Archive for the ‘Newspaper’ category

Turning Hubbard House into Museum

February 4, 2009
The L. Ron Hubbard Authoried But Not Properly-Zoned Museum

The L. Ron Hubbard Authorized But Not Properly-Zoned Museum

The Phoenix New Times has a great, lengthy article about Scientology converting a house  in which Hubbard once lived into a museum — without permission, of course. 

Jeff Jacobsen is interviewed for the article and he predicts the outcome:

The Scientologists will prevail in reopening their museum, Jacobson insists, either with the help of their deep-pockets legal team or because the city will cave in to the intimidation tactics he says the church uses to get what it wants.

“The city is probably scared,” Jacobson says. “Or at least they should be.” He’s referring to the numerous controversies and conflicts that are — next to Tom Cruise’s allegiance — all that most laypeople know about the religion. There’s Operation Snow White, a ’70s project reportedly designed to purge unfavorable public records and published criticisms of Hubbard and Scientology. And there are the alleged attempts to legally force search engines like Yahoo and Google to censor Web pages that disparage the church. And, perhaps most infamously, there’s the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who died while in the care of the church.

Scientology’s crummy reputation is by no means news; things began going awry from the beginning, back when the religion was still headquartered in Phoenix. In May 1955, a woman named Estrid Anderson Humphrey sued the Church of Scientology for damages to her Paradise Valley home. The lawsuit, which was eventually settled out of court, alleged that a house Humphrey leased to the church was smashed up by what an Arizona Republic story called “one or more persons with assertedly deranged minds” who were placed there “for care and treatment.”

Jacobson refers to this as among the first of Hubbard’s many “experiments with crazy people,” in which Hubbard would allegedly isolate mentally ill people in a room or small house while treating their psychosis with Scientology’s “present time awareness” techniques. They’re still using these methods today, according to Jacobson.

How Good People Turn Evil

March 1, 2008

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo is interviewed in a great piece from Wired Magazine about how easy it is for good people to do evil things and what we need to do to try to stop that.

People are always personally accountable for their behavior. If they kill, they are accountable. However, what I’m saying is that if the killing can be shown to be a product of the influence of a powerful situation within a powerful system, then it’s as if they are experiencing diminished capacity and have lost their free will or their full reasoning capacity.

Situations can be sufficiently powerful to undercut empathy, altruism, morality and to get ordinary people, even good people, to be seduced into doing really bad things — but only in that situation.

Understanding the reason for someone’s behavior is not the same as excusing it. Understanding why somebody did something — where that why has to do with situational influences — leads to a totally different way of dealing with evil. It leads to developing prevention strategies to change those evil-generating situations, rather than the current strategy, which is to change the person.

Zimbardo’s famous Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most important of its type.

I was most taken by his proposed solution to the problem. Training kids from an early stage about the importance of being a hero. Taking a stand. Facing the repercussions because you are doing what is right.

To be a hero you have to take action on behalf of someone else or some principle and you have to be deviant in your society, because the group is always saying don’t do it; don’t step out of line. If you’re an accountant at Arthur Andersen, everyone who is doing the defrauding is telling you, “Hey, be one of the team.”

Heroes have to always, at the heroic decisive moment, break from the crowd and do something different. But a heroic act involves a risk. If you’re a whistle-blower you’re going to get fired, you’re not going to get promoted, you’re going to get ostracized. And you have to say it doesn’t matter.

Most heroes are more effective when they’re social heroes rather than isolated heroes. A single person or even two can get dismissed by the system. But once you have three people, then it’s the start of an opposition.

The three young women who started Ex-Scientology Kids are such heroes. I applaud them and everyone else who joins the movement.

Michael Shermer Article

February 19, 2008

In a strong and provocative L. A. Times op-ed on Anonymous, Michael Shermer of the Skeptic’s Society pulls no punches.

Imagine reading this press release:

Hello, Jews. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. … Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the laughs — we shall expel you … and systematically dismantle Judaism in its present form. …

The rantings of crazed neo-Nazis, right? No. Substitute “Jews” and “Judaism” with “Scientologists” and “Church of Scientology” and you are reading from a statement issued by a group of anti-Scientologists calling themselves “Anonymous.” This statement was released Jan. 21 (read in a YouTube video by a Stephen Hawking-like computerized voice). It was followed by another on Feb. 10 that coincided with demonstrations at Scientology centers around the world at which protesters donned masks (the Guy Fawkes variety from the movie “V for Vendetta”) and waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk If You Hate Scientology.”

Again, imagine if that sign read “Honk If You Hate Jews.” How innocuous would such a protest be in that case?

And yet this latest turn against the organization founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard has an air of farcical comedy to it. Why? Why aren’t civil rights organizations and anti-hate-speech activists pouncing on these protesters? The reason, I suspect, is that most of us do not consider Scientology a religion, at least not a religion that resembles in the slightest the world’s major faiths.

Be sure to read Michael’s full op-ed piece and visit his important website from the Skeptic’s Society.

Death of Shawn Lonsdale

February 19, 2008

The St. Petersburg Times reports today on the apparent suicide of Scientology critic Shawn Lonsdale.

It was a lonely end for a man who emerged out of nowhere in 2006 as a thorn in the side of the Church of Scientology.

For a few months in mid to late 2006, Lonsdale stood alone in downtown Clearwater beside a sandwich board that read “Cult Watch” in the heart of Scientology’s religious headquarters.

Videocamera in hand, he taped hours and hours of footage: Scientology buildings, church staffers walking the streets, security guards watching his movements and verbal confrontations with Scientologists. He then edited them into a “pseudo-documentary” about Scientology that eventually aired on local cable television.

Lonsdale, who was never a Scientologist, was an odd nemesis. He had no connection to the church before arguing with a Scientologist over redevelopment issues at a Clearwater City Council meeting.

Theater Tech

September 10, 2007

There’s a good article in Britain’s Telegraph about Milton Katselas and his Beverly Hills Playhouse, one of the most respected acting classes in Los Angeles.

Students have left Katselas’s school, the Beverly Hills Playhouse, because of the unspoken pressure they felt to join the Church of Scientology, the controversial religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s. Nobody ever told them to join, but they could not ignore how many of their classmates and teachers were Scientologists. Or the fact that Milton Katselas, the master himself, credits Hubbard for much of his success. And the assorted weirdness: one of Katselas’s students has a day job at the Scientology Celebrity Centre, where Tom Cruise and John Travolta study, and one zealous television star left the Playhouse because she said she believed that Katselas wasn’t committed enough to Scientology.

Katselas is a Scientologist and uses a lot of Hubbard in his coursework but from this article he sounds more like a Freezoner.

Katselas’s stubbornness, and his sheer ego, are the keys to understanding his relationship to Scientology. He takes what he can from the teachings, but he can be contemptuous of the church. ‘I know [Hubbard] made a statement once that Scientology is not the people in it,’ Katselas said. ‘Scientology is a technology that he’s developed that is really powerful, and these artists respond to it because it cleans up certain things that they’re looking to or that they’re dealing with, and that helps them in their quest or in their way, and there’s no doubt of that.’ But, he added: ‘I don’t go to parties, I don’t go to Scientology events. I just don’t do it. And they’re not enthralled with me because of that.’ He agreed that some Scientologists were ‘zealots’.

The wife of a good friend studied with Katselas for a few years.  She was never in Scientology but talked about how it was run with Scientology principles.  She even was the Ethics Officer for awhile.

It’s an interesting read.