Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Archive of posts with tag 'religion'

: Tyler Glenn Has a New Song: Trash

Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees © kobbydagan, used under license](/images/2016/04/tyler-glenn-neon-trees-kobbydagan.jpg)Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees performs on stage at the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival Village on September 20 in Las Vegas. Photo © 2014 by kobbydagan and used under license.

: Weird Scientology Beliefs: Scientology's Expanding

The Truth About Scientology Expanding
In 1979 and 1980, I worked at the Church of Scientology, Mission of Orange County in Tustin. I worked in Treasury. My primary role was Director of Income, which isn’t as interesting as it sounds. I left because, frankly, I was going broke quickly. I felt bad about leaving and returned in January 1984 on a 5-year contract. It had recently increased its status from Mission to Org. I worked there through most of 1989. Like before, I worked in Treasury, both as Director of Income and later as Deputy Treasury Secretary.
This post came about because of this tweet:

#Scientology will expand, continue to help thousands around the globe in #GoingClear & will never lose their tax exempt status in the USA.

— Edwin Dearborn (@edwindearborn) March 30, 2015

You see, I know Edwin Dearborn. In the late 80s, he was in charge of the “field staff members,” which is basically the affiliate program for Scientology. His job was getting people to bring other people in and paying them their commissions.
Director of Income (my job) consisted of a bunch of things including:

  • Rents other tenants owed us;
  • Interest income on accounts;
  • Field staff member commissions when we referred people to higher Scientology organizations; and
  • Debts owed to Scientology.

Some Actual Numbers

Let’s talk numbers. In 1979 and 1980, a good week was $10,000 and a more average week was $7,000. We had thirty staff at the time. Scientology policy says that 30% of the week’s budget (and yes, budgeting is done weekly) is used to pay the staff. In cash. Around then, the average staff member made $70 per week. The mission had about $450,000 in savings and a paid-off mortgage on its building.
By 1984, there were quite a few more staff—about double—and the average weekly income had risen to around $20,000-30,000. When I returned, there were almost no savings, and the building had a mortgage. After the 1982 Mission Holders’ Conference, a lot of the “wealthy” mission coffers were raided. In addition, the mission had been seized from Ray and Pam Kemp, who’d sued and had gotten paid back. Hence the mortgage.
Average staff pay at the newly-minted church was ~$110. I remember the first hundred-thousand dollar week. Because the org was growing a lot, eventually the average week became $250,000. At that point, we had consistently 200-250 staff and had to rent significant space at the building across the street. Average staff pay ran around $150. If you note, the numbers don’t add up for a couple of reasons: 1) the budget sum excluded book and e-meter sales (which had their own budgeting), and we had a much higher percentage than in earlier days; 2) we got a lot of refund requests and bounced checks (more the latter than the former), frequently in excess of $50,000.
I’m told that for many orgs, including Orange County, the peak Scientology money expansion was in 1988-1992, though the peak expansion in number of Scientology students was far earlier—in the late 60s to mid-70s.
The big game at the time was to make all organizations “Saint Hill Size,” supposedly the pinnacle where we’d all get paid living wages, yada yada yada. (I’m not the first—nor the last—to be taken in by a long con.) Orange County, along with Stevens Creek and Los Angeles, achieved this in the late 80s.

Scientology Funding Changes Since The 80s

L. Ron Hubbard did not believe in donations. He didn’t believe in fundraisers. In fact, he had rather scathing words to say on the subject:

[Excerpt from HCO Policy Letter of 24 February 1964
Urgent-Org Programming]
If the Org slumps: Don’t engage in “fund raising” or “selling postcards” or borrowing money.
Just make more income with Scientology.
It’s a sign of very poor management to seek extraordinary solutions for finance outside Scientology. It has always failed.
For Orgs as for pcs “Solve It With Scientology”.
Every time I myself have sought to solve finance or personnel in other ways than Scientology I have lost out. So I can tell you from experience that Org solvency lies in More Scientology, not patented conibs, or fund raising Barbecues.

And, in practice, you never saw fundraising.

The Ideal Org Strategy and How it Changed Scientology’s Bottom Line

L. Ron Hubbard didn’t care about how impressive buildings were. He cared whether the org was making it, he didn’t like debt, he didn’t like fundraising. For all his faults, he thought Scientology should sink or swim on its own merits.

