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UK Prosecutors Say 'Cult' Acceptable

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the move-along-nothing-to-see-here dept.

Censorship 357

An anonymous reader notes that following our discussion this week about the 15-year-old who was under threat of prosecution for calling Scientology a cult in a recent demonstration, the UK Crown Prosecution Service has decided that there is no case to answer. They have issued new guidance to the City of London police clarifying when they can use their public order powers. Quoting: "A [CPS] spokesman said: 'In consultation with the City of London Police, we were asked whether the sign was abusive or insulting. Our advice is that it is not abusive or insulting and there is no offensiveness (as opposed to criticism), neither in the idea expressed nor in the mode of expression.' A spokeswoman for the City of London Police said: 'The CPS review of the case includes advice on what action or behavior at a demonstration might be considered to be "threatening, abusive or insulting." The force's policing of future demonstrations will reflect this advice.'"

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357 comments

Allah akbar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516068)

If he'd been a pork-dodging raghead, he'd have been able to say whatever he fucking likes.

Re:Allah akbar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516084)

No! You're a pork dodging raghead!

Re:Allah akbar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516648)

Dave Schroeder is a fucking twat

Re:Allah akbar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516784)

I'm a pork dodging raghead, you insensitive clod!

Watch out, City of London cops... (5, Insightful)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516080)

...the Cult of Scientology is about to ask for its money back.

Re:Watch out, City of London cops... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516578)

Dear Swampash:

It has come to our attention that you have made an unauthorized use of our copyrighted work entitled Cult of Scientology (the "Work") in the preparation of a work derived therefrom. We have reserved all rights in the Work. Your post entitled 'Watch out, City of London cops...' illegally utilizes our Work. By using the name Cult of Scientology you have violated our copyrighted work.

As you neither asked for nor received permission to use the our name as the basis for 'Watch out, City of London cops...' nor to make or distribute copies, including electronic copies, of same, I believe you have willfully infringed our rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therein.

I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works derived from the Work, and all copies, including electronic copies, of same, that you deliver to us, if applicable, all unused, undistributed copies of same, or destroy such copies immediately and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future. If I have not received an affirmative response from you by April 1, 2009 indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, we shall take further action against you.

Very truly yours,
Terryeo

I kind of understand threatening and abusive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516098)

But insulting??? How can anyone justify insults as crimes?

Re:I kind of understand threatening and abusive (4, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516164)

If you read the article, what the CPS said is that to be considered "abusive or insulting" under the law, it would have to be offensive (as seen from a neutral bystander's point of view, not the CoS). So it is a higher standard than what you might think of as the colloquial meaning of "insulting".

Sudden outbreak of common sense... (4, Insightful)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516100)

Every religion is a cult, just a popular one. Scientology isn't popular in any definition of the world and as such "cult" is very appropriate.

Cult != Religion (5, Insightful)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516188)

Now, I'm an athiest, but I can't stand the misuse of terminology, even if it feels clever to do so.

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles. For example, there are some Christians who worship in a cult-like society, and some that do not.

To those who want to cite bible passages, you're missing the point. It is the current behavior of the group that defines this, not what's in their books.

Anyone who studies scientology will know how intense their brainwashing is, and since I was once part of a Christian church that was not a cult, I know it is as different as night and day.

Cult behavior is along the lines of 'removing subject's ego, connections outside the church, ability to question doctrine', and these factors can sometimes be found in any religion, but are not attributed to the whole set of that religion.

Since the Church of Scientology is a hierarchal organization, it can be classified as a cult, but there are practitioners of Scientology beliefs in the 'Freezone' which do not answer to the CoS command and are not cultlike.

Re:Cult != Religion (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516260)

> Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles.

If you really believe this then I suspect that you have not been subjected to a "religion" firsthand.

When contemplating "religion as cult" you also have to consider those that are in a poor position
to fend of against "mere persuasion".

Also, the term cult itself is something that has become demonized and not used in it's original
context. It's meaning has already been twisted.

Re:Cult != Religion (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516694)

If you really believe this then I suspect that you have not been subjected to a "religion" firsthand.


And if you really believe that it is impossible to distinguish between the level of coercion leveled on a member of say the UK Church of England and say Scientology hen I suspect that you have not been subjected to a cult firsthand.

