CarnivUL of The fraudless: exposing the CULT
Welcome to the first CarnivUL of The fraudless!!!
This first CarnivUL(…T) will be dedicated to tracking major developments that have taken place since January in the international protest against the Cult of Scientology, discussing the why of the protest, the who of Anonymous, and compiling some of the best relevant YouTube video produced over the past 3 months.
For those who have visited Blog Carnivals before, be warned that this will be an unconventional carnival. CarnivUL of The fraudless, or CarnivUL(…T), will not in this edition or subsequent editions take all of its content from blogs. It is anticipated that much of CarnivUL(…T)’s content will come from sources such as YouTube, Enturbulation.Org, websites, and of course blogs.
On with the CarnivUL(…T)!
Long long ago – January 14 2008, to be exact – hilarious (and concerning) members-only Scientology propaganda footage featuring the highly indoctrinated Tom Cruise was leaked online. This video gained instant online popularity, being viewed by millions and covered widely on evening current affairs tabloid programming across the world. What was funny was Tom Cruise’s glaring fanaticism, over-the-top laughter, statement that only Scientologists are equipt to deal with serious situations like an automobile accident, and apparent unwavering conviction that Scientology was the answer to pretty-well everything. What was concerning was Tom Cruise’s glaring fanaticism, over-the-top laughter, statement that only Scientologists are equipt to deal with serious situations like an automobile accident, and apparent unwavering conviction that Scientology was the answer to pretty-well everything. Perhaps most concerning was his statement that maybe, and ideally, one day there will be no more SPs – i.e., people critical of the Cult.
This video wasn’t up long before CoS issued a violation of copyright complaint and had YouTube pull the video. THIS DID NOT FLY WITH SOME PEOPLE. To some people, the Internet is Serious Business. Immediately after CoS’s move to have their members-only video pulled from YouTube members an online leaderless anonymous cluster of Internet users that collectively referred to their loose minimally structured organization as Anonymous launched Project Chanology.
Who is Anonymous? Anonymous existed long before January 14, 2008. They are an unassembled assembly of anonymous Internet users that tend to meet anonymously at certain websites in order to exchange ideas, jokes, Internet content (which, from what I hear, is often very offensive content), and ideas for online pranks – which are often enacted. As I understand it, the two primary rules within Anonymous – which, again as I understand it, are administered collectively by Anons – are 1) all posting is done anonymously (not even with trackable nicknames, but with complete Anonymity from post to post); and 2) no child pornography. The main purposes of anonymity is so that people can express their thoughts, jokes, content and so forth more freely and submissions can be evaluated purely on their own merits, rather than based on the contributor. Here is one well-produced description of Anonymous:
Many great Internet memes were created and promulgated by Anons – e.g., the Rickroll, Lol Cats, and so on. The RickRoll has become one of the Nets most celebrated Internet memes in recent months, and has become the unofficial official song of the international protests against Scientology.
Why the name RickRoll? Before the RickRoll was the DuckRoll, another meme created by Anons which involved created a threat in which visitors would see an image of a duck on wheels, often to some sort of musical background. People would then trick people into going to that threat (i.e., by telling them that the thread was about something completely different that was of interest), and the visitor would be said to have been DuckRoll’d! This same idea was later applied to the 1980’s music video Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”. This time, though, some Rollers were increasingly creative and ambitious in their RickRolling – often taking their Rolls into real life (or In Real Life, IRL). Here is the most impressive RickRoll that I’ve come across (the level of planning and coordination that must have gone into this is great):
One of the most interesting things about the RickRoll is how it has quite understandably been misunderstood within the Scientology protest world. One of the automatic things humans do when interpreting things is to try to understand the relations and meaning of things – i.e., to interpret them. Because this song, and few others, continued to occur at protests around the world, many protesters inferred that there was some good reason for it. There were rumors that Rick Astley perhaps had been a Scientologist, was mistreated by the Cult, and so on. Nope! There is absolutely no known relationship between Scientology and Rick Astley – until now: his song, by simple coincidence, has serendipitiously become a rallying song for protesters of the cult.
