] Elizabeth Fisher • Photo by Scott Beadle
When this posts, she will be going…or gone.
Earlier, she sent an email that’s just…so her. > at 11am zurichtime, whatevertime, your time, give a cheer, hey, cause
off i go and it’s all good.
It seems weird to say that someone will be dying at a specified time, but Elizabeth Fischer chose assisted suicide when she found out recently that she had terminal lung cancer.
From that interview:
You’ve been really open about choosing suicide. How have people responded?
My demise has become a community effort, and that makes me feel pretty good. People in my coop, in my musicians’ community, the artists’ community, have been really kind and supportive. I’m being love-bombed, and it’s kind of overwhelming, because I had no idea they cared so much. [laughs heartily] They all think that I’m being so brave, though I don’t think of it that way. I’m just too smart to want to die in a hospital, racked with pain, tied to IVs, utterly humiliated.
I can’t remember precisely when I met efish on the EFNet #scientology channel (which, despite its name, was mostly a channel of critics), perhaps even before I became a channel op sometime around 1995 or 1996. I just remember her always being there, usually the cheerful one. Often talking about dancing, singing, writing, art, goulash, Hungarian, or the strange trip she’d taken through life.
Like many people in our lives, even when I no longer hung out with efish on line a lot and wandered away from Scientology criticism for quite a few years, I thought of her a lot.
We saw each others’ comments on Marty Rathbun’s blog in March 2014—this post, in fact—and reconnected via facebook and, briefly, IRC. Mom and I took a trip up to Vancouver Island this April, but we had to do it at breakneck speed (which turned out to be fortuitous; my mother became very ill almost immediately upon our return), so I sheepishly told Elizabeth I’d be back.
In retrospect, I feel foolish. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to carve out the time.
Her recent book, Orphans and Dogs, which includes quite a lot of her own pieces as well as her translation of Humorom by Attila Balogh, a Hungarian Roma poet.
Cover to Animal Slaves album Dog Eat Dog. She did the cover and was a part of the band.
Singer for Dark Blue World. You can listen to some of their music here. I find the song “On a Wire” particularly haunting tonight.
iTunes: Album link. Song link.
It’s obvious there’s a hole in the Vancouver arts scene where she used to be.
And now, a prose piece from efish about what it was like to be a refugee from her homeland. Illuminating for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember other large refugee crises, here’s a primer about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The refugee crisis was the first to be televised.
In terms of some since, it was far smaller than Syria (or Vietnam), so it was, relatively speaking, easy to find places to accommodate 200,000 people, 180,000 of whom fled into Austria. But that was by no means easy for those who were displaced…sometimes several times.
In that sense, assisted suicide—choosing the date, time, and place of one’s demise—makes a curious sense for someone blown about the globe by the whims of others at the earlier end of her life.
Hungary, 1956, mother, father and me don the family underwear and scramble off across the border to Austria. Onto Austria, where every hungarian arrives heroically freedomfighting, and from which one can only be shipped off to Argentina, where – according to mother – far off relatives await with open arms. And there they are the far off relatives but no open arms await cause they see the underwear and it makes them nervous.
There we are then, flowing sewage in front, rendering plant in back. Father works in a factory and amuses himself by teaching everyone how to swear in hungarian. And then comes home and announces okay, but he’d much rather kill himself. So mother stops the nine months long weeping and removes the one family jewel pinned to the family underwear and goes to sell it.
In the meanwhile, I attend school in spanish. A catholic school run by nuns, where during religion classes I get to sit on a bench in the yard and play with the flies.
So mother sells the family jewel and buys a ticket back to Europe, come what may. And we iron the underwear and embark on a french ship. French cockroaches rove our bodies and father states that the french are shits so we will definitely not be going to France. Mother nods and continues to weep.
We arrive back in Austria where everyone is sick of heroes and freedomfighters. So there we sit at the nearest refugee vacation facility, a fuck you gesture in austrian dialect.
A yearlong vacation, twentyfive to a room, the family underwear on a clothesline. Sporting events abound cause with hungarians, arguments are deemed sporting events. Mother weeps, father amuses himself with teaching the camp director choice hungarian obscenities.
Me, I attend school in german. And on holidays I am put on exhibit dancing rustic folk dances with a wine bottle on my head.
In the meanwhile, father’s skills in matters of hungarian language become popular. Here comes a swedish red cross rep and says he’s interested in higher learning. Okay, says father, but then how about a swedish visa. That’s hard, sighs the swede, cause everyone hates hungarians. We for example, only take persons with life threatening illnesses. That’ll be just fine, says father, look at mother there in the throes of fatal weeping. Don’t you think a rest in a fine swedish sanatorium would do her some good. Well, says the swedish rep, maybe it could be arranged, but then you’ll have to teach me something extremely exotic. Cause me, he says, I like to deeply explore foreign cultures. And then father reaches deep indeed and brings forth the most exotic of exotic cultural treasures, hidden gems from within, ancestral bon mots gingerly cradled all the way from his village of birth, exotic Babocsa, population 500, paragon of extreme hungarian cultural endeavours.
Once in Sweden, mother is carted off for a rest cure at a sanatorium. Father and I to a cute little refugeecamp by the sea. We have ourselves a great time cause no more hairbrushings and such, seeing as hygene is also resting with mother. After three weeks, mother is released from the sanatorium and continues where she left off. Weeping, she shakes the sand out of the family underwear and brushes the knots from my hair.
It is very nice in Sweden but fucking dull. Having nowhere else to go, we hang around for four years. No one to teach hungarian to cause the swedes are a very polite people. They quite politely hate all foreigners.
Me, I attend school in swedish. There are no religion classes and also no dancing.
After a while, father has had enough of all this fine innertia. He decides he wants to live in Canada. There are many refused canadian visa applications. Mother weeps. So then he decides to write a letter to the english queen. In the letter he says he has had enough of all this joking around. That he would love to leave the family underwear behind. Please allow him to live in Canada, where he, the hungarian Fischer Pista promises to sell zippers and be perfectly happy doing so, respectfully yours, your future subject, Mr. Steven Fischer. Post Scriptum, hogyha nem enged be akkor maga igazan egy hulye nagy barom es le van szarva.
And she lets him in.
The rest is less interesting. Well, okay, maybe a little bit interesting.
