[so for various reasons, I’m not able to present my day-to-day re-hash of S.P. Woodstock as planned just yet – I’m working on it, really. In any case, that means you can go and check out what’s new on Huffington, or you can read my explanation /rant / bit o’ philosophizing below:]
Wherein the Author attempts to explain herself without regurgitating drama, apologizes for the ongoing delay in the retelling of the conference, relates an instructional parable, and gets, perhaps, just a little teensy bit preachy
Jon warned me about this.
When I originally agreed to become the Quixotic One’s personal slave assistant, he told me that it would be a bad idea to go around telling people I was in his employ. I thought I understood why; the Boss-Man of Nottingham has had a pretty harrowing time of it – he’s had his home broken into, been sued into bankruptcy, had people following him, his family harassed… the list goes on. If he were anyone else, one would think, listening to him nonchalantly recite his woes, that it might be time to ask the man his opinion on aluminum haberdashery.
But unfortunately, the guy’s not crazy. Well, not that crazy, anyway.
He’s not paranoid; they really are out to get him. Jon Atack and others like him are incredibly courageous people, heroes just for speaking out: this, folks, is Scientology.
This is, after all, the one organization that has been able to cow the LAPD and the IRS into submission. These are people who infiltrated more government offices than the KGB at the height of the Cold War. These are the people who have their own small city in Florida, or at the very least have the officials there in a virtual stranglehold. This is the cult with its own army of starved, sleep-deprived slaves, the organization that has been credited with over seven hundred deaths, the so-called church that, at less than eight decades of existence, has amassed a fortune only slightly less than the holdings of the Vatican.
This is the “religion” with thousands of lawyers and private detectives in its hire.
These are not people you piss off lightly.
So, naturally, I was on my guard. And yet, when the attack came, it totally flummoxed me. Why? Because of where it came from.
Frankly, I didn’t expect all my wounds to be inflicted by my fellow critics.
And then this is where I would supposedly launch into a retelling of my version of a Facebook Drama that I’m still having trouble wrapping my mind around, but the truth is that I’m already tired of it. Maya, drama, froth, enturbulation, whatever.
The one thing I shall say about the whole thing here is that I still consider myself an ally to any and all people who speak out against any organization using thought control to abuse its members. Even the half-dozen people who defriended and blocked me because we disagree on some issues still would have my full support and aid if needed; we are all in this together. I send them love and wish them peace.
And that, as Mr. Gump said …
Instead, I’d like to apologize for the delay, make some small points, and then tell y’all a story. Some folks might have wanted to see a re-telling of what happened in the “Getting Clear” conference in Toronto, and I shall be writing up a full play-by-play, day-by-day. Soon. Very soon.
Basset Hound Soon.
Remember Basset Hound Bus Lines? The folks that got me (eventually) to Montreal in part one of this series? I certainly did gripe about them, didn’t I? Now, let me make a few points in their favor, and then explain why I’m tardy in writing this, and shall be still more tardy in telling y’all what went down at what I’m still going to call S.P. Woodstock. And yes, I am sticking to the name, partly because, well, that’s what it felt like (read part 2 for that explanation), but mostly because the name has now, for better or worse, Woodstuck. As in some people just have a piece of Woodstuck …
No, bad Spike. No biscuit.
Anyhoo, the bus to Montreal that started me on this adventure was an hour and a quarter behind schedule, due to the bus being involved in an accident in Boston; everyone was fine but another bus needed to be found and driven from the nearest dispatch facility (well outside of the city), and everyone and their luggage loaded on board.
All that in an hour and a quarter. That’s actually pretty damn good timing, considering. What’s more, the driver agreed to extend his shift a full day and not make it home in time for his planned weekend off, in order to get the bus to Burlington, where he would be relieved by the driver who took us to Montreal.
An excellent man. I hope he got extra pay and maybe even a three-day weekend to make up for it.
And yet, I wrote a bitchy, whiny blog post and mocked their corporate logo. And, what’s more, I was aware of the above facts a half hour into the bus trip to Montreal. And, when faced with the facts, I understood why, and, ultimately, did not blame the people involved. They were just doing their best, just as any of us do, just as I have been doing all along.
