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From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
Google and Scientology drama

March 27, 2002 10:32 AM

The Google and Scientology drama continues.

Last week, the Scientologists notified Google, under the DMCA provision, of their linking and caching of Scientology's copyrighted works by Operation Clambake. Google was then required to remove the offending links from its database or face a lawsuit under the DMCA. So they removed the links.

When they removed the links, however, they also removed the homepage, as instructed by the Scientologists. Only, there were obviously no copyrighted works on the homepage, since the homepage is nothing but a bunch of links. Google, realizing they had been manipulated by the Scientologists, reinstated the homepage, and it was quickly near the top of the results again.

In the meantime, various people upset with the censorship started buying anti-Scientology advertising using Google's AdWords program. Once Google noticed this, they started rejecting the advertising due to their policy of not allowing "sites that advocate against any individual, group, or organization."

Unfortunately, Google has taken a lot of heat for this whole thing. So I feel it is necessary to defend Google.

First off, let's get something straight. The Scientologists are evil. Evil. EVIL. Many people are unfamiliar with Scientology. They've heard of it, and they think it's kind of crazy, but they don't really know the extent of it.

About ten years ago, Richard Behar won several awards for a piece in Time magazine exposing Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power. This is an amazing piece of journalism. Some quotes:

Edward Lottick, who lost his son Noah to a Scientology-induced suicide: "We thought Scientology was something like Dale Carnegie. I now believe it's a school for psychopaths. Their so-called therapies are manipulations. They take the best and the brightest people and destroy them."

Cynthia Kisser, the executive director of the original Cult Awareness Network: "Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its members." Scientology was able to force CAN's shutdown in 1996. Since then, Scientology itself bought all the identifying aspects of CAN and set up a new CAN to confuse everyone. I kid you not.

In various lawsuits, judges have labeled Scientology "schizophrenic, paranoid, corrupt, sinister and dangerous."

Have you ever wondered why so many famous people are Scientologists? John Travolta, Tom Cruise, or even Sky Dayton? 1) special treatment in "Celebrity Centers" and 2) blackmail, at least in the case of Travolta.

In fairness, or maybe just for a laugh, here's Scientology's response to the article.

Now, let's look at the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This, while it pales in comparison to the evil of Scientology, is pretty terrible in its own right. The DMCA requires anyone given an official notice of copyright infringement to remove the content immediately, or risk a copyright infringement lawsuit. No judge, no process, nothing.

This gives an enormous amount of power to the Scientologists. All they have to do is send a notice, and groups working to expose Scientology can be silenced. Google is caught in the middle with no choice but to comply with the law, as stupid as it may be.

Renowned for their litigious threats and scare tactics, Scientology can intimidate anyone.

Now, Google is again under pressure for their refusal to allow the anti-Scientology ads to run. Even John Hiler, who has done a pretty good job unearthing the truth in this story, is taking issue with the vagueness of this policy. I don't feel Google's policy is vague at all, and Hiler's example of anti-abortion sites advertising is very weak. Abortion is an issue, not an "individual, group, or organization." There's a big difference. If the ad had been against Planned Parenthood, then it would have been rejected. Simple enough. Scientology is an organization, unfortunately, and should be protected under Google's policy. Google has its principles and it sticks to them. That's why we love them, remember!?

Google is a tiny little company trying to do great and wonderful things for the Internet and humanity at large. Making the vast expanse of human knowledge accessible to anyone, completely unbiased, and totally free, is an extremely noble cause. They are very principled, and have never let profits get in the way of those principles.

That is why Google should not only be defended, but applauded.

More from the archive in Lawsuits, Lies and Deceit, Religion, Search.

Google and Scientology drama (03.27.2002)

Next Entry: Andersen CEO Jumps Ship (03.28.2002)
Previous Entry: Children's Rights (03.26.2002)

Jim Gilliam
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