— © elizabeth fischer
Fischer’s laugh, a recognizable alto chortle, is almost as notorious locally as her dark Hungarian scowl. The only child of Holocaust survivors, she first ventured into the Vancouver arts scene by running light shows for rock bands during the psychedelic era, and then progressed into leading her own bands via punk. The Animal Slaves were an anomaly during the days of D.O.A. and the Subhumans, featuring as they did actual musicians playing morbidly intricate tunes behind Fischer’s complex and poetic lyrics; more recently, Dark Blue World fused rock energy with improv jazz, again by way of a rotating cast of A-list players, including Tony Wilson, Cole Schmidt, Skye Brooks, and Pete Schmitt. Fischer also painted marvellous if not always flattering portraits of her friends, often in acidic greens and yellows; made several memorable LPs and CDs; fought against persecution of the Roma in her native Hungary; and, more secretly, was a quietly spectacular knitter, whose crocheted “baldguy caps” are fetish objects for those lucky enough to own them.
About assisted suicide, a subject she’s quite passionate about:
“When my dogs got sick, I made sure they didn’t suffer,” she says. “So why can’t the same thing happen for me?”
Elizabeth Fischer singing “Learning to Live” with the Animal Slaves.
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:
— 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:
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.
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:
SOLVE IT WITH SCIENTOLOGY
[Excerpt from HCO Policy Letter of 24 February 1964
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.
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.
(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.
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).
Some parking places are marked off for “humanitarians,” by which Scientology means people with big wallets. Srsly.
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.
Because there is no parking lot. It’s just enough outside downtown Santa Ana that it also gets no foot traffic.
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.
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.
Xenu Is My Homeboy. Available from Redbubble in a bunch of sizes and styles, including a hoodie. Thanks to Deana for the idea.
Twenty years ago today, the battle of Scientology vs. the Internet leveled up with the anonymous posting of secret Scientology scriptures to the newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. Here’s what the Wikipedia page says:
On December 24, 1994, the first of a large number of anonymous messages was posted to alt.religion.scientology, containing the text of the “secret” writings of Scientology known as the OT Levels (OT stands for “Operating Thetan”).
There were five posts.
Large numbers of anonymous posts came months (and even years) later. The initial anon volley, however, was small.
As Wikipedia says:
Included among these postings was OT III (Operating Thetan Level Three), which gave L. Ron Hubbard’s description of the “Xenu story”.
First, for those who don’t know the Xenu story, the tl;dr version is that due to overpopulation, Xenu ordered people brought in for an income tax audit, froze them, then brought them en masse to Earth where they were blown up in a volcano (Hawaii and Las Palmas, among others) with hydrogen bombs, sticking those spiritually frozen beings to others. And that, in order to be free, one has to audit all those beings stuck to you using Scientology’s expensive and confidential procedures.
In fact, a Class VIII course (which covers the materials of OT III) tape transcript had previously been posted non-anonymously to alt.religion.scientology by Dennis Erlich: tape 6810C03, titled Assists, that included information about Xemu. You can find a transcript linked from this page.
When Erlich posted the transcript, what did Scientology do?
That’s right. Nothing at all.
The first person to write anything publicly about Xenu was Robert Kaufman in his 1972 book, Inside Scientology: How I Joined Scientology and Became Superhuman. Links to the actual book: PDF and HTML
There were no offices available in which to discuss highly dangerous data, so we used a bathroom, Cramming perched on the edge of the tub, myself astride the throne.
“What don’t you understand about these instructions?” she asked.
“I can’t even begin to tell you. For one thing, it says, ‘First locate a body thetan.’ Now, how in hell do you locate a body thetan?”
Thetan, in Scientology parlance, means the spirit as distinct from the body and the mind. They don’t mean brain when they say mind. It’s more the spiritual mechanics of the thetan/body interface.
The space opera antics comprising OT III meant that normal people had been so traumatized, what with being shipped all the way over here and blown up, that they no longer were capable of running bodies on their own. Some of them banded together in clusters and others as individuals, and they basically hang around less messed-up beings—like you and me—and make up our body, not to mention numerous ailments.
In 1981, Richard Leiby of the Clearwater Sun became the first journalist to publish a piece describing OT III, including an excerpt from Hubbard’s writings. The article opens:
At the Fort Harrison Hotel in downtown Clearwater, Scientologists are learning to leave their bodies, control other people’s thoughts and communicate with plant life. They learn this by reliving a galactic holocaust carried out by space creatures millions of years ago.
(Note: insert here a Reader’s Digest article from 1981. See notes at bottom.)
A summary of OT III and the whole Xenu thing had previously been printed in the Los Angeles Times in 1985:
Documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times show that members of the Church of Scientology believe that mankind’s ills were caused by an evil ruler named Xemu who lived 75 million years ago.
Erlich’s posting wasn’t the first post about OT III or the widest audience. It was simply the first where part of the source materials had been made broadly available on the Internet.
I’ve always thought that Scientology’s embarrassed about the contents, because Scientology’s reaction after the LA Times piece was to deny that these were the materials of OT III. Hubbard was still alive at that point.
Nevertheless, OT III involved the introduction of the concept of “body thetans” in OT III—those pestiferous beings-who-are-not-you clogging up your space and misbehaving on your behalf.
OT III had been covered before, in print and on the internet, several times. It wasn’t new, and thus the CofS wouldn’t go crazy over its revelation. Hence, I hope I’ve debunked the idea that this was a part of 1994’s Christmas Eve “revelation.”
Each of the five Christmas Eve docs consisted of the confidential levels after the state of Clear is attained and after OT III.
These five documents were posted anonymously to alt.religion.scientology through a replay.com crypto remailer. What specifically was posted has been misreported, partly because the source postings have been vaporized from the ‘net.
Here’s the correct document list. They are all still on Wikileaks if you’d like to read them. Source is Dennis Ehrlich’s 1995 declaration.
Rockslams. (HCOB 22 September 1978 I, NOTs Series 36)
Rockslams are an e-meter phenomenon, described thus:
A Rock slam is a crazy, irregular, unequal, jerky motion of the needle, narrow as one inch or as wide as three inches happening several times a second. The needle ‘goes crazy’, slamming back and forth, narrowly, widely, over on the left, over on the right, in a mad war dance or as if it were frantically trying to escape. (EME, p. 17)
LRH called it “the most important needle manifestation” (HCOB 10 August 1976, R/Ses, What They Mean), and went on to say:
A rockslam means a hidden evil intention on the subject or question under discussion or auditing.
So this particular NOTs document talks about auditing rockslams on body thetans. Because of course some of them have evil purposes. Scientology’s big on finding out secret evil things.
