Scientology Freakout: Commenters of the Week!
Things just keep rolling along here at Runnin' Scared's fortified underground bunker, where we keep an eye on all things Scientology while waiting for the invading Marcabian fifth fleet. It's been another eventful week!
"You'll know the Marcabians by their atom bombs and fedora hats, dear."
We started things off Sunday with more coverage from Corpus Christi, Texas, where Scientology's goon squad surveilling Marty Rathbun defended its creepy practices by saying it's making a "documentary." On Monday, Independence Day, we ruminated on how many Scientologists there actually are in the world.
On Tuesday, freaky sojourning spirit Antoine Oman returned to discuss Scientology in the 60s with a far out Roger Weller. On Wednesday, we wondered how desperate a journalist needs to be to do Scientology's dirty work. That night, we witnessed a remarkable scene at Janet Reitman's first book appearance, and wrote about it the next day.
And yesterday, well it was a big day. We uncorked a sizable piece about secret church documents that outlined a creepy OSA covert operation against former Scientologist Marc Headley. And we had a fun piece about Pfizer protesters who asserted, Tom Cruise Not a Kook!
Naturally, our readers contributed their own excellent observations. And so, on with the awards...
And this week, we just had to expand things to reflect the ingenuity and wit our readers are bringing to the Runnin' Scared blog.
We'll start with our Monday post, "Scientologists: How Many Of Them Are There, Anyway?"
From the critical side of the aisle, we got a chuckle out of this jab from "SFF":
I have read Dianetics, though I got it from the library. Does this make me a Scientologist?
By the rubric that the church uses to claim "millions" of members, cracking a copy of Dianetics at your local library is all it takes to join the multitude!
But Scientology defender "Hollywood223" was ready to give us an uppercut right back:
Hi, Tony. Don't you have something else to do like instead of staying stuck on this subject forever?! I don't know?! Just be happy and enjoy your life!!
Well, we appreciate the concern. But if we weren't chasing down more stories on Scientology, how would we get back this ear-to-ear grin?
Tuesday's "Hip Scientology" piece by Antoine Oman really broke loose a lot of great comments about Roger Weller's 1960's journey. Here are two of our favorites. First, by a regular friend of Runnin' Scared, Mark Stark:
I can understand why 60's hippies wanted to get off the drugs 'n' crabs train and try Sciloontology. Even today, I see why people might get drawn in because of it being a counterculture. That sometimes appears fascinating and relatively safe. (Safer than crack or suicide.) One girl joined in NYC because she saw Anonymous protesting it, and thought it had to be really special if it were being protested, like it needed her support as an underdog religion. She woke up, though. It was the pressure for money and some other things. I'm sure everyone remembers her story from the New York Post. Some people feel weird, confused but adventurous and Scientology is weird and often made fun of so they identify with it maybe? Of course, for me, it always had a red flags and sirens quality about it. The cult survived for 60 years by being secretive and ambiguous, and specializing in people's individual "ruin." Those were its strong points. Selling secrets and appearing to have all the answers. When the veil is lifted by the web, what do they really having going for them? Empty promises, a scam.
And this one by well-known former Scientologist and church critic Chuck Beatty:
Hubbard paid a slight tribute to Roger Weller. In one of his tape lectures, Hubbard tells a sort of joke to his audience, and says, I paraphrase "....and Roger was smoking Dianetics....." Someone hopefully will clip that lecture, and put it on YouTube, the part about Roger smoking Dianetics. Thanks, Roger. Great sharing of some cultural history. I had a johnny-come-later similar experience, much watered down, but rather than do a summer of acid, I went searching and fell into the Scientology world for 3 decades, 1 decade more than you, sheesh! At least you stopped smoking that Dianetics! Good for you, Roger!
Thursday's story about the scene at Janet Reitman's reading the night before produced this astute pair of comments, the first by church defender Sandra Gortez:
Janet Reitman attempted to write a definitive book about Scientology. Well, Scientology auditing is an integral part of the Scientology experience and yet, Janet Reitman never underwent one on one auditing? I fear that this lack of factual awareness of that which she was writing about is a sustained problem throughout the book. She simply did not fully know or comprehend what she was writing about. I'm afraid that people who read this book and assume it is fact, will be in error, and that is where the author let them down.
The second is by church critic "Brussell1000":
Janet's book should help the Indie movement, because they are primarily rebelling against the authoritarian nature of organized Scientology. I don't believe LRH's BS, but as long as Marty and his group don't lie, cheat or otherwise abuse their members he can believe whatever he wants. Miscavige is utterly incapable of saving his dying empire and we should all be grateful to the Indies for helping to make that happen.
Yesterday's stories produced two more comments we liked. The first, by former Scientologist Mark Fisher, related his own experiences after seeing our story about the secret OSA documents laying out a spying program against Marc Headley:
This type of stuff has been going on for years. OSA and Scientology were spying on myself and my friends who were all former high ranking Scientology Executives and Messengers for LRH after we left for good 21 years ago. We moved to Las Vegas to start our lives over and start a mortgage business and within a few months, David Lubow (the main Private Eye harassing Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder today) was hired by us as an employee and became our "friend," all the time reporting up our activities to DM and OSA. He even did our tax returns the first year I was out, having gotten a job part time at a tax preparers office. This was followed up in 1998 through 2009 by Scientology having another person pose as my friend, all the time reporting up on what I was doing. All of this was documented in the St. Petersburg Times "Truth Rundown" series under "What Happened in Vegas." All during this time, we had not spoken out or testified or anything. DM just wanted to know what we were doing and wanted to make sure we didn't testify in litigation like the Lisa McPherson trial. As you mention, Tony, you don't see the Catholic Church or any other Church for that matter doing such a thing.
And finally, we enjoyed this balanced comment by "Sarah K" in regards to our story about the "Tom Cruise Is No Kook" protest at the Pfizer building:
The protesters should have had another sign saying "Tom Cruise is not glib." By the way -- I think that it was a perfectly legitimate protest over a death of a young adult who took his own life. Obviously there is no way of proving that he killed himself because he took anti-depressants in the first place, or because he didn't take enough of them. But what bothers me in this story is the CCHR vulture culture -- they just jump in every time when there is a disaster or a personal tragedy, trying to promote their own goals at the expense of the real victims.
What a week! A hearty thank you to our readers. Your comments make this a real discussion. And just wait until you see what we have cooking for this next week!
Click here to see all recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle'
The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists -- How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller's Wild Ride -- Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration -- A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed