The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper | Next | Prev | Cites | Index

Chapter 9

Attacking the Attackers

People who live in tin houses shouldn't throw can openers.
-- L. Ron Hubbard{1}

The Scientologists have not taken any of their attacks or setbacks lightly. Although the Church of Scientology creed states that "all men have the right to think freely, to write freely, their own opinions and to counter or utter or write about the opinions of others,"{2} in the past, this has not applied to anyone who wished to think, speak or write against Scientology.

Many newspapers and magazines in America, England and Australia which printed articles on Scientology ran into legal problems with the Scientologists, and in England it was estimated that fifty-eight writs had been issued by the Scientologists. Mr. Peter Hordern spoke out against this in Parliament in March of 1967, saying: "The public has been hampered in the knowledge of Scientology by the fact that so far as I can establish, on every occasion that the organization has been named by a newspaper, that newspaper has been served with a writ for libel."{3} In September of 1968, the Scientologists issued a writ of libel on him.{4}

Obviously this stifles freedom of the press, and the Scientologists have admitted that they will "sue at the slightest chance" to discourage the media from mentioning Scientology. Hubbard wrote:

We do not want Scientology to be reported in the press anywhere else but on the religion page of newspapers. It is destructive of word of mouth to permit the public press to express their biased and badly reported sensationalism. Therefore we should be very alert to sue for slander at the slightest chance so as to discourage the public press from mentioning Scientology.

Scientologists are quick to sue not only those who write against them, but also those who speak against them, and some of their suits have been contradictory and amusing. When Dr. Russell Barton (the British psychiatrist mentioned in the previous chapter), spoke out against them on a television program, he received a letter suing him for the statements he made "on February 31st." If the Scientologists had acted with less haste, perhaps they would have had time to remember that there are only twenty-eight days in February.

In another case, the Scientologists had several outstanding writs against some of the members of the East Grinstead Council, but approached them nonetheless for help in a housing development. In a third case, after serving a writ of libel in England on Geoffrey Johnson Smith, they asked Smith for "support and advice" about a housing estate they wanted to build in East Grinstead. This last case by the way, one of the few that Scientologists ever took to court, had some recent disastrous effects for the Scientologists. They lost this libel case on December 22, 1970, and were ordered to pay court costs that are estimated at close to $200,000.

The Scientologists' attitude toward litigation is in keeping with Hubbard's philosophy that "the DEFENSE of anything is UNTENABLE. The only way to defend anything is to ATTACK." Fortunately for the press, they have decided to start attacking other institutions, and they withdrew thirty-eight of their cases against newspapers in England in November of 1968, "in celebration of the fact that we now know who the enemy really is."{5}

Not that their suing policy is over. In fact, on September 30, 1970, it was reported in the New York Post that the Scientologists were suing Delacourt Publishers and author George Malko for a book they did on Scientology. (The Scientologists also announced that they had hired Melvin Belli, the famous flamboyant attorney who once unsuccessfully defended Jack Ruby, for their case.) But in addition to suing the press, they are now also suing psychiatric organizations, and they claim to have filed, or be about ready to file, over $75 million worth of law suits in that department.{6}

In addition to suing those who attack them, Scientologists have subjected their enemies to a campaign of vilification.{7} Members of Parliament who have spoken out against them have been accused by the Scientologists of bribery, corruption, and even "of following the order of a hidden foreign group that ... has as its purpose seizing any being whom they dislike or who will not agree and permanently disabling and killing them." And to support their suspicions about people who attack them, the Scientologists have hired detectives to investigate these people.

Hubbard wrote that since Scientology had found out the basic fundamentals of man and the universe, "How much easier then to find out the secrets or histories and motives of one person or group?"{8} In that same pamphlet, "Why People Fight Scientology," he also claims that they have "investigated thousands of such protesting persons."{9}

Lest an outsider get the wrong idea, Hubbard elsewhere assured them that Scientology was not a "law enforcement agency."{10} But, he added, they would become "interested in the crimes of people who seek to stop us. If you oppose Scientology we will promptly look up -- and will find and expose your crimes ... those who try to make life hard for us are at a risk."

