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Battling Scientology

Anonymous's Gregg Housh is committed to bringing down the Church of Scientology. Is he a gadfly or a goon?
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  October 23, 2008


Photos: Anonymous protest against Church of Scientology, Boston, MA, October 11, 2008. By Matt Teuten.
In a world wracked with uncertainty, there is at least one thing you can bet on: pick a fight with the Church of Scientology (CoS), and its leaders will fight back — always with vigor, often with a vengeance, and sometimes with litigation that can be long and costly.

The idea of locking legal horns with the CoS might be enough to cool the ardor of some critics. But that is not Gregg Housh’s style. Housh, an Internet activist and provocateur, is not an easy guy to characterize. A member of a group that calls itself “Anonymous,” Housh is pitted in what appears to be an escalating rift with the CoS. Core constitutional issues such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion are central to the dispute.

Almost 10 months ago, Housh helped launch a protest group that he now describes as the world’s fastest-growing grassroots movement (mobilizing several thousand people in less than one month). The group formed as a response to the removal of a video from YouTube and other sites that featured Tom Cruise describing CoS doctrines and principles. From a few simple mouse clicks, a mighty battle has grown.

Housh is himself a rather casual, almost random sort of activist. A seventh-grade dropout, devout atheist, and proud computer troll, he claims to loathe all political parties equally, and could give a damn about Greenpeace, PETA, or any other picket-happy causes. In fact, had the CoS not “messed” with what he thinks of as his Internets, Housh would probably be wasting his spare time sparking Web mischief instead of dedicating approximately 40 hours every week to Anonymous, his now infamously masked group, whose mission seems to be toying with L. Ron Hubbard’s minions.

Born in Dallas in 1976, Housh deserted middle school to pursue technological endeavors. He’s been a hacker, a programmer, and a hardware technician, leaving one city for another every time he got bored and found an attractive new job offer. In 2002, he moved from the Florida Keys to Boston for a gig in financial analytics, but quit after finding cubicle life to be impossibly tedious. He still lives in the Boston area and still works with computers (his current job is one of two things he won’t discuss, the other being the three months he served in federal prison for copyright infringement via software piracy), but Housh is hardly blinging off the Commonwealth’s supposed tech boom. On January 21 — the day he and four other Anonymous members (or Anons, as they call themselves) posted their “Message to Scientology” video on YouTube — he reports having had just $144 in the bank. Less than one year later, he describes his account as negative-$1400 and plummeting.

Since the CoS successfully pursued criminal complaints against him this past March, Housh has endured 10 pre-trial dates for charges including harassment and disturbing the peace. You might think a guy who’s inundated with litigation would step off, or, at least, avoid exacerbating his legal predicament and feud with the well-endowed CoS by spilling to any and all inquiring reporters. But Housh is like Cool Hand Luke (without the chiseled abs), a quixotic figure who, perhaps against his better judgment, has refused to back down. The first time the Phoenix contacted him for this profile, he stated, quite seriously: “The more they come at me, the more I’m going right back at these fuckers.”

UNCOVERED: Church of Scientology officials obtained Housh’s identity from a Boston protest permit. He’s been charged with harassment and disturbing the peace.

Speech? or disturbing the peace?
Today, on October 11, Housh can’t join his associates to rally outside the CoS’s Boston property for the ninth Anonymous protest in nine months — due to a restraining order set by the Boston Municipal Court, he’s forbidden to walk within 100 yards of the church building at 448 Beacon Street. But that doesn’t stop him from participating: at 11:30 am, he emerges from the Hynes Convention Center MBTA stop with a dozen other Anons, most of whom are dressed as zombies in what they say is homage to CoS members who either died under questionable circumstances or committed suicide. The jovially raucous group parades down Newbury Street, then hangs a left down Hereford Street chanting “Scientology kills,” effectively shattering Back Bay’s tree-lined tranquility and gaining the attention of any and all passers-by.

After Housh makes plans to reunite with the group later near Boston University, his accomplices join about 30 other Anons who are already outside the CoS building wielding literature and signs. These costumed pranksters have a singular goal, which, according to an October 4 Anonymous press release, is to expose “the illegal and immoral behavior of the Church of Scientology.” Their oak tags read: “Ron Is Gone But the Con Lives On,” “Honk If You Oppose Scientology,” and various slogans alleging that the CoS shatters families and financially fleeces its members.

