My Visit to the Toronto Church of Scientology
I was in Toronto today and I stopped by the local CoS. I went in unmasked and casually and went up to the front desk and politely asked if I could speak to someone who was in charge or held some position of leadership. The nice attendant first responded with a bit of confusion, saying something like “well, we’re a church…” as if that would mean that there really isn’t someone “in charge” – which of course isn’t true. I was about to say “well, is there someone here that would be analogous to a reverend” when the attendant asked what I wanted to speak in regard to. So I responded by saying that I was concerned because it seems to me that the organization had been promulgating some lies, particularly with regard to the protesters. I was surprised by his first response, which essentially was to repeat “protesters” as if he didn’t know what I meant. So he said “protesters?” and I said “yes” (I wasn’t going to just give him a definition of “protester” – I was pretty sure he would know what the term means) and he responded “You mean those people with the signs…” to which I responded affirmatively, managing to keep a completely straight face (feel free to clap).
So I continued saying that the organization, in its numerous press statements, have continued to depict the protesters as a homogenous group of hate-mongers and terrorists. I conceded that the first protesters of Anonymous did engage in a lot of hacking and aggressive behaviours, but that has changed substantially while the PR statements of CoS have not. This is dishonest. I told him that I, in fact, am a protester, and I’ve done nothing illegal nor do I have any interest in infringing upon any religious freedoms. Further, I told hihm that I’ve met a number of other protesters and people who sympathize with protesters who have done nothing illegal. We are simply protesting the criminal behaviour, and this, as I told him, is why I came in today unmasked in order to have a civil discussion.
It was around at this point that he thought about whom he could hook me up with to talk to. He figured the best person who was around at the time was a guy named David (I can’t remember the last name; I think it a German/Jewish last name like Feldman or something like that). He called up to him and told him that an unmasked protester would like to speak to him. David told him that he was unavailable at the moment, but if I’d like to leave my name and phone number he can call me. My response was that I would rather not give such information, given the track record of the organization following and harassing critics – this, in fact, is precisely why the protesters wear masks, and why I was slightly hesitant to come in unmasked but did anyway. So I told him that I would stop by the CoS again the next time I was in the area, politely shook his hand and said goodbye, and that was my visit. As far as I can tell, I was not followed nor was a photo taken – though I’m sure I’m probably on their internal camera system.
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