Amends and Clarifies NED for OTs Series 27. (HCOB 31 January 1979, NOTs Series 43)
This is a short and weirdly technical thing to post, but it addresses some of what was being discussed in ARS at the time. Namely, that in the lower levels of Scientology (before Clear), an auditor generally asks if the person is interested in running a specific process. This one, however, says:
Step 4 of the NED for OTs Rundown (Series 27) is subdivided into 9 actions (4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4E, 4F, 4G, 4H, 4I). The instruction to check interest only applies to Step 4F, (Repair of Past Auditing). All the other steps, (4A – 4E, 4F – 4I) are done without checking interest.
The usual rules of not running anything that doesn’t read, and checking for false read or protest if the pc is not interested or protesty, apply to all steps.
In Scientology, sometimes an auditor asks if a person is interested in “running” (addressing) a question. The e-meter “reading” (acting in a particular way) is assumed to indicate interest.
The rest of the issue is about adding an additional step at the end of each category of items if there are any problems at that point.
To be clear, I don’t believe any of this. It’s just the theory.
Dianetics doesn’t work (well) on Clears or above because it asks for components of the reactive mind, which a Clear no longer has. However, a Clear still has body thetans, so when one tries to audit Dianetics questions on a Clear, the person comes up with answers from their body thetans or clusters (of body thetans) and can go into a tailspin. Because there are lots more body thetans, and they’re constantly chattering and complaining.
Further, NOTs theory says that body thetans copy bits of case from other body thetans, kind of the way bacteria exchange DNA with each other (and thus build up antibiotic resistance). Except in this case, it means that problems keep coming back. (Convenient, no?)
Most of these BTs are below the level of conscious awareness, and irritating them, well, “it does affect the body—severely.” (HCOB 15 September 1978 II, NOTs Series 2, Why You Can’t Run Engrams After Clear)
To someone who is an Operating Thetan, the body appears transparent. Anywhere it does not, well, that’s because of body thetans and clusters making it appear solid.
Well, that’s the theory.
Scientology’s a long con with a lot of carnival hucksterism thrown in for good measure.
It’s never produced all of what Dianetics (the book, aka Book 1) promised a Clear was. In 1950. After years and years of spinning new auditing processes, in 1965, L. Ron Hubbard released the Clearing Course. Then after you’d done a boatload of different processes (like a pachinko machine), you finally got rid of enough bad stuff to get to Clear.
Except that you still weren’t a Clear by the Book 1 definition.
So there had to be theories about what was still going on—other than the processes hadn’t worked, of course!
I’m really not sure about what Hubbard did and did not believe of his own con. It’s revealed in the Epilogue of Lawrence Wright’s excellent book Going Clear that LRH pestered one of his underlings to rig an e-meter to kill Hubbard. (That didn’t happen.)
However, at some point, Hubbard realized that NOTs was a big level. Before NOTs, the levels OT IV-VII were a few weeks to a few months, at most. NOTs, however, people are commonly on for years. It became a huge cash cow for people who’d essentially topped out on all that Scientology had to offer, but still hadn’t solved their problems. The same is still true after NOTs, but at least Scientology has more money, right?
And when OT VII and, later, OT VIII weren’t enough to do placate people, the CofS saw to it that people were busted all the way back down to the start with the Purification rundown. Some people have done the whole thing, ground up, two or three times.
I can’t imagine.
One of the things that keeps people in line is the promise of future OT levels. Hubbard died in 1986, so I’m not exactly sure how long they’re going to draw this out before revealing what some upper-level ex-execs have said: there is nothing else.
It’s just one big mystery-in-a-circus-tent after another, and each level isn’t actually what was promised.
Scientology can’t make up its mind if it’s all about the quasi-gnostic concept of the material universe is crap or if the material universe is the real universe. Given that I heard over and over that thetans aren’t bound by matter, energy, space, and time, why should distance in the physical universe have anything to do with anything? Why must telepathic transmission depend on that?
It’s all crap.
Long-time Scientology critic Rod Keller posted a link to an eBay auction that included a reading copy of a science fiction magazine (Planet Stories, November 1950) in which James Blish published a piece on Dianetics.
I’d already known that James Blish had been a Fortean, so I was expecting that Blish’s piece would be pro-Dianetics. However, the linked article led me to expect that Blish’s piece would be more intellectual than it actually is. > There are lots of reasons various people were drawn to the works of Charles Fort, as has been shown through these biographies, and some of them can be grouped into families: those who search for something simultaneously material and transcendent, beyond science; those who have trouble with authorities; those who wish to put forth an alternative science. One type not yet explored—but well represented among the Forteans—is the person who wants to be the smartest in the room. Tiffany Thayer himself fits into this mold in many ways. And so does James Blish.
Curious creature that I am, I ordered the mag, which arrived today.
Here’s the TOC, and here’s the article. (PNG 600 DPI greyscale scans, 14-16MB files)
Note: except for removing hyphenation and adding Wikipedia links, I’ve not edited the text in any way. If you notice any transcription errors, even a comma, please comment below or email me. I believe this is now in the public domain, but if you have a valid DMCA takedown request, use the email link at the bottom of every deirdre.net page.
An increased life-span, freedom from 70% of all human illnesses and a major increase in intelligence—these are only a few of the benefits promised us by a new science called “dianetics.”
“Dianetics” is both the name of a recent book about how the human mind operates, and the general term used to cover specific methods of repairing, healing and perfecting the human mind.
Just how does the human mind work? Up to a few years ago nobody really knew.
Why does the human mind fail to work efficiently at times, or all the time? Another mystery.
If the claims made for the new science of dianetics are borne out, both those mysteries are now solved. Some of these claims are so flabbergasting as to stagger even the hardened science-fiction fan. For instance:
Dianetics claims to have cured many types of heart ailment, arthritis, the common cold, stomach ulcers, sinus trouble, asthma, and many other diseases, amounting to about 70% of the whole catalogue of human ills.
Dianetics also claims to have cured virtually every known form of mental disease. These cures have encompassed the severest form of insanity, workers in dianetics declare flatly.
Furthermore—and in this claim (among others) lies dianetics’ bid to be called a science—dianetics claims to be able to cure all these aberrations and diseases every time, without fail. At the time this is being written, some months before you will read it, dianetics has been tried on a minimum of 300 people, and, its originators say, has worked 100% without failure in all these cases.
