Ix-Nay on the Ult-Cay


Is Scientology a cult or a religion? I've long been suspicious of the distinction, which seems to be more a matter of time than anything else. But at least one British teenager thinks the answer is "cult," which is too bad for him, because that's the answer that gets you a summons from City of London police for violating the Public Order Act. Section 5 of the act prohibits the use of "threatening, abusive or insulting words…within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby." The punishment for violators is "a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale." Prior to a May 10 protest at the Church of Scientology's London headquarters, police warned that use of the c-word would not be tolerated. But there it was on the kid's sign, which he refused to remove upon being "strongly advised" to do so. A leading civil libertarian told the Guardian "this barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain's free speech traditions."

[Thanks to Lee Gibson for the tip.]