Thursday, February 28, 2008

ARS Watch

Some trolls and tribulations from the perpetual rumour mill and anti-psych spam magnet alt.religion.scientology.

LRH plagiarised Scientology?

The question has been posed, in light of a couple of pre-1952 uses of the word Scientology, as to whether or not Hubbard plagiarised his "study of knowingness". Allen Upward used the term in 1910 as an attack on a religiose pursuit of science. This difference in use of the word clearly suggests it is unrelated to Hubbard's creation, but with Dr A Nordenholtz's 1934 book Scientologie, the truth is less clear. Roy Wallis, sociologist, commented on it in his critical book The Road To Freedom.

Nordenholz, in a thoroughly opaque work of philosophical speculation published in 1934, presents the notion of 'scientology' as a science of knowledge to be developed on the basis of a set of axioms. Apart from the name of the 'science', its concern with knowledge and how to grasp it, and the idea of erecting a set of axioms as the basic formulation of the science, it is not evident that Nordenholz provided much that became incorporated into Hubbard's Scientology.

A link to Boing Boing features what purports to be images from within the book, and items in the contents do seem synonymous with elements of Scientology, but as ever it is hard to testify as to the authenticity of what has been posted. That said, the alleged text is online in its entirety and does suggest a greater similarity than Wallis notes.

Threats of violence

Following the highly publicised demonstrations outside Scientology orgs c/o Anonymous ARS, and other public forums, have seen an influx of new critics, and with little surprise that influx has been, to put it diplomatically, quite a cross-section of society. Despite Anonymous making its position clear, and despite the February 10th demonstrations occuring without any violent incidents or arrests, posters claiming to support Anonymous have been making posts clearly setting themselves apart from the peaceful folk protesting against the behaviour of the Church (the "love Scientologists, hate Scientology" position). One such offending post included the following:

"Personally, I would love to see a bullet through the head of each of the
fraudulent bastards pushing this stuff onto vulnerable people and draining their
bank accounts."

If "London Lulz" is claiming allegiance to the cause of Anonymous, and he has suggested he was present at the London demonstrations, he seems not to have grasped the subtleties of Anonymous's approach. An all too common oversight people make when dealing with the subject of Scientology is to divide the cult into perpetrators and victims. His anger at Co$ has been vented not in the direction of the organisation itself, nor even those in the upper echelons who profit the most from selling its services, but the street-level "pushers," who are invariably the vulnerable wallet-drained folks who he is supposed to be sympathetic to.

What makes posters such as he all the more frustrating comes from the way in which ARS as a whole is a den of paranoia, bluff and double-bluff. It is generally accepted, in light of both the spamming of the group and the testimony of Tory Christman that ARS is targeted by OSA. This plus the active defamation of Scientology critics makes the possibility that some, of the violent Anonymous supporters at least are actually members of OSA trying to give Anonymous a bad name. When posters point people to hurriedly put together MySpace pages of invented Anonymous manifestoes the idea is given further credibility.

But such talk of violence hasn't just come from the likes of London Lulz. Pro-Scientology poster Tom Newton was hauled over the coals after a post where he suggested that Anonymous would be infiltrated by people hired by Anonymous's enemies who would then attempt to burn down the orgs and leave the genuine Anonymous members to face the police.

A couple of people who don't like you donned disguises and pocketed a few
thousand in used twenties and hired some professional criminals from another
city to wreck your party and your organization.

The post ought to have sided on conjecture, an exposure of a hypothetical weakness in Anonymous's MO, but Newton makes the mistake of suggesting that these events will transpire, turning conjecture into something much more threatening. It is revealing to note that although the Scientology critics turned around and criticised London Lulz for his statements, no Scientology poster criticised Newton for his similar transgression.


Tory "Magoo" Christman has recently started posting videos to YouTube on various Scientology-related subjects. She has been one of the clearest and most persuasive of the high-OT ex-Scientologists to emerge in recent years and is well worth checking out. More than that she remains a vibrant, life-affirming proof for doubting Scientologists that there really is life after the org. She also remains an important voice for children who are victims of disconnection and a life in Co$.

Attention Closing In On IRS Agreement and Accusations of Child Abuse

The Anonymous protests scheduled for March 15th seem to be focusing on families that have been torn apart through Co$ disconnection policy, and will highlight allegations of enforced child labour at the Sea Orgs. The Ex-Scientology Messageboard is rich in tales of the poor working conditions and treatment of children who have signed their billion-year contracts. It would seem that the events of February 10th have served to bolster many who were mistreated, who are now finding the courage to report their past sufferings to the relevant authorities (no, not you, Tom).

Also, pressure seems to be increasing for the IRS to revisit the notorious tax exemption that the church has enjoyed for so long. This is particularly timely in that a Jewish couple is currently defending similar tax-breaks that they have been claiming for their children's Jewish tuition. The hearing has put the secret IRS agreement under a judicial scrutiny it cannot enjoy.

Second Hand Hubbard

An observation has been made that was reported some time ago in The Beacon that Hubbard's work does not command a high price outside of the religion. Volumes expensive to buy from Co$ can be seen on ebay and abebooks for one dollar. This seems to have annoyed some posters; I believe such annoyances ought to be taken up with the Co$'s PR department.

One poster had this to say:

I worked in a used book store back in the 90s, and we'd refuse Dianetics in trade because we had so damn many of them, they were wasting shelf space that
could be used for books that people would actually buy. Seriously, they were a one-way trade... people wanted to get rid of them, but nobody bought them.

Shawn Lonsdale

Shawn Lonsdale, a critic of Scientology best-known for the videos he would air on Public Access featuring encounters with Scientologists in Clearwater Florida, was found dead earlier in the month in what has been treated as suicide. It is known that Lonsdale, who became the target of a Co$ smear campaign (you might remember his disrupted interview as part of the Panorama episode Scientology and Me), had suffered financial difficulties in recent months and a suicide note was found at the scene. I never encountered Lonsdale personally but it is clear from comments following the announcement of his death that he was a well-liked figure in the critical landscape. An online remembrance book has been made available for those wishing to share their words and thoughts.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please keep comments on topic, and be respectful of one another.