So back to Anonymous’ connection to Scientology…
Immediately following Scientology’s insistence that YouTube pull all of these Tom Cruise Scientology videos, some individual Anons were outraged – few things piss many Anons more than perceived attempts at Internet censorship and Internet strong-arming. Hence the launch of Project Chanology. “Members of Project Chanology organized a series of denial-of-service attacks against Scientology websites, prank calls, and black faxes to Scientology centers” (Source: Wikipedia). On January 21, members of Anonymous posted the following video on YouTube, which described their plans to destroy the Church of Scientology in order to stop its suppression of dissent, frivolous and bullying litigiousness, deceit, exploitation of trusting members, and so on.
This and subsequent videos and the realization of Project Chanology attracted huge attention, being covered by many major news organizations and creating an online frenzy of YouTube viewers, excited bloggers, and so on.
Then a major transition in the nature of the opposition was spurred. In response to Project Chanology, seasoned picketer of Scientology Mark Bunker released a YouTube video entitled “Message to Anonymous” (I would love to present this video, but cannot because YouTube has pulled Bunker’s account and I cannot find a mirror-copy of this video). In this video, Bunker expressed that he and other long-time protesters of Scientology (whom are often dubbed the “Old Guard Critics”) are very happy that so many new people are standing against the organization, however, the current means of Anonymous are not the best course of action. By going about the protest by way of Internet attacks and prank phone calls and faxes, protesters are endangering themselves to a vicious potential response from Scientology; further, this is just not the most civil way of going about it. Bunker encouraged Anonymous to transform their movement into a grassroots campaign against the Cult.
Anonymous heard Bunker loud and clear. The transition from cyber-attacks and prank calls and faxes to grassroots activism and awareness-spreading took place over just a couple of days. Anons even enshrined Bunker with the nickname “Wise Beard Man”, and the co-occurring statement “Wise Beard Man; His words are wise; His face is beard”. This was the beginning of the coming together of the Old Guard with Anonymous. This union led to the widening of many Anonymous eyes, as protesters came increasingly to know that Scientology is far FAR worse than they had ever figured. They learned that the CoS is not just a dissent squashing, frivolously litigious, psychotherapy quack peddling, celebrity trophy-keeping, deceitful and highly insecure organization.
The cult is a thorough-going morally-indifferent malevolent organization that will stop at little-to-nothing to advance its ambitions of social propagation and profiteering, and to stop those who oppose these objectives in anyway. It categorizes enemies of the cult (or “Suppressive Persons”, SPs) as second-class citizens that are not accorded the same rights as Scientologists and may be destroyed with impunity to Scientologist culprits. It also has an established practice of encouraging or requiring that Scientologists disconnect from family and friends who are critical of the organization. CoS’s Sea Org – the large unit within Scientology that essentially runs the “Church” – is staffed by Scientologists who signed a billion year contract with the Sea Org, and are alleged to often be worked over 100 hours per week for less than $50 USD/week, live in cramped rooms with 3-12 other Org members, are required to have abortions or leave the Sea Org if they become pregnant, may not be married to non-Sea Orgers, are generally not allowed to have telephones and are not allowed Internet connections, TV, or to read their mail before it has been checked by Scientology officials first for entheta (negativity toward Scientology), receive persistent psychological abuse and pressure from superiors, are personally blamed if they get ill, and on and on. For more on the Sea Org, check out the write-up at ExScientologyKids. Astra Woodcraft also speaks of her personal experience in the Sea Org in her interview videos at XenuTV. In addition to the Sea Org is the Rehabilitation Project Force, which has been described by ex-members as a prison labour camp where members are sent and detained against their will, forced to do hours of grueling repetitive labour, etc. Detainees can be held in the RPF for months or years, it has been claimed.