So I hope you’ll all understand why I have to delay my re-telling of the Toronto events, once I fill you in on the why. You see, in order to retell the events properly, I’m going to be using images which I currently have access to, but, unfortunately, I am under the cranberry-quaffing dictator’s orders not to use them, at least until the official announcement of the release of the videos.
And when, you might ask, would that be?
Soon, my Basset Hounds, soon.
Now you know everything I do; welcome to the glamorous world of the literary PA.
Actually, that’s not quite the truth; the real truth is a long chain of something like: person x has to review this bit and person y has to do this technical jiggery-pokery, but not until z gets permission from …
Yeah, I’m bored, too. What’s new in awkward family photos, I wonder?
But it’s still less painful than the whole Why Is It Going to Cost Money to Watch the Videos debate, which is a valid point, but not a decision either me or the boss-dude had anything to do with. Among other reasons, people totally misunderstood the intent; these videos are actually being marketed as a course of online “master classes” on Scientology, to be viewed by professional therapists and theologians and the like, as part of a parallel comparison of other abusive organizations. These are like textbooks, to educate people who are then going to be fighting on the front lines of the struggle for the human mind.
That said, if anyone who seriously doesn’t have the money to rent the vids wants to see any or all of them, message me privately in the ‘about’ section. If you’ve kept an open mind enough to read this far, and seriously can’t scrape up the cash, then I’ll pay for you to rent them yourself. Or at least a couple of then; I’m pretty skint, myself.
And if you disagree with any of the above, that’s fair, too. We can even discuss it. But just because I’m taking an opposing viewpoint, or trying to explain myself, does not mean that I’m not allowing you to have your opinion, too – this should go without saying. Disagreement need not be unfriendly.
For instance: unlike most bosses, the cranberry-quaffing Quixote doesn’t mind me disagreeing with him; heck, it’s part of what he underpays me to do. So, it’s okay for me to disagree, even publicly, with Jon over the use of the term S.P. – he frowns upon it, and I support its use. Frankly, I’m more with Gerry Armstrong on this one, that an S.P. is simply someone who tells the truth about Scientology. However, I do like Jon’s suggestion that perhaps S.P. could stand for Social Personality instead, which is a nice idea. Disagreement can be interesting, even fun, and lead to points of view you haven’t considered before.
I’d also like to point out that disagreement is not censorship. Just because I maintain my own opinion, or attempt to clarify my point further, doesn’t mean I’m saying you can’t continue maintaining yours. Keep on pointing out how you feel, clarify your points – it’s called back-and-forth discussion, and done in a friendly and respectful manner, can be fun and instructive. And contrary to what people kept saying, I have never erased anyone’s comments or posts but my own. For one thing, I wouldn’t, and for another thing, I’m not able to anyway, I’m not a mod on that forum –
Sorry, got back into le drama there. And I said I wouldn’t say anything else, too. But, darnit, it’s so frustrating to think that you’re just answering someone’s valid question, even engaging in an exchange of differing views, only to be told that you’re blocking free speech or cramming your version of events down their throats.
It’s enough to make a Basset Hound howl.
But let us leave the sad thoughts of people who forget themselves in their anger and move away to somewhere else, a far-off land, many many leagues away, somewhere beyond the reach of Scientology, in a small country between the borders of fantasy and imagination …
It’s an all-too-common story. You are a citizen of Griddleton, the capital city of Pancakea. You’re a respectable, Pancake-fearing person. Now, you are a practitioner of an Orthodox tradition, widely respected in your country – the Church of the Holy Pancake.
Your church has a steadfast rule: in order to receive the Blessing of the Syrup, you must be in good standing with the Church. No problem there; that’s how you keep on the skillet and off the coil.