Re:Cult != Religion (0)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516296)

Calm down, I know the difference. Trying to first post "on topic" isn't easy. However, look at the origins of large religions. I'm pretty sure brainwashing techniques were used.

Look at Jesus, he asks you to sell everything you have in order to gain entrance to heaven. You have to hate your family and only love God. (No really, you can even quote the bible on that)

Muslims? Not better: to this day, you can get death sentence for denying God (at least in Islamic countries)

These rules have been added to make sure that nobody would leave the cult. Sure, they were toned down over time, but initially they were there.

So, yes, a religion is less dangerous than a cult, but you can bet that any religion finds it origins in a cult and as such fundamentalism can set it back to "cult-status". This is the same as saying that a sleeping lion isn't dangerous since it's sleeping.

Atheist here too...

Re:Cult != Religion (2, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516398)

also the gp mentions cult = some mind control.. my question is if he has ever bothered to read up on Scientology - from every text of theirs i have ever seen.. mind coltrol and reality/perception distortion to their members seems to be their first objective

Re:Cult != Religion (3, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516462)

Look at Jesus, he asks you to sell everything you have in order to gain entrance to heaven. You have to hate your family and only love God. (No really, you can even quote the bible on that)

You mean like this? [biblegateway.com]

Re:Cult != Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516712)

No, more like this [biblegateway.com].

Re:Cult != Religion (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516752)

Exactly what I had in mind, and considering that the verse the AC cites is in the new testament versus the one cited by "The MAZZTer" which is in the old testament, it takes precedence according to the Christians.

Re:Cult != Religion (2, Informative)

CowTipperGore (1081903) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516860)

Look at Jesus, he asks you to sell everything you have in order to gain entrance to heaven. You have to hate your family and only love God. (No really, you can even quote the bible on that)
You mean like this? [biblegateway.com]
Actually, I believe he was going for something more like this [biblegateway.com].

Re:Cult != Religion (4, Informative)

BytePusher (209961) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516888)

Maybe he meant these passages:
Luke 14:26
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple."

Mark 10:17-31
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good-except God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.'"
Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

Jesus also says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516596)

that there's no need to love god as long as you live right.

Also the bible says that you must love your family.

the bible is a collection of short stories, hacked together into one book. And so its inconsistencies are irrelevant to the people who are religious.

How many people hate their family and love only God? The majority of christian sects.

I'm an atheist too, but if we walk down the road of villification, we're no better than those that say without God in your life, you cannot be a moral person. We can hardly counter that with amoral FUD, can we?

Re:Jesus also says (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516794)

the bible is a collection of short stories, hacked together into one book. And so its inconsistencies are irrelevant to the people who are religious.

Why? It is supposed to be the word of God and a such infallible.

I'm an atheist too, but if we walk down the road of villification, we're no better than those that say without God in your life

Okay, but I only pointed out something in their holy book, which they are supposed to believe and to follow. Why is pick 'n choose allowed?

Re:Cult != Religion (5, Informative)

Justin Hopewell (1260242) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516326)

From Merriam-Webster:

cult

1: formal religious veneration : worship
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5 a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b: the object of such devotion c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

I would say Christianity and any other religion falls in line with this. It doesn't necessarily have to have a negative connotation, but that's generally how its used.

And if you want my two cents, church is just as much a brainwashing tool as an e-meter.

Agnostically yours,
Justin Hopewell

Re:Cult != Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516900)

Yeah, how dare they try and preach goodwill and loving thy neighbour! The _bastards_!

Re:Cult != Religion (1, Insightful)

y86 (111726) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516354)

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles. For example, there are some Christians who worship in a cult-like society, and some that do not.
How does a set of "guiding spiritual principles" of an accepted religion differ from the "guiding dogma" of any other belief system?

Just because it's mainstream doesn't make it right.

It's all the same crap, it's a HUMAN-CONTROL-CLASS, with subclasses of Christianity and Scientology.

Religions all have the same effect, they control the weak and bend them to the will of those in power.

Re:Cult != Religion (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516364)

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles. For example, there are some Christians who worship in a cult-like society, and some that do not.
Well, don't "religions" engage in serious mind control? Advocating creationism, and preaching that homosexuality is immoral don't qualify as serious mind control?

Cult behavior is along the lines of 'removing subject's ego, connections outside the church, ability to question doctrine', and these factors can sometimes be found in any religion, but are not attributed to the whole set of that religion.
What about monastic orders? What about the fact that higher-ups in the "religion" priesthood are required not to have a family? What about all those supposed saints that left their families or removed themselves from society, for some vague spiritual ascension?

Cult behavior is along the lines of 'removing subject's ego, connections outside the church, ability to question doctrine', and these factors can sometimes be found in any religion, but are not attributed to the whole set of that religion.
Really? Are islam, christianity, judaism and so on anti-authoritarian modular decentralised organisation? Have I been living in another planet?

Re:Cult != Religion (2, Insightful)

stoofa (524247) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516478)

How on earth is advocating a belief 'serious mind control'?

Everyone advocates beliefs of one sort or another. If you are forced to believe something against your own free will... that is mind control.

From the way you are speaking, you must rush out to the shops in an excited panic after every commercial ad break.

Re:Cult != Religion (0, Redundant)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516402)

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles.
And what makes you think that Scientology doesn't engage in serious mind control?

Re:Cult != Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516408)

From the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2002):

Cult: noun. 2. A System of religious worship, esp. as expressed in ceremonies, ritual, etc.

Cult == Religion.

Re:Cult != Religion (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516452)

Religions are just a set of spiritual principles.

Whilst I agree that there can be considered a difference between "cult" and "religion", often organised religions are a lot more than simply "just a set of spiritual principles".

The point is that it shouldn't matter if they're a religion or not. It's their behaviour that they should be judged by - the problem is that faith is seen as a virtue, and religion is seen as being above criticism and needing special protection, which leads people who don't know much about Scientology to defend it as a religion.

Re:Cult != Religion (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516534)

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles. For example, there are some Christians who worship in a cult-like society, and some that do not.


Exactly. If you lump religions in with actual cults just because you don't subscribe to their religious beliefs, then you might as well call any group of people with similar beliefs and values a cult. Vegetarians? Cult! Athiests? Cult! Republicans? Cult! Democrats? Cult!

Of course, this is totally ridiculous and reduces the meaning of the word "cult" to the point that actual cults seem fine. Here's a little test. Join a church/temple/whatever. Attend services for a few months. Then try to leave. If the spiritual leader (priest, rabbi, etc) says that he's sad to see you go, wishes you would stay, but ultimately it is your decision, then the group isn't a cult. If the leader tells you that you'll roast in hell if you ever entertain notions of leaving their sacred community ever again and you should immediately repent, well then you're in a cult.

And while you're listening to the sermons during your time there, don't be confused. Of course the rabbi/priest/etc will be speaking along the lines of the congregation's beliefs. That doesn't in and of itself mean it's a cult. (Imagine if a priest in a Catholic church started a sermon about how the Pope was an idiot and Jesus wasn't the son of God. He'd be out of a job in an instant simply because his beliefs don't mesh with those of the church congregation.) If, however, other avenues of fact/opinion (e.g. the Internet, TV, radio, newspapers) are banned and you are *only* allowed to listen to the leader's sermon's, then you just might be in a cult. (It doesn't count if the religious leader himself doesn't use the Internet/TV/etc. He's free to do as he pleases. It only counts if he imposes that restriction on the followers.)

To give an example, I'm Jewish and once belonged to an Orthodox synagogue. I didn't like the rabbi there and only went because I was living with my parents at the time and they were founding members. The rabbi was very strict religious-wise. He wouldn't do certain things (like watch TV) simply because he felt they were a bad influence. However, he never told us to get rid of the TV from our houses. (If he had, my father would have laughed at him.) He was also very anti-evolution. I stayed silent during his sermons about how the world was created 6,000 years ago and scientists don't know anything, but only because I knew that 1) that wasn't the time or place to argue with him and 2) I could have the most informed arguments in the world and he wouldn't budge in his opinion. After all, it said right there in the Torah that God created the Heavens and the Earth.

My wife is fond of calling that synagogue a cult. However, it wasn't even close to a true cult. Yes, the rabbi tried to get the congregation to see the Jewish religion as he did and follow it as he did, but that's just normal. (If you think something is the "right" way of doing something, it's natural to try to get others to follow that way.) However, he never threatened people into following him. He just laid out what he believed and why he believed it. I disagreed with him and didn't follow his lead. My parents agreed with him on some things and disagreed on others. People left the synagogue with no trouble. When I left for college, I wasn't told to stay. Nor was I given any special "orders" to follow. (Not that I would have obeyed any orders that he gave.)

