Yes, you read that headline correctly and no, I am not joking. According to the information revealed thanks to a freedom of Information request, Scotland Yard was worried that British fans of Star Trek might turn against society. This was tracked as part of a file called UFO New Religious Movements (NRMs) And The Millennium. In addition to Star Trek they were also worried about people who watch shows like X-Files, Dark Skies, Roswell, Millennium and The Lawnmower Man.
I already knew that I was being monitored by US Intelligence agencies thanks to my reading and occasionally writing for the Linux Journal. In case you are wondering if I have become insane or paranoid. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that is not the case. This is based on the information revealed in the recent intelligence leaks and was covered on various sites and articles :
While that is troubling in itself, even more troubling to readers on this site is that linuxjournal.com has been flagged as a selector! DasErste.de has published the relevant XKEYSCORE source code, and if you look closely at the rule definitions, you will see linuxjournal.com/content/linux* listed alongside Tails and Tor. According to an article on DasErste.de, the NSA considers Linux Journal an “extremist forum”.
Now, thanks to my love for Star Trek and X-Files I guess I must reconcile myself to being tracked by Scotland Yard as well. I did find it really interesting that Star Wars fans are not part of the potential threats they monitor. Could it be because the person who implemented this tracking was a Star Wars fan and was taking the Star Trek vs the Star Wars argument to a whole new level? That is the only reason that could possibly explain why anyone thought this was a good idea. I mean sure fans of these shows are vocal, enthusiastic and sometimes very disturbing (Try searching for Star Trek Slash Fic if you have a strong stomach for some really weird stuff. Fair warning though, the material you will get back is for adult audiences and just plain weird at times.). However that being said it is not correct to classify them as a cult and start tracking the members as if they did something wrong by liking the wrong show.
From the article:
But the police feared British fans of the cult American show might boldly go a little too far one day.
It has emerged that Scotland Yard kept a secret dossier on Star Trek, The X-Files, and other US sci fi shows amid fears that British fans would go mad and kill themselves, turn against society or start a weird cult.
The American TV shows Roswell and Dark Skies and the film The Lawnmower Man were also monitored to protect the country from rioting and cyber attacks.
I have this mental image of a spy/program monitoring all websites/conferences where Star Trek is discussed, items/props sold or just links to these kind of sites. Once you visit this site, you are automatically added to a database of potential troublemakers and if you actually buy something then you get a higher grade. The more you buy and the more involved you are in fandom the higher your perceived threat level gets.
If the people of the world insist on being idiotic, then there is nothing I can do to stop them. Unfortunately these are the folks in power so they can cause a lot of damage by creating these fictional enemies. I will end this post with the following quote taken from a book by one of my favorite authors (Mercedes Lackey) which is really relevant here :
When those in power intend to abuse that power, they look to an outside enemy in order to trick their people into pressing the means to their own abuse into the hands of the abusers. If an enemy does not exist, it will be manufactured, and all manner of horrors attributed to it, so that anyone who demands truth and accountability is set upon as being unpatriotic. And so that, when someone said to be an enemy is found, there will be few questions asked about guilt or innocence, and many faces averted when he is taken away.
We are setting ourselves up for disaster, stop turning your faces away… Else you soon will be saying “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”.