Nor is this all, fantastic though what I’ve already written may seem to be. Use of Dianetic therapy on so-called “normal” people seems to produce changes in them which can only be described as dynamite.
“Normal” people treated by dianetic therapy, it’s said, undergo a rise in intelligence, efficiency, and well-being averaging a third above their previous capacity! In one case, a woman, the IQ—intelligence quotient—rose 50 points before the full course of therapy was run!
Such “clears,” as they are called, are said to be immune to any and all forms of mental disease, and to any and all forms of organic diseases caused by mental or emotional difficulties.
It might be a good idea to stop here and ask the names of the people who are making these incredible claims. They are none of them professional quacks, faith-healers, bread-pill rollers, or other forms of swindlers. They are all men with solid reputations, and all, as it happens, quite familiar to the science-fiction reader.
The leader of the new school of thought is L. Ron Hubbard, author of “Fear,” “Final Blackout,” and many other science fiction classics. By trade, Hubbard is an engineer.
Hubbard’s two principal confrères are John W. Campbell, Jr., and Dr. Joseph E. Winter. Mr. Campbell, of course, is widely known even to the general public as a government consultant in nuclear physics, the author of “The Atomic Story,” and to us as the editor of a top-notch science-fiction magazine. Dr. Winter, who by the way is an M.D., not a Ph.D., has published some science-fiction stories; but until dianetics came along, he was best known as an expert endocrinologist of unimpeachable reputation.
Hubbard’s book,* however, does not include any formal evidence for the claims. The Dianetics Institute in Elizabeth, N. J., is equally unwilling to offer authenticated case records or any other evidence of that specific kind. The book, dianetics men point out, offers the therapy procedures in complete detail. If you want case histories, perform your own experiments.
As it happens, one of the more spectacular cures claimed by dianetics took place in the New York area, and could be checked from outside sources. Jerome Bixby, editor of Planet Stories, checked it. The claim was so; hospital authorities who have no connection with dianetics as a movement vouch for it, cautiously but definitely.
My own personal tests of the therapy—on myself, my wife, and a friend (namely, Jerome Bixby)—haven’t proceeded very far as yet. But as far as they’ve gone, they check with the claims. The phenomena Hubbard describes in the book do appear. They appear in the order in which he says they appear. And they match his descriptions of them to the letter. Such after-effects as we’ve been able to observe also check.
If dianetics does work—and every check I’ve been able to run thus far indicates that it does—it may well be the most important discovery of this or any other century. It will bring the long-sought “rule of reason” to the problems of local and world politics, communication, law, and almost every other field of human endeavor—the goal of a 3000 year search.
*DIANETICS, by L. Ron Hubbard. Hermitage House, New York, 1950: $4.00. Hermitage, by the way, is the publisher of a number of books on psychology and psychoanalysis universally acknowledged to be serious contributions to the field.
(end of article)
In 1946, four years before Blish’s article, Jack Parsons got a restraining order (and, along with it, a temporary injunction) against L. Ron Hubbard and his then-wife Sarah Northrup.
As we pointed out on Wednesday, Hubbard had met Sara in Pasadena at the home of John Whiteside “Jack” Parsons, the Caltech rocket scientist and occultist. The three of them had cooked up a business scheme that involved Hubbard and Sara going to Miami to buy a sailboat with money that was nearly all Jack’s, then sailing it back to California to sell for a profit. But once Hubbard and Sara went to Florida and bought a boat, they didn’t go anywhere, and Jack ended up suing them. The lawsuit was settled, Hubbard and Sara sold the sailboat, and then they went to Maryland, where they were married.
By 1951, the marriage had turned into a nightmare, and after they split, Hubbard did his best to erase from the record that Sara had ever been a part of his life.
So, ironically, had he but known Hubbard’s history, Blish wouldn’t have made a claim like “They are none of them professional quacks, faith-healers, bread-pill rollers, or other forms of swindlers.” Because, as it turns out, Hubbard was exactly that.
Also, in 1946, Hubbard was still legally married to his first wife, Polly.
In 1948, Hubbard was arrested and fined for petty theft.
In 1951, Dr. Joseph Augustus Winter left dianetics, publishing a book called A Doctor’s Report on Dianetics, critiquing that, among other things, Hubbard never wanted to have any minimum standard for testing subjects. Further, some techniques harmed some patients. Winter’s departure even made Time magazine.
In 1979, I became Clear # 20,182. I later attested to Clear again (because, since the changeover in the late 70s, most people who’ve attested Clear in Scientology have had to do it more than once).
As I sit here writing this, I’m recovering from a cold. I have arthritis in one knee and the other hip. I had sinus trouble all through my Scientology years, but being on a CPAP at night does far more for that than Dianetics or Scientology ever could. I now have asthma, which I suspect is related to years and years of second-hand smoke, including working with smokers in Scientology.
Further, David Miscavige is widely rumored to have asthma. Anyone who’s known a lot of Clears has known some who’ve died of the various ailments Blish listed.
The claims of what Dianetics and Scientology cure are all bullshit.
The James Randi Educational Foundation will pay US$1,000,000 (One Million US Dollars) (“The Prize”) to any person who demonstrates any psychic, supernatural, or paranormal ability under satisfactory observation. Such demonstration must take place under the rules and limitations described in this document. An applicant can be from or in any part of the world. Gender, race, and educational background are not factors for acceptance. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and legally able to enter into binding agreements.
Look, Scientology tends to leave its adherents cash strapped. I’ve seen it over and over again, and it’s a huge part of why I left. If the various claims in Dianetics and Scientology about paranormal abilities were indeed true (e.g., “exterior with full perception”), some one of those tens of thousands of Clears would have collected a million bucks from JREF.
And they haven’t.
Could be worse. You could be a desperately sad L. Ron Hubbard in your last days asking one of your assistants to build you an assisted suicide machine so you could die.
But this Blish article? A puff piece where he says he’s audited his friend, who, oh yeah, also happens to be the editor of the magazine said puff piece is printed in? And said friend checked one of the more “spectacular cures” (which, you note is never specifically identified)?
Blish should have been ashamed of himself.
At best, the techniques used in Dianetics and Scientology are talk therapy.
Most of the time, they’re not even that good.
I had the awesome privilege of meeting Cat Grant in person last weekend when I was in her area. We talked for several hours! She’s trying to buy the rights back to her three books still with EC. GoFundMe link.
I’ve spoken about my great love of Design Cuts ever since I discovered them earlier this year. They are re-running twenty-two of their prior deals.
