The Register: Slashdot buckles to Scientology loonies
16 Mar 2001
Slashdot buckles to Scientology loonies
By: Thomas C Greene in Washington
Posted: 16/03/2001 at 20:23 GMT
Geek paradise Slashdot has taken the unprecedented step of removing a post which contained text allegedly copyrighted by the 'Church' of Scientology, after receiving threats from Hubbard Space Command shysters citing the dreaded Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
"Our lawyers have advised us that, considering all the details of this case, the comment should come down," Slashdot founder Rob Malda aka CmdrTaco regrets to announce.
"Last Saturday a comment was posted here by an anonymous reader that contained text that was copyrighted by the Church of Scientology," Malda explains.
The post in question contained the full text of some reincarnated-aliens-scifi drivel called "OT III", which in turn belongs to a Scientological sacred document called the "Fishman Affidavit".
What little sense we were able to make of OT III suggests a science fiction role-playing game involving impossibly ancient alien spirits called "Thetans" which were hypnotized and subsequently (we gather) implanted in the minds of 'intelligent' beings belonging to a Galactic Confederation of 76 planets, including our own, roughly 75 million years ago.
Players (or 'church members', as they doubtless prefer to be called) progress in the game (or 'religion', as they no doubt prefer to call it) by channeling their Inner Thetans, or their pets' Inner Thetans, or by casting spells upon their enemies' Inner Thetans and so turning them against their hosts, or something along those lines. We don't know, but rather suspect that twelve-sided dice are involved somewhere....
Interestingly, the Slashdot announcement contains a lengthy talkback section towards the bottom, the cloying supportiveness of which suggests that Malda's got himself a gaggle of cultish, right-thinking followers and apologists on a par with Hubbard's.
'You had no choice, Rob' -- 'I'd have done the same thing, Rob' -- 'Damn that awful law which no mere mortal could possibly be expected to fight in court, Rob' they all say, more or less.
Slashdot typically devotes a great deal of ink to issues of free speech. The courage to exercise it when it hurts, however, is something else again.
A detailed and entertainingly harsh critique of the OT III drivel is available from Karin Spaink here.
Another and somewhat broader on-line resource which pulls no punches is maintained by Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor David Touretzky here.
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