We own a tremendous amount of property. We own a tremendous amount of material, and so forth. And it keeps growing. But that’s not important.
When buildings get important to us, for God’s sake, some of you born revolutionists, will you please blow up central headquarters. If someone had put some H.E. [high explosives] under the Vatican long ago, Catholicism might still be going.
Don’t get interested in real estate. Don’t get interested in the masses of buildings, because that’s not important.
Tape: The Genus of Scientology
Anatomy of the Human Mind Congress
31 December 1960

The first attempts at an Ideal Org strategy—by which I mean putting Scientology in a vastly nicer building came in the late 80s, only a couple of years after L. Ron Hubbard died.
Big impressive buildings would become Scientology’s icons. Rumor has it that this was at the behest of Tom Cruise, who purportedly told David Miscavige, Scientology’s leader, that a lot of orgs looked ratty (which was true). Regardless of the real reason, there came to be huge, and nearly endless, fundraising campaigns.
Like so.
(Source: Tony Ortega)
When I was in, there was simply no way that you would ever pay $5,000 for status. Heck, even the International Association of Scientologists was only $300 per year back then. Before that, there were no formal memberships; it was free.

So How Well Have Scientology’s Expansion Plans Worked?

Remember Edwin Dearborn? He’s now selling himself as a marketer. In 2010, my friend Mark and I visited Orange County Org for the first time in many years. My goal? To find out whether or not I’d been declared a suppressive person. Oh, and the lulz.
Edwin was then the organization’s head and came to say hello. He was also working part-time in marketing at that point.
Yet, his marketing skill was such that he couldn’t save his own organization, who’d supposedly had a metric ton of money raised for a new building, from having a disconnect notice for the water bill tucked into the side of the building (photo up top).
Here are other photos I took that day.
We drove in during the busiest part of Scientology’s week, but the parking lot looks unmaintained. The vehicles all seemed to be staff; neither of us saw anyone who seemed to be public (parishioners).
Scientology's empty, ratty parking lot
Some parking places are marked off for “humanitarians,” by which Scientology means people with big wallets. Srsly.
Guess they have no humanitarians.
And here’s the way back of the parking lot. Check this out.
That sure looks like massive expansion…of potholes.
What hit me the hardest in talking to all the overly earnest staff members was that each and every one of them—including people I’d known twenty to thirty years before—held one of the core Scientology beliefs: that Scientology was expanding. Even when, to their very own eyes, the evidence was there to the contrary.
Mark and I just were kind of dumbstruck by the whole concept. It’s fairly obvious to me that that no longer looks like an organization with 200-250 staff, let alone the public to go with.
Then we went to the “new” location, which has since become their new “ideal” org, where Mark found the disconnect notice. In fact, you can see the entire parking lot in this picture.
Back Camera
Because there is no parking lot. It’s just enough outside downtown Santa Ana that it also gets no foot traffic.

Another Edwin Dearborn Stunt

I’m going to quote the Scientologese to you, then translate.

Im pressing charges against a scientologist who molested my daughter when I was a staff member. He is still in scientology with his wife and other family on staff, so the church’s Dir I&R, (kylie Roe) decided that since I was no longer a scientologist, they would not be interviewing him.
The ED, Ed Dearborn then requested I be comm-ev’d from post for allowing his only introductory auditor to moonlight.

So, by reporting that her daughter was being molested by another staff member, Scientology decided that Maggie was no longer a Scientologist, and therefore there was no need to interview the molester. The OC Church’s head, Edwin Dearborn, wanted to bring Scientology justice actions against Maggie to remove her from her job.
Remove the person reporting and, voila, there’s no more problem.

Scientology Beliefs: That they Will Become Saint Hill Size

Remember how I said Orange County became a Saint Hill Size organization in the late 80s?
(Source: Tony Ortega)
As Mike Rinder says:

They have apparently (and conveniently) forgotten they did this already, back in the 90’s […].

Actually, I believe it was 1988.

So typical of Kool Aid drinkers. They have selective memory.

Despite Rinder’s comments, OC really was big, we had blocks of parking problems, especially at night, and we had a lot of public coming in. I don’t know what LA Org was actually doing, but Rinder says they were falsifying stats. If OC was, it definitely wasn’t the quantity of money stats, because I did some of those audits.
Now, there were, as I said, a lot of bounced checks and refunds, and I thought there were a lot of badly handled financial situations, including trying to make special payment arrangements through third parties, as apparently happened here. There may well have been falsified statistics in various areas, but the amount of money deposited, to the best of my knowledge, matched the reported income.
Still, how can an organization shrink 75% (my estimate) and staff who’ve been there all along don’t notice? I just can’t even.
As Susan Garbanzo said on Twitter, “PR helps only when a co. is really ready to open up. Else it’s just room freshener.”
Scientology “expansion”? Is just room freshener.

