Scientology Half-Cocked: Commenters of the Week!

RifleBugle.jpg
It's been another blast of a week here at the underground bunker, where we keep an eye on all things Scientology related.

We started off the week by marveling at the "thrill" of Scientology fundraising in our regular weekend feature, Sunday Funnies.

On Monday, we collected a few dozen of the best Twitter reactions to Sunday night's 2-minute Scientology commercial during the broadcast of American Idol. As you can imagine, most of them could be boiled down to, "WTF?"

The next day, we marked the 24th of January as the day in 1986 that L. Ron Hubbard chose to discard his meat body and go voyaging among the stars in search of the big floating needle in the sky. One church theory has him returned to Earth by now as a five year old. Seen any ginger kindergartners looking for a lost pack of Kools? Let us know.

Wednesday saw our big investigative piece of the week: we tracked down a retired LA Sheriff's Office detective and a retired County Coroner investigator who had worked together on the 1985 death investigation of Scientology leader David Miscavige's mother-in-law, Flo Barnett. For the first time, Bob Havercroft and Debrah Kitchings explained how they handled the extremely strange details of Flo's demise by rifle.

On Thursday, we gave readers a sneak peek of next week's new Skeptic magazine, which has a couple of lengthy pieces about Scientology by Jim Lippard and editor Michael Shermer.

Friday morning is the time we rejoin L. Ron Hubbard on the deck of the Apollo, circa 1968 to 1971, when he was running Scientology from the yacht while it sailed the Mediterranean. We had more excerpts from his daily crew dispatches.

And soon after, we posted another piece, this time showing Scientology's latest attack on former church executive Marty Rathbun -- a 9-minute video. We pointed out that church leader David Miscavige is still fighting over 2009 allegations of violence in Scientology, when the rest of us have moved on to the church's extreme fundraising!

Whew. Another busy week. And do we have some doozies coming soon. But for now, let's go to the awards!

Our Sunday Funnies featured yet another sorry-looking flier from the San Diego Org. We got a chuckle from this jab from Schockenawd...

I don't live too far from the San Diego org. Even though I'm not a Scientologist, I do understand the importance of good filing, and I might be swayed to go help them file. But, I'm just not feeling it. Maybe if their flier had called it the Thrill of Filing.

Bob Peterson was one of many of us who were scratching our heads at a South Africa Org flier promoting the "thrill" of fundraising. ORLY?

The "Thrill" of fundraising?? I would rate that right up there with how I feel about snowmobiling. And that means sitting in a snow-filled ditch while being beaten with a stick.

We had a lot of fun gathering up Twitter reactions to the church's Sunday night advertising during American Idol. There was plenty of derision from our own readers, and we enjoyed this post by Gina Smith...

When even American Idol viewers are laughing at your promotions you know it's just time to give up and fade away quietly.

And we love it when readers educate us. A tip of the hat to John P....

AdAge, the trade publication for the advertising industry, said in October that the base rate for a 30-second spot on American Idol was $502,000, and that could climb to $640,000 the closer you get to the competition's final episode. A 2-minute spot, therefore, probably cost $2.5 million or even $3 million when you factor in the need to get prominent placement and the need to outbid people who already had rights to those slots.

(For advertising novices: given the popularity of the program, a lot of the commercial slots for American Idol were probably purchased by advertisers during the network "upfront" sales period last year. That's where the network unveils the new shows for the season and advertisers make major package buys of hundreds of millions of dollars across a network's entire schedule, to get the best price on the shows they want to be seen on. But even if an ad slot is purchased, someone can come along later and "outbid" you and take over your slot if they want to be on a particular program bad enough. So to get their ads onto the program, the Church of Scientology would have had to outbid the existing slot holders, probably by a goodly margin, in order to be able to buy such a premium slot with only a couple weeks notice.)

So on Tuesday, it was 26 years since L. Ron Hubbard left his body to continue his researches into even higher OT levels. Or so said David Miscavige to the crowd assembled at the Palladium in 1986, prompting this reply by JustCallMeMary...

That's some Astounding Science Fiction.

Heh. Meanwhile, Hubbard used our comment section to announce his return, in this post by LRH v2...

I'm back, and this Miscavige, wow that boy has really goofed the floof.

And we just couldn't stifle a laugh at this poke in the ribs by Ivy Mapother...

After watching the video, my only question is: Does David Miscavige still represent the Lollipop Guild or is the Sea Org thing a full-time gig? Either way, I can't help myself. I want to look down and salute.