That group was a religious organization. One with views slightly out of sync with mainstream society, yes, but not a cult.

Re:Cult != Religion (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516542)

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles. For example, there are some Christians who worship in a cult-like society, and some that do not.
And in the real world, the boundaries are not always easy to define. There is no binary difference. All we can say is that on the extreme end, very strong cults have obvious and serious differences from very relaxed religions. But inbetween, they mingle and mix.

Remember, for example, that the catholic church only accepted freedom of religion in the early 60s. Before that, leaving christianity behind was as unthinkable according to the official church doctrine, as leaving Scientology is today.

Re:Cult != Religion (1)

zmooc (33175) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516570)

Your description is rather subjective; each religion involves at least at bit of "convincing". When convincing becomes brainwashing depends is hard to tell. I do think you're right in your distinction between cults and religions, but it should be noted that this distinction is made on purely subjective criteria. One important aspect that should be noted, is that in the case of scientology this brainwashing is often performed on adults, which makes it rather visible. In most other religions, new members are brainwashed as of their birth and usually this type of brainwashing is called "bringing up". But a lot of those religions keep their members silenced by blackmailing them "if you leave us, ...".

I personally think all religions and cults manage to get people to believe things for which there is no rational or logical foundation. How they get those people to believe is rather (but not entirely;-)) irrelevant; that some religions manage to brainwash using a method that appears more friendly than others, doesn't really change the result.

Re:Cult != Religion (4, Insightful)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516634)

Cults engage in serious mind control. Religions are just a set of spiritual principles. For example, there are some Christians who worship in a cult-like society, and some that do not.

Also not all cults are religious. Psychotherapy and politics can also be the basis for a cult.

Re:Cult != Religion (2, Informative)

xous (1009057) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516682)

The dictionary definitions of the word seem to differ from yours.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists five different definitions of the word "cult."[15]

        1. Formal religious veneration
        2. A system of religious beliefs and ritual; also: its body of adherents;
        3. A religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents;
        4. A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator;
        5. Great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book).

The Random House Unabridged Dictionary's eight definitions of "cult" are:

        1. A particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies;
        2. An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers;
        3. The object of such devotion;
        4. A group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc;
        5. Group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols;
        6. A religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader;
        7. The members of such a religion or sect;
        8. Any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

See Wikipedia for more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense... (3, Insightful)

phunctor (964194) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516230)

A cult is a religion whose founder has not been dead long enough.
--
phunctor

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense... (2, Insightful)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516270)

Every religion is a cult, just a popular one.

Indeed, there is an argument that we shouldn't have to distinguish between cult and religion - it's a shame that saying "Scientology is a dangerous religion" isn't enough.

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense... (3, Interesting)

AndyTheSayer (965008) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516334)

I am in the UK, and had thought that Scientology had been legally deemed 'not a religion' in this country (they wanted to be a religion for e.g. tax purposes). I could be somewhat out-of-date, though.

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense... (1)

Robocoastie (777066) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516668)

so true but the use of the word in the vernacular has rendered the meaning of the word useless. We live in a state of "feelings" now instead of rationality thus the "politically incorrect" movement which seeks to gag freedom of speech in the US. Although it seems obvious now that Britain still doesn't have freedom of speech so perhaps my point is moot.

is the word "cult" insulting? (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516122)

i would say amongst the slashdot community it certainly is, but in wider society, its a simple descriptor of a small religion. you may happily supply the negative connotations of calling something a cult, but as these judges wisely ruled, the negative connotations are not automatically implied

if the student held up a sign saying "bill gates is a geek", amongst the 13 year old male jock contingent, this is a horrible slander. but with the rise of the internet, its almost a compliment, especially as "geek" implies new wealth nowadays

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (5, Informative)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516182)

The CPS isn't made up of judges, it's the Crown Prosecution Service; they're solicitors. They decide whether there's a case to charge someone with a crime or not. In this case they decided, rightly, that there wasn't. It didn't even get in front of a judge.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (2, Informative)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516214)

(That's actually a bit of generalization; it's also responsible for actually prosecution people if they do decide there is a case.)

