Monday, February 25, 2008

An additional word or two on encountering Anonymous

UPDATE: Since my initial post on this topic, communication has been re-established between myself and the person that was ultimately being discussed here. I wish to make clear any mistakes on my part and to apologize for any hurt I may have caused. Certainly no ill will was meant on my part and I do not seek to upset anyone.

The main mistake perpetrated by me is a doozy and one that we should all be careful of in our lives. Namely, basing our entire opinion of a person or situation on a brief meeting. As they say, first impressions are the most important, and to a large degree that is true. However, many factors can influence the words and actions of a person, especially on initial meetings.

For this reason we should not be too quick to judge others, as first impressions are just that; impressions. Having had further contact with the person in question, I apologetically rescind anything I may have said below that could have been taken personally. It has been thoroughly demonstrated that the impression I walked away with was not an accurate picture of whom I was dealing with. Again, my intent was not to offend, merely to impart a thought process based on information as I had processed it at the time.

All of the previous being said, I will leave the post below more or less intact, though with one or two minor changes. Although the impression I was basing my opinions on may have been incorrect, the thoughts themselves are still valid, though just not applicable to the person in question. Please recognize that these concerns are broad and not limited to the actions of Anonymous or any other specific group. Though this may have been written with specifics in mind, it rings as true for any other organization.

I have to admit I was a bit shocked at meeting Anonymous. Not so much shocked at the presence of Anonymous, as I had seen from the reports on the net that they truly were everywhere. What I found shocking was that I knew so much more about the topic than he did. Now, I agree with his cause. I'm down with exposing Scientology. Their litigious behavior has been well demonstrated to the American public and it goes without question that they hide behind their barrier of "religious tolerance" and attack any who point out their flaws.

I'm an agnostic. I would say I lean more towards full blown atheism. I find being an ardent atheist is every bit as arrogant as being a born again. We don't know the answers. We likely will NEVER know the answers. As such, it feels pretty ignorant to me to decry that there is absolutely no way that a god can exist, as we don't really know all the rules to the game. I have not seen a proof of god nor do I dare to reckon that I even know what "god" is, if it were to exist. All of us are limited by our senses and can experience reality only so much as we are able to perceive it. The reality of a creature that sees outside our wavelengths or hears frequencies that we cannot or that can smell all of the ingredients of a mixture instead of the cumulative odor is so different as to be alien to us. If our experience cannot even extend past that, then I would state that it is arrogant to believe that it is impossible for something greater than yourself to exist. Is it out there? Could be. I may never know, but if I were to see something to make me believe otherwise, well, let's just say my eyes are always open.

Back to the larger topic, though. My problem lies not with the feelings of security that religion can bring. We all need our own answers. The issue is how faith can be used against people. I'm no big fan of organized religion, I find it to be nothing but pageantry and ritual designed to keep you in line with the Brothers Grimm version of history that they choose to present. But do I think less of someone for wanting that, in order to make existence just make more sense? Nope. Can't say I begrudge them.

But with any of the major religions on Earth, you can walk into one of their designated houses of worship and someone will be there to help educate, instruct and indoctrinate into their mode of thinking. Once they've got you hooked, that's when they'll ask for the donations. But at least they're not compulsory.

The issue I have with the Scientologists is that their teachings are not provided free of charge. In order to begin following their religion, heaps of money have to be put forward for books, tapes, cd's, dvd's, etc. It is designed to keep you indebted to them, even sometimes to the point of working at their centers to pay for your "education". The net result of education is being sucked further and further into their organization until you are so helplessly entwined that your mind is more or less controlled. They will convince you to break off contact with your family, should your family be considered outsiders. They will lead you to believe that doctors are unnecessary for certain ailments (particularly mental).

They have had years of accusations thrown at them and they persist in trying to destroy any who dare criticize the words of LRH. To have faith in something greater than ourselves is fine. When enlightenment cannot be found without debt a serious problem is at hand. This disregards all the weird cultish behaviors exhibited by the "church".

So to stand here with a man that is protesting a system of belief yet who seems to be lacking the basic details of what he's protesting is shocking. If you don't understand what you're protesting, how can you really be protesting? His anger is directed at a series of buzzwords and printouts that conveniently tell him what has upset him.

