Scientology Dramaturgy: Commenters of the Week!

Things back at the underground bunker are peaceful and calm -- the cats dig the new scratching post, we hear, and they're finally getting some quiet time while we're on the road frantically trying to keep up with Scientology's ongoing implosion.

Things started out quietly enough as we began another week with some Sunday Funnies that continued a Star Wars theme Down Under. Then we kicked things up a notch with another big Monday investigative feature, this time about Scientology's secretive Church of Spiritual Technology. In a rare interview with a former CST employee, we provided detailed maps to all five locations of the church's bizarre underground vaults in California, New Mexico, and Wyoming, where archives of L. Ron Hubbard's writings are stored to survive a nuclear war.

On Tuesday, we took a closer look at the 2-minute TV ad that Scientology has been running on network television. Turns out not everything in it is exactly on the up and up.

That afternoon, we relayed the news that CCHR president Jan Eastgate was charged with a second count in her ongoing criminal prosecution in Australia. We also noted that tonight NYC anons will be celebrating four years of Project Chanology.

Wednesday morning we previewed the Debbie Cook temporary injunction hearing by interviewing Gerry Armstrong, another person who signed a gag order but then spoke out about Scientology anyway.

That night we sneakily boarded a plane to San Antonio so we'd be on the spot for Thursday's big hearing. We provided live updates from the courtroom that proved to be pretty popular. Thursday evening we wrapped up that day's testimony with some analysis of the case.

Friday morning, after posting our regular weekly feature of L. Ron Hubbard dispatches from the yacht Apollo, we resumed our live coverage from a San Antonio courtroom.

After Scientology surprised everyone by waving the white flag and giving up on its gag order as the lawsuit goes forward, we got to interview Debbie yesterday afternoon.

Wow, what a week! OK, let's get to the awards...

Our story on the Church of Spiritual Technology -- the super-secret Scientology division that builds its underground vaults -- inspired a lot of great observations from our readers. But I was particularly impressed by this comment by SFF...

The CST vault projects are pretty crazy but they are crazy in a way that I can respect. It's one of the few cases where the Church of Scientology is spending money on something that is not a cynical ploy to get good PR or to solicit donations. It is also something that has really no benefit to Miscavige unless he actually believes that doing so is important. Given how secretive the projects are, how many Scientologists would know if he pocketed the money instead of actually building anything? It is really more of a legitimate way for a religious organization to spend money than most Scientology expenditures. If Hubbard can't smash his name into history, his followers can at least smash it into various bits of countryside.

I also had to laugh at this fun jab by InTheNameOfXenu...

Those vaults may withstand a nuclear weapon, but they do not stand a chance against a photon blast from a Marcabian space destroyer.

On Tuesday, we had fun dissecting Scientology's TV ad. We were happy to see Kate Bornstein give us her own thoughts about Scientology and "God"...

Yes and no on the God thing, Mister Tony. As you say--no, Scientology doesn't believe in what they consider to be implanted images of God or His spokespeople on earth like Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. Hubbard often hinted that he himself was the predicted reincarnation of Buddha named Maitreya--it was part of his plan to take over Buddhism with a patronizing racist book he wrote called "Hymn of Asia." On the other hand, I think Scientologists who look at that commercial will agree they've gotten to know God better than they knew God before they got in to Scientology.

The way I remember it, Scientology says that all life proceeds along eight vectors of survival, called dynamics. These are represented as concentric circles, with the 1st Dynamic (self) being at the hub, and the 8th Dynamic on the outside, containing all the rest. The 8th Dynamic, Ron taught, included people's concepts of God--he stressed that God is/was whatever you conceive of God to be. So, the more you know about the first seven dynamics (1:self, 2:sex&love, 3:groups, 4:humanity, 5:all life forms, 6:the physical universe, and 7:all spiritual beings)--the more you're able to figure out for yourself the 8th Dynamic, which some Scientologists may choose for themselves to call God, but many call it simply the 8th Dynamic. I don't remember anyone considering the 8th Dynamic particularly important to study or contemplate, but In this way I'm guessing Scientologists believe they're telling what they call an "acceptable truth" in that commercial.

Meanwhile, Dean Blair was more certain that we'd struck the right tone...

There is no God in Scientology. No one ever gives praise or glory to God. No one ever prays. It is all me, me, me. They hold the belief as you pointed out so succinctly that at one time all of the Scientologists were God Almighty and that after studying Scientology and getting counselling for hundreds of thousands of dollars you can regain your God status. It is truly laughable. Having been a Scientologist for some decades I can attest that everything you have written in your article is factual.

Tuesday afternoon, we reported the news that in Australia, CCHR president Jan Eastgate had received a second charge in her criminal case. For some reason, that post brought out several church defenders who aren't usually around. We wish they'd show up more often. I liked the gumption of this comment by eni, for example...

Guys, you pontificate endlessly about how scientologists are blind and dogmatic in their beliefs and at the same time, you build a bonfire to dance with 'she's guilty!' glee around someone that hasn't been convicted. You're as nutty as they are.

Eni, come back!

Well, on Thursday morning we hit everyone with our big surprise, that we had traveled to San Antonio for the hearing in the Debbie Cook lawsuit. And we had to admit, we enjoyed the responses from our loyal readers. There was this one from anon anon song, for example...

I am resigned to the fact that I will not get much done today.

And this was a sweet jab by Kim O'Brien...

For the VERY first time in my LIFE ...i wish i was in Texas

Debbie Cook gave some pretty devastating testimony that day, and thank you Mat Pesch for giving us your own corroboration...