My New Scientology-Themed T-Shirt

Xenu Is My Homeboy. Available from Redbubble in a bunch of sizes and styles, including a hoodie. Thanks to Deana for the idea.

: Scientology: Marriage Hats

Marriage Hats was a thin booklet written by L. Ron Hubbard’s last wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. It was published in 1974 by Scientology, a white volume with black uncial type on the cover. Later, they’d pull all Scientology-related books that weren’t written by LRH, and this would be one of items pulled.
This was published well after the concept of equal opportunity for women was embodied in law (though not in practice) in the United States.
So, let’s look at how enlightened Scientology was in 1974, shall we? Let’s look at five (of 23) directives for women are in marriage:

9. To support your husband in life by providing him with a clean, calm, happy home in which he can have the rest and peace necessary to fortify him in the battles of winning a living. [::facepalm::] 11\. To keep an active interest in your husband’s work and to offer him encouragement and moral support. \[Encouragement and support I agree with, but I’m not my husband, nor should I feel obligated to be interested in his work.\] 12\. To submit to the decision of your husband if agreement cannot be reached: he is the leader of the family. \[No.\] 14\. To care for birth control and to be responsible.There can be nothing more upsetting to married life than an unwanted pregnancy or too many children. So don’t make mistakes; such surprises can be most disruptive. \[So it’s always the woman’s fault.\] 15\. To keep yourself clean, attractive and womanly. A wife should always look the best she can for her husband – this doesn’t mean that you have to appear glamorous when you’re in the middle of scrubbing a dirty floor, but it does mean that a wife should care enough about her appearance not to come before her husband in the morning with cream on her face and rollers in her hair. It’s wise to do those beauty actions when your husband is not around, so you can be beautiful when he is present. \[For L. Ron Hubbard. I don’t even.\]

And how well did that work for MSH, as she was known?
She was the primary defendant in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian infiltration into US Government systems in history. She was sentenced to five years in prison.
Meanwhile, L. Ron Hubbard remained on the run throughout the remainder of his life and never rose above the level of unindicted co-conspirator.
I guess she supported him, all right.

: "She Opted Out of This Section of the Universe"

That’s what a Church of Scientology official said when explaining why the President of the Church of Scientology’s ex-wife Karen (de la Carriere) would not be permitted to attend her 27-year-old son’s memorial.
Story here.
I’m glad that Heber (said president) will be permitted out of The Hole for the memorial, though. It shows a very small amount of humanity.
Karen will be holding her own memorial for her son in a few days.

: When Coerced Abortion Is a Sacrament

I keep hearing about people who want to have religious exemptions for contraception in medical policies. Few people realize there’s another side to that coin: a religious exemption for coerced abortions.
Well, right, but who would do such a thing you ask?
The Church of Scientology, of course.
I’d previously mentioned Claire Headley’s case, but she wasn’t speaking at the Human Trafficking in Scientology Press Conference I went to two years ago because of that case. There was, however, a similar story.
Laura Decrescenzo talks about joining the Sea Org at 12, being coerced into an abortion despite wanting kids, and how she attempted suicide to get out of the Sea Org:

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Maureen Bolstad was camera crew for Gold, here’s some of her story (including some of the conditions she did camera work under). Note that she did what some of the other Gold crew have done for Writers of the Future. Note in particular the circumstances in the second video when she talks about some of the conditions she worked under while severely injured. She is a representative sample of the Gold camera crew filming the Writers of the Future events.

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Here’s part of the ruling (currently under appeal) in Claire Headley’s case:

