To Housh’s attorney, Elizabeth Duffy, his conduct was “plainly within the First Amendment protections.” LaCasse counters: “They make noise, they play loud music, and they encourage passing motorists to honk their horns by holding up signs that say ‘Honk If You Hate Scientology.’ This week was Yom Kippur — what do you think the reaction would have been if Gregg Housh took a sign that said ‘Honk If You Hate Jews’ and stood in front of a synagogue in Brookline? It is not just protesting. It is not free speech. It is criminal conduct.”
Housh is not the only Anon to face Scientology’s litigation tactics. A Los Angeles protester named Sean Carasov spent 10 hours behind bars and more than $5000 fighting charges that stemmed from CoS complaints — he further claims that someone from the church near his East Hollywood home poisoned his cat. Unlike Housh, Carasov has no idea how he was outed.
Having had legitimate organizational experience in the real-life work force as a record-industry veteran who has worked closely with the Clash and the Beastie Boys, Carasov took an unofficial leadership role with the SoCal Anons early on. In addition to the monthly protests, he and another since-outed dissident named Gareth Alan Cales orchestrated “mini raids” just to remind the CoS that they were still out there. One such incident took place on March 11, but without Cales there to tame him, Carasov — a self-described “ex-soccer hooligan who likes a punch up every now and then” — heaved a torrent of insults at camcorder-wielding Scientologists. Two days later, the CoS posted the video (ironically on YouTube) exposing his identity. Four days later, at the second official Anonymous protest, he was arrested for making felony criminal threats for his actions of March 11. The charges were ultimately dropped for lack of evidence, but for reasons including, as he contends, his fear of covert CoS tactics, Carasov has since hung up his mask.
“This fucking thing punched a big hole in my life,” says Carasov. “We all knew they were crazy, but we didn’t think they could get away with this shit. I almost have a grudging respect — it’s part of the game. We fucked with them, and they fucked me in the ass. Plus, they only recruit rich people into the church anyway, and I fucking hate rich people. If they’re stupid enough to go there in the first place, then why should I help them?”
Housh reacts differently, even though the CoS has (admittedly) sent investigators to follow him, and even though his legal woes have no end in sight. Between rallies, he helps maintain whyweprotest.net — a dynamic hub for all things Anonymous that boasts a 400,000-person e-mail list — and consults for other anti-CoS sites, including exscientologykids.com, which is operated by three church defectors, including Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige. In September, two new charges were brought against Housh — for disturbing the peace and disturbing religious worship. So far, the case has passed through the hands of four different Boston Municipal Court judges, with three charges remaining intact.