The font used in the image above is Brush Up from Pintassilgo Prints, and is from the Monster Creative Font Bundle.
If I had to pick three of the above….
This will be running for another week and a half in case you are just overwhelmed with choice. Hell, I was, and I already had 14 of the bundles being re-run. I now, uh, have 17 of them.
Peter of Cruzine Design also runs DealJumbo.com, where he pulls together a lot of great deals, often from Creative Market shops.
Cruzine has some really complicated vintage-style logos and frames that I can’t ever see myself using but want to hoarde all the same. Here’s one of the freebies where you can see what I mean.
The deals DealJumbo runs, though, are far broader in appeal. The “5in1” deals are from five different designers, which is a great concept.
Here are a few active deals I’ve bought:
The monster in the box up top came from one of DealJumbo’s freebies, but it appears to be one only available to mailing list subscribers.
Look, I get it. I was a Photoshop idiot for years even after taking a couple of classes. These days, I consider myself intermediate in Photoshop skill.
Dustin Lee at Retro Supply started making amazing videos to show off how to use his products. Then he started adding extra videos when you bought his stuff, and they were useful enough that, well, hell with whether or not I need/want the product, I wanna see the videos!
He’s just opened Retro Academy which will feature tutorial videos.
According to the EEOC’s suit, the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an “audit” by connecting herself to an “E-meter,” which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo “purification” treatment at the Church of Scientology. According to the EEOC’s suit, employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses but were told it was a requirement of the job. In the cases of Rodriguez and Sanchez, when they refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and/or did not conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.
It was later settled for $170,000.
I saw this a lot from the Scientology side of the fence when I was on staff (except for the terminations).
For many years, Scientology’s big clients have been chiropractors, dentists, and related non-mainstream medical practices. There are Scientology-based consulting practices, such as Sterling Management Systems, whose entire goal it is to get everyone in an office “trained” in “Scientology tech.” And audited. And Clear.
Whether they want to be or not.
Most weeks, it was more than half the income of the local Scientology church I worked at.
At the time, I thought it was great. Now, of course, I want to wash all the ick off my psyche.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the missing stair analogy of late. For those who don’t know it, it’s the concept that people learn how to warn other group members of a specific member’s vile behavior. After a while, because “everyone knows,” they become like a missing stair everyone knows to step over. Except everyone’s not an insider.
Growing up in a household with abuse is like that missing stair, except it’s the missing doorknob to go outside, the missing section of the floor between you and the monsters, and the missing stair (which leads to different monsters). You learn pretty quickly what escalates vs. what does not and how best to cope—which doesn’t mean that it’s all good by any stretch of the imagination.
When you get out into life, having routed around the doorknob-floor-and-stair problem all your life, you really don’t know how to deal with the fact that the world is full of people whose houses have fully-functional stairs, doorknobs, and floors. It had never occurred to you that floors should be actual floors. And they think you’re pretty strange for that odd jump you do five stairs below the landing.
Some of the problems out there—that poor bastard is missing a whole roof—are even worse.
Sometimes your coping strategies will get you into more trouble, especially when you interact with people you think get you but are broken in differently horrible ways.
I remember not long after leaving Scientology, I was dealing with all of these missing-stair-like problems unraveling at once. As I described it one day, I felt like I’d teleported suddenly into a different emotional landscape where I was blindfolded, everything was in an unfamiliar place, and all the furniture was pointy.
That shift was permanent, and it took some time to get used to, but I remember the imagery that went along with trying to describe it.
Really, I stopped putting up with missing stairs.
Photo credit: Niklas Sjöblom
At the end of 1992, scientologists started to arrive uninvited on my doorstep. They always came in pairs, a new pair each time. The visits happened about once a week, but not on the same night. The timing of the visits varied, with the latest being after 11 o’clock. The first couple accused me of “persecuting” their religion. When I asked for details, one of them said that I had told a newspaper that Scientology “brainwashed” its members. I explained that the journalist had given his own opinion. I tend to avoid the emotive term “brainwashing” and speak instead of “coercive psychology”. Having failed in the particular, they moved on to the general. I was accused of being a liar. Unable to give any example of a lie I had told, one began chanting hysterically “you tell lies”.
The phobic attitude towards critics and the refusal of dialogue characterize totalist groups or destructive cults. Scientologists are taught that anyone who seeks to dissuade them from Scientology is “suppressive”. If the criticism cannot be silenced, then the scientologist should cease all communication with the critic, or “disconnect”. Any criticism of Scientology is held to stem from undisclosed “overts” or moral transgressions. The critic is asked “what are your crimes?” This can be upsetting to the mystified parent of a raging scientologist.
If a scientologist hears any criticism of Scientology or its creator, that criticism must be relayed to Scientology’s “Ethics” department in a written “knowledge report”. Further, Scientologists are forbidden discussion of the techniques of Scientology (called “verbal technology”), the penalty for which is being “declared” a “Suppressive Person”, and being ostracised by other scientologists, under the policy of “disconnection”. Scientologists are also enjoined not to talk about any of their problems except to their appointed Scientology “auditor”. They pay up to $1,000 per hour to discuss such problems. While Hubbard insisted that Scientology’s main focus is enhancing communication, he actually spent a great deal of time restricting it.
…and, most chillingly…
Hackers have shown that virtually no data held in a computer database is truly private. Scientologists have demonstrated great technical proficiency in their attempts to close down the computer Internet alt.religion.scientology newsgroup. With former scientologists, documentary evidence and testimony demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hubbard and his wife both ordered the use of scientologists’ supposedly confidential confessional folders. During a Scientology session, the “auditor” keeps a written record of the subject’s utterances. Anything scandalous should be reported to the Ethics Section and from there it would find its way to the Intelligence section. Nowadays, prospective employees are asked to fill in a 110 question “Life history”. This is not held to be confidential by Scientology management. It includes the demand: “Make a chronological list of the names of all persons with whom you have had sexual relationships and what you engaged in. Approximate the number of times you carried on any kind of activity, and note any perversions you engaged in. Be as complete as you can.” It is understandable that very few former members dare to speak out.
Atack’s book is “A Piece of Blue Sky.” Worth reading if you’re interested in the subject.
Note: Fixed link, which was broken initially. Oops!
I don’t know how many of you know who Kate is. I’ve known of her for quite a few years, but it was only a couple of years ago that I realized she was also an ex-Scn.
