It is certainly something to think about. If Bob Minton and Mark Bunker had planned to picket Scientology in Los Angeles, and changed their mind to picket in Clearwater, that is one one thing. No big deal. People change their minds all the time.
On the other hand, if all the talk about an L.A. picket was an elaborate hoax perpetuated by critics to play a joke on Scientology, I suspect that in the long run, and possibly from a legal point of view, it will help Scientology lawyers should they choose to use it to their own advantage.
Also from the standpoint of the general public, using humor to play on people's weaknesses or as a tool of manipulation is not generally viewed by the general public as a good thing. After all, isn't one of the primary goals of the sincere critics here (opposed to the martin hunts that only yabber) is to court public opinion and to educate them on the truth & facts of the Scientology regime. Some might presume, given their limited knowledge of Scientology practices, that lying and perpetuating a hoax (if in fact it was a planned joke) is no worse than Scientologists who play the same game. Some many feel overjoyed in the fact that they had Scientologists upset & worried, but looking at the bigger picture, was it a constructive move?
We've seen this play out before with the original Cult Awareness Network. We can take the easy way out and blame everything on Scientology as just another example of the evil overtaking the bad, but the decisions that led to the destruction of CAN were legal ones, based on case law, and not determined by a court of public opinion. Regrettably, there were those that supported CAN that lived by the belief that their moral indignation was an infallible tool against the "evils of Scientology" and CAN attorneys spent years and alot of $$ believing that in the end, CAN would arise from the ashes as the hero. And where is the original CAN now?
Alot of time, effort and money has been invested in the Lisa McPherson investigation and bringing her tormentors to justice. This has been gained so far, but with a loss less potential consequences as those critics who believed the law would come crashing down on Scientology with a much more serious indictment. And after years of a police investigation, and determination of where to go with the case by the State Attorney's office, where is the case now? It is generally viewed by attorneys, I think, that the longer a case is dragged out, the less the potential for a favorable outcome (where does Scientology's constitutional right to a speedy trial apply here?)
I love humor and I enjoy playing jokes on people. But, I'm curious whether "playing a joke" in a public forum as is the Internet, serving a purpose in the long run? Consider the possibility that Scientology attorneys, whose staff monitor ARS 24/7, and has been shown to use ARS posts as evidence in legal proceedings, goes to court in the Lisa McPherson case as demonstrates that the forces at work pursuing this prosecution, are no more evil than they are. They might forward that after all, there's the evidence of lying, the perpetuation of acknowledged hoaxes, etc. etc.
This is not an indictment against Bob or Mark, or others that were involved in this joke; just something to think about. Much of Scientology's successes in the courts depended on the court's lack of education on the facts of what Scientology is truly all about. There successes in courting public opinion rests on the same ignorance. Some of the militant critics on ARS live with the false opinion that the majority shares their opines on Scientology, when, as a fact, their are millions of people who have never either heard of ARS, or pay any mind to it.
The propensity of Scientology's continued existence rests with the courts, not with the people honking their horns, yelling their support, when one pickets Scientology properties. If we don't start leading by example, and stop bickering and playing nanny-nanny-boo-boo games to achieve what is otherwise an honorable goal, then the result will play out with less that desirable results.
Take this for what it's worth. But remember that alot of honorable and worthy causes have been struck down in the past as a result of our court's interpretation of the facts laid before them, and Scientology, whether one chooses to accept it or not, has the upper hand in the U.S. because it has been legtimized by the government as an official "religion" with specific legal precedents protecting it's ability to "practice" it's religion.
Something to consider........