The second major announcement released by members of Anonymous was “Call to Action”, which clarified misunderstandings of who Anonymous is and what their goals are, began the new mega-scale awareness campaign against CoS, and announced the first international day of protest against the cult, February 10, 2008:
The 10/02/2008 protest was preceded by a few smaller “raids” (e.g., Caturday – a Saturday protest a week before Feb 10 – the name inspired by the online Anonymous community’s interest in cat-related Internet memes just as the LolCats and long cat (which is long)). The largest Anonymous flash picket prior 10/02 was held in Orlando, Florida on February 2nd. You’ll notice that some signs in this video read “Honk if you hate Scientology”. Such signage has been strongly discouraged by Anonymous, because it conveys the wrong message: This is not about hatred for a belief system, it is about wanting to expose and stop the crimes conducted in the name of it.
So February 10th happened, and it was HUGE! Roughly 7-9,000 protesters converged on roughly 100 Scientology centres around the world. February 10th was huge, and it would surely not be the last time that CoS would come face-to-face with the faceless. In the following video, footage is presented from February 10, and the next international day of protest, Operation: Party Hard, which took place on the Ides of March, 15/03/2008, is promoted:
Now, during all of this, Scientology has been frantic. After all, they’d be dealing with a lot. In the matter of a few months, the cult had to endure to the leaking of the embarrassing Tom Cruise video, the early cyber, phone and fax attacks of Anonymous, the formation and mobilization of Anonymous street protests, the bonding of Anonymous with the Old Guard Critics, the release of Andrew Morton’s Unauthorized Biography of Tom Cruise – which contained many damning allegations against the cult, the continual flood of more and more bad press and critical websites, and Jenna Miscavige Hill – ex-Scientologist and niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige – speaking out against the cult and verifying allegations that it separates families.
Regarding the Anonymous protests, Scientologists have been under order from administration to not speak to media. Media relations have been conducted by select administrators who would repeatedly stereotype all of Anonymous as a bunch of lifeless angry bigotted cyber-terrorists who were on par with the KKK. They have refused to dignify the claims of the protesters against the cult, sticking instead with tarring all of Anonymous as a newfangled Klu Klux Klan out to persecute religious minorities, Scientology in particular. They released this incredibly slanted video:
Notice how in this video, they present Anonymous as homogenous and structured organization that is capable of exerting control over the conduct of individuals who choose to protest Scientology anonymously? Anonymous is nothing more than individuals who conceal their identity. That’s it. It’s not a structured organization in any sense. It gets worse than this, though. There is every reason to believe that much of what they reported is patently false. Scientology has a history of lying, creating fake and anonymous identities, and forging threats to themselves in order to quash dissent. Former Scientologist Tory “Magoo” Christman has spoken on numerous occasions regarding how the organization had her and others create fake anonymous identities in order to spam online chat forums visited by critics and disgruntled ex-members. The Cult has also had members flood opinion polls to manufacturer desirable public opinion results. Most notably, in the 70s the cult stole letterhead from Scientology critic Paulette Cooper and used it to forge bomb threats to themselves. They also tried to have Cooper committed into a mental institution. In an FBI raid of CoS a few years later, documentation of a plan entitled “Operation Freakout” revealed that the cult’s Guardian’s Office (now called the Office of Special Affairs; i.e., CoS’s personal CIA and police force) had conspired to have Cooper incarcerated or committed to or hit her so hard that she stops speaking against Scientology – she had been in the process of publishing the first book critical of the cult.
One member of Anonymous has accused Scientology of manufacturing the video bomb threat, pointing to differences in video quality of previous Anonymously-produced video footage with that used in the alleged bomb threat video:
This is also not the first time that the cult has tried to destroy the public image of critics. In fact, it is official policy to do so. L. Ron Hubbard-penned Fair Game policy reads as follows:
“SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed”
In this video, former Scientologist and Guardian’s Office staff Frank Oliver describes how he personally was involved in the application of Fair Game to critics and disgruntled ex-members. The level of invasion and abuse is stunning.
In the previous video, you see direct citation of Hubbard saying that the purpose of lawsuits is to harass and discourage rather than to win. It is official CoS policy to file frivolous lawsuits and other criminal/legal actions to discourage critics. Such practices have been a part of the cult’s reaction to the current protest efforts. In March they tried and failed twice to file injunctions preventing protesters from assembling outside of the Clearwater org on March 15. The cult has also pursued frivolous legal action action the protester in Boston, Gregg Housh, who filed the permit for the March 15 protest, pressing charges for trespassing and criminal harassment:
(Hat Tip: GlossLip)
The cult also took it upon itself to single out a few protesters that it had managed to identify and publicize personal information about them – their name, address, phone number and so on. Sympathizers would interpret this as the CoS standing up for itself. Critics interpret it as the cult trying to insite terror in the named individuals and everyone else who is rightly afraid of being Fair Game’d.