This is the same behavior you can see in any forum. This is indicative of the modern culture. In the 21st century, everybody is an expert in every field and feels that everything is expressed as absolutes. You're with us or you're against us. Libtards. Republicunts. Everywhere you go on the net there's another series of smug, self satisfied arguments about how stupid the left is while the left calls the right "sheeple". It's the schoolyard banter of uneducated little boys playing (not nicely) with their toys.

Everybody picks a side and just spews the same banter back and forth. Every side has its own set of complaints and insults. By this token, this man could have been protesting anything and it wouldn't have mattered. Without any understanding of the argument aside from a handful of sound bites, anybody can be led to argue, complain or protest against anything.

Seeing this made me worry a bit for the Anonymous movement in general. In order to succeed in any endeavor of this size, they need to win the hearts and minds of those they are trying to convince. There is little doubt in my mind that a great deal of Anonymous has a at least a general if not a profound understanding of the people they're dealing with.

It concerns me, however, that the visible front line force could be someone who professed to me of only having heard of this whole ordeal three weeks ago on the Something Awful forums. Really? Some guy on a forum says, "Scientology is bad" so you rush out and get leaflets to hand to the populous telling THEM to stop following herd mentality and just doing what they're told?!?! Pot...Kettle...

Since Saturday I've just had these visions in my head of myself standing outside a church handing out leaflets saying that Christianity is evil and should be abolished. And out of nowhere a rather vocal member comes up to me, berating me and rightly upset that I am insulting his belief system. And my only reply is, "Wait. Hold up. Who the fuck is this Jesus guy you're talking about?"

I'm not saying the efforts of Anonymous are in vain. I support what they're doing. I even told the guy, "You're doing god's work". Should Scientology be stopped altogether? I don't think that's necessary. But take away their power. Make them understand that faith is not purchased. It has no price.

You can't buy your ticket to Hell. You have to earn it.

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12 comments:

Tony said...

If there is no God then there is no Heaven then there is no Hell so how can you purchase a ticket to either? And if there is no God and thus no Devil and therefore no Hell then all of the hellacious and demonic imagery of our beloved rock and roll and horror fests are moot, cliched, trite, ineffectual and laughable (at best). Interesting. I won't carry the thought process any further but it does raise some very intriguing points for further discussion elsewhere.

It is sad that you had such a negative experience with Anonymous (because we all do represent our causes and become those causes in the public eye even if we are not good examples of the leadership or the cause itself). I hope they have more learned troops on the ground overall than they do zealous neophytes bumbling the "mission".

Oh, and I wish you hadn't burned the Harley Jesus with a mere ambiguous link since he so deserves a more decent and in depth E treatment in the Bonez pages.

You can get off your high horse now... but be sure to shovel those steaming horse turds off the Bonez office carpet before someone steps in it.

E said...

I never said motorcycle Jesus wouldn't be back. He just worked for that link.

And agreed. No heaven. No hell. Lack of interest/belief in either does not preclude me from entertainment based on them. Do you like Clash of the Titans? Do you believe in Zeus? You can't have it both ways! :)

Tony said...

I can have it both ways and I will, dammit! So there...

Don't you get tired of how most atheists try to come across as so intellectually superior to everyone else? Sort of like, "if you're smart you'll see how ignorant you are to believe anything other than what I believe." That really grinds on me... Oh, and yes... atheists DO BELIEVE in something... even if it is in themselves as their own gods. Besides, it is a fad to call yourself an atheist now and many consider it a badge of "rebellion" against the established "religions" but in actuality it is that some ol' heard mentality in play. The very one you mention in this post.

I wasn't really thinking of the "entertainment value" of the hell and demon symbology in rock and roll and horror. My point was that rockers took these symbol to mean they were tough and bad and anti-establishment and all things "evil"... which makes no sense if they don't believe in the opposite as being possible, too.

Blah! I am not a debater and am not debating here because I essentially agree with a large portion of what you've said. Each to his/her own, live and let live.

So there, again!

E said...

In the truest sense of the word, an atheist doesn't believe anything. Atheism is the lack of belief, not the belief in nothing.

But that's all semantics. And yes, I agree, militant atheists are every bit as annoying to me as somebody preaching to me based on their religion.