Even so, she [Claire Headley] argues that she is a victim under the TVPA [Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act] because: (1) Defendants coerced her into having two abortions; (2) Defendants placed restrictions on Sea Org members’ ability to leave; (3) Defendants pursue Sea Org members who leave without routing out and attempt to dissuade them from their decision; (4) Defendants discipline Sea Org members who even express a desire to leave; (5) Defendants censor Sea Org members’ communications; (6) Defendants’ discipline of Sea Org members includes sleep and eating deprivation and heavy manual labor; and (7) Defendants attempted to force Plaintiff to divorce her husband. (Pl.’s Opp’n 17-18.)
In contrast to Bollard and Elvig, Defendants here represent that the challenged conduct was doctrinally motivated. (E.g., Defs.’ Reply 10-11, 15-18.) Therefore, inquiry into these allegations would entangle the Court in the religious doctrine of Scientology and the doctrinally-motivated practices of the Sea Org. It would also require the Court to analyze the criteria Defendants use to choose their ministers and the reasonableness of the methods used to enforce church policy and encourage members to remain with the organization and the religion itself. For example, inquiry concerning the pressure Plaintiff allegedly faced after becoming pregnant would require review of Scientology’s doctrine prohibiting Sea Org members from raising children. In order to determine whether Defendants’ means of persuading members to remain with the Sea Org, etc. fall within the purview of the TVPA, a trier of fact must inquire into Scientology’s policies,practices, and scriptures.
The Court rejects Plaintiff’s argument that the challenged conduct was not doctrinally motivated.

The judge is, essentially, full of it. In fact, L. Ron Hubbard’s writings are very much anti-abortion, so you could argue that the theology of Scn is anti-abortion but the current practice, at least for Sea Org members is exactly the opposite, and therefore it is a triable matter of fact as it can’t possibly be doctrinally motivated.
Here’s the background for how Scn prevented Sea Org members from leaving Gold base, including coercion and motion sensors. Here’s the judge’s statement in a hearing (pacer link, which requires a fee):

You submitted evidence that they did believe that the Church did not want them to leave the property, and if they did, that they couldn’t be members of the Church anymore. That’s an entirely different thing from being held against one’s will and being forced to work.

I can’t lather up enough rage for the judge’s complete inability to consider testimony.
A longer history of Scientology and abortion can be found in the Wikipedia article. Possibly the best reference on the change from anti-abortion to the coerced abortion situation, though, is this post about the institution of the “no kids” in the Sea Org when one of L. Ron Hubbard’s kids, Suzette, was pregnant. However, it should be noted that there were coerced abortions before, too, including time in the 60s on the ships with L. Ron Hubbard at the head of the church, but it was not as widespread or among as many people as it later became. So, really, the implied policy has always been more about serving the church’s goals and needs than about the actual theoretical doctrine.

: On the Alleged Separateness of Writers of the Future and Scientology

I have been following the contest (and some of the people involved in its administration) since 1984 when I first worked the combined Battlefield Earth / Writers of the Future booth at the World Science Fiction convention in Anaheim.
All Scientology organizations are legally separate from one another. This is a manifestation of L. Ron Hubbard’s paranoia about Scientology being taken over (by your paranoid theory of choice). Nevertheless, all things are micromanaged from the top down.

  • At the start, WotF was administered by Author Services, which is apparently completely controlled by the Church of Spiritual Technology, both of which are part of Scientology.
  • Author Services is also the corporation David Miscavige (current leader of the church) came up through the ranks out of (his wikipedia page is a little bit out of order here; Author Services existed before L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986 and Miscavige overthrew the Broekers around 1987 and took over; before then, Miscavige was the head of Author Services). If there were no relationship between Scientology and Author Services, how could that possibly happen?
  • There is very little money separate in Scientology. It’s always an upward pull week-by-week. I was on the financial planning committee of Tustin for several years. We’d send $5,000 up even when we couldn’t afford toilet paper. I’ve been science fiction convention staff at several conventions involving WotF and I see the same Scientology fingerprints all over: not having the budget to buy a dealer’s table until the end, pleading with the staff, and wanting programming to accommodate them at the last minute. There was a commitment to Westercon last year — and then, nothing. If their money was *really* separate, I’d think they’d be more consistent with their planning and not act like everything’s a last-minute emergency the way Scientology does every frakkin’ week. As for budget specifics, obviously none of us have seen them.
  • When I went to the Athenaeum at CalTech in 2007 for the WotF event, they checked the column marked “Wog.” The other column was marked, “Scn.” I said, “Oh, I’m a Scientologist.” (partly to see what they’d do) They changed what box they checked. Why use a racist slur (also commonly used to mean non-Scn) if they were not affiliated? Why track Scientologists separately?
  • The camera crew at the events are Gold Sea Org (Scn’s religious order) members. This means they normally reside and work at the same location where Debbie Cook was tortured and Marc Headley was run off the road trying to leave. I’ve actually point-blank asked a few of them, “Oh, are you from Gold base? I always thought that would be so cool!” (Because of my film background, people were pressuring me to go there when I was in, but now I’m super-glad I did not.)
  • In 2008, the event was held at the Author Services building in Hollywood. Canapes were served by Sea Org staff.
  • I’ve never met a WotF staffer who wasn’t a Scientologist (more specifically, a Sea Org member). Galaxy Press is a secular organization, so in theory they can’t discriminate on the basis of religion, disability, color, and (most especially in California) sexual orientation. So where are the people of color? The disabled? The queer? The people of other faiths? If the contest administration is truly separate, is it also a secular organization? If so, same question.
  • I seem to recall Will Fry talking about some of the aspects of fiction publishing when WotF books were still published by Bridge Publications (where he was Sea Org), but I will need to look that up. He did talk specifically about gaming the NY Times bestseller list, though.

