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March 1996 Demonstration Against Scientology

Melbourne: March 16th

Melbourne Demo 16th March 1996

-- report to a.r.s. Central Committee

from the Reverend Doctor David Gerard (

I was fearing we would be rained out (the weather in Melbourne is utterly unpredictable, and a twelve-hour forecast is cause for hoots of derision, let alone a three-day one or something), but a prayer to Xenu meant the rain mostly cleared by the morning, giving us only a few dribs 'n' drabs during our stint.

Some SPs (myself, Cyril Vosper, a network person and a camera operator) met up at a coffee shop near the Church and assembled the signs (done at the last minute, of course -- DTPed and enlarged on a photocopier the night before, cardboard and poles bought that morning):





-- backed with:










-- backed with:

C o S




I had given a moment's thought to:





-- but thought better of it. I'm wondering, though, if it wouldn't have helped get the point across to the public. The signs were written specifically so as to avoid the word 'Scientology' (as per Curtis R. Anderson's suggestion), but the general public tend to assume that any bunch of people hanging around a CoS are Ron-bots. We kept having to say to people that we were an anti-CoS demonstration, at which statement their interest perked up. Perhaps the stark simplicity of 'SCIENTOLOGY IS BAD' or 'SCIENTOLOGY REALLY SUCKS' or 'SCIENTOLOGY DROWNED MY DOG' is the ticket ... just to communicate this one point clearly and effectively ...

(Of course, this depends on who the audience of the demonstration is -- the general public or the Church staff and public members. The former already hate the Church; reach the latter and you knock out the Church's workforce and financial sustenance. More on this below.)

Signs are easy: four A2 pieces of thick cardboard, $2.50 each; two 180cm wooden poles, $2.80 each (don't use balsa, it's light but it'll snap in the wind; get something thin but substantial -- ours were 1.5cm x 3cm); laser printing and photocopying, $1.00 or so (or zero if possible); staple the signs onto the cardboard (securely!) and staple two bits of cardboard back-to-back at the outside edges, then put the pole in the middle and nail the cardboard to it (bend the nail over to hold the cardboard down). You can add a cross-brace to the sign if you like, but this design held on a very windy day with a bit of rain. Add more staples and nails if in doubt. (Take tack-hammer, nails and stapler with you.)

And so on down to the Melbourne Org.

(Warner Brothers cartoon: wolf and sheepdog clocking in at start of day. "Mornin', Sam." "Mornin', Ralph.")

The older woman who'd been leafleting for the Church last time (see my September 9th report) was outside earlier watching out for the eeeevil CAN-psych SPs (us), though she didn't come out while we were actually there. I went up to the fellow handing out copies of the glossy new Australian edition of 'Freedom' (no leaflets this time, just the magazine), gave him copies of each of our leaflets and took a copy of 'Freedom'. We congregated on the corner and handed out leaflets, showed our signs to cars and videoed the proceedings. The leafleters stayed well away from us at all times, on the north side of the Church entrance.

We had eleven demonstrators over the two hours and they had two people at any given time (a photographer and a leafleter), five over the course of the day: tall thin guy mentioned (dark hair, glasses, white jacket), Pat Wilson from last time -- who flashed me a happy greeting smile, never mind that my last contact from her was an abusive phone call to me at work -- a normal-looking younger woman leafleting, a clueless photographer, an arrogant-yuppie-scum Scn-public photographer.

The first photograper was like a stereotype of a Clueless Cultie. He took picture after picture after picture after picture after picture of us for the entire time (at least they have a film budget) from across the road, nearby, over near the leafleter, every angle ... he seemed to have tremendous trouble operating his camera and needed a lot of help. (This is not good form for a Scientologist -- LRH was, after all, a highly competent amateur photographer. It's even worse form when you're on the job.) His last moment on the job came when he decided to daringly swoop into our little gathering of entheta to take some close-up shots of the SPs ... with the lens-cap on. I have to admit that we cruelly laughed at him in pointing out his error. We invited him back for close-ups ("come back, we won't hurt you! Honest!"); he declined. The blank look, the serene certainty of the fanatic; but too much of a fuckup to be dangerous.

The Church people stayed right away from us. No communication, no attempt to convince us to leave, no discussion, no confront; the clueless photographer's daring swoop. This SPs-as-lepers attitude seems at odds with their willingness to engage at last year's demo and at the other demos this year. I can only guess that they took it seriously when I promised them the Entheta from "Bob" and application of the Dennis Erlich (R) InstaDeprogram (tm) Ray -- the one where you talk to someone for a few minutes and they leave the Church next day. And here I was actually expecting the Churchies to be much more in-our-faces! But life is full of disappointments. Maybe on national television some time, hey? I'll see you there.