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516304)

The other way of looking at it is that at least two people get to judge the merits of a case before it gets to someone that is actually called a judge.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516224)

It is insulting(it implies brainwashing and other unethical behaviors), but it is correct when applied to CoS.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (4, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516314)

In Latin there is no difference between "Cult" and "Religion" -- its the one word. The State Religion was "Cultus Deorum" -- cult of the gods. At a very basic, technical level, there is nothing wrong with the term.

On the other hand, in the age of middle east mega-religions, it's pretty much taken on the meaning of "unpopular, wrong, pseudo-religious scam," which Scientology also clearly is.

Then again the term "pagan" -- ie, a country-dweller (analogous to the Germanic "heathen" -- dweller in the heath) because of Christianity, too.

but the point is, Scientology is only out there confuse reality and roll you for your wallet -- same as every other religion.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (2, Interesting)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516318)

By your broad definition, any community is a small religion, and that's not true. There is a common bond, but Slashdot users are more like what Kurt Vonnegut called a grandfaloon, which is a gathering of individuals with no overt tying bond, like the Order of Elks. While Elks are a philanthropic group and that's their bond (as in fraternal), the ties here are topics of nerdish/computing bonds. But even though the LinuxOphiles, MacFanBois/girlz, WindowsDefenderz, and the hackers bond, slashdot is not a small religion.
 
  We agree the that the judges showed wisdom, but the taint of definition is still ambiguous and the stanch of free speech is still onerous.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (2, Funny)

esocid (946821) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516338)

Bill Gates bites the heads off chickens in a carnival.
There, that's what I meant by geek.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (1)

Kirth Gersen (603793) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516382)

When I lived in Cambodia I was amused to see the sign for a Ministry of Cults, but after a while I realized they'd taken the usage from French, where "culte" is non-pejorative, meaning any religion.

Re:is the word "cult" insulting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516676)

I don't think the ruling implied that there was no negative connotations, just that the negative was reasonable criticism (as it says, both in content and form of expression) rather than offensive. In widespread modern usage there are of course negative connotations of being a cult - it tends to go hand-in-hand with brainwashing, attempts to control the members and prevent them from leaving or being influenced by outsiders, general financial/mental abuse of the members, often an egotistical messiah-like cult leader, etc, etc. It's hard to think of a more consise or accurate criticism of Scientology than calling it a cult.

I wonder about "homosexual behavior is sinful". (2, Interesting)

JeanPaulBob (585149) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516884)

I agree that this decision is a good one. But I wonder...How would they rule on someone holding up a sign that says, "homosexual behavior is sinful"? Would that be seen as "threatening, abusive, or insulting"?

Should it be? If so, why?

Thank goodness that is settled (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516128)

But has replacing an 'S' with a dollar sign ever been tested in court? It is a powerfully clever insult, but that makes it all the more likely to be noticed. I am afraid of taking on both Microsoft and Scientology united.

Re:Thank goodness that is settled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516258)

You can get so sued for that in Amerika.

Re:Thank goodness that is settled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516664)

Just be thankful it is only Microsoft and Scientology. $on¥ will soon be the master of currency.

The bigger porblem (5, Informative)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516130)

The bigger problem is addressing the effective infiltration by $cientologi$t$ of various police farces and justice departments.

It shall be remembered that 20 years ago, the cult of $scientology was deemed a criminal organization in Ontario after it infiltrated the Ontario Ministry of Justice and proceed to trash their evidence file. The Supreme Court of Canada has also recently ruled so.

Re:The bigger porblem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516764)

I do appreciate your warning me about the infiltration. When you spell Scientology "$cientology" though, this is what I picture. [penny-arcade.com]

Holy cow (pun intended) (1)

gx5000 (863863) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516144)

ZOMG !
We won one ?!
I can't just believe that sanity has won out over
religious sensitivities...and in the UK too !

Grats to the young gent for holding his ground.

There just might be some hope left for this generation.

Re:Holy cow (pun intended) (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516770)

Well, had it been something even moderately insulting to Islam, there's no telling what would have happened.

I'd have thrown the book at him (5, Funny)

pmsbony (933376) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516158)

he should be thrown in jail.His description of scientology as a cult was sadly one letter out.

Re:I'd have thrown the book at him (4, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516306)

Which letter do you change to make "cult" into "Evil, life-ruining, money grabbing organisation pretending to be a religion for entirely self serving purposes"?

Re:I'd have thrown the book at him (1)

Hyppy (74366) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516392)

Change that to "Evil, life-ruining, money grabbing individual pretending to be loyal for entirely self serving purposes" and you will soon understand.