Here’s a long piece in the Village Voice written when her book A Queer and Pleasant Danger came out. Long story short: she’s one of the few trans* people to come out about their experiences in Scientology, and the first to be really public about it. She transitioned in the 80s. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she legally changed her name to Kate on the very day that L. Ron Hubbard died.
Kate describes, perhaps better than anyone has before, what it was like to become a dedicated Sea Org member during Scientology’s more freewheeling heyday. – Tony Ortega
Of the Sea Org members who’ve worked directly with L. Ron Hubbard in some capacity, Kate’s the third to write and publish their story. (Nancy Many and Jefferson Hawkins are the other two.)
Anyhow, she has lung cancer. Or, more accurately, her lung cancer’s back. She’s got a fundraiser going on. If you’re inclined to donate, here’s the link. If not, I recommend her book.
Kate’s Twitter, where you can verify that link comes from her.
Kate’s blog, which is currently down due to a Typepad DDoS.
Here’s a video of Kate reading from her book.
Pretty good introduction to some of the big issues from a non-Scientologist’s perspective. Interesting that they cover Operation Snow White but don’t mention that Hubbard’s wife served time for that.
Most of the time when people talk about their time in Scientology, they’ve been out for a few years. Until then, most people just are too shell-shocked trying to process their experiences and what they mean.
Recently, Jillian Schlesinger came out of the Sea Org. I missed this particular article and only watched her video, but the article’s interesting for me for the following part:
Jillian Schlesinger tells me she began taking Scientology courses at only about 12 years of age. Her parents, John and Paula, had both been Sea Org workers before she was born, but had left the Sea Org and were still “public” Scientologists — meaning they were still members in good standing, but they didn’t work for the church.
Jillian had been born in Los Angeles, but by the time she started classes she was living in Orange County and went to the “org” in Tustin. Even then, at 12, she began to feel the pressure of joining staff or making the ultimate commitment — joining the Sea Org. After helping out as a volunteer with youth groups, at 15, she decided to join the OC org staff.
She was assigned to work for the org’s “Department of Special Affairs.” The DSA was the local version of the Office of Special Affairs, Scientology’s notorious intelligence operation and spy wing.
I worked there in Tustin, and there was a Paula who was Sea Org; she was the Flag Rep. Which, frankly sounded like a horrible job.
If they hadn’t moved the office, then Jillian worked in the office next door to the one I used to work in. She came in through the same doorway to pick up her pay each week, probably getting it from my old boss.
That’s just incredibly strange to me.
Before I link to Jillian’s videos, I also want to say what an incredibly awesome job Karen de la Carriere is doing interviewing people who’ve left. Karen is the ex-wife of Heber Jentzsch, still nominally the President of the Church of Scientology even though he’s lived in The Hole for years and previously said, “I’ll never get out of here alive.”
Here are Jillian’s three videos with Karen:
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:
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.
Russell Miller’s amazing book about L. Ron Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah, sued into oblivion in the United States, is finally going to be re-published. Tony Ortega article.
About the private investigator Scientology frequently uses for harassment:
Eugene Ingram was certainly the major figure, because later on they then tracked down virtually everybody I knew in the United States and Europe. I mean, it was amazing to me. They found every single person I knew in the United States, and I knew a lot of people there because I worked there frequently. So they were in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington, and it always seemed to be Eugene Ingram turning up.
What you may not know: after I left Scientology, and again in 1995, Eugene Ingram went around to all my friends, exes, and known ties telling them crap about me.
Even more amazing about Russell Miller’s re-publication is Marty Rathbun’s apology for his part in the dirty tricks. For those who don’t know, Marty has not historically been big on apologizing for this kind of stuff. Good on him.
As he says:
I encourage people to purchase his book once available and read it. Not just because it will make me feel a bit better about my own efforts to suppress it, but because I believe it is essential reading for anyone involved with Scientology.
We don’t know each other, but we have something in common: a former relationship with Scientology. Only I didn’t grow up at its centre, then in East Grinstead, Sussex, the way you did. I got in when I was 18.
I read your piece Storms and how they start, and I get that Jonathan Ross is your friend. That isn’t a problem for me. What is a problem? Is failure to understand that your friend was always a problematic choice for hosting the Hugos, which I will get to.
One of the problems of the culture of Scientology is that you’re not supposed to talk about things that other people do to upset you, lest you yourself get told to get to Ethics and write up everything you’ve done. Or, worse, have to pay for a bunch of sessions to “handle” the whole thing. It takes the stiff upper lip thing to the next level, so it’s hard to hear a bunch of complaints and realize there is legitimacy to them.
Your dad was one of the most problematic people in Scientology. He ordered false information put in US security agency computers. He was involved, though not to the point of being an unindicted co-conspirator, in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian intrusion into US government systems to date. He took over for Jane Kember after she was convicted. Your dad, as Public Relations official for the Scientology’s Guardian’s Office Worldwide, was involved in cleaning up L. Ron Hubbard’s PR disasters, such as the chain locker abuses on the ships, particularly the incidents involving children. One disaster was throwing Mary Sue Hubbard under the bus after she was convicted in Operation Snow White. (She arguably got the best treatment by Hubbard of any of his wives.)
But still—David Gaiman was your dad.
Before we go further, I’d like to say: thank you for being a better person than he was, speaking as someone who was harassed by techniques your dad took a hand in developing.
However, better is relative here. I think the statement you made about your affiliation with Scientology (“As a child, I suppose I was as much a Scientologist as I was Jewish, which is to say it was the family religion. Am I now? No.”) was disingenuous given that a) you married a Scientologist before (not Amanda, obviously) and b) non-Scientologists don’t fork over $35,000 for obscure religious level contributions of benefit only to long-standing Scientologists. Sure, I believe you’re not a Scientologist now.
Still, that conditioning is hard to break. Hubbard and David Gaiman, among others, developed strategies specifically for silencing critics. So I can’t help but wonder if there’s a part of you still stuck in the “what are your crimes?” victim-blaming of critics that your father perfected.
Given that kind of a background, I can understand why you might have overlooked why Jonathan Ross was a problematic choice.
The best explanation I’ve read is Patton Oswalt’s post about rape jokes:
In fact, every viewpoint I’ve read on this, especially from feminists, is simply asking to kick upward, to think twice about who is the target of the punchline, and make sure it isn’t the victim.
Now, with that in mind, let’s look at these ten moments of Jonathan Ross’s. I’ll pick three.