Regardless of the nitty-gritty details of any separation between WotF and the church, you’ve still got the problem of putting the name of a guy who put kids in chain lockers on the cover. This should not be forgotten about.

: Why I No Longer Support the Writers of the Future Contest

Trigger warning for those of you who need such, especially about bullying.
For a long time, I supported Scientology’s “Writers of the Future” contest. A couple of years ago, I quietly dropped my support for it as my views on the current state of the organization changed. (Note: I am a former CofS member and staff member.)
There have been tales going on for years about some of the bad stuff the Church of Scientology has been into, including the largest known infiltration of the US Government in history, and a secret IRS agreement that gives Scientology preferential tax treatment over all other faiths despite having lost a US Supreme Court case.
But that’s old news.
Why I’m posting about this now? On Feb 9, 2012, for the first time, a senior insider to the organization documented inhuman behavior at the highest levels under oath.

Cook: We were made to do these confessions…one time in front of 100 people, yelling at you. I was put in a trash can, cold water poured over me, slapped. One time it went on for 12 hours…There were times I was accused of being a homosexual, a lesbian.

The same story from another POV:

For the next twelve hours Debbie was made to stand in a large garbage can and face one hundred people screaming at her demanding a confession as to her “homosexual tendancies”. While this was going on water was poured over her head. Signs were put around Debbie’s neck, one marked in magic marker “LESBO” while this torture proceeded. Debbie was repeatedly slapped across the face by other women in the room during the interrogation. Debbie never did break. And fittingly she was rewarded with what turned out to be a break in another sense of the word.

Debbie Cook is also saying that she would have been unable to leave, and that is why she signed the document she did. Some people find that difficult to believe, but I challenge any of you to read the first chapter of Marc Headley’s book Blown for Good, where Scientology staffers from the same base came after him in an SUV to run his motorcycle off the road so he could not escape. You can read the opening on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or download a sample from iBooks. There is contemporary evidence; here’s the sheriff’s report. Here are spikes that would have kept both Debbie and Marc from escaping, along with inward-facing motion sensors, cameras, and guards (some of which are documented here).
It’s all very nice to dangle a few dollars in front of talented sf/f writers and illustrators so new blood can give new cred to L. Ron Hubbard, but please remember there are people’s lives being destroyed by the surrounding organization.
If that’s okay with you, feel free to continue to support the contest. (Look, past winners are past as far as I’m concerned. I’m more interested in people’s actions from this point forward.)
If it’s not, I ask that you link to or repost this (but please include the trigger warning at the top).
I have never spoken out in this context about my own harassment. In February, 1995, Scientology goons came to visit me in rural Vermont. However, I lived on a rural route and they couldn’t find me, so they harassed my friends they could find, sending private investigators around. I was the first ex-member to have a personal bully on the ‘net. One of the things I was accused of (to give you an idea of the truth level): marrying a post-op transsexual. At that point, I’d never been married. I do have an ex who transitioned, but our romantic relationship was before, not after.
Not even that was enough to make me speak out against the contest (having rationalized that the contest was good and only tenuously connected to the organization at large). In the larger sense of things, my own experience was small potatoes. Thankfully.

Cook said she was held there seven weeks with more than 100 other Scientology executives. They spent their nights in sleeping bags on ant-infested floors, ate a soupy “slop” of reheated leftovers and screamed at each other in confessionals that often turned violent. For two weeks, she said, Miscavige had the electricity turned off as daytime temperatures in the desert east of Los Angeles topped 100 degrees.
Cook testified Thursday that the experience in the summer of 2007 gave her nightmares and was part of the reason she was so eager to leave the Scientology staff later that year and sign a severance agreement never to speak ill of the church. (source)

Just keep that in mind.

: One. Billion. Dollars.

