Greetings from overly sunny Sydney ... day two of the Sydney picket.
Today was bloody tiring. Four hours, from 10am till 2pm. And they've earnt themselves a free extra day's picket some time soon because of the dorkstick trying to rip Tony's sign off yesterday. But anyway.
Went on up to our favourite corner, Pitt and Castlereagh as usual. A few people with sandwich boards out there already. Uh-oh - "ELVIS IS ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN CHATSWOOD"; "DON'T RAISE THE TITANIC"; "RIGHTS FOR WORMS"; "THE WORLD ENDS AT 9:45 A.M. TUESDAY" ...
I guess this is what I get for harping on the humour angle yesterday: getting right up their noses and getting them sufficiently pissed off to work on it. We'll make humans of you guys yet. Someone showing actual humour!
The Church gets a major point for today's demo: successful confusion of the issue. To any passer-by, it would have been obvious that something was going on, but exactly what would have been quite hard to work out. It's hard enough getting people to look at a "$CIENTOLOGY IS A SCAM" sign and work out that you're not pro-Scientology just for having mentioned the 'S' word; that much visual noise will require new approaches.
The clams were frantically handing out their new leaflet, 'Beware CultAware: Serpent of Hate', a glossy A4 sheet (folded into thirds) printed in black and green. Text is derived from the article 'CultAware: Serpent of Hate' from the Australian issue of 'Freedom'. They have probably printed tens of thousands of this leaflet and have been doing suburban letterbox drops in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne; they've really been working hard to get this one out there. The credit is to Victims of CultAware, PO Box 401, Camperdown NSW 2050 (do be sure to drop 'em a line); no mention of a certain Ch*rch or a certain sci-fi writer.
They also had people out there spruiking for the whole four hours, ranting about CultAware as the Australian branch of CAN (which it isn't), charging $1500 a day for Professional Deprogrammers, breaking up families, being a front group for Psychiatry ... Scientology is a religion ... the IRS said so ... Most of them were also wearing dandy new 'Beware CultAware' T-shirts - white with a black and green print with the 'serpent around head' picture from the front of the leaflet, the one originally from the anti-CAN issue of 'Freedom' and also used for the anti-CultAware article in the Australian 'Freedom'.
Clam: (shouting) "These men [points at Zed and myself] are members of CultAware!"
Zed: (normal speaking voice) "Uh, no, we're not actually."
Clam: (shouting) "These men condone what CultAware does!"
Zed: (normal speaking voice) "That's better."
We had six continuous demonstrators today: Tony, Stuart, Zed, myself and a couple of others. The Ch*rch got a shitload of people out this morning - all the staff and quite a number of publics. I wonder what ratio they're working to. How many do they think they need to drum up for each demonstrator?
I wasn't spruiking or leafleting today, just holding my sign above the others and facing it to the traffic; the "IS $CIENTOLOGY (tm) A SCAM?" side by preference. Wore suit and tie; after a while, I was wishing I still had yesterday's outfit instead.
Stuart had still and video cameras with him, and whenever a clam started hassling Tony (their main focus), he'd get rid of them quite effectively with a lens up the nose. They really don't like the idea of being on film; no wonder they try to use it as a method of intimidation. The clams had a video camera of their own, just as they had in Boston.
The other four leafleted as fast as they could, each carrying a cloud of Buddy Thetans with little glossy green and black leaflets. Our leaflets today were a new 'War On The Internet' leaflet (with a list of Web pages on the back), a 'Revolt In The Stars' leaflet (the story of Xenu and the story of the clams, from http://suburbia.net/~fun/scn/press/9509xenu.html) and Tony's 'deceptive recruiting practices' leaflet from yesterday. The clams tried taking our leaflets away from people; we were encouraging people taking ours to take theirs too, because nothing speaks against them better than their own words against ours ...
A slimy clam git sidled up to me early on: "Got a special surprise for you today, David ..." How nice. It turns out to be something I've been wanting for a while: my own personal counter-demo sign! Just a small hand-held one: "HOW MANY PATIENTS IN PSYCH HOSPITALS HAS GERARD HAD SEX WITH?" Um, that's great, guys. A sufficiently snappy slogan to catch the public's attention; instant comprehension for sure. (This is the wording as I recall it; I got a coupla shots of it and it'll be on the page.) Clam git: "So, what will the police find in your apartment in Melbourne if they break into there this afternoon?" (Note that 'apartment' is almost never used in Australia; 'flat' is.) "We have photos of you jumping at that guy last night. The police will be coming along to arrest you this afternoon."
All this is supposed to make me not want to fight you arseholes any way I can? Smile, clammie.
Bruce was quite subdued today (Tony said it was the first time he could remember Bruce being subdued) and concentrated on spruiking for and handing out anti-CultAware leaflets. We ignored him until he started annoying us, then asked him to tell us a joke as we'd requested. "Uh, you two guys! You're a joke!" Nice one, Bruce.
(Bruce isn't his name, by the way; but his real name is irrelevant to the Net, so I won't do things the way a Scientologist would and reveal it here gratuitously. He'll always be Bruce to us, though, no matter what.)
Clam: "Why are you here?"
Me: (no answer - busy wrestling with the wind to point the sign to be at the right angle for the next three buses full of people to come down Castlereagh Street to see it)
Clam: "Why are you doing this? Are you being paid to be here?"
Me: "Yes. We're paid on an hourly rate mainly, secondarily by number of leaflets handed out."
Clam: "What do you know about Scientology? What books have you read?" (This is a standard clam question; good answers are welcomed. Wish I'd remembered the line about word-clearing a dictionary.)
Me: "I'm not paid to have opinions. I'm paid to hold this sign."
Clam: "So you don't know anything about it?"
Me: "I'm just here for the money. And the Prozac, of course. Money and drugs. Surely they would have told you all of this before you came out here."
Clam: "What? Who would have told me this? You don't know anything." (This sentence is also a standard clam line.)
Me: "Look, you don't have to believe me. But you asked, so I decided to tell you the truth." He went away.
Most of the clams were pretty obnoxious (the high-up staffers brought their kids along too, and they were vile little shits ... maybe it's hereditary after all), but a few weren't. In particular, I had a nice chat with one public member:
Her: "I just want you to know, we don't think of you as our enemy. We just disagree."
Me: "That's fine, that's exactly how we feel. Why do Scientologists want to help people? Because they are human. Scientology, however, just wants your money." (This line nicked from 'A Scientology Cataclysm' by the Squirrel.)
Her: "That's not the case."
Me: "You have to think about how your bank account is going since you joined Scientology. Or, if you're a staffer, how much sleep you're getting and how well you're eating."
Her: (pause) "... I'm not a staffer." Departs. Tony told me later that the 'bank account' line is a particularly cruel and effective move to use on a public ...
Since Tony had had a sandwich-board sign the day before, the clams' distraction signs were also sandwich boards. I had decided, however, to use a sign on a stick. This worked moderately well for a couple of hours - passers-by would see a crowd of people with lots of signs, but the one sign above all the others would be the one saying that Scientology is a scam.
After a couple of hours, Tony got more poles from the car for our signs, and the clams finally got the clue and did some signs on poles themselves. Their first sign: "SCIENTOLOGY IS FREEDOOM." Oh boy. We'd agree with that one. We were kind enough to point it out to them and they went and redid it spelt right. They came out with several "SCIENTOLOGY IS FREEDOM" signs and a few decrying CultAware as an evil psychiatrist front (even if anyone from the real world would put such a sign on a par with the Elvis and Titanic signs).
We left at 2pm. Wandered back down Park Street and past the dorkstick from last night (he tried his best two-inches-away Intimidating Stare and I got a couple more good shots of him) and staggered off for the post-mortem.
POINTS TO US: We were out there for four hours. We handed out about three hundred leaflets. The clams had to get a pile of publics in to help the Org and staffers, keeping them from doing anything else on a Saturday. A new trick (sign on a stick rather than a sandwich board) kept us ahead for a couple of hours.
POINTS TO THEM: The clams successfully confused casual onlookers as to what the demo was about. They got a lot of anti-CultAware leaflets out (over a thousand at our estimate), and no doubt at least a few of the people who read them believed every word. They put a lot of preparation into this demo and it really paid off for them.
TIPS FOR NEXT TIME: Offer leaflets to cars stopped at the lights (this worked quite well for us this time). Offer leaflets to people with the phrase, "Would you like an ANTI-Scientology leaflet?" - it gets the response you'd predict. Come up with new tricks for each demo and stay one step ahead of them. Don't bother responding to the buzzing Buddy Thetans if you're not in the mood; they're on a tape-loop, nothing you can say will alter the program and they keep going whether you respond or not. Don't let the clammies grind you down.
But you know what today's party shows, don't you. It shows that there is someone in the Sydney org with a good knowledge of applied humour. It shows that someone there is really using their talents.
Dammit, that guy is an unsaved SubGenius. TRAPPED in the Crutch of Scienotology and doing Ron's work, when he should be out in the WORLD or high on a MOUNTAINTOP or deep in a CAVE doing "Bob"'s; spreading the Word and SAVING those SOULS.
As a SubGenius Minister, it is my incontrovertible moral DUTY to GET THIS GUY OUT at ALL COSTS. To get him off the Ron's Road to Nowhere and on the All-Righteous Ever-Winding Straight and Narrow Trail o' "Bob". To TURN this lost soul, to help him find "Bob". Or, to help "Bob" find him. (The latter can often be a severe health hazard. But that's par for the course. Can't make a SubGenius without breaking societies.)
And, as a SubGenius Minister, it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE for me to turn from this course until it is completed. Until our lost brother in the Crutch is rescued and set free. And so my battle against Scientology must continue, unceasingly. For reasons far beyond any considerations of money or Prozac. Amen.