What the people tweeting didn’t like? They didn’t want a Hugo announcer to kick downward. They had a reasonable fear that he would.
Look, I get that comedians tend to go too far. It’s how they find out where the edges are. But as a culture, SF/F fandom is still trying to cope with how to stop kicking downward. For that reason, Ross was simply the wrong choice. Oswalt again:
We bomb all the time. We go too far all the time. It’s in our nature. […]
I’m a man. I get to be wrong. And I get to change.
What I’d like, Neil, is for you to consider one thing: maybe the people who objected to Ross had a valid point. And maybe you just didn’t see that point while reeling at the backlash.
It’s not too late to look again in a new unit of time.
A few from this reddit thread:
I had missed this piece from March 2012, even though it quotes me.
Because I’ve never posted this on my own blog and I think it’s important, I’m going to quote what I posted over on John Brown’s.
If you haven’t seen documentation about Scientology’s systemic abuses, you really have been avoiding looking, frankly. I’ve got some links on my WotF-tagged posts.
How can Galaxy Press afford to keep the anthologies in print, you might ask? Because I assure you, they benefit from the church’s own internal human trafficking to do so.
You may not know that Scn owns their own presses, operated by Bridge Publications. There’s frankly no way, despite their claims of massive sales, they could afford to keep the anthologies in print using commercial printers, especially the older anthologies where the sales have tapered off.
Here’s a lawsuit from a former Bridge staffer who, as a minor, severed a finger in a guillotine that had no safety guards. Minors are prohibited by federal law from operating such equipment, and Montalvo was offered no compensation.
Meanwhile, workers at Bridge Publications? Are Sea Org, and Sea Org women are prohibited from having children and coerced into abortions. I have a post about that here.
The camera crew for the event come from Gold Base, where the security is insane. Look at the inward-facing motion detectors, razor wire, spikes — all designed to keep people in (granted, as well as out).
These are the working conditions for the people who actually make the bright shiny anthologies so that people can say there’s no connection. It’s not just about the surface details, that’s just gloss.
Here’s the California penal code for human trafficking.
d1: Scn does this with Sea Org staff. Don’t believe me? Look at the spikes in the link above.
d2: Scn controls passports and IDs of its Sea Org staff.
e: Scn does this with Sea Org.
Watch the testimonies from the Human Trafficking Conference. Of these, Will Fry’s is most relevant as he was actually Sea Org at Bridge Publications.
Look deeper. I will be.
Until then, ponder: what social costs are you willing to pay to get a check for a few hundred or a few grand and have your story perpetually in print?
As Nick Mamatas has pointed out, you have been recruited. Your post is proof that you are indeed doing PR for them with this post.
I remember talking with Tony before this story went to print. One of the things he said was that he couldn’t use Montalvo as a source because the case had settled. However, I’m not bound by the same rules of a journalist. The lawsuit is a matter of public record.
I’m surprised that I feel such a loss at his death.
He wasn’t my favorite actor.
I like to call him: my favorite actor whose choices I mostly hated and mostly couldn’t watch. That’s because I strongly prefer comedy to drama and he clearly went the other way on that scale. Sometimes I would watch his movies even though I knew I’d hate them, but I stopped doing that after Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead.
State & Main is one of my favorite films. A friend said he didn’t like it because it “lacked warmth.” Well, he’s from the south, so I just kinda laughed at that and said, “It’s got great warmth for Northern New England. After all, styles of warmth differ.” And it did. (And they do.)
So I’ll hang onto that and The Big Lebowski, Twister (aka: The Weather Channel with a plot), The Invention of Lying, and Pirate Radio.
And maybe, just maybe, at some point I’ll be in a place where I can watch The Master.
This. So much this.
I was assaulted by family members until I was nineteen. I don’t mean in a small way. I mean my stepmother actually used a cast iron skillet. She was not the only one. And yes, I limp. Coincidence? I’m not sure it is.
It’s a long and complicated story that feeds into why I joined Scientology, though it’s not why I joined per se. Where, I might add, people didn’t hit me, not even when I expected them to. (Yes, it’s sad when a cult is an improvement over your home life, but that was the truth. I’m also well aware that many Scientology stories, particularly those of Sea Org members, include horrific tales of violence.)
I am very, very fortunate that I have not turned out to be one of those people who hits others. I have never been in an abusive relationship as an adult. I have never hit a child.
But that wasn’t at all a given. I have worked to be a better person. I have worked to pick better people in my life.
Edited to add:
When I moved in with my first husband, I also acquired three stepsons in the bargain. The youngest, R-T, was a handful at age 5. My observation was that both of his parents were inconsistent about the rules they’d set. They’d set them, then let the kid break the boundaries with no consequences. As a result, R-T no longer listened.
Though I didn’t know it at the time, he’d actually been banned from my husband’s best friend’s house because of bad behavior.
There was an early formative moment in our relationship. We needed to run some errands, then we’d go to the ice cream shop (it was the first day it opened in spring, that much I remember). I was very clear: we’re doing A, B, C, D, then ice cream.
After A, he asked if we could do ice cream. I said, “You heard me say we were doing A, B, C, D, then ice cream. We have only done A.”
When he asked after B, I reminded him of what I’d said twice, “If you ask again, you will not get ice cream when we go to the ice cream shop.”
After C, he asked again.
Richard was very uncomfortable about enforcing the boundary, but Richard and I had ice cream and R-T did not.
And, you know what? He actually started listening after that. Not long after, he was allowed in the friend’s house again. Shocker, huh?
Now, I’m not saying that’s a solution for every problem with a kid, but you really can steer some kid behavior in meaningful ways.
As if you didn’t know that already.
This is the first time I’ve actually had documentation of it, though. (“Dead File” simply means “Do not contact this person (treat them like they’re dead).” SP means “Suppressive Person.”) Apparently full SP list can be found here and in related videos.
I’d actually intended to change my surname a few years earlier than I actually did, and I’d gotten into a fit of Celtic pride after taking some Irish lessons in Hollywood back in the day. When I actually tried to figure out what to change my surname to, well, the Irish form of Maloy (Ní Mhaolmhudhaigh) was too unwieldy, so I picked a first name.
Saoirse means freedom. (Moen is Rick’s surname. Like the Borg, I added his distinctiveness to my own.)
In this case, it was a meta commentary about my life: I was free from the trap of selling freedom to people who were freer before than they would be after.