Just as the year changed, Debbie Cook sent an email to 12,000 people that rocked their world.
It was a letter to active Scientologists. Debbie was the head of the largest public-facing Scientology church in the world (in Clearwater Florida) for 17 years. In the four years she’s been off their staff, she’s been busy accumulating information.
Here’s a layman’s translation of her letter:

  1. She’s highly trained, and spent 29 years in Scientology’s religious order, and isn’t connected with anyone who is a critic of Scientology. She’s a dedicated Scientologist in good standing (as of the time she wrote this letter; that has undoubtedly changed). ALl of the above is basically “why you should listen to me,” even though most Scientologists are such sheep that they probably won’t.
  2. She’s trying to use the words of L. Ron Hubbard to point out that the organization has gone off the rails in several areas, specifically:
    1. You know the organization’s supposed to follow LRH’s policies.
    2. Despite this, current leadership created the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), Scientology’s membership organization, in 1984, and has since pressured Scientologists to fund a ton of money into it. As of the time she had the information, the IAS controlled one billion dollars in reserves. (As an example, Nancy Cartwright donated $10 million. Per Hubbard, a lifetime membership should cost $75, and the money should be made available to local organizations instead of sucked into the black hole center.)
    3. There is no advertising of Scientology or Dianetics. (There used to be, in a campaign designed by Jefferson Hawkins.) In other words, money gathered to help expand Scientology — isn’t being used for that purpose.
    4. There has been a multi-year campaign to buy new buildings for Scientology churches, and this has meant hundreds of millions of dollars. The money has been raised by direct fundraising for that purpose, including bingo nights and so on, which is in direct conflict with Hubbard’s policies prohibiting fundraising. Hubbard’s philosophy was, “Solve it with Scientology.” In other words, Scientology services alone should be able to fund the buildings said services are delivered in. Instead, currently, Scientology organizations are focused on money raising for new buildings and for the IAS and are not focused on Scientology services.
    5. When services are delivered, they are being mis-delivered. Specifically, upper-level Scientologists keep getting kicked down to below the middle grade of Clear (originally mentioned in the first book, Dianetics), (and some have been forced to re-do the level more than once). Then there are the people who’ve been kicked all the way back down to the bottom, forced to start over from the beginning. Why? Money. Specifically, “many millions of dollars.”
    6. Hubbard left a team of people at the head to run the organization. They have all been disappeared over the years, occasionally trotted out at events. (One in particular, Heber Jentzsch, the ostensible President of the church, has not been seen in public in years.)
  3. Debbie suggests that Scientologists refuse to donate for anything other than their services, in particular, to stop donating for the IAS war chest and for the buildings.

So here’s my take on this: the fallout’s going to be interesting. For the most part, Debbie’s email has reached “new blood,” people who were so far in they don’t know about the Internet, Anonymous, the various blogs and sites full of ex-members — or any such thing. They still think Scientology’s expanding like gangbusters (present evidence to the contrary).
There will be pressure to pull in each of the 12,000 people for debriefing and forced loyalty testing (no doubt in the form of pushing them to donate to the things that are against Hubbard’s policies). That will push some people who hadn’t considered Debbie’s email to realize that it really is a problem, and then they’ll have to figure out how to respond.
Right now, though, there’s a lot of disavowal of Debbie, so it’ll be interesting to see how many waves she’s actually caused.

: Don't Feed the Pretty Hate Machine

The WBC is a unique organization in that it feeds most directly on people who hate their work.
Most businesses feed on people who love (or at least like) their work.
But no, the WBC pre-announces their events to foment hatred. Enraged people do stupid things, such as interfering with the free speech rights of lawyers. Then the WBC members sue for interfering with a law practice and use the settlement money to lather, rinse, repeat.
So, with all due respect, if people stopped re-posting their stuff, stopped paying them attention, and made fun of them rather than acting enraged (and thus stopped doing stupid things that would make the opposition pay for the WBC’s next gig), they would die out.
WBC is a clever social hack. Snip the social and it falls apart.
Don’t be a part of their pretty hate machine.

: Rais Bhuiyan and the Power of Forgiveness

This is a remarkable story of forgiveness and a change of heart.
It’s the kind of story that Susan Sarandon could direct, and it needs to be told and retold.
“It is due to Rais’ message of forgiveness that I am more content now than I have ever been,” Stroman said in the interview with the documentary filmmaker. “If I don’t make it I want Rais to carry on his work teaching people not to be prejudiced.”

: Pantheacon

I’m sort of torn between sites these days, but for those of you who are interested in such subjects, my notes about Pantheacon can be found on my LJ.