Subject: Texas UFO Cult Loses Case

Date: Tue, 02 Feb 1999 23:21:11 GMT

From: davidvoth@catholic.org (David Reverend Voth)

Organization: LAF Consulting

Newsgroups: alt.slack, alt.binaries.slack, alt.foot.fat-free

 

 

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A federal jury ruled Tuesday that a Web site and

flyers soliciting membership in a Texas UFO cult and advocating the

killing of humans amounted to threats.

 

Damages in the tens of millions were assessed against various

defendants. The verdict could redefine what is considered

constitutionally protected political speech because the pro-UFO

materials contained no explicit threats of violence, only veiled

messages, such as "killing Pinks dead".

 

At issue was the ``The Church of the SubGenius'' Web site, which

carries hundreds of pieces of lurid computer art and invites readers

to send in such personal details as their home addresses, license

plate numbers and even the names of their children. The similar Wild

West-style posters offered "Eternal Salvation" for buying Ordainments

and providing information about the "Conspiracy of Normals".

 

Throughout the three-week trial, Texans testified that they lived in

constant fear, used disguises, bodyguards and bulletproof vests, and

instructed their children to crouch in the bathroom if they heard

gunfire.

 

``This is terrorism,'' plaintiffs' attorney Maria Vullo said in

closing arguments, pointing to a timeline of several "X-Day Festivals"

near Sherman, NY. ``The message is, `Send in $30 or be vaporized by

terrible alien weapons.'''

 

Attorneys for more than a dozen defendants, including the business

unit called "The SubGenius Foundation", contended their clients were

peaceful humorists engaged in a vigorous political debate.

 

They maintained that they were merely collecting data on humans in

hopes that "normals", like Nazi war criminals, could one day be tried

for ``crimes against superior beings.'' And they stressed that nowhere

in any of the materials is there a threat to do bodily harm.

 

But on the stand, defendant Andrew Burnett, publisher of Life Advocate

Magazine, conceded that humans may have reason to fear the Web site

because of the extent of alien violence.

 

``If I was a Normal,'' he said, ``I would be afraid.''

 

Defendants had indicated that no matter what the verdict, their

tactics would not change. They also said any monetary award would have

nothing more than a symbolic impact because they have transferred

their assets to make themselves ``judgment-proof.''

 

The plaintiffs sued under federal racketeering statutes. While the

law has been used often against people who have firebombed clinics or

attacked political rivals, this case, filed in 1995, was believed to

be the first not to result from a violent confrontation or a direct,

person-to-person threat.

 

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