Events that have occurred recently have had me thinking: should I write a book about my time in Scientology? I came up with a great title for it yesterday. I’m only going to reveal one word: Firebrand.
I never had the experience of Marc Headley, who got run off the road trying to escape from Hemet. I still shudder to think I could have wound up there. Wanted to, in fact.
To my knowledge, I was the first person for whom Scientology used its resources to out me on the internet. (timeline here)
There are — a lot of things I wouldn’t say outside a book. Like why “firebrand” is the right word in the title. Or why writing a book makes me shake, even oh so many years later. Or why you might think less of me once you’d read it. Or, weirdly, why you might think more of me in ways that would make me uncomfortable.
I left because I didn’t like the person I’d become. It was alien — and antithetical — to the person I wanted to be. It wasn’t a problem Scientology could solve, but it was one they could create.
I have a story, though, one that’s far more interesting than I’ve been letting on. (For those of you who know the details that I’ve only told trusted people face-to-face for the past 20 years, I ask that you keep my confidence just this little while longer.)
Back in the day of the ScienoSitter, when Scientology secretly installed internet filtering software on Scientologists’ computers under the guise of letting them build their own pro-Scientology web sites, “Deirdre” was one of the banned terms. Web pages with my name in them were secretly unavailable. Some of those web sites still exist; Robin Rowand, who got me into Scientology (along with her husband) still has hers up.
I’m. Just. That. Awesome.
My story is also related to the reason that XKCD 386 is my license plate.
So. My question: is that a book you’d be interested in reading?
I wrote the rest of this post July 2, 2010, after a visit to where I’d been staff for several years, back when we decided to go visit the old stomping grounds for grins. Yeah, we punked them.
Talk about your surreal. Friend of mine and I headed down to Tustin to the grand old corner of Irvine and Red Hill to see how the old place (where we’d both worked) was.
First of all, the parking lot is really ratty. These people, if they want to sell that building, need to make it less of an albatross. Paint was peeling all over and it almost looked like it hadn’t been painted at all since I was there last in 1990.
When I walked in the entrance nearest reception, two people were standing there and one asked what I needed (very friendly, though) and led me to one place. I said I didn’t know if I was declared a suppressive person, I’d emailed ahead of time (by a day), and I was coming in to find out my status. You think this might make them unfriendly, but it didn’t. After all, one of the steps to being recovered is paying $BIGBUCKS and there I was on Thursday morning, almost as if I knew that stats were collected on Thursday at 2 and they could use the income.
So we got led to the “special people” reception, who then led us to Ethics reception. Unfortunately, the Ethics Officer was busy, so we had to wait in the special ethics reception (yes, so far I’ve been in three reception areas within a span of 10 minutes. Such is Scientology — everyone’s busy sending people places to wait.)
Someone popped in, looked at me, did a double-take and said, “You’re….” As soon as I heard the voice, I recognized her. She’d not aged well, looked quite wrinkled, and her hair had gone from jet black to light grey, but I had worked with her for 8 years, just not closely.
“Wow, I haven’t seen you in a long time.” So we chat for a while.
This is repeated twice again with other people, the final person being the guy who now runs the place, Ed Dearborn. He was in his early 20s when he joined staff there, meaning he’s now somewhere between mid-40s and maybe as old as 50 (I can’t quite remember how long we worked together).
The Ethics Officer came out, she was a cute 20-something, obviously someone I’d never met except perhaps in infancy, and was very polite. I wrote down my name, my old post, my dates of employment, and my senior’s name and dates of employment. She went away for a loooooooong time (30-45 minutes, it seemed like), and then came back with a single sheet of paper.
“Your ethics file is not here.” That must have saved 2-3″ in a filing cabinet. 🙂 “There is, however, a note that you were declared, but I have no copy of that declare.” Later, I thought: they aren’t cleared for my level of suppression. Probably literally.
The piece of paper was my old boss’s suppressive person declare, a scant one page long. Now I’ve read some really lurid ones of these, including specific sex acts, and all kinds of details that were mostly fabricated, running on for pages and pages.
I felt kind of sad for my friend — he was accused of exactly one thing, which he apparently did do, and nothing else, making it seem like he was insufficiently important for a lurid declare, nor was it probably credible that he’d actually done anything lurid. He’s one of those steadfast kinds of people, though. Very nice guy.
After that, we went to a location Google maps told us was Scientology in Santa Ana — a warehouse of unknown purpose, and the new “Ideal Org” building in downtown Santa Ana had a water disconnect notice (for $1400+ for an empty building, no less). The notice had been there for three weeks, apparently unnoticed by anyone at the org.
Speaking of the Ideal Org campaign — essentially, each org, even those that own their buildings clear (as Orange County has in the past), was too ratty, and thus there’s a campaign to raise money to get historic buildings, glossy interiors, and this is funded by fundraising from affluent Scientologists. The highest contributors are called, get this, “humanitarians.” That will explain one of the photos in the set below.
Note: April 1 2015, I’ll finish reposting the photos later today, but here’s the “humanitarian” one.
I have mentioned Marc Headley’s excellent book, “Blown for Good,” more than once. (iBooks) (B&N) (Amazon)
The first chapter is about Marc’s escape and being run off the road by Scientology goons. Here are pictures of what he was escaping from.
If you’ve heard the story recently about the split up between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes and how the CofS interviewed potential brides for Tom — well, Marc broke that story. Given that, they want the book buried.
No, really. Here’s the PNG of Scientology asking for all rights to the book (so they can alter and/or bury it). Also note they are asking for the Headleys to be silent about Scientology and spy on other people who’ve left the fold.
Marc and his wife Claire managed to escape, and many do not — or if people do, they aren’t able to make it out as a couple. The Headleys filed a lawsuit about human trafficking, and you can see part of their story at the Human Trafficking Press Conference. It was tough being in the audience of that conference, let me tell you.
Catch is, the Headleys’ case got all the way up to the 9th Circuit, who said that religions aren’t subject to the federal trafficking laws. (ruling is here)
As a consequence of the lawsuit, they now owe Scientology around 43 grand in court-ordered costs. They have started a GoFundMe site to help raise this. In less a day, it’s half funded. If you can do anything to help, these are, in my opinion, people worthy of help.
They have two kids (after she experienced coerced abortions while in Scientology) and are expecting their third child soon.
If you do nothing else, for whatever reason, will you please go to your book vendor of choice and read just the first chapter about his escape? Thank you.
(As always, it’s okay to repost or link to my public posts. Please do so if you feel inclined.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.