Amy and I were fed rice and beans 3 meals a day for weeks before signing our "gag order". Of course we were separated with personal guards on us 24/7. We were also at the Hacienda Gardens (where Debbie was at the end) which is surrounded by fences that have motion detectors. As brought up in the trial there are also video surveillance all over the property that is monitored by the guard in the booth at the gate. There is also a roving guard on a bike. Should the person escape over the fence the "blow drill" goes into effect to hunt the person down as was done with Debbie and Wayne. Of course we signed whatever was put in front of us with the hope of getting out of there without losing the ability to communicate with our families. Of course after we cooperated we still got declared as we left. This little route out procedure at the Hacienda prison routinely takes months and even beyond a year in some cases. Its "routine". What isn't routine is the torture that is routine at the International base. Extreme beatings, slop that makes rice and beans look like a gourmet meal, sleeping on concrete floors covered with bugs, electric and thus A/C turned off in the trailer known as "The Hole" out in the California desert where these Sea Org prisoners are supposed to live and sleep. People made to lick bathroom floors clean. People made to stand in a garbage pail for 12 hours with a sign around their neck saying "LESBO" while they are slapped, yelled at and water is poured over their heads. Individuals have also been strapped into chairs and slapped repetitively across the face with a fly swatter. People have been soaked and put in a small room with the A/C turned up all the way until they turned blue. Sounds like an Asian POW camp. No its the International Scientology headquarters as created by David Miscavige and executed by extreme cult members. That and much more has gone on for years despite being reported in detail by dozens of people to the FBI. The American government literally protects this tax exempt cult and criticizes other governments for not being nice to Scientology. People need to open their eyes. Scientology is a VERY extreme and dangerous cult with the stated intention of taking control of the governments and peoples of Earth - for the GOOD of all , of course...

After a day of live-blogging, we put down some thoughts about the first day of the hearing. And we had to nod our heads at this observation by LeeAnne Clark...

I'm disappointed that this hasn't made the national media yet. How can it NOT? This is Tom Cruise's religion! This is the dude that stood next to him as his best man at his wedding...being accused of sending thugs to break a woman's fingers, forcing an underling to lick a bathroom...all in open court! Why is this not on CNN? Why am I not seeing links to these stories on Yahoo? WTF? Come ON, media...get with the program! This should rate a cover article in People Magazine, for cripe's sake!

Meanwhile, Mark Fisher put up a prescient observation, considering what would happen the next morning...

Whether Debbie Cook and her husband win tomorrow or not, the stories of abuse are now public record in a court of law through her testimony. It is now officially in a court of law that DM has been abusing his staff behind closed doors. That bell has been rung and he cannot unring it. Major damage.

Friday morning, we were on the scene again at the courthouse. But before testimony could start again, the church's attorneys shocked everyone by throwing in the towel. I couldn't wait to see how readers reacted to that when I finally got a chance to see the comments. And Kim O'Brien didn't let me down...

Gag order lifted. I think i just peed a little.

I also had to chuckle at this historic riff by ScientologyIsAReligion...

Now that the Scientology corporation has dropped its request for a temporary injunction, the judge is probably secretly heaving a sigh of relief that her pets are not in danger should she have ruled against the holy David Miscavige.

That afternoon I joined several other Scientologists who interviewed Debbie. Mark Fisher again provided some corroboration of his own...

She speaks the truth and I am glad to see that she realized how crazy things were in those last 7 months and decided to leave. She is right that the further away from David Miscavige you are, you do not see these abuses. It is at the top that these crazy brutalities happen. I had the good sense to leave shortly after they started happening around me. I could see the writing on the wall. That was 21 years ago. Law Enforcement authorities need to do something about DM and his abuses and then honest Scientologists can get back to work helping their fellow man if that is what they want to do.

We couldn't argue with JGG's assessment of the church's strategy...

Do you realize that the Church of Scientology handled this as badly as it could be handled? They dropped the case, but only after incurring legal fees, gaining lots of negative publicity and taking contrary positions in litigation. What were they thinking-that Rinder and Rathbun wouldn't have the courage to show up? That Cook would crack under pressure? Is there a PR tech they can use?

And DeckardCain, meanwhile, had us wondering just what is getting through to the celebrities...

This stuff just HAS to be getting back to Tom Cruise and the other celebrity retards. I hope they like eating humble pie because they will have to eat it by the truck load.

Well, I'm headed to the airport this morning, and will need to recuperate before another big week starts up. We should have another big surprise for you Monday morning, and we'll need all of our great commenters in great shape and ready to dive in. Until then, enjoy your Sunday Funnies tomorrow morning!

Debbie Cook Coverage in the Village Voice...

January 1: Scientology rocked by allegations of greed in e-mail to 12,000 church members

January 3: Is Scientology imploding? Watching the panic after a former executive dares to question church management

January 4: Scientology in crisis: Debbie Cook's transformation from enforcer to whistleblower

January 6: Scientology in turmoil: Debbie Cook's e-mail, annotated

January 31: Scientology sues Debbie Cook over her New Year's Eve e-mail

February 2: Debbie Cook files to dissolve Scientology's temporary restraining order: We talk to her attorney, Ray Jeffrey

February 3: Debbie Cook's motion denied: Scientology's restraining order remains in place until Thursday hearing

February 4: Scientology wants it both ways: The church's opposite legal strategies in Florida and Texas

Also, please see our primer, "What is Scientology?"

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

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


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


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1. L. Ron Hubbard | 2. David Miscavige | 3. Marty Rathbun | 4. Tom Cruise | 5. Joe Childs and Tom Tobin | 6. Anonymous | 7. Mark Bunker | 8. Mike Rinder | 9. Jason Beghe | 10. Lisa McPherson | 11. Nick Xenophon | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu


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


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


[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties] In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview] The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]


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[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid] [Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post] [A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]


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[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth] [Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family] [Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle] [Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]

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