of the net.

Despite there being particular able groups in this kine of lulzymedia like the Yes Men, it's by definition out of control, and eventually collapses to a 4chan-likes state of non-control or goes quiet. People trying to tap this creative force to get what they want invariable end up with plenty they don't want. "There's this friction between a coherent message, and a lulzy process," says Brunton

Ultimately media for the lulz is outside organizational control, and has very specific traits of being exploitable, pleasurable, and full of spectacle. Sometimes it turns into a viable political force, which is the specific phenomenon Coleman and Brunton are beginning to study, but it just as easily falls away. Brunton explains that socially, lulzy groups are like the universal solvent. "Nothing can contain them."

Coleman and Brunton plan to publish their ongoing work and tools for attempting to exploit the lulz for poltical purposes at lulzymedia.com.

The Hackers on Planet Earth conference is an outsized 2600 meeting that happens every two years in New York. It's come a long way in its time, ideas of hacking expanding from software to hardware, society, food and even sex. Quinn Norton is reporting live throughout the weekend.


Comments

    This may be outside the thematic proponent of your article, maybe not. I was an Ex Scientologist staff member. I say "was" because since I've found Anonymous two years ago, I now consider myself more of a current Anon.

    I've over 60 yrs old. I happen to Like Anon's irreverance, and yes, I see mistakes they make sometimes.

    But the crux of your title is "Why", yet blithely only reference one sentence of vague "intimidation and litigation" in the entire article.

    This sci mafioso like organization is just One level below nazi horrors, manipulation and infiltration. It's power comes only from the billions in its war chest coerced from its celebrities and wealthy members, used to deploy troops of lawyers, private investigators, spies and instigators and buy politicians and lobbyists.

    Without knowing the above, you might miss the whole point of the lulz and why it is essential in keeping one's sanity as well as calm while standing in the middle of the maelstrom.

    Anarchy !

    I consider myself part of Anonymous and protest against the crimes and human rights abuses of the Cult of Scientology. I can assure you that I am not a hacker or prankster, but am a working professional, a college grad, married, and a mother. There are many others like me who are part of Anonymous which also includes lawyers, doctors, writers and other professionals. Don't be so quick to generalize and thereby dismiss this movement as merely a bunch of geeks and hackers. Anonymous is a smart and dedicated and yes, fun group of individuals who have made quite a dent in the once mighty armor of the cult.

    we will tajke down the ebil kult, thei haz to be shut down. they sux hard!

    we are anonymoys, come to wwp!

      Oh, yes, another Johnny-come-lately who wants to be "anonymous" but not "geek," or god forbid, "hacker." Welcome to the bandwagon, and enjoy coming late to the party and piggybacking on the efforts of the same nerds you deride.

      Especially ironic given the skiddie-flotsam in charge of the current wannabe-chanology site "whyweprotest."

    If Prof. Coleman were Fair Gamed by the cult, how many people would find out about it and be outraged. Thousands.

    Yet the cult fair gamed Paulette Cooper and few people knew about it, until her life was seriously made miserable and she was dragged into the court system, and narrowly avoided going to prison.

    $cientology can't be covert anymore, when cameras record the PIs they sic on people to intimidate them. News people are commenting on the zombies in the bushes, and the cult robot "goons" who are sent out to take video, photos often just to intimidate.

    There are so many who are now Anonymous critics, who laugh instead of get intimidated.

    It's like all the people they've harmed over the years are speaking out in a voice that is getting louder, all because of the internet. And Anonymous is speaking for the dead, all the people the cult killed or drove to their deaths.

    You retard, 8 people did not die. And he didn't kill himself either.

    Sam,
    Do just a little bit of research. In the sad case of Auvinen, even the police investigators said there was no link to "anonymous". Also, if you check, the time stamps tell the tale- the posting was made AFTER the shooting started, it was a hoax. What's more, if you look at the actual transcript, you'll see that once people started to believe the hoaxer, several people actually called the police. 4chan (what you call an "anonymous" website) has actually cooperated with police several times, even helping track down a pedophile and animal abuser.
    So you may smugly slam anon for that one, but the facts disagree with you. Meanwhile, you ignore the hundreds of scientology convictions, and also OTVIII (for the rest of us, that's the highest level scientologist, a level that takes over a quarter million dollars to obtain), who not only embezzled money from his company, but murdered (by shooting him three times in the face) the man that opposed him for it- a US military veteran, on his son's birthday.
    Can you possibly defend that?
    And, yeah, that mall massacre hoaxer killed himself. Actually, if you look into it, anons turned him in after making the threats. What's your point?

    Getting a bit melodramic aren't you Bif, considering that for all their faults the mortality rate for the COS is low, low, low compared to practically any other field. Psychiatry has suicides, medical doctors make frequent mistakes that cost lives, and in the 60 years sincd Dianetics probably lives lost directly or indirectly because of the Church of Scientology could be counted on two hands.

    So lets be realistic. Pick on them for what they don't do--they don't follow the path that was laid out for them by their Founder.

    If you want to name someone driven to her death, it was Mary Sue Hubbard, the wife of the Founder, when David Miscavige and crew browbeater her into signing over her estate interest to the CST. She didn't live long after that. They broke her heart by telling her that Ron Hubbard didn't ask after her, letting her think he didn't care about her.

    If you get the bad guys out of the Church you might find that Scientology isn't that bad. After all, a lot of people find truth in it and are happier for having been exposed to it.

    Scientology is denounced by anyone with a functioning brain, which (usually) includes geeks.

    Now who is getting dramatic. Oh poor Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Ron. Boo hoo! Instead of making off with the 300 of the 600 million the cult scammed out of brainwashed dupes, she probably got what, a lowly 10 million, just to shut up and get lost.

    And those young upstart meanies like David Miscavige and Marty Rathbun handled her, and one even made her think Elron didn't care about her anymore. Oh the thetanity!

    Wake up zombies! Elron was festering in an RV, hiding out on the farm in his last years, being shot up with Vistaril every day, having delusions that Body Thetans were crawling all over him. Mary Sue was out of prison in the last two years of Ron's life, after being sent there for heading up the largest infiltration of U.S. government in history, Operation Snow White.

    Elron didn't want to see Mary Sue or his weirdo children, and he was too out of it to know a power crazed dwarf would be taking over the con, or simply didn't care.

    Where were Mary Sue's super powers? Or how 'bout Ron's? David Miscavige is what you got. It's the Golden Dawn of Ron's cuckoo, so build a gold statue to Ron holding little Davie in his arms, and start worshiping it, while you line up to ride the astronaut training equipment at the Super Power building.

    Anon doesn't go about telling everyone it has all the answers and will improve your life if you just give thousands of dollars to find out the SeKrItS. Scientology, however, does. Let's not discount Lisa McPherson, Heribert Pfaff, Noah Lottick, Stacy (Moxon) Grove Meyer, Patrice Vic, Ed Brewer, and dozens of other Scientologists who died needlessly.

    20 years ago I started publicly criticizing Scientology. I read many Scn books but never was in the organization. I saw how its written policies were damaging people and communities.

    One of these policies involves harassment of critics.

    Instead of simply responding to my criticisms they sent private investigators to go through my trash and tried to get me fired from my job.

    Germany decided this organization is a threat to democracy. If people only knew how much Scientology has become ensconced in public legislation, they'd freak.

    I would like to see the statistic of how many people were bankrupt by the "church" of scientology. It would also be interesting to estimate how many children were diverted from college, as scientology discourages spending personal money on education (rather than expensive scientology courses).

    Wait Sam, I thought you OSA guys like Terryeo and Luana said that "fair-game" does'nt exist anymore?
    But yet here you are making up stuff to attack and defame Scientology's critics.

    The short answer to your question is, "Because they should". Everybody should.

    Scientology has been under attack for a long time.
    The problem with the attacks were that L.Ron Hubbard taught his fanatical followers to attack back, rather then defend, which would imply thinking about the reasons for the initial attack. So picket Scientology and you have Scientologists picketing you, investigating you through P.I.'s and maybe even getting your fingerprints on a blank sheet of paper so that they can fill in the paper with a bomb threat and sign your name to it (they did this-- google Paulette Cooper).

    Another problem was getting the word out. Hardly anyone knows about what real goes on in Scientology. Finding ten brave people to picket was not easy.

    Internet geeks solved those things by communication on the internet and covering their faces. Presto! Also, they don't take that nonsense about being called religious bigots too seriously. There is more but that is a start to a longer answer. Long live Anonymous.

    Pure consciousness cannot be tamed. It is also pure freedom, perhaps the ideal state of human beings. Do not attempt to harness this for your own purposes because it will blow up in your face. You can keep your political groups but anon will never be tamed. Sure, someone will trademark the name and someone will open the clothing label but you can never harness this energy because it is the subconscious energy that needs fulfillment in a world bent on controlling peoples minds and that includes the so called left political. When are you going to get it? People need to only be themselves, not some controlled people. It is called democracy and it is called freedom, words the left and right throw around like rag dolls yet never impliment.

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