Nobody has the answers. To come down on anybody on matters of belief or faith is pretty disgusting.

We're all climbing the same mountain. We just choose different paths to get to the top.

Anonymous said...

Owch...

I'm the Anonymous you're referring to. Though I'm going to be quiet frank with you, I'd much rather use my real name, but such are the rules at this point in the game.

While I agree with a lot of what you're saying in terms of religion in general, keep in mind I was in the freezing cold going on only a few hours of sleep, and have constantly been put off as "guy wearing tinfoil" all day so I wasn't really in conversation mode. I won't debate that you may know more on the topic, but I feel it's a bit much to say "I knew SO MUCH MORE" when you're really judging by a few minutes of time. And not in the best of times either.

I've been reading a lot of Arnie Lerma (hell of a guy, even if he does come off as a crazy nut to the average reader) and Andreas Heldal-Lund's work for years now. The story of Paulette Cooper was enough to make me oppose them... when I heard about it three years ago. The awful living conditions for those in the SeaOrg (not to mention the forced abortions), the treatment of children, Snow White, Clearwater... yeah, I know about it, and I know a lot more, but I don't think there's enough space to put that on a picket sign, or a flyer.

How does one have a conversation about this on the spot in public (not to mention in the freezing cold)? I try not to, because... it's a really hard thing to do.

But I'll tell you this; I don't jump on bandwagons that easily. Especially one that came from moot's sad little corner of the internet.

The fliers I handed to you were really just stock we had; two of them were made by me personally. We were hoping to catch people's attention. That was the whole point. People have to make their own decisions. We were just hoping to kind of point them in the right direction.

I could care less about Xenu.
I could care less about Tom Cruise's vast knowledge of the history of psychiatry.
Also, I could care less about "/b/" and their little ego war, which is sadly why a lot of these guys are protesting.
I also don't really see what's so damaging about Rick Astley.
Finally, I don't have an opinion on mudkips.

I didn't join this cause until the "Collective Anonymous" stopped DDOSing websites. Before then, if you told me I was going to team up with ANY of the *-chan series of factions, I would have laughed. I don't know what it was in Bunkers words that made most of those guys quit running DDOS programs, but whatever it was, I'm glad the others listened. It's sad that a massive DDOS raid is what it took for people to pay attention, but... I'm glad people finally did.

Not all of us buy the "Anonymous" hype. Don't be so quick to stereotype from two minutes of talking to an exhausted bloke who was ready to just keel over. Earlier, before I spoke to you, I walked alongside a mother of two, a mid-fifties office worker, and a student, passing out those fliers from campus to downtown, hoping they would be "the ones" to capture people's eyes long enough to do some research. We're all coming from different walks of life. And we all have our own personal beliefs as to why we're doing this. Me: Freedom of speech and child abuse are two big hot buttons of mine personally. But you ask the three women that were working alongside me, they'd give you their own reasons.

With that said, I also know that yes, there are a lot of other things out there worth fighting out there than the sinking ship that is Scientology. Miscavige had been doing a good enough job of that. Guess some of us felt it wasn't fast enough.

The Moonies are probably three times as worse (even the old guard Scientology critics would tell you that). Every mainstream religion has it's scandals. But when the very rare opportunity comes when enough people, may they call themselves "Anonymous" or "The Red Velvet Bubblegum Hypersquad", collected to actually be able to take one of those evils down, or at least (as you suggested) have it reformed, you take it. And, from what a lot of people still in Scientology are leaking out, one or the other is going to happen.

Funny thing happened after you left; I was approached by a Scientologist. She claimed to be in it for 30 years, and how it saved her life, and how L. Ron Hubbard was the writer of a million words.

When I told her that I myself have also written a million, an angry "I SEE! WELL I HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL EVENING!" was her only rebuttal.

E said...

Hello Anonymous,

I apologize up front if the tone of the article was overly harsh. At times my words get away from me. Couple that with the loss of inflection that one experiences on the net and....

If you are truly the one I met on the street and I have no real reason to doubt you, then I can only say I'm sorry if my misunderstanding of the situation causes you to feel misrepresented.

