Here is the promised rundown on Tony Ortega’s report of this year’s annual L Ron Hubbard Birthday Celebration event from Clearwater Florida.
It is just about the thirtieth anniversary of my introduction to the strange case of Gerry Armstrong. Armstrong was the LRH archivist who left the church in 1981. That year a tremendous amount of attention had gone onto how the church was promoting L Ron Hubbard to the public. That was because the church was confronting a) the top eleven officials of the Guardian’s Office (including Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue) were facing lengthy jail sentences, while b) a rash of lawsuits had been filed naming the church as well as L Ron Hubbard as defendants, and c) the central claim of each suit was fraud, more specifically alleging that the church lured them into Scientology based on false claims as to L Ron Hubbard’s super man biography. Essentially the claim was that if L Ron Hubbard was not an engineer, nuclear physicist, wounded and crippled war hero who was miraculously healed by his own brainchild Dianetics, and he was not the model of perfect virtue since then, why, then they were defrauded into spending money and devoting years to Scientology.
Now, this is a very short-handed summary of a history that was not clear to me for many years after the facts – notwithstanding my personal involvement in some of it – , not even totally clear until very recently. The whole story will arrive soon enough.
Armstrong pointed out to L Ron Hubbard’s messengers that something had better be done about the representations the church was making. He based that concern on having worked tirelessly to provide David Miscavige’s Special Project (of which I was then the files man for) with material to prove the claims about Hubbard to be true, and coming up empty handed on many counts. David Miscavige’s handling for Armstrong’s origination was to send Norman F Starkey down to the Commodores Messenger Org International to give Armstrong a Severe Reality Adjustment (SRA – loud verbal brow beating) for being “disaffected.” Armstrong then blew, with a few boxes of LRH archives with which to defend himself. In response to being hounded by Miscavige directed PIs for several months, Armstrong reacted by devoting the rest of his life to proving that L Ron Hubbard was a fraud.
As was Miscavige’s habit, he continued to pursue Armstrong as the devil incarnate while at the same time taking Armstrong’s advice, just ignoring the source of it communicating as if it were his own. No more representations about LRH went out without my authorization – which was backed by an extensive fact-checking process.
We sued Armstrong for theft of the archives documents. The trial occurred in early 1984. We had two very competent trial lawyers doing a yeoman-like job putting on the plaintiff’s case for several weeks. By the time the plaintiff’s case rested I had the unenviable task of informing Miscavige that the attorneys wanted authority to enter settlement negotiations before the defendant’s case was presented. The attorneys demonstrated that while we could do significant damage to Armstrong’s credibility, at the end of the day we did not have answers for the far more important and relevant issues – that is, the truth or falsity of representations made by Hubbard and the church about the life of L Ron Hubbard. What’s more, they explained that by a number of comments by the judge (this was a non-jury trial) it was clear the judge was focusing on that lack of evidence . The attorneys reported that Armstrong’s attorney was amenable to settlement – and that this was a short window of opportunity to protect the image of Hubbard and the church; that once Armstrong’s side had the podium we were in for weeks upon weeks of medieval style Inquisition on L Ron Hubbard (all to be covered by the media).
Miscavige, in his inimitable style, called the attorneys “pussies” (his word) and worse and threatened to fire them if they so much as entertained the thought of “settlement”, let alone mentioned it, again.
The attorneys – and their back up staff – did everything in their power, short of being dragged out of court for defying court orders, to keep a lid on the evidence admitted. They also did an admirable job of attempting to discredit the witnesses and evidence they entered.
But, in the end their prognosis turned out to be quite conservative. The judge issued a ruling about Hubbard who of course was not there, finding as a matter of fact that he was a “pathological liar” and “paranoid” and “schizophrenic.” Not only did L Ron Hubbard’s life history get annihilated by the world wide media – it continued to be for thirty years, with only lame denials in response, as Gerry Armstrong was right all along in this respect: the church had little to no to counter documentation for the claims the church had loudly trumpeted about L Ron Hubbard’s life. Fact of the matter is, the church’s lack of ability to document many of the claims has been such a given fact that it has bred the type of disbelief expressed by Tony Ortega in his most recent article. He can’t believe that that church is not only focusing on the claims, but thirty years later they are exaggerating them even more.
Some of the representations covered in this year’s March 13th event – such as the alleged Oregon sub chasing incident was “regarded as among the most regionally famed encounters of the war” – are so easily discredited that those in the know have to wonder: are the people making such representations attempting to set up L Ron Hubbard for a fall?
It gets worse. The “L Ron Hubbard Biographer” attempts to position LRH as saving the world from “evil” scientists bent on blowing it up. A five minute google research project (for the culturally or historically illiterate who don’t already know it) would show that those “evil” scientists allegedly plotting to destroy earth were engaged in precisely the opposite activity – they were the original movement to demand “conscience” be incorporated into science because of the destructive power of what they were discovering.
To position Richard Nixon with Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein is about as credible as trying to position Adolph Hitler with leading members of the German underground anti-Nazi movement.
It is pure insanity that is issuing from the lips of Dan Sherman and David Miscavige. It is madness. I would write it off as only such if I were not aware of the fact that David Miscavige is acutely aware of who ultimately takes the brunt of this.
What is more a travesty is the overall technique of Sherman and Miscavige. They are attempting to literalize L Ron Hubbard. As any intelligent student of Scientology knows, one of Hubbard’s virtues is his story telling ability. He can lecture for one hour on the subject of a simple principle; and he can tell a number of colorful stories and anecdotes to get the audience to view it from a number of angles to the point where they can understand the principle conceptually. Of course, we also know that Hubbard has done that literally thousands of times and it was all recorded for posterity. So, Sherman and Miscavige come along – take an anecdote out, alone, bereft of any context for what principle it is being used to illustrate, and tell the public:
a) Every word is literally true.
b) That “a” is of utmost importance, or why would they be conveying it with such ostentatious implant a/v technology; and thus
c) L Ron Hubbard ought to be viewed and treated like a God, and not as the thinking and living out of the box kind of guy he was, and thus
d) Scientology is really about belief, and not observation and workability, and thus
e) David Miscavige must be viewed as the Pope, infallibility and all.
While this madness is clearly intended to up the mushroom treatment (being kept in the dark and being fed manure) of captive cult member audiences – David Miscavige is well aware of what its long term effect will be, more years of dragging L Ron Hubbard through the mud publicly as allegedly making false claims as to his history, qualifications and competence.
I keep asking, and I keep meaning it when I do, how can it get any darker than that?