(Next time I'll bring along a cardboard box painted silver with some little flashing lights on it and a sign saying 'ENTHETA GENERATOR', and put it on the public bench outside the Church. Ha! Only kidding.)

Mr Clueless on Camera was replaced by someone who appeared to be a public member of the Church -- an Arrogant Yuppie Prat from Hell (of the sort Australia turns out by the score), who could actually work a camera. Australian publics tend to be like this -- ideal candidates for Cerberus's famous Church of the Relentlessly Annoying People; the sort of people who, no matter how sincerely you may wish the Church to have zero members, you nevertheless have to acknowledge make perfect Scientologists. He didn't come near us either, though -- he used a telephoto lens rather than risk falling prey to the overpowering entheta field generated by our Gnarly SP Powers ...

(How completely and utterly pathetic.)

Photography was about the extent of their communication. We did, however, give about six leaflets to Scientologist staff and publics as they left the building. Score! (The leaflet was the same as last time, except for a mention of 3-RRR on the front and some updated URLs and the addition of and mention of Ted Mayett and the money-back guarantee on the back -- the latter two being specifically aimed at CoS people.) In particular, there was a Scn-public so full of the serene certainty of Ron that she came up to us vile, low-toned SPs and defiantly took the leaflet with a smile before re-entering the building. Heh heh. Remember that the Scn-publics are the source of all the money the Church takes in. Heh heh heh.

Also, a special mention to the kids of Scientologists looking out the Org window at us -- "look, those are the SPs!" -- and going "wow!" at our signs, while their parents freaked. Score!

The general public were middling-receptive. Most non-Scientologists assumed we were actually Church people unless we made it quite clear. Though one car did a U-turn to get a leaflet. (It's always cheering when that happens.) Got about a hundred leaflets out. No visible police presence. This part of Melbourne has no foot traffic, but lots of passing cars who could read our signs from a block away; it was pretty obvious something was on. We thought the demo was worthwhile.

The attack on local community radio station 3-RRR was an attention-getter. We've been putting petitions around, requesting that the Liars' Club be reinstated without conditions. The issue is catching attention more because of radio station politics than anything else (widely-disliked members of 3-RRR management), but any publicity around this issue is good publicity.

(Though there is talk of the show shifting to the ABC [government] station 3-LO -- most popular AM station in Melbourne, 100 kilowatt transmitter, excellent demographic culturally speaking, not within the jurisdiction of the Australian Broadcasting Authority. What a big win for the CoS!)

The Australian edition of Freedom is the usual. Whereas the American edition mimics Time, the Australian edition looks a bit like an even glossier Australian PC Week, sort of. (Actually, what it really looks like is the customer newsletters that Credit Unions put out here -- layout and all.) Articles on psychs, crappy posed photos with faked backgrounds (Photoshop applied with no thought is readily detectable, kids), lots of libel of CultAware and Tony McClelland. And Cyril Vosper! The guy's hardly bothered with them over the past several years, except for a bit of radio and two demos. And he scores a rant in their magazine! Where's mine? Why didn't you have signs saying, 'DAVID GERARD: NASTY GIT', huh? Huh? Jeez. What's it take to get a Declare round here. I dunno.

Freedom's local edition is listed as being edited by Virginia Kee, who has a nice picture of herself on the front. This magazine will be further dissected in a later post.

(Warner Brothers cartoon: Sheepdog beating the living tar out of the wolf. Whistle blows; wolf and sheepdog clock out. "'Night, Sam." "'Night, Ralph." New wolf, new sheepdog come on shift. New sheepdog continues to beat the living tar out of new wolf exactly where the old sheepdog left off on the old wolf.)

We left just after one o'clock ("See you next time! You can go in out of the wind now") and went to the Imperial Hotel (corner of Spring and Bourke Streets; Australia's first Parliament was actually conducted in this pub, which is a very Australian way of doing things) for post-entheta drinks and to enlighten those who were just tagging along to the wacky ways of clammery. No clams followed us, far as we could tell.

You can guess the recipe for next demo: even more obvious signs, a new hook for media publicity (getting the Liars' Club taken off air one week before the demo was a classic foot-bullet and scored attention in itself) ... and things to entice the members to think beyond the Church.

After the pub, we were walking back to the train station and a fellow followed us and caught up at the corner to chat -- he'd noticed the 'C o S SUPPRESSES FREE SPEECH' sign under my arm. His mother was in the Church and apparently had trouble leaving. We gave him a pile of leaflets and thanked him for brightening our day. Perhaps I'll make a T-shirt with "SCIENTOLOGY SUPPRESSES FREE SPEECH" on the front and back and carry leaflets with me whenever I wear it.

[Demonstrations against Scientology]