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Submission + - Scientologists In Row With BBC

CmdrGravy writes: "The Church Of Scientology is currently engaged in a row with BBC over a Panorama investigation by the BBC reporter John Sweeney. John is investigating the Church Of Scientology for the program to find out if they have changed in the last few years and moved away from the questionable practices and secrecy they have employed in the past.

The row centres around a YouTube video posted by the scientologists and a DVD they have released which show Mr Sweeney losing his temper with a scientology spokesman Tom Davis in which Mr Sweeney is driven to yelling at Tom Davis at the top of his voice. Mr Sweeney has since apologised for losing his temper which he says he now realises was both wrong and stupid. In the DVD the scientologists also accuse the BBC of organising an anti scientology demonstration and yelling terrorist death threats at John Travolta, allegations which the BBC denounce as being clearly laughable and utter nonsense. John Travolta has also accused of Mr Sweeney of harbouring "personal prejudices, bigotry and animosity" against Scientology in the documentary, and accused the reporter of displaying "hatred against my religion." This despite the fact that in the UK scientology is not classed as a religion due to the financial nature of their practices.

Mr Sweeneys outburst came at the end of a tour of a scientology exhibition which attempts to portray psychiatrists as evil nazi type torturers entitled "Psychiatry: Industry of Death" which is both gruesome and utterly unconvincing. In the days previous to this Mr Sweeney and his camera team became the latest in a long line of reporters to suffer harassment at the hands of scientologists whereby he has been shouted at, spied on, denounced as a bigot by John Travolta had his hotel invaded at midnight, and had mysterious strangers visit his neighbours and family and spy on his wedding. You can begin to see why someone might lose their temper having been victim to this sort of activity.

There is an excellent article in the Telegraph and you can read about the incident in Mr Sweeneys own words here at the BBC.

The video of Mr Sweeney losing his temper is available on YouTube, the argument is about Tom Davis claiming he has said things in a previous interview with someone else at which Tom Davis was not present and therefore cannot know what he has said. During this interview with, I think, an ex scientologist Tom Davis burst in half way through to make claims that the interviewee was some kind of paedophile.

Happily it looks like the BBC is going to stand behind their reporter, judging by this interview with the programs editor and the general tone of their reporting but, really why I'm posting this on /., what can be done against an organisation so determined to prevent fair and unbiased reporting on their activities and is clearly able to utilise the power of the internet and YouTube to further their aims. The BBC is a large organisation and can survive attacks like this which would easily cause a lot more problems to individuals or smaller organisations, is there a way of levelling the playing field in favour of the general population being able to access accurate information on organisations or corporations rather than propaganda put out by the said organisations or corporations ?"

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle