Australian Critics of Scientology
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Picketing the Church of $cientology - What a night!

Zed, Fri 17 May 1996

From: (Zed)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology,aus.general,,alt.activism,
Subject: Picketing the Church of $cientology - What a night!
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 03:52:20 GMT
Message-ID: <4nibkk$>


Tonight the Church of Scientology held an event in Sydney 
commemmorating 46 years of Dianetics. Tony McClelland and I picketed 
outside the State Theatre in Sydney where the function was being held.

It was one of the most fascinating experiences I ever had - to all of 
you who have to face every day of your lives what I faced in just one 
night, I extend my deepest respect for what you are doing! To stand up
for yourselves against such opposition requires a fortitude that 
boggles my mind.

It began simply enough - I arrived at 7pm and waited for Tony(he had 
the leaflets). At a bit after 7:35, Tony finally arrived wearing a 
sandwich-board with "Confidence trick? ---> Scientology" written on 
it. We had just enough time to introduce ourselves to each other 
before the onslaught began.

I hardly had the leaflets in my hand when a Scientologist started 
dogging me. While Tony stood in place offering leaflets to passers-by,
I started walking up and down the sidewalk offering leaflets to 
people, with this Scieno clinging to me like a really stubborn BT. He 
accused me of peddling lies and propoganda, demanding that I stop. He 
demanded me to prove the existence of mindcontrol in the Church. I 
found myself at a loss for words. I rallied as best I could, and 
decided to _really_ read the TR routines once I got home.

I was trying to hand out leaflets as this was happening. Frequently 
this Scieno would grab the leaflet in my hand and take it himself. 
What happened next was interesting - I got my first taste of tech 
being applied to me as he started trying to pull my overt witholds. 
"What crimes have you committed?" Deciding honesty was the best 
policy, I told him that I had once siphoned five dollars worth of 
petrol from a car. That tore it - suddenly I was a criminal(and I gave
the petrol back too! Grr!).

But that wasn't enough for him. He repeated the same questions to me 
over and over:"What have you done? What have you done? Who's paying 
you? What have you done? Who's employing you?" My constant repetition 
of "Nothing" didn't faze him at all. He tried to take my leaflets, but
I snatched them away and gave it to the passer-by. It became glaringly
obvious what he was doing as he made a quick snatch for each 
leaflet(but he wasn't fast enough! :)). He berated me for trying to 
stop people getting help, and told me that what I was doing was a 
waste of time because no-one was reading the leaflets. In truth, many 
Scientologists were taking them and throwing them in the bin or 
tearing them up in disgust. One Scientologist with a foreign accent I 
couldn't place actually threatened both Tony and me, telling us that 
if we gave him a leaflet accidentally when he came back out of the 
State Theatre "there would be shit".

I finally blew the damn BT when another Scientologist asked me "why 
are you shaking?"(I was very nervous). I finally summoned some 
confidence and said "because I'm being harassed", jerking my thumb at 
the BT. He stopped following me, and my shaking miraculously 
disappeared! Big Win(tm)!

My respite was brief as another Scientologist started dogging my 
steps. Rather than snatch at the leaflets, he walked so close to me 
that his body was interposed between the leaflets and the passers-by. 
I tried to walk so that I had a chance of putting a leaflet in 
people's hands, but another Scientologist positioned himself on the 
other side of me. I was asked what the definition of Scientology was. 
Again, I was tongue-tied. I was told I had an M/U, and I was not given
a definition by these two BTs because it would have been "verbal 
tech". The two continued to harass me for a while, but I was doing my 
utmost to get leaflets in the hands of interested people(precious few 
I'm afraid).

In the end the two BTs weren't blown by me, but by two people coming 
out of the Theatre saying "What a load of crap!" It warmed my 
Suppressive heart. The two newly-discovered Suppressives had a form 
with them. It reminded me of those forms that some restaurants provide
for customer feedback "What did you like about this function", "what 
do you think could be improved?" etc. I took the opportunity to duck 
my Scieno handlers and ran back to Tony to show it to him. I found him
deeply mired in hostile Scientologists, but determinedly offering a 
leaflet to every passer-by. His son Chris was there with him by that 

My next encounter was brief, but it was with one of the most dangerous
sharks around - a lawyer. I listened in amazement as she told me that 
I was handing out leaflets with defamatory statements on them and that
if I didn't stop, she would sue me. SP1 to SP4 in a single night! I 
regarded such threats as empty, but decided to be scarce for a short 
time. I walked around the block looking for other people to give 
leaflets to. When I got back, Tony was _still_ knee-deep in clams, but
not letting it stop him. The lawyer was still there, but did not 
approach me again, or show any indication of carrying out her threat. 
I carried on.

My final encounter with a Scientologist was less than satisfactory. 
This one I remember clearly - balding brown hair, about medium height,
wears glasses. I was told that his name was "Chris". "Chris" tried a 
new technique on me - he was nice. He listened to me. I figured out 
later on that he was trying to draw me out so that I was concentrating
on him rather than handing out leaflets. Unfortunately by that time I 
was mired in a discussion about the Church and the Net, and I _was_ 
still interested in what he had to say. He let slip that he was 
somehow connected to the Church of Scientology International(a liaison
perhaps?), and he was aware of the Scientology site on the Web. The 
name Ron Newman was completely lost on him, however. I'd guess that 
the mother Church is being awfully selective in what it's telling 
people lower down the hierarchy.

The picket came to end for me when the police finally showed up. 
Someone had complained, and the police started grilling Tony. He had a
copy of his picketing permit, but the police wanted to see the 
original, which he didn't have. After some lengthy discussion, Tony 
was carted off to the police station once again to try and determine 
if his license was valid. I don't know how this finally panned out - 
Tony's son and I waited to see if he would return soon, but I grew 
tired of waiting and the Dianetics anniversary appeared finished, so I
finally took my leave.

I found the experience very useful, and would offer these points to 
anyone who wants to try their hand at picketing:

- - Remember why you are there. You are not there to go head-to-head 
with Scientologists, but to try and inform the public of the danger of
Scientology. Focus on the public rather than the Scientologists 
harassing you.

- -Know your stuff. I mean _really_ know it. Scientologists want you to 
be considered an ignorant buffoon with no real understanding of 
Scientology, so show that this is not the case. 

All in all, it was a harrowing experience, but an educational one. I 
hope more people can have the courage to stand up for their rights in 
the face of this kind of adversity

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