Who are Anonymous?

Dear Nouse,

I saw your article and photos about a protest by a lynch mob calling itself “anonymous”. When I saw this motley crew waving their inflammatory banners it wasn’t obvious to me (or the police who were in attendance) who, if any, were our very own intelligent well-read students, who were the chavs who hadn’t read a book in their lives and who were just along for the scrap.
I’d gladly meet anyone face to face and engage in respectable intellectual debate, but dressing up in camouflage and horror masks? If I, and my fellow students of Scientology, are accused of reading the “wrong books” or holding views other than the official state religion, or of having “independent thoughts” about the origin of life, then here I stand, guilty as charged. But first let me be faced by my ill-informed unmasked accuser before anyone starts practicing the goose step or donning their white robes.

Colin Butler

15 comments

  1. Small detail but this letter has had a single word “and” edited out which could be construed to alter its meaning. It should read “…it wasn’t obvious to me (or the police who were in attendance) who, if any, were our very own intelligent well read students, and who were the chavs who hadn’t read a book in their lives and were just along for the scrap.”

    So that’s two and a half pages of articles critical of the Church, then in the interest of “balanced journalism” one short “tweaked” letter in Scientology’s defence.
    So the other pro-scientology letters weren’t worthy of print then?
    Just to show that there’s no biased editorial agenda here, what are the chances of an article putting the other side to the Scientology story then?

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  2. Totally agree with Mr. B.
    Are you scared to print unbiased journalism No use?

    I don’t believe in Scientology, but I do believe in unbiased, fair journalism.

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  3. Which articles in particular were critical of the organisation? (As was pointed out in the a previous comment, it’s daft to call it a church, just as must as it’d be daft to call it the Mosque of Scientology, or the Synagogue of Scientology…)

    http://www.nouse.co.uk/2008/02/20/york-students-join-scientology-protest/

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  4. Okay, my earlier submission seems to have been cut in half, so here is what I intended to post, rather than just the random links.

    Both http://www.nouse.co.uk/2008/02/20/york-students-join-scientology-protest/ and http://www.nouse.co.uk/2008/02/20/anonymous-inside-the-world-of-scientology/ are neither critical nor praising of Anonymous or the Scientology organisation. The Anonymous one is focussed on Anonymous specifically, but that’s not surprising, given that that what’s it supposed to be doing and has never claimed otherwise to be anything but a feature on Anonymous. I’d like to see where these claims of bias against Scientology are coming from, as from my point of view, Nouse’s features and news reports on the subject seem to be fairly neutral.

    I think the problem comes from the fact that Scientologists have difficulty accepting criticism against the form of treatment they’re receiving from the Dianetics centres because it seems to be working for them, which is fair enough. When Nouse posted an article critical of the York Counselling Service, the same thing happened, people (myself included) who had received help from the service came to its defense. We didn’t accuse Nouse of poor journalism though, because it would be a fallacy to do so.

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  5. Oh, and Mr B, I would assume the reason that the “and” was removed would be to correct the grammar – normally lists only have one “and” in them, and it’s before the last element. So by claiming that removing a superfluous and is changing the meaning is clutching at straws…

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  6. With all respect guys, I think it’s naive on all your parts to expect high-standards of journalism from Nouse on particular issues, such as Scientology. This is a paper whose writers are politically motive and see their positions [for the most part] as a stepping-stone to further careers in this arena.

    I suggest the best the student in question can do, is refer this case the the SU who deal with and interpret the media-charter and conclude on whether or not a particular article has infringed this. I think your problems will be along the lines of the fact the article is unbalanced towards a particular group and not an individual. I think it’s most certainly worth a go. Biased journalism with hidden agendas and alterior motives has long been a characteristic of Nouse and it’s time this serious breach of balanced journalism, is addressed.

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  7. And Mr. B, in answer to your question, “Just to show that there’s no biased editorial agenda here, what are the chances of an article putting the other side to the Scientology story then?”, the answer very little/none. If one does materialise, you can attribute it’s publication a direct result of you and others drawing attention to this obvious and inherant bias.

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  8. OP loses in the first sentence when he calls Anonymous a “lynch mob”.

    But then, CoS has never been very fond of free speech, amirite?