Probably the most common way of dealing with protester on protest days – aside from shutting the curtains, closing up shop, and keeping the Scientologists away from the windows (this, surely, is what LRH had in mind when he instructed Scientologists to confront and shatter suppression) – was to send out Scientologists who would literally masquerade as protesters in order to attempt to get information from Anons (e.g., names), to incite Anons to do illegal or morally-questionable things (e.g., throw things at the “Church” or at police, start a riot, begin yelling hate speech), and the like. Fortunately, most protesters are pretty good at identifying these Scilons, as they’ve been dubbed.
The Scilons were a pretty understandable tactic. But some of their other tactics were less comprehensible. For instance, why did this guy have a gun at a peaceful protest that was staffed by police?
The police have also partaken in many highly questionable responses to protesters. There was some pretty dubious police activities at the Buffalo 15/03 protest. In Atlanta two protesters were arrested for using a megaphone, while cars that beeped in supported of the protesters were ticketed:
Despite all of these very unfortunate events, overall the March 15 protest went very well. The success of the protests should be dedicated to those who had to go through these unjustified disturbances. Attendance estimates, to my knowledge, were in the 8-10,000 range. Here’s another good video:
So now the protest efforts have been in full-swing for a while. More and more major media networks are covering the protests, including SkyNews, FoxNews, CBC (Canada), CTV (Canada), CityTV (Canada), major newspapers and online news sources, and more and more critical blogs, websites and YouTube posts were showing up. Critics like Mark Bunker, Tory Christman, and Andreas Heldal Lund were becoming household names. And Tom Cruise’s Q-rating presumably continued to drop [Note to Scientology and Tom Cruise: I said presumably!]. Further, heaps of private Scientology documents (e.g., materials relating to the Scientology doctrine, the indoctrination process, security, handling of insubordinates, Scientology administration, etc.) have found their way onto the Internet. A CarnivUL(…T) contributor sent a link to his page which linked to these documents. I am refraining from posting the link, however, out of fear of legal action. Sorry, KB… But they are out there.
The sailing hasn’t always been smooth for Anonymous as a whole, though. In addition to the misfortune visited upon some individual protesters by the CoS and some curiously motivated police, there has also been some in-fighting. Recall that Anonymous is not something that developed specifically for this protest. It existed for years before January 2008 for completely unrelated reasons. As the protest progressed and more and more people from outside of the traditional Anonymous online haunts (e.g., the Chan image boards) began joining in, some of the traditional Anons (sometimes called oldfags – “fag” in oldfag-speak is a term used in order to resist free speech suppression, and does not necessarily mean anything intentionally derogatory toward homosexuals) began to feel that Anonymous was being hi-jacked by Scientology protesters (who are sometimes called newfags or moralfags). Surely, the Scientology protesters hope that the two groups can avoid stepping on each others’ toes.
Soon enough, April came around and it was time for the next protest: Operation Reconnect. Operation Reconnect took place on April 12. This was the first protest dedicated to a particular branch of Scientology’s moral-indifference: Disconnection policy. As alluded to above, it is policy within Scientology that members be encouraged or required to break ties (to “disconnect”) from anyone who is critical of Scientology – be they family, friends, acquaintances, or whomever. On April 12 approximately 7-8,000 protesters gathered once more at CoS’s around the world, this time delivering the message “OT phone home” (OT=Operating Thetan, a high-level status within Scientology).
