Tuesday, March 21, 2006

In the News

Closing arguments have concluded in the Da Vinci Code trial. Dan Brown's wife Blythe, who compiled much of his research, never took the stand. Attorneys for Michael Bagient and Richard Leigh made much of this in their parting remarks. Obviously, Blythe Brown did take some things from Bagient and Leigh's book Holy Blood, Holy Grail. But nothing indicates that she violated fair usage.

In other news, Special Agent Harry Samit of the FBI's Minneapolis field office was cross-examined yesterday in the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, an alleged 9/11 conspirator. In what AP reporter Michael Sniffen characterized as "the strongest moment so far for the court-appointed lawyers defending Moussaoui," Samit admitted that he couldn't convince FBI headquarters to give him permission to investigate Moussaoui, despite warnings from French and British Intelligence that he was part of an Al Qaeda cell.

According to Special Agent Colleen Rawley, she and her peers from the Minneapolis field office joked that their superiors were "moles for bin Laden."

Many a truth is uttered in jest, you know.

Finally, the fallout from Isaac Hayes' decision to leave South Park still receives ink in the newspaper. The Church of Scientology maintains a crack legal staff that jealously guards how the cult is perceived. In media, they trot out a lot of their celebrity flock before the cameras. Behind the scenes, the Scientologists also purchased the Cult Awareness Network, after forcing the non-profit organization out of business. (Watch the 60 Minutes piece on it here: http://www.xenutv.com/us/60min-can.htm)


Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

Wow. Just watched that 60 Minutes special and I don't know what to think. I've never really looked into Scientology. I find that story terrifying. Big time.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

Found a website that says it offers critical views of scientology from both sides. Haven't read all of it yet, but it looks interesting.


12:57 PM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

After reading a good deal of it, I find it interesting, but probably for different reasons.

The site is from an ex-member. Very little of the site is critical of Scientology (at one point the webslinger identifies himself as "cult apologetic"), and really tees off on what they see as narrow-minded anti-cult movement--especially against the late Dr. Margaret Sanger and Steve Hassan (a cult 'exit counselor' and former Moonie).

The Church of Scientology is not an abstraction for me, for I've had considerable contact with it (including friends who were in it). Some of the pro-Scientology issues ring true to my experience, but much doesn't.

That leaves us in a quandry, however, as how one can honestly assess Scientology, or any other cultic (in the non-pejorative sense) organization. I must admit to a certain bias, for these groups have struck a really dissonant chord with me over the years--not because of literature written about them (who could trust that anyway) but because of my experience with them

4:14 PM  
Blogger Johnny said...

I once wrote an article for my print 'zine about the connections between scientologist Charles Manson and Elvis Presley and kin, which featured a lot of skewering of the "religion." I was actually fearful to publish it, as I feared a backlash.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

I read a bit more and I'm with you. Should have read it before I posted it.

What I "had" read was his disappointment in trying to have reasonable discussions about it online. That I understood. I've followed a news story to the message boards more than once and found nothing but crap.

I don't know a lot about scientology-- that's one religion I never had the interest in studying so I've had no contact with any of it. I'm familiar with Hubbard as a sci-fi writer, but never read his work or looked into Dianetics. With all the news lately, I'm interested.

But I'd be interested in hearing your experiences and I'd love to read Jonny's article. Promise. No backlash. :) From me anyway-- looks like taking them on might be hazardous...

4:31 PM  
Blogger Johnny said...

see here:

4:51 PM  
Blogger X. Dell said...

I've had contact with the Church of Scientology in many different places. In chronological order: San Francisco, Cincinnati, London, Amsterdam, and New York.

My biggest problem with them is that they, like other cults, are deceptive (if not downright dishonest), and aggressive.

Scientologists approached me to ask if I would take an 'intelligence' test. At first, I said no, but curiosity eventually got the better of me.

It's actually not an intelligence test, but rather a personality test. Cults often use them to adapt recruitment strateties, breaking down into such categories as "doer," "social," "intellectual," "believer," and so on. (The test I took for the LaRouchites was three hours, for example).

Once I showed the least bit of curiosity, I really got the hard sell. The people handling my first Scientology interview (one male, one female), used just about every trick in the book--from accusation, to lovebombing--to get me to buy something(a free copy of "Dianetics" was thrown into the bargain). Often, they would contradict themselves, but that didn't matter so long as they thought they could keep me engaged.

I gave them a false name during the interview, but listed my parents' place as my home address with the understanding that they would not give it out to other businesses. So, twenty-two years later, whenever I drop by to visit the folks, and see the false name on all types of junk mail, I know that they lied about this too.

Another example of deception is a little closer at hand. You'll notice in response to Johnny's post on the WFMU Free Blog (http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2006/03/everything_you_.html#comment-15255048), this Bernie fellow, to whom Rinda linked, responded that Manson was not a Scientologist. Well, that depends. Manson says he was. Then again, Bruce Davis, Manson's sometimes-second-in-command, helped run the Scientology office in London. So, Johnny's right. There was a legitimate connection between Manson and Scientology, but this Bernie simply denied it.

Also Bernie listed a CAN report as an "unbiased" assessment of Scientology. Granted the report might be fair, even accurate. But if the CAN is part of Scientology, it cannot be unbiased. Another lie.

Also, Bernie said that CAN associates were convicted of kidnapping. They were not. He reported that CAN paid $1 million in settlement. CAN did not. CAN filed bankrupcy because of legal expenses brought about by Scientology suits (one of which, did not involve Scientology).

In short, my experience with these people are that they lie like anything, and think nothing of it. They are extremely aggressive, and I, for one, would have no doubt believing that they would "target" individuals as ex-members claim.

BTW, I knew one of people often cited on Bernie's website as an ex-member between the years 1995-1998. All that time, I did not discern any disagreements that she might have had with the Church of Scientology, for which she worked as a counselor (and a recruiter). I don't know when these articles (including hers) were written, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Bernie and the other "ex" members are not as "ex" as they appear.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Rinda Elliott said...

I know better than to link before reading thoroughly. I do apologize. I'm thinking the same thing. Not that "ex."

Looks like a good discussion is happening on WFMU.

8:01 PM  

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