News & Politics

Scientology Cyclone: Commenters of the Week!

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We’ve battened down the hatches here at the underground bunker, but the seas they are a-risin’, and the cats are nervous wrecks. As we wait for Hurricane Irene’s impact, we’re still watching all things Scientology — as long as the power remains on, that is.

We started off this past week with a report on last Saturday’s “beach party” protest put on by the NYC Anonymous chapter outside Scientology’s org on 46th Street. A sandy, be-lei’d good time was had by all.

On Monday, we continued our big countdown with #18, Amy Scobee, who was one of the high-level Scientology executives who defected and then came forward with allegations of violence by church leader David Miscavige.

The next day, we had an update on Janet Reitman and her book, Inside Scientology, which is selling well and garnering terrific reviews.

On Wednesday, it was time for #17 in our countdown, which turned out to be Jefferson Hawkins, author of the excellent memoir Counterfeit Dreams and Scientology’s former marketing czar.

We also posted a wild story about Russell Brand spontaneously marrying a young couple at one of his comedy shows — and they turned out to be Will Fry and Scarlett Hanna, two people who had grown up in Scientology and now speak out against it. Will and Scarlett talked to the Voice for a really sweet update to the post.

And finally, yesterday we posted #16 in the countdown, the intrepid and brave couple Marc and Claire Headley, who lived through harrowing conditions at Scientology’s secretive headquarters and through an even more dicey escape.

Now, on to the awards!

Our report about the NYC protest included a short video we shot, and loyal commenter Scott Pilutik, who goes by “t1kk,” pointed out his own role…

My tiny cameo appearance qualifies me to state that it was the wackiest scene in Times Square yesterday, which is really saying something given the presence of the Black Israelites a few blocks away.

Amy Scobee’s appearance in our countdown elicited a lot of affection aimed her way. We liked this comment by regular reader Scientia:

Amy Scobee is a goddess. Of all the Int staff who spoke out, it was Amy that affected me the most. Her story on AC360, her interviews with the SP Times, her amazing book, they all helped me open my eyes to what was really going on within DM’s cult. Amy, you are a legend. Thank you! 🙂

But what seemed to thrill everyone was that Amy Scobee herself stopped by to take a bow!

Wow. Thank you, Tony, for this article! And I appreciate all of the wonderful comments, too! I’m very proud to be part of the group standing up for human rights and exposing the abuse within the Scientology organization. Every bit of exposure helps.

In our Janet Reitman update, we dug this thoughtful response by Runnin’ Scared regular Chuck Beatty:

I’d love to hear how the Scientologists in the ranks are reacting to the book, and whether everyday Scientologists, like even the young woman Scientologist who is heading to law school, if that young woman has read the book. I hope Janet’s book spurs the young Scientologists to do about the complaints. It’s the young Scientologists who need to know the history they haven’t been told and have no idea about, and see if those young will do something about the scene at the top ranks of their movement. – Chuck Beatty, ex Sea Org, 1975-2003, Pittsburgh

When we named Jeff Hawkins in the countdown, it elicited a lot of salutes to Jeff’s writing, particularly about the strength of his blog. We enjoyed this comment by Andie:

When I first came across Hawkins’ blog I was flabbergasted. I read for hours. I was no fan of Scientology to begin with, but his sparse but powerful prose sent chills down my spine. This was the first time I discovered an Anonymous truthism: No matter how bad you think Scientology is, the rabbit-hole goes deeper.

We’re fans of Russell Brand’s wacky humor, so we were surprised that some were a bit put off by the video of Will Fry and Scarlett Hanna’s spontaneous wedding performed by the naughty Brit comic. But we liked the way Anon A put that criticism in context:

Not a huge fan of Brand, but this video does stand as proof that leaving Scientology goes hand-in-hand with finding your sense of humor.

An outpouring of support for the Headleys greeted their inclusion in our countdown. We were tickled in particular by this response from Guest:

Their story is definitely the one that seems so movie worthy. And another example of exceptional, talented, funny and loving people that naturally Scientology has to try to destroy while simultaneously sucking up whatever it deems useful. You know, like that religious excrement Marc had to ooze out. Now, every time I hear the phrase “Holy Shit”, I think of Scientology

And finally, there was one solid shot taken at us by a pro-church commenter this week, also in the Headley post. Paolo let us know we were getting beat up elsewhere.

There is a thread on Topix news Scientology forum which is following this Top 25… It’s called “The Top 25 People “Crippling” Scientology, The Other True Face Of The Coin” It’s reporting further interesting info regarding the individuals on Ortega list. From “the other side of the coin” prospective, it looks like Tony is admiring the wrong people. Or at least for me, the other side looks more truthful.

And my thoughts regarding that kind of comment are always the same: if they’re going to pummel the Voice, I only wish our critics would do it right here for all of our readers to see!

Sigh. Well, for now we’ll get ready for a battering from Hurricane Irene. But next week, we sure hope more church-supporting commenters show up to really give us a Category 5 slamming!

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church’s HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord

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

See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice

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

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:

The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case — A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Aaron Saxton Accusation — Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated — The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation — Investigating a reporter’s divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation — An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology’s past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh — A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology — A masterful telling of Scientology’s history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? — Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology’s Enemies List — Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology — An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam — Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists — How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller’s Wild Ride — Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration — A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology’s Retaliation is “Scary and Pathetic”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy
The Paulien Lombard Confession — A Scientology Spy Comes Clean
The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell — Scientology wants your 401K
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology — the whole series!
The Squirrel Busters Busted — Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge

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