Unbiased Columnism, day 1
Stockholm, January 18, 2001
SWEDISH COURT CASES ARE BORING and take too long.
All proceedings must be verbal; the written
preparations just serve as a background and what
is not said, does not officially count. That is
why this court case will last five days.
Magnusson, Scientology's attorney, opens with a
tiresome enumeration of Zenon's misdeeds and
misbehaviours. Posted this, webbed that, material
filed here, copy made there, said this, did that,
in September... in October... in May... I am on the
verge of falling asleep, I know this song too well
by now. Besides, Magnusson is not a gifted speaker
at all. The court - five judges, one of them a
trainee who serves as the clerk - listens without
much interest. They know this story too. Magnusson
is so slow that he doesn't manage to reach the
part where he outlines the grounds for his
complaints. He'll continue tomorrow. Now it's
Zenon's turn first.
The court hopes that he will simply plead guilty
on many counts, so that deliberations about those
acts can be dismissed. And Zenon is quite willing
to do so: he has never denied having webbed parts
of the OTs nor denies having posted the NOTs, but
Scientology accuses him of much more. That he
will fight. And he wants to win at least one
point. He is even prepared to settle or to admit
guilt on all counts as long as he gets this
particular one: a declaration that the OTs and
NOTs are legally published. From that one
concession or confirmation a series of important
rights and consequences follow, and Zenon is
prepared to sacrifice everything in order to
establish these rights: the right to possess
copies of the OTs and NOTs for private use, the
right to quote from them, and thus, of course,
re-establishing every citizen's right to demand a
copy of the OTs and NOTs under
offentlighetsprincipen. (If legal publication is
established, the limitation that the Swedish law,
after pressure exerted from Scientology and the
US, has put on offentlighetsprincipen would no
longer apply to the OTs and NOTs.)
In Zenon's case, just like in mine, Scientology
claims infringement in many more instances than
they are willing to - or can - prove. With respect
to the OT-fragments included in the Fishman
Affidavit, Scientology in my case has only shown
some evidence regarding OT2 and OT3. For the other
fragments they claim copyright as well but they
have refused to come up with even the tiniest
shred of evidence. Zenon knows that they wouldn't;
after al, he webbed the Fishman Affidavit after my
case had been brought before court, and he
challenged them on their faint evidence and their
all too extensive claims.
The case against him was already well on its way
when Zenon filed a new, even thicker stack of NOTs
with the court. Scientology immediately claimed
copyright to those as well and demanded secrecy.
They even had a notary public compare this thick
stack to the original, unmasked NOTs, and upon
doing a random comparison, she established that
this thick stack contained nothing but pure,
BUT THEY WEREN'T original NOTs. That is to say:
just a few were. Of this stack of two hundred
alleged NOTs, only eight were authentic; the rest
had been mangled. Zenon had posted on a.r.s.,
asking people to send him Monkey NOTs, and he had
received them in abundance. Some ten of them were
NOTs that had been 'translated' using programs
that produce dialects: there were Swedish Cheffed
NOTs, Jived NOTs, and Rastafarian NOTs - hence,
satire, not originals. "Hjändle åll sjuch Björks ånd cljusters by blöwing them öff," that kind of
stuff. Moreover, hundred and eight-five were cut
up and mangled. To mangle them, you do this: you
take a paragraph from a text, use it as a 'seed'
and input it to a program, and the output is a
full page of mixed-up phrases, illogical sentences
and weird grammar - but full of faintly familiar
phrases. "Those are our NOTs!" Scientology
exclaimed, and the notary public agreed with them.
Not true: they are nonsensical, gibberish,
Jabberwocky'ed texts, Zenon explained to the
court, and what is more: the fact that Scientology
claims copyright on these texts proves that one
should take their claims with not a grain but a
pound of salt.
The court looks confused.
"Take a look at page so-and-so of my appeal brief,"
Zenon says, and points the court to a page that
looks familiar: "... copyright infringement ...
taking into consideration that ... plaintiff
stated that ... in a ruling dated ..." The court
nods, they know this text. It is part of the
ruling of the previous court in Scientology versus
Panoussis, the ruling that is being appealed right
now. "Please read the text carefully," Zenon asks,
and is silent. The court raises an eyebrow and
reads. After a few seconds, more eyebrows are
raised. This text doesn't make any sense, it has
no head nor tail. It's plainly gibberish. The
judges look at one another, quizzed. "This text is
the result of a real paragraph of the ruling
having been mangled in the same way as the Monkey
NOTs that I filed and to which Scientology claims
copyright," Zenon explains. No reaction. "I wanted
to prove that Scientology claims copyright to any
text that contains a few of their phrases, so I
mangled a paragraph of the previous court's ruling
in order to demonstrate the scope of that claim.
Scientology claiming that the mangled NOTs are
theirs, amounts to this court accepting this
gibberish as a valid and legal ruling." Slowly,
things start falling in place. The one judge after
the other grabs the mangled NOTs, picks up the
mangled ruling and compares it to the actual
ruling, and they understand what has been going
on. Fuck. So this is what Scientology claims
copyright to? And they got a notary to confirm
We really need to investigate those claims, the
court thinks. You can see it on their faces.
Zenon sits back, happy. This is exactly what he
wanted to attain when he filed these mangled NOTs,
and Scientology fell into the trap that he had set
up for them. Point scored.
MAGNUSSON, SCIENTOLOGY'S ATTORNEY, coughs and
reassembles himself. He informs the court that he
has re-ordered the evidence that he has filed and
has created a new set of binders for the court.
Aides go up to the bench and to both parties, and
deposit ten new binders in front of all of them.
Zenon just got another ten kilos of paper thrown
into my lap.
Unbiased columnism is a series of court reports on the proceedings of Scientology versus Zenon Panoussis. This series covers the Jan 2001 sessions:
- Day 0, January 17: Poor guy versus multinational cult
- Day 1, January 18: Mangled material
- (Next:) Day 2, January 19: McShane compliments Zenon
- Day 3, January 22: Magnusson becomes helpful
- Day 4, January 23: Children's games
- Day 5 & 6, January 24-25: Unacceptable truths
- Day 7 & 8, January 26-27: Carrying water from the desert to the sea.
This series was preceeded by the May 1998 hearings in Zenon's case.
Copyright Karin Spaink.
This text is offered for private use only. Any
other use requires the author's written permission.