Monday, April 28, 2008
Writers on Scientology
I know I'm trying to advertise my poetry and short story book on my blog, and this sort of rant might not be the best way to do that...
But first and foremost I am a writer. I'm a writer who finds ideas wildly interesting and has to throw her two cents worth in every now and then for the sake of keeping the freedom of thought, belief and written word alive if for no other reason.
First of all, I want to go on record as saying that the first thing a repressive government/society does when they set out to control people's minds and limit their freedom is to silence the writers. This is proven to be true if you study history even cursorily.
Secondly, I want everyone to know that as long as there are blogs and bloggers continually writing thousands of opinions about thousands of subjects, there is NO WAY the government is going to shut up writers in this country.
Not unless they pull the plug on the entire Internet. I think we are a long way from that. I hope.
Even then, we'll find a way. We can speak our material if there is no paper or electronic way to jot it all down. From our minds to your ears.
So look out--here we go--what was the topic? OH YEAH...
I listened to most of the interview posted on the web in early April of Jason Beghe, the actor who was a Scientologist for14 years, and left the organization claiming they drove him "fucking crazy." Well, he certainly proves his point about being crazy. He rambles and appears confused quite often.
However, he does have some seriously lucid moments and valuable information about Scientology or at least his experience of it. I find it amazing that he still speaks with the jargon of the training and mentions the concepts as if the average person will have a clue what they are, being concepts completely contained within the teaching of Scientology. He's been out of the church for a year already.
Secondly, I appreciate him for coming forth with some information hitherto kept in secret by Scientology. The renegades from Mormonism and other secret organizations have also revealed some of the more strange practices that had been kept secret for years. As far as we know, this type of disclosure has and will keep some people from joining organizations that by reputation have been allegedly preventing freedom of thought if nothing else.
Okay. So what I decided after thinking about Jason's webcast interview (or is that webcasted?) is: Do we -- as innocent bystanders with nothing at stake -- have the right to stop people who voluntarily choose to be brainwashed?
Sure, Nazism comes to mind first. If a mass of people are going to be brainwashed and kill thousands of innocent people, we do need to step in sooner or later in the name of human rights, and heck, just doing the right thing. We stepped in and stopped Hitler because he was creating a Holocaust.
Strange that when China and other countries have and are doing the same thing--purging their countries of unwanted peoples, we haven't done a damn thing as Americans. Hmmm...
In addition, we do find many people in our society showing up to be brainwashed by other organizations than Scientology that have our full nationalistic support...take the military for example. People join and go through training, much like Scientology training--not pleasant but necessary to get from point A to point B alive. The "brainwashing" of soldiers is necessary for national security and other acts of war -- umm, to protect and serve. We count these people, especially the ones that give their lives for the cause, as HEROES. I can't say I haven't known a few, some close relatives of mine, for that matter.
One would think that if anyone (even a brainwashed person, who voluntarily submits to cruel and harsh treatment) would sooner or later realize that they no longer wish to participate -- they can stop, get out, leave, change their minds.
We can still do that in America. At least for awhile.
(The people who relate this to an abused/battered woman who stays with and/or returns to the perpetrator time and time again, has no ability to break away, have a point. But unless she's under the bed wrapped in chains with lock and key, there are many opportunities for women and even children in these situations to realize their plight, desire to change it, and find ways out. Just watching ordinary television one sees the public service announcements about this sort of thing. It's not easy, but doable, help is all around. Go for it!)
I am not saying that these cults that keep members separate from the rest of the world & shut off from all knowledge and experience with other people and information who are taught that unusual things are "normal," should continue. Like those cults they have uncovered and dispersed in Texas (which still exist in NM, by the way.)
But who are we protecting? Are we protecting them? From what? Are we protecting us from them? How? It seems to me that we are protecting them from themselves. That makes no sense. (I would never condone child abuse and a secret, separatist society or organization within a larger culture is still subject to the laws of the land. I think having sex with children whether you perform a marriage ceremony first or not, is still a horrible thing to do. We must stop this sort of thing.) Nonetheless, the pain caused by separating mothers and children is real pain and hurts all of us, not just those few individuals who have to endure it. A solution must somehow be reached ASAP for the sake of everyones mental health and peace of mind, past, present and future.
As much as I am glad that Jason Beghe came forward and told his story about joining, participating, and then leaving Scientology, I am sure someone will attempt to invalidate his personal experience. After all, if he had been a big success--it's would have been because of Scientology (like he said) and since he wasn't, well, they can always point out that he failed because he is failure-material--not cut out for Scientology. He left because he couldn't cut it...much like the soldiers that get drummed out because they are cowards--not sensitive young men and woman who realize being shot at or living in fear that they will be shot and/or having to shoot at other people drives them crazy.
I don't have a conclusion. I can't see a clear "right" or "wrong" here. We can debate this over and over from every angle but we are definitely in a conundrum -- preserving human rights might require we violate human rights to do it.
Aside: I haven't an information about Scientology. But I am familiar with L. Ron Hubbard who was first and foremost a science fiction writer. Doesn't that sort of send up a red flag when you think of people starting a religion based on his writings? I can't say Scientology is bad or wrong. I just wonder at their use of psychological means to educate their members while bad-mouthing psychology. Life is stranger than fiction, isn't it?