Re:I'd have thrown the book at him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516476)

The 'l', to a 'n'. How is that for evil life-ruining, money grabbing people pretending to be a friend for entirely self-serving purposes.

Would be nice to know more details. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516166)

Unfortunately the account is of a reporters understanding of a 16 year old's understanding of the law. Was he arrested, or charged, or was his name just taken down? Since he was involved with the police, the kid may have thought he was in more trouble than he actually was.

Re:Would be nice to know more details. (4, Informative)

sherpajohn (113531) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516294)

He was read the "Section 5 Public Order Act of 1986", told to remove the sign, and a short time later had the sign removed by police who then issued him a summons. Clear enough for you?

Re:Would be nice to know more details. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516602)

It's the "summons" bit that I don't understand. I think the newspaper got it wrong.

My understanding is that issuing a summons that was the responsibility of the Crown Prosecution service, usually a few days after the offence. So either I'm wrong, or he was issued with a fixed penalty notice (which seems unlikely because reporters know what they are and would have said), or the kid is mistaken. That and the only photo of any piece of paper he received appeared to be a written warning rather than anything indicating intention to prosecute.

what I was really impressed with was (2, Funny)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516618)

that the policewoman doing the summonsing didn't request him to remove his mask...

Re:Would be nice to know more details. (2, Informative)

FreedomToThink (1254724) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516352)

There is an excellent video of exactly what happened on the day. Both his initial warning and his response, which have been featured on youtube before, and also the police catching up with him in an underpass after they'd consulted the CPS and obtained a summons, which is new footage.

The video is currently available on http://www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies/index.html#cf [schnews.org.uk]

look for 'Cult Friction' and the 'click here to download link' (70mb mpeg)

Re:Would be nice to know more details. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516688)

He was served a court summons and Liberty stepped up to represent him.

Nice to see (4, Insightful)

CapitalC (1234410) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516202)

that there is somewhere in the world where the system works rationally and figures itself out.

Re:Nice to see (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516310)

If it was working the boy would never have been approached.

Re:Nice to see (3, Informative)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516428)

1) a few asshole cops overstep their bounds
2) the prosecutors refuse to take the issue to court, and clarify to the cops what is or isn't allowed

Sounds like a workable system to me.

minus 1, Troll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516210)

= 36400 Free_BSD

You know... (3, Insightful)

Otter (3800) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516236)

I saw that Ontario is passing (or passed, maybe) new hate crime legislation that's limited to offenses against a "vulnerable minority". If the law is going to be applied selectively to defend only groups the prosecutors care about, it seems preferable to just state it up front like they're doing.

Right for the wrong reason (3, Insightful)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516262)

So using the word "cult" is not insulting or offensive, so he gets away... well, good for him, but that's the wrong principle. Freedom of speech is serious business, damnit! Everyone must have the right to insult and offend and wipe the butt clean on the holy books of every damn religion out there.

Re:Right for the wrong reason (2, Insightful)

techpawn (969834) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516378)

Everyone must have the right to insult and offend and wipe the butt clean on the holy books of every damn religion out there.
If you're defense of your religion is in the courts when you are offended by someone then both your religion and your faith in it is weak. Perhaps you should take another look at your faith and where it is placed.
I may not like you bashing my faith but won't it do more good to debate you about the merits of my faith than to threaten legal action against you? Who knows I may get you to see things the way I do.

Then again, I don't like people who try to get people to see the world like they do by force either...

Re:Right for the wrong reason (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516422)

Well broadly I agree with you but there are various laws in the UK which do restrict what you can say publically that have recently been used to lock up muslims for saying things like "Death To Non Muslims".

I happen to think that on balance this is a good thing and it's nice to see that the legislation doesn't appear to be being used irresponsibly so innocent things like what this lad has done do not get people in trouble.

The big win of course is that any future protests in this area and throughout the country are free to call the COS a cult as much as they like and everyone is clear there is nothing which should be done about it.

Re:Right for the wrong reason (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516828)

there are various laws in the UK which do restrict what you can say publically that have recently been used to lock up muslims for saying things like "Death To Non Muslims".

I happen to think that on balance this is a good thing


I don't. It just validates their persecution complex, and encourages them to go underground. Let them say what they want, and everyone will know who the crazies are and avoid them.

