Scientology Apotheosis: Commenters of the Week!
Well, this was a week we've been looking forward to for some time here in the underground bunker. And now that we've finally finished our big countdown, there's a slight feeling of letdown here at Scientology-watching central. Even the cats are listless.
"How did we get left out of the countdown?"
But let's look back at a week that was. We started things out Saturday afternoon with the intriguing mystery of Biggi Reichert, a German Scientologist whose suicide left behind some interesting questions.
On Monday, we revealed #3 in our countdown, former high-level church executive Marty Rathbun. It proved a controversial choice, but we knew things would get even hotter when we reached the top of our list.
Later that day, we caught up with some interesting drama happening in San Francisco. Our sister paper, SF Weekly, is covering a hot story about a mole inside the SF org who says that he or she has been turned by the protests by Anonymous.
Wednesday was our countdown's big day. That morning, we revealed that David Miscavige was our choice for #2, and then only a couple of hours later named the Top Person Crippling Scientology -- the founder, the old man, the commodore himself, L. Ron Hubbard! Then, two hours later, we published the results of our readers poll, and Miscavige took back the crown, at least with our loyal readers.
Whew, what a day. Well, after all that excitement, we took a deep breath and then on Thursday did a roundup of other stories we'd had to ignore: a revealing look at Delphian, the elite Scientology high school in Oregon, and other interesting pieces.
And finally, yesterday we took another look at the intriguing San Francisco leaker, and this time asked Amy Scobee to interpret the information coming out of the SF org.
So while we continue to deal with our countdown hangover, let's go to the awards!
After we recited some of the facts in the strange death of Biggi Reichert, an OT VIII Scientologist, our comments section was thrown for a loop by the sarcastic stylings of Miles Biondo. Some of us, at least, recognized his entry for the brilliant satire that it was...
It's weird how being at Cause over Matter, Energy, Space and Time isn't enough to keep some people from killing themselves. Or perhaps she just dropped her body so she could continue her advanced OT work unencumbered by the human body's pathetic limitations. Either way, this is not $cientology's fault, because the Tech WORKS. Just look at the magnificent careers of Geoffrey Lewis, Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Alley, all of whom are sitting at the very pinnacle of Show Business, enjoying the spoils of their superhuman talents and Homo Novis abilities, as well as the great respect and admiration of their peers, and all because of $cientology. LRH!
Our countdown piece on Marty Rathbun inspired quite a lot of argument. Despite our efforts to make it plain that we were placing him #3 on the list purely for the threat he poses to the official Scientology, many commenters were angry because of Rathbun's history with the church. We thought this comment by xoxoxoxoxoxox captured best that sentiment:
Tony Ortega's portrait of Marty is heavily airbrushed. Marty is still, unfortunately, a victim of cult mind control. He still believes in Hubbard's "suppressive person" doctrine, and he still seeks to white-wash Hubbard so that he can tie objectionable features of scientology (RPF, disconnection, fair game, physical abuse) to Miscavige. Marty is doing good work in the fight against Miscavige and the "church" of scientology; but by lying about Hubbard and pushing the "tech" he's also working to perpetuate the evil of scientology.
On the other hand, there was this counterargument by regular reader and countdown resident Scott Pilutik:
Marty's war with DM is a good thing. Miscavige's abuses do need scrutiny and Marty is providing it to an extent no other person is presently capable of. Marty has effectively painted a huge target on his back. Miscavige should be concerned about any one of a hundred other problems in Scientology but instead he appears to be personally bent on destroying Marty (which Marty knows, and which serves to dictate how Marty operates). If this were a rational war, Miscavige might address the disaffection within his organization instead of Marty, but we've seen how Scientology defends itself, this should be no surprise. It's nevertheless lamentable that Marty is only #3 on this list. Not that I'm not arguing with where he finished; this is about right. But if Marty was more credible, he could've been a far greater threat--an actual legal threat--to Miscavige and the Church of Scientology. And because Marty, along with Mike Rinder, may have been the last of the possible great whistleblowers, we'll likely never see the organization taken down with a criminal investigation. The most realistic scenario we can hope for now is a slow death of financial paper cuts.
Wednesday morning, we named David Miscavige to the #2 position in the countdown. We couldn't help laughing out loud when we saw this comment, supposedly by DM's wife, Shelly Miscavige:
Can someone tell David he can let me out now! I've been locked up for years, I don't even know how long anymore! Heber Jentzsch is down here too and he's beginning to smell real bad!
The real fireworks of the week, however, went down at the post where we named L. Ron Hubbard the top dog in our countdown. At this point, there are more than 600 comments as independent Scientologists defend LRH from his critics.
First, we got a chuckle out of this comment by Peter:
The best thing the Church can do, from a PR standpoint, is to officially declare L Ron Hubbard a Suppressive Person.
Of the indies defending Hubbard, perhaps no one worked as feverishly as Margaret. We thought this comment was the best, most succinct announcement of her position:
"I hope the independent scilons read this and weep..." I only weep for those incapable of looking at Hubbard and Scientology from all sides. I find it sad that there are those stuck in these extremist views of "must love everything about Hubbard" and "must hate everything about Hubbard", creating a thought-stopping pattern which makes it impossible to understand why people find Scientology auditing and the basic philosophy of Scientology -- as created by Hubbard -- so useful, decades after Hubbard's death and/or their leaving the church.
The independents tended to say that Hubbard's notorious biographical fabrications were irrelevant, that his ideas about the mind were what mattered. We thought this was an interest challenge to that position, again by xoxoxoxoxoxox:
If Hubbard were a mathematician, or a nuclear physicist (ha), or a novelist, or a musician, or a footballer, the quality of his work would stand for itself and his character defects would be irrelevant to the evaluation of that work. But Hubbard was supposed to be a spiritual leader, to have made discoveries relevant for a process of self-transformation. The fact that he was unable to transform himself into a passably decent human being surely indicates the emptiness of his supposed discoveries in that field.
We thought BennyShackleford caught the general mood Wednesday evening, as many of us waited to see how Marty Rathbun would react to the Hubbard post:
I may actually read Marty's blog for the first time when he responds to this one. Or maybe he'll just instruct his followers to not read the list anymore. Great list, by the way.
And then we were overjoyed to see Marcotai show up and leave a lengthy comment. I immediately posted a comment, saying that now, with Marcotai's message, the countdown was truly finished. Fortunately, he responded:
"This series is now a thing for the ages" Yes, the ages of the apes.
I must thank LeeAnne Clarke for her quick response, which truly and finally wraps up the countdown, as well as our awards this week:
Marco, I think I love you. In a totally creepy way.
Thank you all! A programming note: I'm headed to LA and Orange counties in California for a week, but I should manage to do some posting. So keep those tips coming!
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]