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Sunday, 1 June 2008

Don't mention the C-word!

The human-rights lawyers are not going to let it go. It's that C-word again. Cult. You can't use it in Glasgow now after the recent fiasco in London. After Strathclyde Police banned its use a week ago, they're now coming under attack for trampling on human rights, according to the Sunday Herald.

"Officers banned the placards," says the Herald, "during a demonstration against the self-styled church in Glasgow city centre last weekend. Civil liberties campaigners have warned a dangerous precedent is being set for the suppression of free speech."

It goes on to remind us of the London incident, in which a 15-year-old boy was told to dump his placard, which said Scientology was a "dangerous cult". Overzealous police subsequently dropped any idea of prosecuting him, on advice from the Crown Prosecution Service – but the threat was there for several days.

John Scott, a human-rights lawyer, says this all suggests the so-called church is receiving preferential treatment. "Scientology is a wealthy organisation with pretty influential people involved. But that doesn't mean it's entitled to any more protection from the police – though it does appear that is the reality of the situation.

"This latest incident sets a dangerous precedent and I hope the police do not have to be taken to court for them to accept the right of free speech."

I hope the police do have to be taken to court, so that this can be settled once and for all. Scientology is as much a cult as any other cult. One dictionary defines a cult as a "system of religious or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided or unorthodox".

Especially an informal and transient one, not only such. This makes Christianity a cult, and Islam and Hinduism, too, along with Buddhism and Zoroastrianism.

Strathclyde Police admitted that their officers had stopped activists using the word cult after receiving a complaint. From the Church of Scientology, perhaps? Who else? A myopic old dear who misread the word cult?

A police spokeswoman tells the paper, "The word [cult] is not a breach of the peace in itself. However, in this case it was exacerbating the situation and our stance was that we had to remove that. From a policing point of view, a balance has to be struck between the right to assemble and hold a meeting and other persons' rights to go about their business or demonstrate without being obstructed or hindered."


Were there any demonstrations against the use of the C-word? Were there threats to life and limb and buildings and policemen's helmets?

There's an anti-Scientology movement that calls itself, simply, Anonymous. This weekend, this leaderless, Internet-based group said it had recovered the banners and would be launching a fight to use the word. "The police have told us that breach of peace is very open to interpretation and there are no Scottish test cases they can refer to," said a spokesman. "We're furious that we're being told we cannot use the word cult – we've got rulings from London, Germany, France saying this is exactly what Scientology is. No one wants to get arrested – our members just want to protest."

Have a look at the vid below: Anonymous's address to Scientology. If you go to the YouTube page this is on, you'll find more.

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