Scientology Dumpster-Dive: Commenters of the Week!
For our longtime, loyal readers and commenters (of all persuasions), I just want to say how much I appreciate your continued interest in things we're doing here at the underground bunker. This week, we got a huge influx of new folks as our stories went somewhat viral, but naturally, it was the OG friends of Runnin' Scared who tended to post the most memorable sayings and salutations.
Clearing the planet, one dumpster at a time
Things started, of course, with Sunday morning's big bombshell, when Marty Rathbun made public an OSA document describing a 2006 investigation of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Fortunately, that morning, I happened to be spending some time online, and spotted Rathbun's post within minutes of his putting it up. I called him for a quick quote, and then put up my own story, beating any other press by most of the day.
By the next morning, more than a hundred news organizations around the world were on the story, but by then I had up our second story, and this time with OSA documents only we were in possession of.
On Tuesday, we dissected a reaction to the South Park story by church spokeswoman Karin Pouw, which was typically inept.
OSA documents are one thing. It was outside confirmation we were really looking for, and we got it the next day, on Wednesday, when we posted an interview with Troma Studios founder Lloyd Kaufman. Lloyd confirmed that in 2006, his old Yale buddy, Scientologist Eric Sherman, did hit him up for information about Parker and Stone.
On Thursday, we checked in with Mark Ebner, who himself was targeted by OSA after working on the 2005 "Trapped in the Closet" episode. He learned about that through another document leaked by Rathbun, and Ebner tells us the document checks out fully.
That afternoon, we posted our weekly "Thursday 2pm Stats" roundup, which included reports about Mike Rinder in Ireland, a new outburst from "EthicsTrouble" in SF, and a new smear of Wise Beard Man.
On Friday, we had a real treat: Mark Chauppetta, a private investigator, told us that he not only had worked for Scientology in 2006, during the time of the South Park operation, but that he had done plenty of trash digging for the church. He's quite a character.
Well, that was a pretty big week. And our commenters did not let us down. Let's get to the awards...
On Sunday, when news of the South Park investigation broke, we watched in amazement as it caught fire around the country. Our servers were heating up, other news organizations were jumping on it, the cats here in the underground bunker were diving for cover, and then we saw this reaction from Runnin' Scared favorite, Dennis Erlich:
Duh. This is news to anybody?
Nice wet blanket there, Dennis. Fortunately, the rest of the country did not appear to agree with you, friend! As the story grew legs, the wisecracks started to come in. We enjoyed this zinger by regular commenter Miles Biondo:
Sometimes being the Most Ethical Organization on the Planet means going through people's garbage in an effort to utterly ruin them. It's complicated, and difficult for the wog mind to grasp. Just keep reminding yourself: There's no way Tom Cruise would be up to his eyelids in this stuff if it wasn't ultimately for the benefit of mankind.
Church defender Marcotai then showed up and attempted to derail the discussion. I'm not going to quote our foreign friend here -- come on Marco, hit us with something relevant, will you? -- but we did enjoy it when Scientia hit back with this beauty:
Marcotai, is it okay for your church to rifle through the rubbish of Messrs. Parker and Stone, to investigate and infiltrate their circle of friends, to try and find something that can be used to influence/intimidate them just so a cartoon (yes, a cartoon) won't make fun of you? Seriously. Is that acceptable use of public donations? Is that appropriate behaviour for a religious organisation, supposedly "the most ethical group on the planet"? What do you have to say for yourself?
Alas, the church supporters were disappointing this week. On Monday, we posted our second big story on the South Park investigation, and we got a kick out of this reaction from regular reader Endscientologynow:
And Tom Cruise STILL endorses this shit. Do any of the celebrities actually own a computer and read the news, or are they as dumb as they appear? I just don't understand how it is possible that these celebrities don't have relatives or someone they cannot fire try to tell them the truth.
Many seemed to share the sentiments of Xenu after reading about Parker and Stone being targeted by the church:
This is gonna make a GREAT South Park episode!
The next day, Scientology's Karin Pouw put out an official response attacking a former member as an "apostate." Rather than let it lie there, we took the time to take apart her statement to show how inept it was. That inspired a comment by Anon A:
Poor Karin -- I have to wonder if each person who gets "promoted" to the position of new CoS spokesperson looks at the fate of the last CoS spokesperson and starts secretly sweating. Make your escape plan now, Karin - you don't have to end up in "The Hole" like the others!
We also liked the satire in this post from Brainslugged:
Can everyone please stop attacking this church just because their central tenets involve rooting through people's trash, destroying lives and lying to anyone they haven't brainwashed into doing their bidding. Religious persecution! WHAT ARE YOUR CRIMES?
And some of us were especially delighted to see a response from Norway's Geir Isene, a former OT VIII who generated a lot of online buzz when he declared recently his complete separation from Scientology in any form:
This is an intelligent dissection of Pouw's reply. Finally there is media taking an official CoS response apart paragraph by paragraph is such a skillful manner. Thanks.
Hey, we're just thankful that Runnin' Scared has become a crossroads for such interesting people from around the world.
After indie filmmaking legend Lloyd Kaufman gave us confirmation that he had been pumped for information on Parker and Stone (just as the OSA documents described), we enjoyed this comment by NCSP:
Good for him! Loyal to his friend but honest about what happened. And vulgar as always! Tom Cruise should be so lucky.
Our story on Mark Ebner included a characteristic jab at Tom Cruise from the inimitable journalist, and inspired this comment by Runnin' Scared regular MarkStark:
Ebner has been spreading the rumor that Cruise is heterosexual for years. It's scandalous and absolutely disgusting!
The piece also inspired this rather amazing reaction from ThetaManisKing, and I don't think anyone has been able to decide for certain if ThetaMan is an elaborate troll or a really hysterically upset Scientologist:
I am so upset, I have been told about this en-theta being written en-mass.I am so distraught! why are so many good Americans buying into this Ortaga [sic] guy?? I am a full time 100% hatted Scientologist. What I see here is just grotesque. I was told "DO NOT VISIT RUNNING SCARED" and WOW now I see why!!. So many Religious Hypocrites and bigots under one roof, its amazing that you all have not killed each-other with all your hatred. What is it about my religion that you don't understand?? its not that difficult!! We have a complete set of religious tenants that we believe in, just like YOU, or any other religion. My faith is NO different than YOURS and you clowns know it.
Hey, Theta, if you're going to abuse me, at least spell my name right. Sheesh.
Friday's story about private investigator Mark Chauppetta inspired some general dread of the man and the work that he does. We liked this comment from regular reader Jgg:
Has anyone gone through Scientology's trash?
And finally, we're going to end on a reaction to our reporting by CofS Exit Zone:
ZOMG!!! Now that's my kind of SCOOP! My world, haz been rocked for the week. Dirty tissues in the trash can and all. (fans self) Whew!!
It's, uh, satisfying to hear that our stories are affecting people so viscerally.
Anyway, this was really a remarkable week, and our thanks again go out to our loyal readers, who make this daily grind so fun. Even more about South Park is coming soon, and we expect you'll be right there with the zingers and quips.
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?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
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]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]
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]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]
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?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
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!]