It has long been stated that perception is reality. The understanding I had taken away was that you you were a relatively new initiate into both an understanding of Scientology and the cause itself. If, as you stated, you were cold and tired and not at the top of your game, then I can easily so how such a miscommunication could come about.

Please do not think of what was written as an indictment of the Anonymous movement. As I stated at the time, I fully support and appreciate the efforts of the group and hope for a positive outcome as a result of their actions.

I had no intention of stereotyping anybody involved (with the exception of a single link to an audacious Fox News report). There is no stereotyping in a movement like this, as we are all unique entities working towards a collective solution.

I did not mean to sully your good name (though I don't know it) and my words were not intended to be an indictment of either yourself or the movement. I assure you that I was in a different mental space than you, particularly if you had been hitting the bricks for as long as you've said.

Ultimately, if you feel that I was unfair, I will gladly rescind those portions. My words were not a condemnation of you, specifically, but more of a concern for the whole of the movement.

You have proven via your comments that you are much more versed on the topic than I was led to believe at the time.

Keep up the good work. I think that the cause you are working towards is just and right. If my critique seemed overly harsh, well, as you said, I only had a few minutes by which to make my judgments.

Best of luck in future endeavors with the cause. Perhaps our paths will cross again in Dunwoody.

Anonymous said...

This can probably prove to you that I am who I say I am:
Hot Corner, outside, shortly before the Henry Rollins show. I was the one wearing a suit coat, had sunglasses attached to my shirt.

One thing you mentioned: "I'm a total geek when it comes to this stuff!" The woman you were with (friend/girlfiend/wife/relative? I didn't ask) looked totally lost when you were talking.

I go by 88. It's not my birthyear, nor is it used as a representation of Aryan Brotherhood (I never knew there were ties to it until after I chose it, but since it's on my dustmask, and since my image from 2/10 ended up on xenu.net's image gallery covering all the protests, it's pretty much stuck). The reason I chose it has a double meaning: 1. The number 8 represents good luck in Chinese culture. 2. "88" is Chinese online speak for "goodbye".

I can see how you came to that conclusion. I usually won't engage in words with anyone when I'm fliering unless they specifically ask. Otherwise if I "preached the issue" to everyone I met (I only did this to one gentleman, which was after you left, to someone who witnessed my little confrontation with the Scieno), it not only make us as annoying as the street preachers, but it would drain SO much time. Our group's approach to it was more or less "If they ask questions, THEN start talking. If they know it, then save your breath." We're trying to point people to the information, and come up with their own conclusions, not preach.

You're only observing what you initially saw, so I can't condemn you for that. About the only thing that kind of irked me is that there are a good number of people who know I was (presently AM as far as I know) the ONLY male Anonymous that's been trying to actively reach out to Athens on foot, and believe me it's tough. I grew up here, I know people downtown are QUICK to turn towards apathy simply because everyone thinks their cause is more important than the other guy's and, well honestly I don't blame people who are jaded.

I guess what I'm saying is, when people see me, I don't want them to assume I'm not knowledgable on the subject.

It'd be cool if you were to rescind some of that, but at the same time, that's your choice. If I were to demand it, I'd be no different from the guys I'm speaking out against. That's what you saw at the time, and sadly, that is actually the way a lot of protesters in this (I don't mean just Anonymous or any specific online faction either) are acting. I know of some people going just to pick up girls.

Can't argue with that, the gas mask girl in Atlanta had really pretty eyes.

And then there are others that are doing it... "For the lulz". There are a lot of people spouting off unconfirmed rumors such as "LRH called Jesus a pedophile" (not true, he said "There was no Christ"). Yeah, I agree, there are a ton of people that don't know what they're talking about.

So I guess, as long as I was heard, I don't mind as much. Hopefully I won't be the only male in Athens fliering post-Ides.

Best of luck to you as well, and, don't think I take that whole "We never forgive" thing to heart...

E said...

Hello 88,

I will gladly rescind some of what I have written. It was done in the interest of imparting my impressions, and as it seems my first impression was not altogether true.

Tonight, when I have some time I will decide whether to append what form my changes will take. I have zero doubt that you are who you claim you are.

I appreciate your feedback on the matter and would like to see what I can do to set things right. It's a matter of respect and integrity.

