Follow the Leader: Sticks and Stones

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Apparently, I’m a hate-filled bigot.

That would have to be the conclusion you would draw if you follow the dealings of the Church of Scientology, particularly the organization known as Religious Freedom Watch (RFW), which is almost universally recognized as a Scientology front group. In response to last week’s cover story on the New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project, the controversial alternative health clinic based on the writings of Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard, RFW has bared its teeth.

Evidently lacking the ability to find anything wrong with the substance of the piece, RFW has chosen to shoot the messenger. The group has particular objections to the inclusion of Carnegie Mellon University research professor and Scientology critic David S. Touretzky. Though numerous medical professionals were spoken to for the piece, RFW insists that Touretzky was the main source for the entire story. Oh, and that Touretzky is a racist undeserving of the public forum, even though the evidence of that racism is so flimsy it’s laughable, and even though that questionable evidence can hardly be found anywhere but the RFW website.

After I questioned RFW’s misrepresentation of the detoxification piece and Touretzky’s involvement on this newspaper’s blog, RFW flipped out, posting an item on its own website declaring that they’ve gotten under my skin and arguing that I must have some affinity for Touretzky since his agenda matches mine. “Methinks you doth protest too much DeSio,” wrote RFW. “Or do you find Touretzky’s racist comments so normal, and your defense of his bigoted statements so necessary to support your own deep hatred, that, as claimed, ‘it was not even worth bringing up?’”

The Church of Scientology method of blasting those critical of the organization is known as “fair game.” Though church
officials claim they no longer follow that doctrine, they certainly have in the past and many critics believe they still do today. Hubbard wrote the handbook on how Scientology should defend itself from critics, emphasizing the process of intimidation while not necessarily demanding truthfulness. “If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace.

Don’t ever defend. Always attack,” wrote Hubbard. He outlined the process further in a policy letter he wrote in the 1960s. “Spot who is attacking us. Start investigating them promptly for FELONIES or worse using own professionals not outside agencies. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press. Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.”

RFW is considered by most to be today’s public face of the “fair game” policy. The organization is run by a Scientologist named Joel Phillips, and Phillips himself has made it clear that he sees no need to make sure his site remains truthful. A few years ago, Phillips confronted Scientology protesters in Los Angeles, at which time they asked Phillips why he would not take down lies on his website. Phillips first said they needed to prove that what he hosts on RFW were lies, to which the protesters replied that he should also have to prove they are true.

“We don’t have that obligation,” said Phillips. While writing the detoxification piece, I was asked to consider information posted at RFW as real evidence against Touretzky. But RFW’s leader admits he doesn’t have to be truthful on his site. You could say I was asked to print lies.

As for the racism, Scientologists live in glass houses and should not throw stones. There is strong evidence that Hubbard was a racist. Check out some of the quotes on his Wikipedia page. “The trouble with China is, there are too many chinks here,” wrote Hubbard in a diary. He also stated that the Chinese “smell of all the baths they didnt [sic] take.” Hubbard had his problems with gays, as well, describing homosexuality as a mental illness and homosexuals as perverts and deviants. By RFW standards, nobody should take Hubbard seriously since his prejudice outweighs any opinion that he might have. By RFW’s logic, the entire Church of Scientology should have to shut down, since its followers are living their lives based on the writings of a bigot. And unlike Touretzky, the evidence against Hubbard is actually credible.

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