Sunday Funnies: Librarians Under Assault!
Scientologists don't really have a Sunday service. They like to say that they do, because they crave mainstream acceptance. But unless Xenu rested after six days and L. Ron Hubbard just forgot to mention it, there's no reason for Scientologists to treat Sunday any differently than every other day of coursework, detoxes, fundraising, and generally clearing the planet.
So here at the Voice, we've come up with a Scientology Sunday tradition of our own, and we call it Sunday Funnies! Our sources regularly send us Scientology's wacky and tacky fundraising mailers, and each week we choose a few of them to gaze upon, hoping that it inspires you to wax eloquent in our comments section. So here we go...
With their president recently sprung from felony charges in Australia, the folks at CCHR will presumably have much to celebrate as they march against the psychs...
OK, your kid is adorable and energetic and can even spell. But don't you want your little thetan to be "competent"?
Attention Librarians: Incoming!
Now that RON the Encyclopedia has been unleashed, Scientologists will be asked to donate to another campaign that will send books to librarians (who don't really want them). We got sent this lengthy and detailed appeal, and figured we ought to warn your local bookworm that another salvo is coming.
Commenters of the Week
We started things out this week with a round of Sunday Funnies that included a Blues Brothers-themed fundraising party in Australia. The OTs from Melbourne and Sydney came together and, after exchanging framed certificates, really shook their tail feathers.
Noah Miller imagined the key motivating force of the evening...
Donate now or we'll keep singing!
Brian Culkin shared his own experiences from similar gatherings...
I have been to many of these events as described in the ANZO flyer during my short tenure in Scientology. They were psychologically painful, extremely cheezy, and took on a form of near begging. I can remember one specifically at Boston where the two Boston ED's had the audience do a 'laughing exercise' in which the whole crowd was instructed to start laughing for no reason to 'lighten things up' and 'make a game out of it.' Immediately following the 'exercise' people started being hit up for donations.
And Ivy Mapother had a thought about that certificate-swapping between Melbourne and Sydney orgs...
A point of distinction needs to be made for all Scientologists. Being awarded as an "Honorary Humanitarian" does not make you a real humanitarian.
Tuesday morning in the wee hours, we got news from our Down Under friends about the shocking news that the New South Wales public prosecutor had dropped charges against CCHR president Jan Eastgate. The Scientology executive had been accused of coaching an 11-year-old girl in 1985 to lie to police about being sexually abused by her Scientologist stepfather. But apparently the prosecutor filed charges under a 1990 law, and rather than fix the error, decided to drop the case altogether.
Noah Miller was once again first in and got right to the point...
Legal loopholes and ball dropping, protecting Scientology since May 1950.
Ivy Mapother figured Eastgate must realize how fortunate she was...
Jan, go buy a lottery ticket.
Chocolate Velvet's comment captured the feeling of many others...
This is not a surprise, but it still makes my heart ache and my stomach hurt. What a slap in the face to the victim. The cops felt used? For being asked to investigate an ugly crime? Ultimately, what does it matter about "political" motivations? Let the politicians answer for that, and focus on conducting a thorough investigation that produces a credible outcome. If the accusations have merit, law enforcement should pursue them, regardless of "why" the crime was brought to light.
Later that morning, the other bombshell exploded: news broke that Scientology had settled its lawsuit with Debbie Cook. According to the final judgment entered at the Bexar County court, Scientology dropped its demand for damages, Cook and her husband Wayne Baumgarten signed a new gag order, and the lawsuit is over, with no money changing hands.
John P. considered the legacy of this brief court battle...
I think an important legacy of this case will be the court transcript, with testimony under oath from Debbie Cook about her treatment, which will be far more readily visible than damning testimony from prior court cases, thanks to the magic of the Internet. But I think an equally important legacy of the case will be the trail of documents captured on this site, particularly the correspondence between Mr. Jeffrey (Debbie's attorney) and the Scientology-retained law firm. Those letters, particularly Mr. Jeffrey's requests for production and of topics to be covered in depositions, hinted strongly at a strategy that probably played a significant factor in the Church's decision to settle -- he laid bare the Church's tactics of intimidation of people involved in the litigation and thus put into the public forum a strategy for exposing them as they happened.