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Re: Battling Scientology
 Marblecake 3.0 much?
By anon_nypa on 10/15/2008 at 9:45:23
Re: Battling Scientology
To the legal department of the Cult of $cientology.....don't be adding any of my activites as Anonymous to those of Mr. Housh.  We are leaderless and thus he isn't responsible for the group in its entirety! This article implies that Anonymous is somehow Mr. Housh's group and therefore he is responsible for Anonymous as a whole.  Wrong!  I yam what I yam and I am Anonymous.  
By anonymom17 on 10/15/2008 at 11:15:55
Re: Battling Scientology
To the legal department of the Cult of $cientology.....don't be adding any of my activites as Anonymous to those of Mr. Housh.  We are leaderless and thus he isn't responsible for the group in its entirety! This article implies that Anonymous is somehow Mr. Housh's group and therefore he is responsible for Anonymous as a whole.  Wrong!  I yam what I yam and I am Anonymous. Oh yeah.  Great job Boson Anons.  You're the best!  
By anonymom17 on 10/15/2008 at 11:16:25
."Church" of Scientology
Dear Mr. Faraone           It certainly takes guts to critcize/fight these people. A quality which i do not have.  I had been a member for a short time about thirty years ago. They have a 'communications course', but try to communicate your criticism and see what happens. Example:            When i was in a mall, i made a snide remark to the 'Hubbard Dianetics'. When they called mall security. I just walked away. So this fellow and yound girl, who were Scientologists, took my photo with a cell phone. Like i want to be identified. and harrassed on their enemies list.  They needed a closeup. Uncharacteristically, i was close enough to knock the cellphone out of his hands. By the way i was eating a cup of ice cream at the time. So...i found myself battling the fellow for the cell phone. I swear, i couldn't make this up, he had me in a bear hug.  I got the blankety blank cell phone and threw it. He went to retrieve the pieces. While she called security...By then i dropped my ice cream . And was able to succeed in running, as faast as ever.  Over the bridge/yellow brick road/ to total freedom from Harassment. Its a free country with freedom of speech and of "religion". ......True story.     
By blackie on 10/16/2008 at 6:44:39
Re: Battling Scientology
Greg Housh is a bit like what the article stated, "Paul Revere and web savvy."  It's too bad this organization, a so-called church, outed him and they no doubt have started yet another long, litigous bullying campaign against him. People -- read more of these articles, see comments posted like the one above by "blackie" and then so some research.  The best way is to watch videos (available everywhere) made by ex-Scientologists, made by main-stream media, made by long time critics, and made by Anonymous.  They all have tried to educate us masses for years!  [Know who keeps trying to suppress these videos?  You got it.  $cientology spends a lot of time and money suppressing Freedom of Speech.]   Mr. Housh is a bit like Paul Revere.  We should all listen to what is being said.
By Wendy T. on 10/16/2008 at 8:06:53
Re: Battling Scientology
Obviously I am not _really_ Gregg's real time brother, if he even haz a real 1. If Gregg Housh knows 2 swim an ocean, my door will be open, though. *chuckles* This troll giggles about cu*t's & cocks.
By Gregg_s brother on 10/16/2008 at 1:18:11
Dicks Everywhere!
// L.A. dicks greet Boston dicks. 
By lisadork on 10/16/2008 at 2:39:33
I'll just leave this here:
Gregg likes to make believe that he was responsible for Napster, coded some kind of super virus that infected millions of computers, killed a man, was 2nd in the Nintendo World Championships and gets really pissed off if you ask him about Snowmobile. This is all truth. Also, he knowingly and willfully entered the church and got slapped with the admittedly shaky charges. And he's been begging Anons for cash ever since. For a guy who's supposedly 1400 in the whole, he sure had no problem taking Anons to the movies. l2matyr.Shout out to my homies in #bostonlaid keep it trill dis ya boi AnonHero signing out.
By Senator Faggot on 10/16/2008 at 9:38:23
Sick and Sad
Let's see...we've got Wall Street shredding docs so its executives don't go to jail where they belong, politicians who defend and protect the mortgage moguls, people losing family homes in every neighborhod in the USA, hospitals that kill ten thousand people a year from misdiagnosis and wrong prescriptions, certain sports that kill, brain- or spine-damage a hundred people a year, police brutality, selective enforcement and all-white juries that put African Americans in jail at twice the rate they deserve per later DNA testing, rampant discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace and professional sports, and a US military that's rapidly going Dominion Christian so even defense-minded Jews and Muslims are discriminated against, physically harassed and made to pull the extra-dirty jobs.  And Anonymous is doing exactly what about these issues? Oh, yeah! They're protesting a church. Yes, that's right in the thick of America's priorities. Hack on, party dudes! It's certainly better and easier than finding some real cause to work for.   
By ThePresence on 10/19/2008 at 5:37:18
re: ThePresence
"Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo." - H.G. Wells P.S. 
By anonymiz on 10/20/2008 at 10:23:30
Living la vida Anonymous
Because on the Internets, even the dangerously deluded and misguided have a right to be heard (Freedom of Speeeeech !)
By LocoAnono1 on 10/21/2008 at 11:50:17
Re: Battling Scientology
I am no fan of Scientology's use of non-profit tax exemptions on behalf of a relentlessly profit-oriented business model, even less of their abusive litigiousness.  Nevertheless, Anonymous's tactics are ineffective, even harmful.  (1)  Masks have shameful associations in US political culture, from the Ku Klux Klan to modern left-wing extremists.  (2)  Trespassing and disruption of events on private property are likely to generate sympathy for the target.
(Para#2)  Better would be to campaign for legal reforms, eg. making those (including lawyers) who file frivolous lawsuits (or any kind of lawsuit against First Amendment speech) fully liable for the defense costs of their victims.
By hcunningham on 10/22/2008 at 11:20:46
Re: Battling Scientology
There is truth and there are lies. Scientology has a foundation of lies. I should know., I was deceived by them for over 18 years. I am out and I am blessed to be alive. The facts is, we don't always know the ways of God but we do know that when things are not right, something must be done to rectify it.  In my estimation, Gregg is a God send and I am forever grateful for his sacrifice for the many current and former victims of this cult, my self included.
By Mary McConnell on 10/25/2008 at 1:04:26

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