Scientology is stupid - but so is John Dixon

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For those who don't follow the hive-mind on Twitter, there has been a run in with Scientology trying to stifle free speech.
Or, as I think, not.

Here are the brief facts of the case.

  1. A local councillor (John Dixon) has a Twitter account "CllrJohnDixon"
  2. Last year, he tweeted: "I didn't know the Scientologists had a church on Tottenham Court Road. Just hurried past in case the stupid rubs off."
  3. Someone in Scientology didn't like this and raised an official complaint.
  4. The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales investigated and found there was likely to have been a breach of the code of conduct local authority members must follow.
  5. The ombudsman referred the case to Cardiff council's standards and ethics committee. They will take a look at this case later in the year.

Are more detailed account is on The Guardian.
You can see John Dixon on Newsnight (40 minutes in).

So, is this an evil cult trying to repress free speech?  I don't think so.

Imagine if John had tweeted "Going past a Synagogue - better watch my wallet." or "Near a Church - hope they don't molest me" or... well, pick a religion of your choice and a slur.

People are free to hold these opinions.  I don't believe in thought crime.  If an elected official chooses not to socialise in her free time with Mormons, Hindus or Agnostics, that's their choice. 

What is totally unacceptable is for an elected official to publicly say, in an official capacity "this group of people are totally unworthy of my respect."

When I go and see my local councillors, I don't want to think that I'm being badly treated because I'm an Apathist.  As stupid as Scientologists are, I'm sure once in a while they need to go to their council for planning permission or complain about noisy neighbours, etc.  How can they go to John Dixon knowing that he thinks their church is "stupid"?

The democracy we practice in the UK means that all people are equal in the eyes of officialdom.  Whatever views an elected official may hold, constituents must have faith that they will receive a fair hearing.  The (hypothetical) Scientologists in John Dixon's ward now know that their representative publicly denigrates their faith through his official publications.

John Dixon needs to make it quite clear that his personal opinions will not affect how he treats people when he is acting as their democratically elected official. He also needs to understand that - for some people - separating their professional and personal Twitter accounts is a prudent measure.

For the record, I think Scientology is a devious, manipulative, lying, shallow front for a group of disreputable people who are only interested in money, power and control.  It's no different to any other religion.

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9 thoughts on “Scientology is stupid - but so is John Dixon

  1. Olaf says:

    Scientolory is not a church. Scientology is based on a bet between two (IMHO less than mediocre) SciFi authors who got to be millionaire first. Robert Heinlein wrote "Stranger in a Strange Land". Ron Hubbard founded Scientology. You decide what is worse.

    Scientology is based on the principle:
    - make money
    - make more money
    - make people make more money for you. (their words not mine:

    freedom of religion is all fine by me, but scientology is clearly abusing that.

  2. Secularist says:

    You are totally wrong. He must be free to criticise Scientology as he sees fit. As long as he does not descend into hate speech (advocating violence against Scientologists, for example), then he should not be censored. It is up to the voters at election time to judge him.

    We simply cannot prioritise the sensitivities of various ridiculous ideologies - Scientology, Islam, homeopathy, etc - over free speech.

    1. I don't disagree. John Dixon can say what he likes about whatever he likes.
      An elected official should not. If he'd kept two different accounts (one personal, one professional) I doubt this would have happened. But because he gave the appearance of a council official being critical of a group of people, I think it's right that he should be reprimanded within the rules.

      I don't think we should prioritise religious sensibilities. But given that we do, I don't see how a Scientologist making a complaint is any worse than another religion.

  3. Ben says:

    Scientology isn't a religion, it's a vindictive, money-making cult. Comparing it to slurs against Jewish and Christian beleivers is not accurate. John represents a very diverse ward in the middle of a multicultural city. If he was failing to represent his constituents fully, I'm fairly sure he'd have been voted out by now.

      1. mcploppy says:

        What exactly did you mean by it doesn't sound too different to most other religions?

        How many other "religions" have Criminal convictions against them all over the world like Scientology?
        How many have a price list for courses and charge over £100,000 for you to be enlightened?
        How many force their members to have abortions?
        How many have been responsible for the biggest infiltration of the US government in history, stealing documents and taping phones?
        How many hire private investigators to follow and harrass anyone who speaks out against them?
        How many were started by a lying criminally convicted conman and bigamist?
        How many hide their scriptures and only reveal their true befiefs when you pay hundreds of thousands.
        How many think AIDS is a state of mind, cancer can be cured by councelling and Autism doesn't exist?
        How many have courses that teach you how to lie effectively?
        How many force you to disconnect from family members if you have the "wrong thoughts"?
        How many have prison camps for their own members?

        Answer? Scientology of course!

        Maybe you should actually do some research into this cult before you make such statements!

  4. mirele says:

    Scientology is not recognized as a religion in the UK because it does not provide a "public benefit." Additionally, if he said something stupid about Scientology, if the public thinks he's nuts, the public should vote him out at the next election. I'm thinking the public will either reward him or think HE is stupid for stating the obvious. Yes, Scientology IS Stupid.

  5. mcploppy says:

    "So, is this an evil cult trying to repress free speech? I don’t think so."

    Oh really? Here are a few quotes from Cult founder himself L Ron Hubbard that kind of goes against you're opinion:

    -"Show me any person who is critical of us and I'll show you crimes and intended crimes that would stand a magistrate's hair on end." - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, 4 April 1965

    -"If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace. Peace is bought with an exchange of advantage, so make the advantage and then settle. Don't ever defend. Always attack. Don't ever do nothing. Unexpected attacks in the rear of the enemy's front ranks work best." - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, "Department of Governmental Affairs", 15 Aug 1960

    -"ENEMY SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 18 October 1967 [SP = Suppressive Person a.k.a. critic of Scientology]

    -"Somebody some day will say 'this is illegal.' By then be sure the orgs [Scientology organizations] say what is legal or not." - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 4 January 1966, "LRH Relationship to Orgs" not a religion." - L. Ron Hubbard, CREATION OF HUMAN ABILITY, 1954, p. 251


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