CofS Exit Zone summed things up this way...
The initial surprise for me was that she had a chance to file a counter-suit before a settlement happened, especially in light of how much insanity came out in the court room during the TRO hearing. The Church of Scientology truly opened up Pandora's box of ills related to David Miscavige's dictatorship of abuses when they filed this case. The counter-suit had given me some hope we would at least see Scientology scrambling to cover their butts with one or two pretrial motions getting handled in the public domain before a settlement was on the table. But I guess it wasn't meant to be. Nonetheless -- Debbie & Wayne, I hope you realize that you did a great thing. I know you never meant for your email to become the public shitstorm it did, but that alone helped so many people cut the ties that bind them to this abusive organization. So for that, I for one thank you for what you have done. And I hope your life is full of peace and happier times now that this is behind you.
There was a lot of frustration expressed in the comments, and broekerbroekerbroeker may have captured it best...
There's no way that this settlement isn't a big upstat for CoS. They shut Debbie up. Yes, they suffered from her original testimony, and there's no way to unring that bell. But they cowed her into a Broekeresque silence till the day she dies, and completely eradicated any momentum that the indies and reformers had developed in their attempt to uncover abuse within the Sea Org - at least until the next defector speaks out. But even then, they've set a precedent that you will NOT get an extra payoff for saying your piece, and that you will be harassed and forced to ante up big for lawyers just to shut up per your original coerced agreement. And I guarantee that the videos of future "severance agreements" will be even better stage managed to appear uncoerced going forward. I guess Miscavige doesn't need Marty to lay down the law. He's wearing the fixer hat just fine himself. And I hold no ill will toward Debbie, just as I hold no ill will toward Broeker. At some point, you just want to leave the insanity behind.
On Friday, we continued to look at the Cook settlement, with expert help from attorney Scott Pilutik.
Noah Miller was once again first on the scene and laid down this cogent analysis...
This seems to cover the same ground that we've been going through in the comments over last few days. Explaining why it sucks, showing utter disappointment in the outcome and finally understanding she had to do what's best for her. She just lost her religion, completely. And that's too bad for her. She won't be able to practice with the Church or with the Indies. Though that's probably the best thing that could happen to her. Still there are thousands of people who could have been helped by this lawsuit, the publicity and the outcome. It was a risk she could not take of course and while I wish she would, I understand why she wouldn't.
Gerard Plourde was especially helpful to other commenters who had legal questions, and then had this summation...
Looking at the bright side, there has been a steady and increasingly complete disclosure of the Church of Scientology and all of its related entities. This means that avenues of revenue continue to be constricted and shut down. People are beginning to see the connections between the church and WISE, Narconon, Applied Scholastics and The Way to Happiness. People who thought that Scientology was just a weird but harmless religion that attracted minor Hollywood celebrities now know about its dark underbelly.
Finally, I enjoyed this summing up by a commenter who appears to be a newcomer to our ranks, Lizalegless...
It is sad that this door is closing, Cook's insider info is no longer to play a part in the slide of scientology. It is impossible to guess what might have come to light. At the same time it is gratifying that Debbie and her husband have ended the episode relatively unscathed. Happy Trails, Debbie and Wayne. Don't forget to write if a bunch of goons take up residence at your door with cameras on their heads!
Don't know about the rest of you, but I'm reeling after a week that bounced from David Love's stunning news to Jan Eastgate's dropped charges to Debbie Cook's settlement. And throughout it, I had a lengthy project I was trying to wrestle to the ground -- which you'll get to see when it hits the web Tuesday evening!
Please check our Facebook author page for other schedules and updates, and enjoy the rest of your Sunday.
********** Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- This Brooklyn Local is Making a Web Series about Growing Weed
Sat., Nov. 28, 12:00am
Sat., Nov. 28, 12:00pm
Sat., Nov. 28, 1:30pm
Sat., Nov. 28, 7:30pm
- New York City's Food Pantries Are Struggling to Keep Up With a Growing Demand For Meals
- As Islamophobic Rhetoric Gets Louder, NYC Muslims Fear for Their Mosques