Scientology Sea Org model
ashamed of picture
demands that we take it off our site

A few months ago, we published an article from the French monthly Le Monde Diplomatique describing the support given by the US government to the operations of certain US-based multinationals, including Scientology.

This article was appropriately illustrated by the picture of a member of Scientology's "Sea Org" in full uniform. The "Sea Org" is the hard core of Scientology militants, who sign a "billion year contract" engaging themselves to serve the organization unreservedly. The Sea Org uniform is modelled on that of the US navy.

The picture was published on Internet and on several printed publications, and of course the person who posed for it wanted publicity, and got it.

Recently, we received a letter from the law firm Fabrizio D'Agostini, Livia Morone and Luigino Zanella of Turin, Italy, saying that the person portrayed, a gentleman from Arlington, Virginia, USA, wanted his picture taken off, since it supposedly damages his reputation and appears in a "negative" context (no further explanation given of what that meant).

This picture was obviously not taken secretly. The model posed for it knowing that it would be published, so he can hardly complain about the fact that it actually was published. Apart from that, the legal arguments that Mr D'Agostini offered in support of his client's demand for removal are so weak, that they do not even deserve to be called arguments. Among others, Mr D'Agostini bases his client's demand on the code of conduct of a certain ISP branch organisation; a code that only applies to members of that organisation, is not mandatory even for them and, nota bene, does not contain any provision to support Mr D'Agostini's demands. Apart from that, should the model proceed to sue us, he would need to convince the court that being associated with Scientology is damaging to one's reputation. Now, that would be an interesting case to lose.

So the gentleman has no legal leg to stand on. However, he does have a moral one. No one should be obliged to pay all his life for having made a fool of himself once. We fully understand and appreciate his embarrassment.

On the other hand, the illustration is perfect from a journalist's point of view. Therefore, the picture stays. At the same time, we believe everybody should have the opportunity to live a free life, without having to pay for mistakes committed in the past. So we have masked the model's face. We agree he has every right to distance himself from Scientology and the Sea Org, even if this might mean breaching a "billion year contract". After all, we at least do not believe such contracts should be binding on anybody.

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