Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stifling Myths

The UK Newspaper The Guardian has an article on "How Scientologists Pressurise Publishers", based initially on The Complex pulled out of Amazon U.K. stock.

The article in fact is not that bad but contains a few inaccuracies and omissions.

"Several times they've taken legal action to try and stop websites revealing their teachings"
It would be more exact to write "Several times they've taken legal action to try and stop websites posting their copyrighted material"

"The Church of Scientology set up a campaign called Operation Freakout to discredit her."
Makes it sound as if the operation was actually carried out. It wasn't. It was only a project that remained on paper.

"the Church falsely told the FBI she had sent them two bomb threats"
"Falsely" seems to be here the author's opinion, because there never was any definite proof one way or the other. See my page about the Cooper Bomb Threat myth at

"The court cases went on for some years and eventually the Church won. Armstrong filed for bankruptcy and fled to Canada. The Church filed further lawsuits against him in the 1990s and into the new century. There have been numerous other examples of Scientology trying to suppress criticism."
This is incorrect and I am surprised that a journalist who supposedly has researched the CoS comes up with such a myth. Armstrong settled his case and received $800,000 as part of the settlement. He fled out to Canada with the money and joyfully breached the agreement 131 times. He can't go back in the US where he is now wanted by the law.

"numerous other examples of Scientology trying to suppress criticism"
That may be, but the examples provided on the article do not really support that claim. The complain being made against The Complex is for libel, not criticism. The examples given about "legal actions against web sites" were for copyright, not "revealing their teachings". Operation Freakout was never enacted, and there is no proof that the bomb threat accusation against Cooper was false. As for Armstrong, he is wanted in the US for what amounts to stealing $800,000 from the CoS, not because he is a critic.

There is hope, however, that David V. Barrett, author of this article, eventually corrects these innacuracies. Indeed, he writes:
"Because of the unbiased descriptive stance of my books on new religious movements, anti-cultists have accused me of being a "cult apologist"."
This always is an honor, because "cult apologist" is the term anti-cultists use for moderate onlookers who don't share their frantic and paranoid views on cults and actually check facts.

So how about it, David? Search the issue a bit deeper, and you may find that things are not just as simple as what is presented on the many so-called critical web sites that mostly repeat from each other the same myths until they become "true".

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