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  9. Criticism of ‘No Use’ in this way is completely ludicrous. Dan Taylor says Nouse ‘is a paper whose writers are politically motive’ [sic]. Well, duh. Any piece of journalism is necessarily biased. ‘Balanced journalism’ doesn’t truly exist. It’s almost a paradoxical term. Everyone has preconceived opinions and notions which will, no matter how hard they try, manifest themselves in an article they’ve written. The choice to be ‘balanced’ represents a personal choice based on one’s own values.

    Nouse are letting this debate play out responsibly. People on each ‘side’ (and those with no scientological alignment, like me) are being allowed to have their say. That’s the only thing Nouse can do.

    Without getting too personal, I put it to Mr. Taylor that it isn’t so much a ‘breach of balanced journalism’ as a breach of Dan Taylor’s own opinions. Honestly, if Nouse is ‘No Use’, then do what many wish you to do and stop commenting on the articles.

    [I have nothing to do with Nouse myself by the way].

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  10. I don’t think it’s fair to accuse the Nouse journalists of such bias unless you’ve got evidence to back that up. It’s not enough to say they’ve printed an Anonymous article and not a Scientology one; most likely, the reason they haven’t printed a pro-Scientology article is because they’ve not been in contact with any Scientologist studying at York whereas “York Students join Scientology protest” suggests they are in contact with students who are against it.

    I too think that including both pro and anti Scientology articles could make for an interesting and balanced dialogue and there’s no reason to assume that Nouse won’t print a pro-Scientology article. Mr B, have you tried asking a Nouse journalist if you can be interviewed for one? You might be pleasantly surprised. The fact that they have printed your letter shows that they are willing to present more than one side of the story and I agree with Chris that missing out the word “and” is completely insignificant and certainly not done out of any malicious intentions. Also, how do you know that there were any other pro-Scientology letters? I assume you didn’t write more yourself and if several of you wrote them together or to the same guidelines then they were probably too similar for there to be any point in printing more than one. In any case the letters page has limited space and rarely carries more than one letter on a single subject. I don’t think there are any grounds for accusations of bias because of that.

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  11. I appreciate the input from y’all, both for and against. Nouse is certainly not the worst newspaper I’ve read so I’m not making a big deal of it or having a go at the editorial team. Life goes on.
    Just as a minor point of interest though, a press release was in fact submitted to Nouse by a media student from York, which was refused for inclusion in Nouse because it was “more a plug for Scientology than a news story”. Well fair enough, as David suggests, maybe an interview will be a better route.
    As for other pro-Scientology letters, sent to Nouse, I do know of at least two others who wrote in and theirs were probably more worthy of print than mine if space was limited.
    In fact one was from the lady who runs the local Dianetics and Scientology Information Centre so I’ll ask her if she’d be willing to post it to this comments forum.

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  12. The Anonymous feature in Nouse was written to coincide with the national media attention that Anonymous had receieved for their protests outside Scientology centres on February 10, hence why the protests were also featured in the news section of that edition.

    The features section aims to uncover various aspects of student life and is not a vessel of continued argument for those affected by the content within. For a newspaper that only prints three times a term to print two significant features on the same topic in succession would not be sensible, considering the volume of topics available for features.

    Nouse made the decision to only print one of the three letters from Scientology as they did not want to saturate a page intended for general reflection and comment with a single issue.

    Press releases are submitted to newspapers every day and there has to my knowledge never been a press release that has been printed verbatim. Unfortunately, the press release submitted to Nouse was not considered newsworthy.

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  13. This is obviously inaccurate. Anonymous is not a “lynch mob” and they are not against the beliefs of Scientology but the Church itself. CoS have done a lot of bad and wrong things and need to be stopped. They engage in “fair game”, operation freakout, and many other terrible deeds. Read the books and do whatever you want without engaging in such terrible deeds.

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  14. I’m so sorry, Mr B and David. No matter what is balanced in terms of reporting and journalism, whatever Nouse now says can never turn the local students back towards Scientology. Why? As soon as anyone hears that Dan Taylor has put his opinion across, those students without an opinion already will immediately switch to the opposite opinion to him (often, to save time).

    And yes, I’m an Anon. You can thank Nicky for that. I just thought I ought to say that, in case I was accused of being one.

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  15. 23 Feb ’10 at 8:34 pm

    rubbish paper

    we need culture not conspiracy

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