The London police, evidently dissatisfied with the speed at which the United Kingdom's libel laws are destroying the ancient English liberty of free speech, have brought an interesting test case.
They're prosecuting a fifteen year old defendant for describing the Church of Scientology as a "Cult."
Per The Guardian:
The incident happened during a protest against the Church of Scientology on May 10. Demonstrators from the anti-Scientology group, Anonymous, who were outside the church's £23m headquarters near St Paul's cathedral, were banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult by police because it was "abusive and insulting".
Writing on an anti-Scientology website, the teenager facing court said: "I brought a sign to the May 10th protest that said: 'Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.'
"'Within five minutes of arriving I was told by a member of the police that I was not allowed to use that word, and that the final decision would be made by the inspector."
A policewoman later read him section five of the Public Order Act and "strongly advised" him to remove the sign. The section prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.
The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" which was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous".
After the exchange, a policewoman handed him a court summons and removed his sign.
There's no word as to whether the late Justice Latey, who also described Scientology in terms like "grimly reminiscent of the ranting and bullying of Hitler and his henchmen" will be dug up and tried in turn.
The website Dictionary.com defines "cult" as, in part:
1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies…
5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
7. the members of such a religion or sect.
8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.
All of which are true of Scientology. The problem isn't that they're prosecuting or suing people for stating defensible opinion in the United Kingdom. They went beyond that long ago. Now it's a crime to tell the truth, if the truth offends someone.
Oh, there's just one more thing:
The City of London police came under fire two years ago when it emerged that more than 20 officers, ranging from constable to chief superintendent, had accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology.
The City of London Chief Superintendent, Kevin Hurley, praised Scientology for "raising the spiritual wealth of society" during the opening of its headquarters in 2006.
Last year a video praising Scientology emerged featuring Ken Stewart, another of the City of London's chief superintendents, although he is not a member of the group.
Dictionary.com defines "Bribe" as:
1. money or any other valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behavior of a person, esp. in that person's performance as an athlete, public official, etc.