Church of Scientology loses to First Amendment

14 12 2008

Crossposted at Counterknowledge.com

Recently, the “Church” of Scientology pushed an ordinance in Riverside County, California, to keep “members” of the group Anonymous away from their fortress-like Gold Base, and it was passed almost unanimously by Riverside County supervisors. But today, Riverside County decided to back away from that decision, at least for now because of the inevitable fall-out from such a restrictive ordinance.

The ordinance pushed by the “Church” would restrict picketers by prohibiting them from protesting within 300 feet of Gold Base. The “Church” and their friend inside Riverside County, Supervisor Jeff Stone, argued that Gold Base is a residential area, and there is already a law that prohibits picketers from picketing a person’s home. During the hearings, proponents tried to argue that Anonymous is a hate group by pulling images from imageboard 4chan, which is regarded as the “birthplace” of Anonymous. 4chan is an image board which has spawned many internet inside jokes and memes such as the Rick Roll. Its humour is often explicit, and, admittedly, sometimes offensive.

Free speech has not quite won this battle yet: the Riverside County board of supervisors still think this ordinance is worth “massaging and tweaking” so that a compromise can be reached. But, for now, this is a temporary victory for Anonymous, and a temporary loss for the tyrannical “Church” of Scientology.

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