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nettime-nl: Unbiased columnism #1: preparing for court
Karin Spaink on Sun, 31 May 1998 23:55:47 +0200 (MET DST)


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nettime-nl: Unbiased columnism #1: preparing for court


[Een serie verslagen over de afgelopen week: Scientology
vs. Internet, sectie Zweden, waar Zenon Panoussis een
homepage met het Fishman Affidavit had en de NOTS inleverde
bij het hof en het parlement.
	De serie dankt haar naam aan het feit dat Shelley Thompson
regelmatig rechtbankverslagen over CoS/Net-zaken maakt
onder de titel "Biased Journalism". Deze stukken
zijn/worden ook gepost in nl.scientology en
alt.religion.scientology, onder dezelfde naam.]



Stockholm,
Friday, 22 May 1998


In order to prepare himself for his upcoming trials [RTC vs.
Zenon over the NOTs], Zenon needed to study some files at
the court; the same court where one can request to be
provided with a copy of the NOTs and read them.

	We arrived there at half past one. (Yes, we were late. We
had been drinking and talking the previous night and I had
been admiring the strange Swedish light. At three at night
the sky looked as if it was seven in the morning, and at
seven in the early evening the light gave the distinct
impression that it was four in the afternoon. It is utterly
confusing. My internal clock doesn’t match with what my eyes
present me with.) The light promised summer, but outside it
was rather cold and windy; so we took a cab to the court.
Unfortunately, we were not allowed to smoke in the car.

	 The court. A high building with heavy doors, bright
inside. Zenon went over to the reception desk and asked
whether there were still Scienos coming in every day in
order to ‘read’ their precious material. "Yes," the
receptionists told us smiling, "they are. They were here
this morning and they will be back after lunch." The
‘service hours’ for the NOTs are from nine to twelve and
from one to three, so we had just enough time for a very
quick breakfast and -- oh! the relief! -- a smoke. A couple
of minutes before one o’clock we returned to the reception
desk and asked for the NOTs. Zenon received a brownish
envelope captioned ‘MATERIELET’ (sic) and handed it to me.
Ha. At last. I’ve seen the NOTs so often by now that I’m
quite prepared to consider posting them on a.r.s. to be an
instance of spamming, but this was the first time that I saw
analogue copies and could actually _touch_ the NOTs.

	In one of the corners of the entry hall, opposite the
reception desk, was a wooden bench. And an electricity
outlet. It is the place where the Scienos usually sit with
the NOTs, Zenon told me. Perfect. Zenon left and went to a
higher floor from which he had a good view of both the
reception desk and me; I plugged in my computer, leafed
through the NOTs until I had found a chapter dealing with
illnesses and disabilities, and started taking notes.

	If a Scieno were to approach me -- such was the plan -- I
would explain that I was _so_ happy to finally be able to
study this material, because I had heard that Scientology
Tech could cure illnesses and alleviate disabilities, and
well, you know, considering my legs and the wheelchair and
all, and wouldn’t everybody in my condition be grasping at
each and every straw, so there, you see? The idea was that
by feeding them this story, I could maybe lure them into
having a conversation with me. (All this, of course,
assuming that Swedish Scientology members wouldn’t recognise
me; and since Scientology provides their members with
information on a need-to-know basis only, whilst being
unable to predict when the need to know actually arises,
chances were they would indeed not have the faintest idea
who I am.)

	Perusing the NOTs and typing merrily along, I happened to
find something that did indeed incite some interest. A
couple of years ago I wrote a book about New Age quack
therapies that will be re-issued later this year. These
quack therapists believe that illnesses ‘say’ something,
that their type and location are symbolical, that infallibly
there is a correlation between psychological problems and
illnesses, and that language proves this. Thus, some New Age
therapists provide their readers with convenient
‘translation’ lists which insist that the cause of having
bladder problems is that the sufferer ‘has difficulties in
letting go’ and that spine injuries originate in one’s
belief that ‘the world is on their back’. In the revised
edition, a new chapter is to be added which explains that
much of this modern crap is rooted in the more rigid
branches of Protestantism and in Christian Science, and that
many cults take a similar view upon illnesses. And what did
I find in the NOTs? Elron indulging in the same
diagnosis-by-proverb that New Agers adore so much and
stating that "Phrases such as ‘a man of my kidney’, ‘got no
spine’, ‘got to have spine’, ‘no stomach for it’, confuse
BTs and clusters in those body parts and play a role in
pinning them in." (HCO Bulletin of 29 October 1978, Issue
II; NED for OTs series: ‘Chronic somates, missed BTs’.) I
will surely use this quote -- and others, probably -- in the
revised edition of my book .