One type of investigation Hubbard suggested was what he called "noisy investigations."{11} He wrote in 1966 that if someone gave Scientology trouble, "find out where he or she works or worked ... and phone 'em up and say `I am investigating Mr./Mrs. for criminal activities and he/she has been trying to prevent man's freedom and is restraining my religious freedom and that of my friends and children, etc.' "

But it appears that the Scientologists' investigations are not confined to phone calls. They have made no attempt to hide the fact that they have hired detectives to investigate their "enemies." As early as 1955, they wrote in Ability, one of their newsletters, that they had hired a detective to investigate and "disclose any criminal past or connection" of the editor of a British Dianetic magazine.{12}

During the New Zealand Inquiry into Scientology, it was also revealed that the Scientologists had placed an ad for an investigator in one of the local papers.{13} The man who answered the ad later told the Inquiry that he was told his job would be to check on people in New Zealand and Australia to see whether they had criminal convictions, debts or troubles. He claimed he was also asked whether he had any objections to investigating lawyers, medical men or people in government circles.

The Scientologists also allegedly put an ad in the Daily Telegraph for investigators, and were prepared to hire three of them for about $80 a week plus the use of a car. One man who answered the ad, Vic Filson, an experienced private detective, told the newspaper that he was first interviewed by being made to take an E-meter test, during which time they repeatedly asked him, "Who sent you here to spy on us?" Later, when they were apparently satisfied with him, he was allegedly told that his job was to investigate the activities of English psychiatrists and prepare a dossier on each.

The memo, which was reprinted in People, a British paper, read: "We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one.... This is Project Psychiatry. We will remove them." Filson was also told that his first job was to investigate Lord Balniel, then Chairman of the National Association of Mental Health -- and one of the men who had asked Kenneth Robinson to investigate Scientology.{14}

The reason the Scientologists may have investigated those who have spoken out against them is that they firmly believe that those who attack Scientology are committing crimes themselves, which they are afraid the Scientologists will discover. Hubbard said that if someone called Scientology a "cult" or a "hoax," what they were really saying is "please please please don't find me out."{15}

Hubbard also said that if someone urged a Scientologist to leave the group or told him not to study Scientology "it should be answered by no praise of Scientology but by asking `What have you done?' and demanding that the protesting person go to the nearest [Scientology] center for a case assessment."{16}

Hubbard suggested one simple, perhaps simplistic way to uncover a person's crime with the following sample dialogue:

George: Gwen, if you don't drop Scientology I'm going to leave you.
Gwen: (savagely) George, what have you been doing?
George: What do you mean?
Gwen: Out with it. Women? Theft? Murder? What crimes have you committed?
George: (weakly) Oh, nothing like that.
Gwen: What then?
George: I've been holding back on my pay.

Sometimes the "crimes" are less innocent than that. Hubbard wrote:

Politician A stands up on his hind legs in Parliament and brays for a condemnation of Scientology. When we look him over we find crimes -- embezzled funds, moral lapses, a thirst for young boys -- sordid stuff.

Wife B howls at her husband for attending a Scientology group. We look her up and find she had a baby he didn't know about.{18}

Another reason Hubbard believes that people attack Scientology (in addition to hiding their own crimes), is because Scientology is honest, aboveboard and works. In what must surely be the strangest reasoning ever, Hubbard wrote: "If Scientology was fraudulent, if it had vast but covert plans, if it did not work, it would not be fought."{19}

Finally, Hubbard hinted that harm would come to those who fought Scientology -- although, of course Scientology would not in any way contribute to their disasters. Hubbard wrote that "no serious harm came to any principal or good person in Dianetics or Scientology." But on the other hand, "without any action being taken against them, of twenty-one highly placed attackers, seventeen are now dead."{20}

If this seems hard to believe, the way in which people who are against Scientology will suffer is even harder to accept. Hubbard wrote:

I once told a bill collector what and who we were and that he had wronged a good person and a half hour later he threw a hundred grains of veronal down his throat and was lugged off to hospital, a suicide.{21}

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Citations & Notes

{1} initial quote [223]
{2} Scientology creed [63, etc.]
{3} quote by Hordern [257]
{4} Hordern sued [230]
{5} dropped suits [231]
{6} suing psychiatrists [57]
{7} vilifying people [257]
{8} quote by Hubbard on finding out secrets [26] {ambiguous citation}
{9} investigating thousands [26]
{10} quote on not law enforcement agency [49]
{11} noisy investigations [22]
{12} British investigations [31]
{13} N.Z. investigator [262]
{14} Filson investigator; memo, etc. [203]
{15} someone calling Scientology a hoax [26]
{16} someone trying to get another to leave Scientology [26]
{17} dialogue between George and Gwen [224]
{18} politican & wife crimes [49]
{19} if Scientology were fraudulent quote by Hubbard [26]
{20} 17 out of 21 dead [26]
{21} death of bill collector [80]