I couldn’t find a good video compilation of the protests around the world, but here’s the extremely well done press release and protest promo video (Note: if anyone knows of any good video compilations for 12/04, please leave a link in the comment section):
In the days immediately following Operation Reconnect, things really started to get interesting. Within a week, Tory Christman’s YouTube account, ToryMagoo44, was pulled from Youtube (no doubt due to Scientologists flooding YouTube with complaint flags, resulting in YouTube’s automated system automatically disabling Christman’s account) and then reinstated it about a day later, Mark Bunker released the 3-minute teaser of Jason Beghe’s recollections of his experience and his knowledge of Scientology, and Mark Bunker’s account, XenuTV1, was pulled from Youtube a matter of hours before he was scheduled to release the full Beghe interview. Apparently, Bunker’s account was removed because he had used some content from the Colbert Report. The account remains down. However, he now has a new account over at Vimeo, where you can find the full Jason Beghe interview (which is also all over YouTube) and on Mark’s personal blog. The Beghe interview has attracted substantial media coverage from outfits such as FoxNews, TodayTonight (Australia), A Current Affair (Australia), the Village Voice (US), and more.
And then it was only a little over a week until Jenna Miscavige Hill along with Astra Woodcraft gave another television interview regarding Scientology. Click here to see this very damning review of the cult on ABC‘s Nightline. Nightline reported that they tried earnestly for weeks to get a statement from the CoS. Finally, the CoS gave a statement saying that they would not comment on JMH’s claims as they believe that she has made an ecclesiastical issue a family issue, which they didn’t want to be apart of, and that they didn’t want to lower the dignity of the CoS by having to make negative statements regarding JMH’s character. Anyone who has been paying attention to Scientology knows that this was a transparent diversion. Scientology has spent years defaming critics and ex-members (e.g., Bob Minton, Stacy Brooks, Mark Bunker, Shawn Lonsdale, Gregg Hagglund, and so on). And their disconnection policy casts serious doubts on any significant value they place on family.
TodayTonight then ran a very damaging investigative report on Scientology’s Narconon drug-rehabilitation program:
And recently, a YouTuber posted a video of himself reading through the German government’s lengthy and detailed warning package on Scientology:
Germany is surely not the only nation to have been highly suspicious of Scientology. A 10-year study recently led a Belgian prosecutor to contend that the CoS should be labeled a criminal organization:
Israel TV recently declared Scientology to be a “medical, moral and social threat”.
In response to the release of this video, Dawn of GlossLip wrote:
“Are there any countries left besides the United States who haven’t declared Scientology to be a powerful, sinister and dangerous cult? So far, most of the Western World has identified this organization as a threat to the very fabric of society.
When will we wake up?”
Many people are waking up. Thanks to the efforts of the Old Guard, Anonymous, the ExScientologyKids admins Kendra Wiseman, Astra Woodcraft and Kendra Wiseman, the many people hosting websites on Scientology, and the news agencies, more and more people are coming to see the dark side of Scientology. Dawn herself has played a heroic role in exposing Scientology. In my eyes, GlossLip has become one of if not the leading non-forum website for news updates and exclusive interviews regarding Scientology. In the past few weeks she has conducted interviews with people such as Mark Bunker and ex-Scientologist Marc Headley. Her most recent posts pertaining to Headley, David Miscavige, the Sea Org, the Rehabilitation Project Force, Tom Cruise, and recent developments have been eye-opening and should definitely be checked out.
Here we are now on April 29th. This wave of protests has been in progress now for over 3 months. According to seasoned critics like Tory Christman and supposed Scientology insider leaks the impact has been huge. Scientology stats (i.e., sales, recruits) are claimed to be down, the number of defections is said to have risen, and the number of ex-members speaking out has absolutely increased. In addition to the major monthly protests, flash mini-raids have been staged in Toronto, various places in California, and presumably elsewhere. But the biggies haven’t stopped.
The next international day of protest: May 10
The focus: Fair Game policy
This, the first CarnivUL of The fraudless, has come to close. To wrap it up, I offer this final (and truly excellent) video as a personal gift to Tory Christman:
To everyone in the Old Guard, to Wise Beard Man (you’re spectacular), to the “moralFags” of Anonymous, and to everyone who stands up for human rights everywhere, this delicious cake is for you!
Everyone, regardless of where you stand on the protest, is encouraged to leave comments below!