Scientology’s Fair Game activities have been on full view lately as we watch their efforts to discredit Mike Rinder crash and burn on social media. Rinder, former high ranking Scientologist turned defector and currently consulting for the Emmy award winning A&E production Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, is being targeted in an attempt to force his removal from Aftermath. Unfortunately for Scientology the paper trail of Fair Game lies is a simple one to follow.
Chrissie Carnell, actress and former Scientologist, is one of four women accusing Danny Masterson (That ’70s Show) of rape. The harassment began in 2016 when Carnell went to the police with the accusations against Masterson, an active member of the church. She and her husband endured everything from strange phone calls to the tragic death of a beloved pet.
Possibly the most notorious case of Fair Game is that of Paulette Cooper. In 1970 Cooper, a journalist, wrote a critical article about Scientology. In 1971 she expanded that article into a full length book, The Scandal of Scientology. The church responded with a full armament of Fair Game campaigns the goal of which was to have her incarcerated or committed to a mental institution. Her inner circle of friends was infiltrated and the church went so far as to frame Cooper with a forged bomb threat against the Church of Scientology. It was only when the offices of the church were raided by the FBI on another matter that the set-up was discovered and Cooper was exonerated. Tony Ortega’s fascinating book The Unbreakable Miss Lovely recounts Cooper’s story in page turning detail.
In 2013 Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief opened the floodgates of media attention. After the all out attacks on Cooper, and threats to any and all media outlets who even hinted at publishing material critical of Scientology, for decades most were reluctant if not outright frightened, of drawing the fire of this rabidly litigious organization. That all changed with Going Clear. Wright’s book was expertly crafted by Alex Gibney into the HBO documentary of the same name in 2015. Mainstream media coverage of Scientology would never be the same.
It’s hard to remember the days when the word Scientology was barely whispered on tv or radio. South Park’s 2005 episode Trapped in the Closet, perhaps a notable exception, nonetheless generated a great deal of controversy including being temporarily pulled from the rerun schedule.
In the few short years since Going Clear, Scientology has become a laughing stock and favorite punching bag of everything from late night comedy to the evening news. Leah Remini’s 2016 Aftermath took the human rights abuses out of the closet and brought them right into the living rooms of millions of average tv viewers everywhere. The combination of crashing membership numbers and the defection (or removal) of high level executives along with the avalanche of information and coverage has left the church raging and flailing, not quite impotent but certainly crippled in its harassment attempts. Jeff Wassel, PhD has an excellent series of essays on this phenomenon at the Reasoned.Life blog.
In the past few years there has been a proliferation of first person accounts of the abuses of Scientology. Blogs, videos, essays, books – books galore – all spilling the toxicity of Scientology and its heartless web of harm for everyone to see. Truth gone viral. The church can’t begin to keep up with it all. Right now, all but the highest profile critics are, for the most part, left alone. Contributors to Aftermath are sure to get some kind of hate page dedicated to them with twisted half truths but not the full onslaught Paulette Cooper endured. OSA Twitter trolls are ready and willing to engage with those who cross their paths but they don’t seem particularly interested in making an effort to seek out others. Some of us even joke about how much harder we have to work just to get blocked by the official Scientology twitter accounts.
However, harassment is no joke and there are things any of us who speak out can do to prepare for the possibility.
Wednesday we’ll talk about risks to kids, home, and pets. Social media safety measures. New people in your life – friend or hidden foe? What kinds of writing or speaking is more likely to attract harassment. People from the past, and present, whether to reach out to proactively. Financial and home security.
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If this is your first time visiting my blog or if you are not familiar with our Scientology story I share it with Chris Shelton in this interview for his Sensibly Speaking Podcast.