The reactions to our big investigative piece of the week -- on Flo Barnett's 1985 death -- generated a lot of skepticism from readers about the official finding that Barnett killed herself with four shots from a rifle. But our interview with retired LA Sheriff's detective Bob Havercroft also convinced some that he'd done a thorough job. There was this reaction from NCSP, for example...

Thanks, Tony. It's great to have some new first-hand perspectives on the matter. I'm still not 100% convinced, but I am more inclined to believe the "official" version of events.

It's not really that difficult to imagine someone being able to shoot themselves multiple times; the gun is a semiautomatic, so it's not as if she would have had to reload in between shots, and if it happened very quickly, I can see how she might not have felt the effects of the chest shots enough to incapacitate her. Because of shock and adrenaline it can take a few seconds or even minutes for the body to feel the pain of a gunshot. It's bizarre for sure, but there's a Wikipedia article about "Multiple Gunshot Suicide" that has some links to medical lit on the subject.

Do I believe that the Church is indirectly culpable for her death by putting her under enormous and unnecessary stress during a difficult time? Absolutely. But I think it's likely that that's the extent of their involvement.

And we were also happy to see Dan Garvin weigh in (Dan's a former longtime Sea Org member and all around smart guy)...

Doesn't seem like a good murder for DM. If he was going to have somebody killed, there were people whose whose death would have been far more worth the risk of getting caught. The detective's scenario is unusual but not implausible. She'd shot herself three times and found herself not only alive but conscious. She would have been in great pain. The extreme, but terminal, effort and pain of carrying out the final shot probably seemed worth it.

But on the other hand, we also completely understood those who were still unconvinced. We liked this statement by LocalSP1...

Having had a couple of broken ribs in my lifetime and also being an avid .22 rifle shooter, you'll never convince me that she shot herself.

Our post Friday about the latest Squirrel Buster video about Marty Rathbun generated a lot of interesting responses. Every time we write about Rathbun, a lot of anger is unleashed by those who feel the former enforcer for Scientology hasn't done enough to atone for his acts. We understand that, but we also enjoyed this response from skydog...

In criminal law, the difference between a victim and a defendant is usually just a matter of time. When a person travels from California to Texas to engage in a pattern of harassment against an individual, they should not be heard to complain when they are spit upon or sprayed with a garden hose. When "reporter" Jim Lynch trespasses upon private property, he should not be heard complain that that the property owner threatens bodily harm upon him. When that same "reporter" violates the personal space of an individual by reaching into their car, he should not be heard to complain when a car door is slammed on him. Justice is supposed to be blind, not stupid.

Tony, you are correct in your claim that this film has no intended audience other than David Miscavige. The loyal cool aide drinking ronbots cannot be trusted to watch this. Watching a bunch of overweight, unkempt middle age men and women parading around Texas in undersized tee shirts behaving like juvenile delinquents might cause even the most zealous to pause before donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to achieve a similar state of "enlightenment". The rest of the world is simply flabbergasted that the "producers" of this dribble have nothing better to do with their time and that the government has less important things to do other than revoke the tax exempt status of this criminal organization.

And we'll finish up by looking at what Jefferson Hawkins had to say on the matter. As I've said before, reading Jeff always makes me feel clearer on an issue...

Tony, I think you're right that this was made, really, for an audience of one -- David Miscavige. They won't show it to Scientologists (as they don't want to put any Scientologist's attention on Marty), and any non-Scientologist can see it for what it is -- a demented piece of cult crazy. Reminds me of the time we were preparing one of those picture books laying out what a "Suppressive Person" was and Miscavige had the illustrator make the face of the "SP" into a likeness of Pat Broeker. It was an inside joke, that is, for an audience of exactly one. You have to remember that Miscavige has the personality of a middle-school bully and the things that make him snigger are, frankly, crude, juvenile and heavy-handed.

An interesting contrast is to look at the interviews on the Anderson Cooper 360 program and the St. Petersburg Times videos, where people are talking about Miscavige's propensity for abuse and violence, and compare that with the faceless, nameless "people" who are accusing Marty of violence. These supposed interviews are so obviously scripted and (badly) acted that they are laughable. Those who accuse Miscavige have real names and faces. Those who accuse Marty have no names and no faces. Sure, Marty has his own history, but at least he is man enough to own up to it, and to apologize to many of those (including myself) he abused, either verbally or physically. Miscavige will never own up to his much worse behavior, he will continue to hide in his office and snigger at his own childish video productions.

