Friday, July 25, 2008


I had some brief dealings with the Church of Scientology SA some years ago, and considered them slightly dodgy but not much of a real threat. After all, I will fight for anyone's religious freedom, no matter how nutty I may think their religion is.

Then I watched the video Psychiatry: An Industry of Death - a take on psychiatry, psychology etc by the "Citizens Commission on Human Rights" (part of the CoS).

You have to see it to grasp the full impact of what they are trying to do but please keep your tinfoil hat on. I am a psychology student (not psychiatry - I am somewhat sceptical of some of the practices and ideas of modern psychiatry) so am familiar with most of the names and concepts they bandy about, and did quite well in critical reasoning, and if I didn't by nature have my bullsh1t deflectors permanently set on high, I would have been taken in.

One of the spurious accusations they make is that psychiatry "created" racism. Odd, considering (among other things) these lovely writings from L Ron Hubbard himself:

"The South African native is probably the one impossible person to train in the entire world--he is probably impossible by any human standard"...

and this

"The number of engrams [bad things m'kay] in a Zulu would be astonishing. Moved out of his restimulative area and taught English he would escape the penalty of much of his reactive data; but in his native habitat the Zulu is only outside the bars of a madhouse because there are no madhouses provided by his tribe."

*cringe* )

I found the video to be a mixture of strawman arguments, ad hominem attacks, sensationalist language, vague statements, brisk dismissal of all empirical evidence and scientific methods used in psychology or psychiatry (like fMRI), depressing footage, well, you get the idea. When closely examined their logic falls to pieces and you realise that there isn't even real conviction there; that they are painting the "other" evil to further their own goals. In fact very much like Mein Kampf which I am reading at the moment, to try to understand Hitler's rabid hatred of Jews. There wasn't any real hatred - if you can make your scapegoat look bad enough, people will rally to your cause. I figure this is what the CCHR attempts to do, linking modern psychiatry with hideous things like inhumane 18th century "asylums" and eugenics, and laying the blame for school shootings, suicide etc. squarely on the shoulders of mental health professionals.

By now I was getting worried. I thought that the fact that they are money-grubbing scaremongers, trying to prevent people from accepting help from mental health professionals was a bad thing, but hey, maybe they just got my back up because I am planning to be a mental health professional one day. You know, live and let live.

I decided to read up more on the matter and consulted the other oracle, Wikipedia (so I'm a lazy researcher). I read the following links with increasing trepidation:

Around here it really started to make my skin crawl:

I really worry about a "Church" that considers it entirely acceptable to trick, sue or lie to or destroy their critics ("enemies").

But what really got to me was they way they treated their own members, especially ones that have grown up in their organisation, or had dedicated the better part of their lives (and most of their money) to it. I'm biased, yes. Damn right I'm biased against a system which demands complete belief and complete obedience; slavery, tyranny and general human rights abuses *really* p1ss me off.

Grand claims to make? Indeed. But I don't really think there are gentler ways to describe this:

  • "Sea Org members are not permitted to have children while working for the organization. Couples who get pregnant are either pressured to abort the baby, or they must leave. Often, these people have been in the Sea Org so long, they have nowhere to go, no resume outside of Scientology, no job experience, no finances, no property, and no non-Scientology friends.

  • Anyone who leaves the Sea Org without permission is declared a Suppressive Person by the Church of Scientology, and is ostracized from family, friends, and loved ones. It is very difficult to get permission to leave the Sea Org...The "approved" leaving process involves up to 3 years of hard physical labor, E-metered confessionals, social isolation and group pressure.

  • Sea Org members live in horrible conditions...Members are often denied proper sleep and are often forced to skip meals because of the pressures of the job.

  • Sea Org members are denied proper medical care. They are not provided health insurance, are not given sick days, and the Sea Org will not purchase their medicine for them…Sickness is also treated as the fault of the sick person…

  • Because Scientology has religious status in many countries, labor laws do not apply to the Sea Org. Therefore, Sea Org members have no protection from long and abusive work hours. Many work 17-20 hours days because of the pressures of the job.

  • Spouses and family members in the Sea Org rarely see each other. The Sea Org management reserves the right to ship different family members off to work in other countries or areas without any approval from the spouse. Husbands may be sent away from their wives, mothers may be sent away from their children, etc. If the family complains, they are punished.

