Scientology Effervescence: Commenters of the Week!
Here in the underground bunker, this was something of a strange week. While enduring a middling but annoying cold, we tried to get back in the swing of things after a week out of town. And while things started a bit slow, by Friday this had turned into one slammin' sevenday.
Then on Wednesday, we turned up the heat with the first part of our story on a stunning case of Scientology "Fair Game," a harassment campaign against an inventor who has come up with a machine that produces bacteria-free ice.
On Thursday, we continued our regular series, Thursday 2pm Stats!, with a look at several items, including my friend Ray Stern's eye-opening expose of the Phoenix "Ideal Org," which was the cover story this week for Phoenix New Times.
Later that afternoon, we revealed the surprising news that Scientology's Freedom propaganda magazine has assigned its ace reporter, Jim Lynch, to probe us! Ouch!
And yesterday, we doubled down on the "clean ice" story with even more infuriating detail about how Scientology appears determined to ruin a business bringing life-saving technology to market.
So let's get on to the awards...
Readers were sympathetic to Lori Hodgson, whose two children "disconnected" from her after she left the church but their father stayed in. But then we read an equally gut-punching story from regular reader Kate Bornstein:
My daughter is 38 years old. The last time I saw her, she was 9. That was the day I left the Sea Org and became a Suppressive Person. I've sent her letters and birthday cards -- they've all come back to me "addressee unknown." Scientologists will say it's her choice that she's disconnected from me, and that's true. They've bullied her and others into the impossible choice of either disconnect -- or be labelled a Potential Trouble Source [sic] and thus lose any trust or love that anyone in Scientology may have in her. Damn. Bullying is built in to Hubbard's system of "ethics."
We're always glad when pro-church commenters arrive on the scene, so we'll give Keep on Learning a nod for chiming in and questioning Lori's story:
Is it at all possible there are two sides to this story? I've learned that people playing the poor, sad victim card are usually not telling the whole truth. It's sad to see anyone so sad, but I *suspect* -- do not *know* of course -- that Ms. Hodgson has more *causation* in this matter than she admits here. For instance, when did Lori start her *public* disavowals and condemnations? Before or after the disconnection?
Well, some of us wince at this argument, that when a church takes away your child, it's always somehow your fault. Anyway, we also enjoyed CJM's approach to a church that wants to split up families:
OSA turned up on our front porch and demanded that we stop communicating with Jeff Hawkins (my husband's brother). We laughed and laughed, told her she picked the wrong family to fuck with.
In our story about Robert Almblad and his ice machine, many readers seemed infuriated to see a harassment campaign with so much at stake -- the health of hospital patients trying to stay free of infection. But if there was anger, sometimes the best way to deal with it is humor. And HGC really made us smile:
All those people in the hospital are bigots and haters, and they pull in their infections. And another thing -- not smoking enough causes cancer.
And then, just a little later, HGC did that even better with this howler:
If you're a Scientologist, when you drive by an ice machine full of dirty ice, you know you have to stop, because you know you're the only one who can help.
To our utter delight, pro-church gadfly tildacity finally graced us with his or her presence after wreaking some havoc over at WWP:
With today's article, Mr. Tony Ortega of The Village Voice has rendered himself down to a mere self parody. Granted he pens a blog representing gossip, opinion and commentary. Still, one would be forgiven for expecting a professional encumbered by the title editor in chief to hint at some whisper of journalism before spewing a one-sided conspiracy theory into cyberspace. Mr. Ortega's latest conspiracy tale features everything except Sasquatch and chemical contrails.
Sasquatch! Please, tildacity, stick around a while.
In our Thursday Stats roundup, we gushed about our friend Ray Stern's cover story at Phoenix New Times which took apart Scientology's new Ideal Org there. That elicited this enthusiastic response from CofS Exit Zone:
Ray Stern rocked my world this week! And a shoutout his way, if by chance he happens to lurk here... DO WANT that killer "alien Invasion" cover that goes with your awesome coverage this week. And Anons are anxiously awaiting it to show up in the NT fb album with the other/older covers :)
Femanons. So fickle.
After we announced on Thursday that Scientology's ace reporter, Jim Lynch, was probing us, we asked our creative commenters to write the opening to his article about the Voice for him, and it turned into a wickedly funny mini-contest. It was tough to choose a winner, but we liked this portion from OTVIIIisGrrrr8!:
Long known for his weak-minded debauchery, the postmodern fabulist criminal Tony Ortega is celebrated in the insane asylums of America as a 72 hour frequent flyer following his wild excursions into the most vile, illegal, and dangerous behaviors -- all of which take place in public and often in view of innocent families and the elderly. Tony Ortega does not care who gets hurt or whom he offends when he goes on his sexually disturbing drug-fueled rampages. So quite naturally the filth purveyor Village Voice was only too pleased to hire Ortega to write and edit the toxic swill it serves up daily to its audience of deviants and registered sex offenders. All of which explains why Ortega and the Village Voice repeatedly attack the Scientology religion.
Lynch can only hope his piece is half as gonzo.
After we posted yesterday's part 2 of the Clean Ice story, we enjoyed these thoughtful musings by regular reader Mark Stark:
I'm trying to figure out what this is really about. First, an ex-member is potentially on the verge of billion dollar deal. Because he's an ex, Scientology will not be cut in. Worse, if the machine is successful, Rinder might end up a millionaire himself. Scientology does not like that combination. A wealthy ex-member entrepreneur and a disgruntled ex cult executive. Why else would they go to such great lengths? Another odd element though, is that no matter how beneficial and worthy this machine is, Almblad's past association with Scientology works against him. To the health care industry, Scientology reeks of fraud. To McDonald's it probably wouldn't matter.
In fact, Mark, in part 1 I think Almblad expressed this very idea himself. He thinks firing Rinder wouldn't really solve anything: at this point, he believes, Scientology knows so much about his technology, it wants, for whatever reason, to prevent it from coming to market.
And finally, we thought H. Jentzsch put a fine point on this saga about such a heinous campaign of intimidation and harassment:
It amazes me how ordinary scientologist don't see that this type of story does Way more damage than the people they harassing could ever do. These people are destroying their own church for the pleasures of thier sociopathic leader and his lust for revenge.
Well, that's it for another eventful week. News has reached me of Jim Lynch contacting a couple of other people in our company since I posted our story on Thursday. A pattern is emerging which gives me a pretty good idea of what he's going to write. But I'm going to wait a little longer to see what else he tries before sharing my guesses. For now, your vile, sadistic Freedom magazine-like denunciations of the Voice will have to serve. (And they really made my week. So thanks.)
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]
[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!]