Archive Message - 1995

From!!!panix!cmcl2!is2.NYU.EDU!spurgeon Thu Sep 14 09:45:00 1995 Path:!!!panix!cmcl2!is2.NYU.EDU!spurgeon From: (Keith Spurgeon) Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology Subject: NYC Picket Report Date: 11 Sep 1995 02:44:25 GMT Organization: New York University Lines: 151 Message-ID: <4307q9$bg9@cmcl2.NYU.EDU> NNTP-Posting-Host: X-Newsreader: TIN [version 1.2 PL2] The Sept. 9 picket in New York City took place at the Church of Scientology New York on West 46th Street, from noon until 3:00 p.m. Primarily due to late organization and remailer problems, the picketers numbered only five: two ex-scientologists and three denizens of Usenet. A reporter for Internet World was on hand. Wogs in the Passing Lane on the Road to Total Freedom Immediately upon the picketers' arrival two OSA (Office of Special Affairs) operatives and a photographer came out of the org. Initially they engaged the picketers in conversation and asked for and received leaflets. As the afternoon progressed, the demeanor of the OSA ops deteriorated. They tried to shadow the picketers. They spouted profanity, taunted sophomorically, mocked and harassed. The OSA ops were obviously attempting to distract and intimidate the picketers. To the general public I am sure their conduct was a good vaccination against joining the cult. An OT when unable to identify a cult member, asked another scientologist about the person's name. The picketer who noticed this commented to the OT8, "I guess that total recall is not all it's cracked up to be." The OT8 belligerently harassed and assaulted that picketer, at one point looking at the picketer's feet while aggressively stepping on them. This OT8 informed the same protestor that if it weren't for the picket, the OT8 would have the day off, and he was upset that he had to stay until the protest was over. Other scientololgists, probably 7 or so at any one time, held signs and leafleted outside the org. While they may or may not have been OSA, they behaved civilly. Extended and mostly amicable discussions took place between these scientologists and picketers. In most cases, these scientologists gave the anticipated responses to queries. Surprisingly, each of them claimed not to know about the recent libel award of some $3 million to Judge Hill in Canada. OSA ops asked each picketer if they were "with" CAN (the Cult Awareness Network). Other interactions were not so genial. A black woman scientologist repeatedly equated calling scientology a cult with calling African-Americans "nigger." Picketers soundly diatched this analogy, but she repeated it reularly. Scientologists publicly called picketers by many clever names and phrases, such as: scumbag, asshole, full of shit, geeks, people who don't read books, and people just on the Internet going 'type, type, type.' In all likelihood, even more colorful phrases echoed inside the walls of the org. OSA ops also ridiculed the dress of picketers, who were dressed casually but respectably. Shortly after the picket began, scientologists produced their own signs, with Woody-esque legends such as "Picketers Support Computer Crime." Scientologists handed out the leaflets titled "These 'Demonstrators' Support Computer Criminals," seen in other cities, as well as copies of the Internet issue of "Freedom" magazine. Because scientologists had picket signs with metal handles (in violation of NYC laws), and after the picketer had his feet stepped on by the OT8, protesters called the police. One picketer videotaped the police officer telling scientologists "You are acting like babies." I asked one scientologist if he thought Hubbard was perfect. He replied that of course he did not. I asked him to tell me three substantial errors Ron had made in his writings. After a moment or two of stumbling, his reply was that Hubbard erred initially in making the Tech available too easily, and restricted access to it later to ensure proper administration. I had an alternative explanation ($$$) that I did not have time to detail. He offered no further evidence of Hubbard's fallibility, and I did not have time probe for more. Other stray comments from scientologists 1) They claim the church does not owe Wollersheim 2) Freeloader debt is a legitimate consequence of breaking the (billion-year) contract 3) Cult members are always free to blow at any time 4) The People's Temple was a CIA experiment 5) Mr. OT8 claimed to have seen Miscavige last week in Clearwater. 6) The current Spanish case is the result of corruption in the government. Dishonest Spanish lawmakers, upset with the success of Crimanon in battling drugs, are protecting their drug money. One picketer approached a woman on the street and spoke to her. The woman asked if the picketer was a scientologist, and the protester said he was not. The woman replied, "If you're not a scientologist, I don't want to talk to you," and walked into the org. Picketers encouraged scientologists to get on-line and defend their beliefs, but each of them said they did not have the time. They encouraged us to go to a library and get the facts on Scientology. They seemed to believe that being on the Internet and reading books were mutually exclusive. Warning the Raw Meat: Public Interaction and Responses West 46th Street is in the theater district and the org is on a fairly busy block west of Broadway. Foot traffic was moderate, and picketers gave out about 600 flyers. Flyers were topical and color-coded 8.5"x 11" sheets: o Scientology attacks the Internet (double sided, w/ NY Times stories-- a particularly popular leaflet) o Scientology Price List to OT8 o Judicial decisions / recent and current legal situations (double- sided) o A description of the theology (double-sided, by an ex-sciento) o Excerpts from the Time magazine Story of 1991 o Editorials: "The Children of Scientology" and "Tax-exempt status" from the St. Petersburg Times (double sided) Common public reactions to the picket included: 1) Initially perceiving the picketers as scientology recruiters, only to hear the word "cult" and grab a leaflet. 2) Not wanting to be bothered (this is NYC, after all). 3) Saying they "know it's a cult," and often taking leaflets. 4) Stopping to ask questions and take more literature (this happened regularly). 5) Taking literature from each group, wanting to "know both sides." In one case, a passerby turned and walked back to a picketer to ask for more material. An OSA, in typical juvenile mode, said, "These people are crazy." The passerby glared at the OSA op and said, "The scientologists I know are crazy," refusing all scientologist literature. Another man crossed the street to take flyers, and addressed a picketer confidentially, saying he had been watching for a while, was reading alt.religion.scientology, and that he admired those who picketed. Most of the dozens of pedestrians who stopped to talk to picketers were decidedly anti-cult. Some were uninformed and were surprised when they learned about the cult. Many said they were going to look at the web pages and read a.r.s. Perhaps the most heartening moment for the picketers, and a perfect lagniappe, occurred as they walked away from the pickee. A young man ran up, beckoning them so stop. He worked nearby and scientology disgusted him thoroughly. He had read Dianetics, rejected it as cultic gibberish, and bristled at the table the scientologists regularly set up to recruit new members. He said if there were to be another picket, he would call his friends and they would all join in. And he expressed his thanks and respect for the picketers having taken on the cult.


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