You have proven that you do not fit the impression that I was left with. It's easy for any of us to not completely be ourselves due to any number of situations.

I agree that a larger presence needs to be seen in Athens. I don't live in that area or I would gladly offer my services. I have previously posted the information for the Dunwoody meeting as well as the atlantaanonymous@gmail.com address. If there is any contact information or other ephemera that you would like me to make available on our site, please let me know and I will be happy to include it in a future post.

Regards,
E

Anonymous said...

Yeah, you didn't really come off as a complete ass or anything, I was more like "wow, am I just not that talkative or was I REALLY that out of it?" Very admirable to see you want to reword that.

As far as Athens Anons go, one of my group has already opened up an "Athens Anonymous" e-mail address for the purpose of trying to get a little bit of organization into awareness here in town; we'll probably start using it after 3/15, once we know the date of the "Reconnect" protest. There's been other endeavors we've been considering as well, though I can't comment simply because I don't know if any of it is going to go anywhere. If you want more info on that, I'll let you know the moment we feel it's best.

As far as the Ides in Atlanta go, you may want to mention that we're expected to first rendezvous at 12:30 outside the Taco Bell at 2081 Savoy Dr, Chamblee, GA 30341 (it's like a block away from the Church). I left this out of the fliers intentionally because I thought the guys at AtlantaAnonymous@gmail.com would reveal that (I haven't even heard from anyone behind that account in a while). It was more important that people knew where the church was in the event of late arrivals, and there would probably be an easily noticeable crowd at Taco Bell (which going that direction you'd have to pass by anyway. This a really quick warped VHS/90's Public Access style YouTube vid I made with more details. Feel free to use it, if you want:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=PwrqcyGY9js

E said...

Hello again 88,

I have updated this post to include an apology for any undue criticism I may have leveled against you. Again, no harm or ill feelings were intended.

I did, however, choose to leave the post up with a few small revisions, because although my impression may have been wrong, my feelings were still sincere. My heart was in the right place, unfortunately, the rest of me wasn't.

I have added a new entry up top with your video and a transcript of its contents in the hopes of attracting more interest for you and your efforts. When you have further information, let me know either via these comments or via my mail link at the right of the page.

Regards,
E

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, don't you dare change another word of this!

I think this is something a lot of protesters need to read. I've heard some of the smaller protests were plagued with misguided blokes that could not, for the very life of them, give one factual, legitimate non-comedic reason why they were out there.

They could not give an example of how they oppose free speech aside from the Tom Cruise video that sparked the war.

They could not describe how they destroy families.

They had signs saying "Google Operation Snow White" and either didn't know what it was, or confused it with Operation Freakout and started talking about Paulette Cooper.

Even the ones that wanted to go that route and attack actual doctrine could even get the space opera right. Some bloke out in Orlando had a guy with a sign that said "Xenu eats babies!"

Mind you, I'm not trying to condemn the guys in it for the laughs. I was against it at first, but as Tory Christensen ("Magoo") pointed out in regards to the LA protests, they actually benefited from it. Humor tends to be something they can't stand. If anything, I'm proud of the mass majority of 'em. But you're right, they do need to actually look at the links they're trying to make others read.

I'm not even going to admit that I can list every crime they've been involved with. Co$ has a long list of them. But even the big subjects can be tackled easily. I hope a lot of these guys learn to practice what they're preaching before 3/15.

My ranting aside, you're an awesome writer, E, and I admire your code. Having done a little bit of volunteer writing work in certain areas (won't say for who or where, other than "online somewhere"), it's hard to find that kind of integrity nowadays. I'll be reading.

E said...

Thank you very much for the kind words. I like to maintain some semblance of integrity with my work, regardless of the topic.

You are all too correct on the other points. Herd mentality runs rampant in this country and it's easy for people to get swept up by a cause that they may not even believe in.

No matter how much you know on a topic, somebody else will always know more. But in situations where you are confronting either adherents or average joes, you need to be able to speak at length about the topic at hand. If you don't know every single date and name, fine, but at least know the basics of the "laundry list".

All said and done, I still strongly support the good work you all are doing. Please keep me updated on any goings on. I will be happy to make any information you pass to me available to our readers.

Regards,
E

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