But there’s a snag: your son comes home from University one day and says that he no longer believes in the Holy Pancake. He’s heard that the Bird is the Word, and he wishes to worship at the One True Aviary. You’re saddened that he doesn’t want to receive the Blessing of the Pancake, but he assures you that the Bird is the Word for him, and you suppose that he just needs time, and he will eventually find his own way to the Sweet Goodness of the One True Pancake. After all, you firmly believe that without the Blessing for the Syrup, you will not ascend to the Buffet of Eternal Bliss, but instead you will burn forever on the Back Coil of Eternal Suffering.
You go to the Pancake Temple the next day, to take solace in the Blessing of the Syrup, but when you get to the Holy Griddle, the Batter-Master waves you aside with the Spatula of Shame; you are banned from taking the Blessing of the Syrup. You are embarrassed and shocked. What sin have you committed to earn the disproval of the Syrup-Keepers?
“Your son is no longer a believer,” the Batter-Master tells you sternly.
“But I still believe in the Sweet Goodness of the Holy Pancake.”
“That is fortunate. Then you may still receive the Blessing of the Syrup.”
“Oh, thank the Griddle! I knew it was just a misundersta—”
“If you disconnect from your son.”
“If I … what?”
“So long as your son thinks the Bird is the Word and denies the Sweet Goodness of the Holy Pancake, you must not speak to him.”
“Your son is a bitter, defrocked apostate. If you talk to him, the bitterness of his soul will rot your Milk of Purity, and we cannot let the Griddle be polluted with rotted milk. Don’t you see? it’s for your own spiritual salvation! You don’t want to end up burning forever on the Back Coil of Eternal Suffering, do you?”
“Well of course not, but—”
Well then, if you want to receive the Blessing of the Syrup, you must put away your son, at least until he comes back to the One True Pancake.”
“Oh, I’m sure he’ll—”
“And he pays the Batter-Tithe for deserting us.”
“Er, how much is the Batter-Tithe?”
“How much did his first year at University cost you?”
“I say! what if I decided to become a Bird-Worder?”
“If you did that, we would have to disconnect from you. Your husband is a very devout follower of the Pancake, isn’t he? He was a Syrup-Holder when he was a young man. Do you think he would ever deny the Sweet Goodness? And don’t you live in Griddle Heights? All your neighbors would never speak to you again. But, most importantly, you would burn for eternity on the Back Coil of Eternal Suffering.”
“You son of a biscuit!”
Too bad it isn’t just a silly story. This happens all over the world, and not just in Scientology. Scientology is just one small battle in a larger war, a horrible and brutish battle, but small nonetheless. Compared to the current numbers of people living in the iron grasp of Aum Shinrikyo, the Moonies, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Children of God, the FLDS, and thousands of other fundamentalist groups of every stripe and kind, Scientology, even with all its bizarre trappings and extreme degradation, fades in scope.
That’s my opinion, in any case. You might feel differently. However, if we are both joined together to speak out against the abuses of Scientology, or the Moonies, or even the Cult of the Holy Pancake, does it matter if we disagree about how we speak out? The point is to keep talking. Which damages our common cause more – charging for a series of academic lectures on Scientology, or partaking in a storm of angry accusations, fostering bad feeling between allies, and leading people to do exactly what the cult does – practicing total disconnection?
The people who disconnected from me didn’t even tell me, or ask me personally about what I was doing. They went from “I have no problem with Spike Robinson” to cutting off all contact with me in a matter of hours.
I’m still scratching my head and wondering what I did wrong. I know that I never said anything –privately or publicly – that was disrespectful, harsh, or insulting. Spike don’t play it that way. And, as I said before, folks have a right to say what they want. They have the right to be disrespectful, harsh, and yes, insulting. They even have the right to judge me by what they think I’m saying rather than actually reading what I’ve posted here explaining myself.
I’d still offer my hand if they needed it, because, as I said before, we’re all in this together. Go ahead and sling insults at me, question my motives, and tell me that I’m speaking out the wrong way. Heck, I value your input; I’ll take your suggestions under consideration, even when they’re attached to rocks. But I’m going to keep speaking out, because I have to.
Because that’s the way Spike plays it.
And for those who would like to donate to the Getting Clear Conference Fund, the link is still here: here’s where to give.