Like it or not, advocating Sharia law is political speech. If they can silence their political speech, they can silence yours.

Bad decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516280)

If you go around calling people "cults", it is very offensive.

We live in pluralistic society, people! Have some sensitivity to people different from you!

Oblig. Simpsons (4, Funny)

HungSoLow (809760) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516312)

Bart: Church, cult, cult, church. So we'll get bored someplace else every Sunday. Does this really change our everyday lives?

Pope's cult? (2, Insightful)

Baavgai (598847) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516332)

While I don't disagree, I can't help but wonder how things would have gone if the statement was "The Anglican church is a dangerous cult." The wording of the ruling basically says this is criticism and is fine. It will be interesting to see this tested.

All negative connotations aside, the only functional difference between a cult and a religion is popular acceptance and usually membership size.

And in other news.... (1)

jeiler (1106393) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516336)

Her Majesty's Crown Prosecution Service will no longer accept cases for calling the sky blue or the grass green.

GNAA Penis Rocket To The Moon Project - Bakesale! (-1, Troll)

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Relativism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516414)

This is weird. Calling Scientology a cult is a no go .

Holding a sign that says "Behead those who insult Islam" is all well and good.t

http://seekerblog.com/wp-content/uploads/_blogger_5932_1957_1600_religion_of_peace_1-1.jpg

Re:Relativism (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516746)

This is weird. Calling Scientology a cult is a no go .

Holding a sign that says "Behead those who insult Islam" is all well and good
Sorry, you're a news story too late. This one says that calling Scientology a cult is A-OK.

The harassment has just begun (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516608)

Sadly, the young fellow will probably be harassed by the Scientology group from now on.

Re:The harassment has just begun (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516740)

Hopefully they'll consider doing so with no clear aim a waste of resources.

If they do though, I'd love to see them charged under section 5 of the public order act as a result:)

What do they call themselves in scotland? (3, Interesting)

magpie (3270) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516696)

I was just rummaging about and I discovered and interesting tit bit it appears in Scotland they are not allowed to call themselves a religion [wikipedia.org]. If they are not a religion and can't call themselves that what do they characterize them selves as? (I really should look into that, as I live there...hmm might be able to get them into trouble)

The police action, however .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23516760)

.. was DEFINITELY abusive (of powers), offensive (beyond reason) and insulting (to anyone's intelligence but the plods who came up with this travesty).

Does it really need a COURT judgment to decide that this was A Very, Very Stupid Idea? Slow day at the police? Was there an arrest quota they needed to fulfill or was there just a general desire to make the police force look ridiculous?

Sjeez.

It's the law - don't expect police to know it (4, Informative)

QX-Mat (460729) | more than 5 years ago | (#23516786)

This isn't a major liberties issue.

There have been several major changes to British liberties recently - the Terrorism Act is the beast behind almost all of them. Those changes - such as the outright ban on demonstrating near parliament and the requirement of express permission in order to do so nearby - are completely distinct from what has happened here.

Also, don't confuse the recent legal order curtailing legitimate demonstrations to a specified area either (Brian Haw [parliament-square.org.uk] has been protesting the Iraq war outside of Parliament for 6 years!)

What has happened here is quite simple: an irate Scientologist who doesn't know the Public Order Act as much as the officer involved, persuaded a PC to halt the demonstration because of the wording on the sign.

This was a mistake by the officer based upon the facts and wording of the sign which, as the CPS said, cannot be deemed to be threatening, insulting or abusive (Public Order Act).

The "cult" description of Scientology is now a matter of fact within UK (there's an EU opinion too) born from the obiter of Justice Latey from a 1984 high court ruling which the sign incongruously quoted.

The officer should have better exercised his office of constable, chosen to read what written, and make up his own mind (in the UK a police officer is responsible for his own actions, he cannot be commanded by those senior to do anything he does not believe is lawful - he is personally liable for what he does and does not, save for contractual/employment obligations). Here the PC showed he was inadequately aware of the Public Order Act which permits the 15 year old's protest.

The CPS was right. They did the lawful thing. It would never have gone to court from the get go. It is an utterly laughable mistake by the PC that even Lionel Hutz would have recognised!

I hope the London constabulary involved is property briefed on their public order duties. I personally feel this was entirely avoidable - especially since R(Laporte) [fairfordco...ion.org.uk].

Matt
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