  • Families who have members in the Sea Org and other members who are not in the Sea Org rarely see each other. Mothers and fathers with children in the Sea Org may not call them directly, but must call the organization and ask to speak with them.

  • Letters that Sea Org members write to their families, and letters that they receive from the outside, are screened by Sea Org censors for "entheta" (unhappiness, negativity) before they are passed on. …

  • If a Sea Org member commits a punishable offense, they are sent to the RPF, or Rehabilitation Project Force, ... People on the RPF may only eat the food left over after the other SO members have eaten… are not allowed holidays, receive even less pay than SO members, and are required to do hard manual labor for long hours. People can be assigned to the RPF for up to 10 years.

  • Members are put under tremendous psychological pressure. They are expected work as hard as need be without complaint, sacrificing food, sleep, family, and off hours."

(Read the stories of the Ex Scientology Kids, and do read the "What's the deal with" sections - Fair Game, Disconnection and OTIII)

I was shocked and appalled. I refuse to buy clothes made in sweatshops, because the idea of long hours, little pay and zero legal recourse makes me sick. Yet people are probably being held in similar circumstances at the big, pretty and obviously expensive CSSA building not far from where I live. The Sea Org and the RPF transgress numerous human rights upheld in our Constitution (See dignity, life, freedom and security, forced labour, freedom of religion, freedom of association, health get the idea I think). Why are we allowing this institution in our country??

For more info:

A local Facebook group group

Anonymous on Facebook

Anonymous on the Web

Lisa McPherson, who died in the "care" of the CoS

Operation Clambake provides us with, among others, the dodgy personality test the "Church" uses (which I am planning to complete and then submit to both an independent psychologist and to the HPCSA for their perusal):

And this handy flyer which I am hoping to be handing out at the "fayres" where the CSSA are apparently recruiting people:

Finally for some gratuitously ad hominem (but somewhat pertinent) attacks on Mr L Ron Hubbard himself:


I again state that I am strongly pro religious rights. I will fight for anyone's right to freedom of religion, even for a Scientologist. Even though I think the beliefs are nonsensical, that is not what I object to. What I object to is the way the CoS deals with both its critics and its followers who, for whatever reason, become unable or unwilling to give the "Church" everything it wants. It might be ok if you could check it out and make up your own mind whether it's good or bad, but the point is they won't let you leave.

Anyway I think this covers it, am feeling quite emotionally drained from all the things I've read so I'll let you make up your own mind.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Fashion victims

I was alerted to this on Facebook and sent off the following, rather snotty, mail to the parties involved:

Dear Ms Gill and Mr Robbie

I am writing to express my disgust and disappointment at the article that can be found at this link

Big spenders lose appetite for costly trinkets, 21 July 2008

and particularly the paragraph quoted:

"[Mr Robbie's] wife, Jenny, sprang a big surprise when she showed me her purchase du jour (or nuit, as it happened): a red fox-fur jacket. At R3250, she called it a “snip” in comparison with what her old man was spending on his collecting passion, and posed for the picture of the night as she modelled it for us. The slur-on-fur movement now appears to be a been-there-done-that concept and two other pre-used animal coats changed hands that night — including another pretty jacket, this time a silver fox for R3500."

Mr Robbie I am not taking issue so much with the fact that your wife bought an apparently second-hand fur jacket (of course all fur is essentially pre-used), although I do think it is irresponsible of any sort of celebrity to promote cruelty in such blatant fashion. Had the fur been new it would have been a different matter.

What shocked and disgusted me however, Ms Gill, was the callous statement you made regarding the anti-fur movement. Do you truly see concern over the unnecessary and incredibly inhumane killing of animals for their fur as a trend, to support when in vogue and to discard when the novelty has worn off? Did it never occur to you that perhaps some people feel more passionately about the suffering of animals than they do about pink satin-lined jackets? I didn't expect too much from a "society writer" but that was deplorably shallow even for someone of your ilk.

I sincerely hope that concern for the rights and welfare of others, be they human or animal, will never go out of fashion.

Feel free to send them your opinion on the matter too