	Zenon interrupted me after ten minutes. Not wanting to blow
my cover, I had busied myself reading and typing whilst
trying to not pay too much attention to my surroundings,
trusting that Zenon would observe whatever scene might
present itself. And yes, he had indeed witnessed how the
Scieno had returned at ten past one, had gone to the
reception desk, asked for the NOTs, and was told that,
unfortunately for him, (the clerk pointing in my direction)
I already had them; the Scieno had stared at me for a couple
of seconds and had then left. Caught. Bad boy. Hadn’t done
his job properly. (And now, via this article, he has been
reported to his superiors as well. Damn. What can I say?
Shit happens. Especially when you’re a clam.)

	We stayed a couple of minutes more, took some pictures of
the rather worn-out NOTs (really! It’s a disgrace. The holy
scriptures are all in tatters. Somebody should do something
about it, and perhaps present the court with a fresh copy),
packed the computer and took the elevator to section seven,
where Zenon’s files are kept. We were greeted rather warmly.
Zenon asked for a couple of files and informed the court
that meanwhile, he had enlisted my help. Some of the files
he requested are sealed -- at one point Zenon handed in NOTs
to the Court of Appeals; and these were subsequently closed
-- and while he himself has the right to study these sealed
files, others are of course not. That’s what sealing is all
about, isn’t it. Then again, he _does_ have a right to
appoint attorneys and biträden, that is, aides or
consultants. So he told the court (who appeared before us in
the shape of a friendly woman) that he had appointed me as
his biträde, and would they please acknowledge that status
and grant me the right to see these sealed documents as
well. The court withdrew while pondering their decision.

	Within fifteen minutes or so, a formal decision had been
reached and both Zenon and me were give copies of the
court’s most recent ‘beslut’ regarding RTC vs. Zenon
Panoussis. I had now been promoted to biträde and could
officially study the sealed files, on condition that I will
not disclose to third parties whatever I would learn during
this session. (Funny. Downstairs, at the reception desk, the
NOTs -- which, according to Scientology, are amongst the
best kept secrets of the world, were given to me with no
hassle whatsoever. Here, a couple of floors higher up in the
same building, I needed to have an official status to see
the same files, while being forced to promise
non-disclosure. There is an almost clownish element of
procedures being ritually obeyed in this court case. And
even funnier is the fact that the first thing that
officially happened to me while in Sweden was that the court
presented me with a Temporary Restraining Order. Now _that_
is a souvenir not many tourist would take pride in; I do,
however, and will file it with my other Scientology
memorabilia.)

	We were given the sealed files. Four fat folders. We opened
them, found paper and pencils, and started our task.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t smoke.

	A man who had been working at the same table where we were
now sitting, had cleared away his stuff and simply sat
there, looking at us. While we had been waiting for the
court to reach its decision regarding my status as biträde,
Zenon and he had engaged in conversation. My knowledge of
Swedish is almost non-existent, but I could figure out that
they were talking about Zenon’s upcoming trial. The man
seemed rather interested.

	He sat there. Just sat there, doing nothing but look at us.
Zenon and I worked, every now and then talking or laughing
or commenting upon something funny, strange or interesting.
(I won’t tell you what. I can’t. I am not allowed to. I am a
biträde with a TRO and cannot disclose to third parties what
I learned this afternoon.) The man simply kept looking.
Every time I looked up from my task I would meet his eyes.
After some time, I started feeling slightly uncomfortable.
If he was waiting for somebody he would surely at one point
have averted his eyes. Was he keeping a watch on us? Yes. He
observed our every movement. Why? Was he a Scientologist?
Näh, not here, and Zenon would not have been so forthcoming
about next week’s events if he had even felt the slightest
distrust of this man. But _why_ the fuck was he scrutinising
us?

	It was only later that I found out that this man was there
on the court’s behalf. Ever since some of the Scientology
vs. Zenon files were stolen from the court (the NOTs, of
course) the court safeguards them, especially when somebody
asks for sealed files. This man was here to guard the
documents and to see to it that nobody -- Zenon, or
Magnusson, or whoever is allowed to see them -- will fiddle
with them.

	We did our work, took our notes, greeted everybody and
left. Once outside the building, we could finally smoke.


== more to follow ==


- K -

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