Well, another excellent week of reactions from our readers. It's the thing that keeps us going. And this weekend, we're on high alert for some pretty big news. So keep checking back often as we stay glued to the monitors here in the underground bunker!



Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [What is Scientology?] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology]
[Commenters of the Week] | [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park]
[This Week Aboard the Apollo] | [Sunday Funnies]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[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]
[Paulette Cooper, Scientology's original and worst nightmare: a Thanksgiving tribute]

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 | 6. Anonymous | 7. Mark Bunker | 8. Mike Rinder | 9. Jason Beghe | 10. Lisa McPherson | 11. Nick Xenophon | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu

HELD ABOARD THE FREEWINDS: TALES OF THE SEA ORG

[Valeska Paris, held against her will from 1996 to 2007 on Scientology's cruise ship]
[Ramana Dienes-Browning, marriage at 16, sexual interrogation, life in the engine room]
[Melissa Paris, Valeska's sister: forced to marry at 16]

SCIENTOLOGY VS. SOUTH PARK: INVESTIGATION AS RETALIATION

[Scientology targeted South Park's Parker and Stone in an investigation]
[More documents in the South Park probe: instructions to send in a young mole]
[Scientology responds in typical fashion] | [Lloyd Kaufman confirms the probe]
[Mark Ebner also investigated after South Park involvement]
[Mark Chauppetta, private eye, explains what Scientology operatives look for]

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

[Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here's Your Media Training Checksheet!]
[Tom Cruise and X Factor's Stacy Francis singing together on the Freewinds]
[X Factor's Stacy Francis: Her first husband, Michael Sandlofer, answers abuse claims]
[Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay]
["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

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

["The Money Machine": another blockbuster St. Pete Times investigation]
[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]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology in Israel: Arson, attempted murder, paranoia -- and a visit by the Voice!]
[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]
[Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology chillin' with hip hop!] | [The curious career of Scientology rapper Chill EB]
[Chill EB and me: the Voice interviews Scientology's in-house rapper]
[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]
[Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]


Sponsor Content

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52 comments
Placement Agent
Placement Agent

Quite long article and glad to visit this . I got lots of information i need . Thanks for sharing this . :D

Jens Tingleff
Jens Tingleff

Ehrm, there is a well established OSA routine to appear to be the craziest anti possible, to discredit all critics. And, it works.

Described in detail on exscn dot net in article series "OSA tactics and procedures" by user "Gottabrain" (aka Sheila Huber who's been starring in neat videos, showcased on WWP).

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Thank you very much, Tony!

Keep on rocking!

SP Onage
SP Onage

I 'd like to hear more about Ex-OSA agent Paulien Lombard's life in the Office of Special Affairs (OSA). I'd Love to learn more about her assignments like, harassing critics, what's she doing now, did OSA fairgame her after speaking out against them at the Riverside Board meeting?

I thought her story was really interesting and brave, a follow-up about her would be cool.

Lliira
Lliira

This is party-pooping, but I'm having real problems with the ripping into Miscavige for being short. The ones that call him a "midget" or whatever are especially troubling.

1) There is nothing wrong with being short.2) There is nothing wrong with being a little person.3) There are serious problems related to not considering "little people" real people: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/ho...

It's like making fun of a man for being gay or supposedly gay, or making fun of a woman for not being what Hollywood has proclaimed is thin enough. 

David Miscavige is a very bad, and very weird, person. There's plenty to make fun of without the cheap shot of picking on something over which he has no control, and which isn't one of his faults anyway.

Joe_Lynn
Joe_Lynn

TOrtega's a good and smart guy and he's done a lot to oppose Scientology, including before the recent run with the VV, but, he *just doesn't get it*.:

"Every time we write about Rathbun, a lot of anger is unleashed by those who feel the former enforcer for Scientology hasn't done enough to atone for his acts."

No Tony; it's not about anger at Wrathbunz for failing to 'atone'; it's about his ongoing efforts to *protect* Scientology, including 'corporate Scientology' from prosecution and exposure.

scnethics
scnethics

Great week, Tony!  Is it next week yet? 

Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack
Mighty Korgo of Teegeeack

About the cult thing-- Scientology is not a religion in my country, nor is it in most countries. Here in Canada is classified as a para-religion, and is on that list just under Satanism. I feel no  need to call it a church. Church plays into their agenda, Hubbard's "religion angle". 

There is such a thing as a cult though a close friend who was in Scientology defined it as, "A religion someone doesn't like". That is a terrible definition and self-serving. Try this instead-- A group that adheres strongly to most of these characteristics:

1. Baits with a self-description that is very different from what they are.2. Is concerned primarily with money.3. Separates itself from the rest of the world.4. The money is not used for the benefit of the members.5. A top down leadership that is self appointed, with the leader being viewed as infallible.

There are many other definitions of cult that can be found on the internet but they will all be close to my own.

Well, the various mainstream religions all have some of those characteristics to some degree. But Scientology has most or all of them, and to a high degree. 

To call Scientology a cult is not using loaded language, it is good description of them, far more meaningful then the word "church". In fact, calling them a "church" is using loaded language and Hubbard is the one who loaded it.

MarkStark
MarkStark

"$cientology" is inappropriate/unpublishable too? I give up!

Still, looking forward to the WHERE IS SHELLY MISCAVIGE story and others.

I think "$cientology" is subtle and would cause a newbie to wonder if that were their real name, and at the same time be curious.

The back story of $cientology is complicated. Nothing in it even got my attention until Tom Cruise spouted off weirdly with Lauer and then I saw the Tom Cruise video. Then I thought it was one curious group of fascist space cadets worth looking into.

I think Tony is doing something that has been lacking in the journalistic world though; consistent reporting on the wide range of issues big and small.

When I read the books by Cooper/Miller and then the Behar article, I thought WTF, this cult should be history. Especially the Behar article.

However, I trust that the combination of the web, exes and critics, and Tony, is going to hasten its demise. The birth of YouTube in 2005 and pervasive video watching contributed greatly too.

DeckardCain
DeckardCain

Always with the tease at the end, eh Tony?  If it weren't for the fact that you ACTUALLY deliver on your teases, I would probably start feeling like a 15 year old pimple-faced hormonal boy pulling pony tails for attention.

Gina Smith
Gina Smith

My head has swollen to epic proportions.

anon anon song
anon anon song

"And this weekend, we're on high alert for some pretty big news."

When I was little, my mom was a great continuing bedtime storyteller. At the end of the night's tale, she'd leave off with a hint of exciting developments to come which actually left me wide awake in anticipation. Equally sublime and sooooo frustratiiiiing. :)

Query
Query

With wealthy and famous people from around the world disclosing their most personal secrets in auditing sessions, how much of this information does David Miscavige sell to U.S. or foreign intelligence agencies?

The Scientologist
The Scientologist

Tony, I notice you tend to pick comments that generally don't dig too deep. There are always good and incisive comments you ignore, leads that you don't follow (even after months) ... a lot of what we've been reading lately, aside from the occasional testimonials of former members like Valeska Paris and Ramana Dienes-Browning (both quite riveting, and I grant you a lot of credit for those) are rehashed, repackaged old news.

Basically what I'm saying is you need to go down further, deeper into the rabbit hole. You have the contacts, you have the leads, you have the suspects, you just need to pull the trigger!

Lliira
Lliira

That's a good definition of "cult". However, many organizations that I consider cults don't concern themselves with money. My own definition is this: you're in a cult if the people at the top are telling you that they are the only people you can trust for information, and that you should not listen to any other sources. 

But Tony has good reasons for not highlighting those comments which refer to Scientology as a "cult" in the comments of the week. I actually have issues with the concept of "comments of the week", because on any blog that has them, invariably a big chunk of comments change from being a discussion to being a contest. 

But on this blog, I can see that it's helpful to show certain comments to people who never look at the discussion, which I'd imagine is most people who read the blog. I don't look at discussions on most articles because they're usually filled with misogynist, racist, homophobic, ableist, body-shaming, and just plain nasty comments. Maybe Tony's posting of certain comments will bring more people into the discussion.

NOTseriously
NOTseriously

Yes, and normal people (meaning, those outside the "cult") have a normal dictionary, the connotation and denotation of words are similar for all of us. Those inside the cult use "cult-speak" and words mean something entirely different. So depending on your audience,  that word can mean something or can mean nothing. Obviously, it matters to Tony and since he's the self appointed, top down leader ... and...is ...infallible....

MarkStark
MarkStark

I feel the same about the word "Scientology." Just using the word properly is playing into Hubbard's plan that it be taken seriously. That it is factual, science-related and "research." Hubtard was a pretend nuclear physicist and pathological liar. How much respect does that warrant?

Xenu
Xenu

Does the Mossad have an office pool going, and they're taking bets on TC's sexual preference?

I guess I have a hard time imagining any intelligence value to what goes on inside the little heads of scilon celebs.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Perhaps Mike Rinder and Marty 'Rathbone' could fill you in...

Trollus Maximus
Trollus Maximus

Don't worry The Scientologist, Tony sees your comments and one of yours will get picked too eventually. Consider though that with over 9000 comments posted on this blog every week, many of them as hilarious brilliant or insightful as the one you are now reading, there are only so many that can get picked.

Keep Trying!

Enterbulous
Enterbulous

Don't worry The Scientologist, Tony sees your comments and one of yours will get picked too eventually. Consider though that with over 9000 comments posted on this blog every week, many of them as hilarious brilliant or insightful as this one, there are only so many that can get picked.

Keep Trying!

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Gee, I thought my comment got to the core of the issue :(  ....

Tony's doing an excellent job exposing Scientology. Where's your byline?

Anon A
Anon A

But here's the thing -- ultimately, the most entertaining and insightful comments are not necessarily the ones that rely on the deep, insider knowledge (or imagined knowledge) of the Scientology critics' circle. As much as it pains me to say this as a debunker of Scientology myself, a lot of online critics and ex-members get so wrapped up in their own pet theories, inside jokes, odd methodology and personal politics that they kind of lose touch with what it takes to effectively communicate criticism of Scientology to the "real world".

One example of this was some poster from last year who had apparently decided that the Church of Scientology was stockpiling propane gas for some kind of sinister, possibly destructive purpose.  So this person went on every news comment board relating to Scientology posting histrionic rants about how some government agency needed to investigate this propane situation ASAP.   I cringed every time I saw these ubiquitous posts, as they made Scientology critics look just as much like unstable wing-nuts to the casual reader as the Scientology defenders.

Point is -- things that might seem like a good lead or an incisive comment to those deeply mired in the world of full-time Scientology-watching are NOT always practical or valid in reality.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

On a more serious note -- yes, of course there are many good comments that don't get chosen for this feature. We're averaging about a thousand comments each week, and only choosing about a dozen for recognition -- and our choices are completely subjective. Want to be selected? It should be obvious by now that I tend to like comments which are concise, funny or poignant, and that avoid stuff like "$cientology" or the word "cult." That's not to say that I don't enjoy comments that use those words, or that go long, or that are cranky or outrageous or silly. But I like what I like for this weekly feature. Thanks for participating!

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

Yeah, I really need to pick up the pace. We aren't out of January yet, and we've only broken...Debbie Cook, the full schematics of the Power Building, exposed Michael Doven as Scientology's decade-long spy on Tom Cruise, and published the first ever interviews with the investigators of Flo Barnett's death. Hm. I don't know how I've gotten so lazy. Please bear with me, I guess.

Schockenawd
Schockenawd

All I know is, I have had thoughts and opinions about Scientology for a long, long time, and this blog gives me a place to deposit them.  I'm grateful for that.  And each time I've had something make it to the "comments of the week," I've felt seriously honored, because of the caliber of the comments that are invariably made throughout the week. The discussion is sometimes silly and sometimes serious, but always robust and fascinating, and I am thoroughly hooked.   

anon anon song
anon anon song

Valid points, but the point could also be made that constant use of derogatory epithets undermines to point of Tony's blog: objectively report scientology* abuses. As posters, we are not held to do so, but I understand Tony's wish (as I understand it) to maintain a standard of journalistic objectivity... a standard that affects his choice for comments of the week. An opposite side example: though there are many things that can be said about yesterday's "Marty is a psychopath" video, the deliberate mispronouncing of Rathbun to Rathbone certainly doesn't add any credibility or help their argument in the court of public opinion. (Even if the video was intended for an audience of one, it's out now).

*SWIDT? I didn't use the $, but I didn't capitalize either.

Riley
Riley

Absolutely none.  The man was good at hypnotism and that is hardly a good quality when used with malignant intent.  Almost every other aspect of his life was repugnant or laughable.  We also know he had a weak intellect.  His writing is terrible. It would be amazing that his cult ever existed, if we hadn't see these things before. 

Skwerl King
Skwerl King

Tony,I'm still waiting for you choose the many "Penthouse Forum" style stories involving L.Ron and the gang aboard the Apollo that we send you every week. I am fond of the one entitled, 'The Oily Commodore'.

Yes, I'll be quiet now so that others can say something meaningful or productive.

Jgg
Jgg

  He needs to be careful.  After all, he doesn't want to be labelled a suppressive person.  Also, LRH did not like people having unkind thoughts about him.

DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

Tony, it would be interesting to visit some of the Ideal Orgs to see how busy they are. They offer free tours. I wonder if they have a new Orientation film, since theold one had Larry Anderson in it, who is no longer in the "Church",even though he was so hardcore in that and other LRH films.I bet that would be some interesting reporting. Just an idea.

Also, any updates on Jaffa Idle Org in Israel?

P.S. With all the stories you are already working on, I guess youwould have to take a vacation to do the above. Or "postulate" some extra time. Heh.

Thanks again, Tony!

jetlo
jetlo

It was great to see the Michael Doven story carried in this week's New Idea (Australia) very visible at supermarket checkouts

OTVIIIisGrrr8!
OTVIIIisGrrr8!

We in RTC think that Tony Ortega sticks his big fat nose into Scientology's business much too much. We would prefer Tony to stick with topics of interest to VV readers:'* The best bail bond houses and criminal defense attorneys in NYC

* Clinics that dispense free Psych drugs

* The betting line on various athletic events and dog races

* Where to purchase cheap black market cigarettes and booze sold by the Mafia

* Why an insanity defense will work if you take Psych drugs

* Where to meet strangers for casual meaningless sex

* Hangover cures

* How to shoplift hams and turkeys if one is really fat

Tony Ortega is stuck in an electronic incident, specifically the Helatrobus implant.

We in RTC close by warning "The Scientologist" that only OSA alone is authorized to  handle external PR. "The Scientologist" has no reading or posting on this SP blog.

As we in RTC are sec checking all Scientologists every 24 hours these days at their expense we will quickly discover the real identity of "The Scientologist." Once we do, he or she will no longer be a Scientologist.

Torychristman
Torychristman

Tony, You know me.....and I think you're doing an *excellent* job of exposing this insidious CULT at a rate that IS acceptable, and interesting to the average reader. Granted, many of us who where "in" and know deeper things, can ask for more. However, to all I'd say keep in mind Tony has *consistently* done articles exposing these creeps, in a very, very enlightening way---a way they would NOT want in *any* paper, let alone the Village Voice.

I've spent 11 years talking to people on the street, and their ability to "get" the deep actions is often low. They *can* totally get things like Tony is exposing, and find it interesting and worthy to pass on. Once the average Joe reads some of this....they can on their own do deeper research, and thanks to the many who have spoken out and written info---it's all there to be had. :)

 Remember the award I gave you, Tony, many years ago for Courage in Journalism. He's been speaking out about C of $ when just about no one would. Hugs and chocolate cake! Tory/Magoo

Mimi The Great
Mimi The Great

All I'm sayin is that I've been 100% spoiled by my daily Ortega fix. Thank you!

BroekerBroekerBroeker
BroekerBroekerBroeker

My postulate for February is that Tony is digging into the Annie Broeker death and coverup. It's a remarkable story, and the fact that Tony hasn't mentioned it at all leads me to believe that he's doing some real reporting to peel away at the onion.

Jon Henke
Jon Henke

What, now journalists are above a little regging? You are hatted as a reporter, aren't you? All he's asking you to do is increase your stats.

With that kind of attitude, Tony, you'll never clear the planet of Scientology.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

And don't forget that Virginia Stewart scoop! That was a hell of a lot of fun. Btw, TS, I'm curious how you know which leads I'm following and which ones I'm not following. Some stories do take months to nail down, you know. Some take years.

sketto
sketto

Not only does Miscavige google his own name, but I have no doubt that he certainly must post and comment under fake names. He's too cowardly to ever do it in his own name, but I'm certain he must. He's too big a bully/coward to resist.

Jgg
Jgg

 "Miscavige googles his own name".  Really?  Does he search "David Miscavige evil"?  Or "David Miscavige human trafficking"?  How about "David Miscavige squirrel" or "David Miscavige killed Shelly"?  The possibilities are endless.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

I never have a problem with the way you use "$cientology" or "Sciloontology," Mark. I just don't like to pick posts that use that kind of thing for comments of the week. That's all I was referring to.

anon anon song
anon anon song

You may have seen "$cientology" in message board posts, but not in any journalist's article, right?

It is not my impression that Tony personally objects to Co$, $cientology, sciloons or the word cult. As evidence for this is that our posts do not go in a moderation queue and are not kicked back (censored) when we, as posters, use them. I am only trying to bring your attention to what I think may be Tony's POV (which he may post and contradict me entirely) where he is not willing to quote posters who use scilon-critic-speak and put it in a blog (or article) that has his name, as a journalist, on it. This is not a point that I had noticed before, but I think it speaks volumes on his integrity and high standards on what he chooses to report and HOW he reports it.

The misdirect as far as Rathbone is concerned does not apply. We see his name typed, even his signature on-screen. But you are right, if that video was meant as a serious documentary piece, it would've failed on this issue alone even if everything else was right.

See? Full circle.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Okay Jeff, google $cientology why don't you? The information it comes up with is great, and minus the BS on their official site. I'm not suggesting that journalists or people who write about  their real experiences in the cult spell it $cientology, just that it is clever and acceptable for critics to do it.

I thought it was clever the first time I saw it. Even a thoughtful person's mind glazes over when  trying to understand "applied religious philosophy" and other propaganda of what this scam is supposed to be and what it actually is.

Jefferson Hawkins
Jefferson Hawkins

There's a practical reason for correctly spelling "Scientology" and "Miscavige," and that is so that if someone is searching online for these terms, your writings will come up. That's why I always spell these things out correctly and in full. I've heard that Miscavige googles his own name.

MarkStark
MarkStark

$cientology is not a derogatory epithet. It is more precise and accurate than anything having to do with "knowledge" or science, i.e., how they define themselves. The SP Times had integrity when in the best story of last year they called it a "money machine." They aren't bothering to debate lines between church and cult, they went straight to what they are.

As I mentioned before, spelling it "$cientology" is curious enough that if I had not stumbled into it (not joined, but as a critic) I would have thought "$cientology" was the name they actually used for themselves, because they were about helping people be more successful and make more money. I didn't know who Xenu was or that we were encrusted with Body Thetans and needed to learn how to get rid of them by using the technology researched by Dr. Hubtard, nuclear physicist and great historian of the Universe's 4 quadrillion year history.

The "Rathbone" issue is just silly. Originally, the cult may have started that just to misdirect people from finding Marty's website. Rathbone is a perfectly legitimate name, quite common and not any funnier than Rathbun.

NCSP
NCSP

"I never postulated it would happen to me..."

--from the scorching story, "The Blown Student"

Torychristman
Torychristman

PS: OH MY GAWD!!! One of our OLD friends of the family who I haven't spoken with in 40 years, just called ME from a Nursing Home...where they were talking about the Super Bowl, she mentioned my Dad, Paul Christman, they decided to do a search--found ALL this info about myself and Scientology...and these folks are on a rampage. See? You just never know how far ALLLLLLLLLLLLL of this is going, these days. Never forget the Seniors---Some of these folks can kick ass and know people who can move mountains. Time shall tell: Tick tock, Tick Tock: Time is on *our* side! :) Thanks to you ALL  <3<3

Old OT7
Old OT7

Tony, I second this!  Although never Sea Org, when I was on staff in Hawaii, we were all so broke that we had chili and beans for every lunch served at one of the staffer's cramped apartments across the street.  Dinner was rare.  Our rate of pay depended on what the 'UNIT' was worth that week.  It ranged from $25 per week to $0.  And we often had successive weeks of no pay in addition to being yelled at and called DBs!

Chuck brings up some great points.

Chuck Beatty
Chuck Beatty

Tony,

suggestion.

Do a "Sea Org food menu history" article.   You will get, and the commenters will gladly give you, a WHOLE huge range of what food's like in the Scientology staff history!

Good old commune chow history.

THEN, later, do a "History of Scientology Parties" article!   You will get thousands of responses, as there will be thousands of examples, throughout Scientology history, of all the great parties (or not).

We all lived hundreds of parties, the whole untold story of the excessive parties!  

The Christmas "Flag" "out-2D" scandals of Christmas 1975-76, and 78-77.  

Food and parties, it shows also, the decline of the mvoement, they don't do parties and the food has sort of plateaued.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

 No need to explain yourself, Tony. Your work speaks for itself.

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