Scientology: the Anonymous protestors

There were signs, if you knew where to look, that the launch of Operation Sea Arrrgh was imminent. In a hundred corners of the internet plots were being plotted; in fancydress shops sales of Guy Fawkes masks were rising and in thousands of dank teenage bedrooms young men and women were making plans to converge on sites around the world, dressed as pirates.

Their target was the Church of Scientology – and this was an altogether new way of protesting. It was all so different from how it used to be. For more than a decade, a small group had gathered opposite the Church’s London offices to stage lonely demonstrations. Some were former Scientologists, some just angered by an organisation that they claimed split up families, extorted money and employed its followers as slave labour. Leafleting passers-by, explaining themselves to the police and countering – they claimed – the harassment of the Scientologists, they were happy if a dozen turned out.

To give some idea of The Times’ importance in the UK, the following scene from Yes, Prime Minister (classic British comedy):

Jim Hacker: Don’t tell me about the press. I know exactly who reads the papers:
* The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country;
* The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country;
* The Times is read by people who actually do run the country;
* The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the
* The Financial Times is read by people who own the country;
* The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country;
* And the Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.

Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read the Sun?
Bernard Woolley: Sun readers don’t care who runs the country, as long as she’s got big tits.

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