Last year I told a member of ASC (Anti-Scientology Cult) royalty that had I foreseen the outcome of my efforts to encourage people to speak and write openly and publicly about scientology, I would not have undertaken them in the first place. I likened the majority of public Scientology discussion to a tabloid pile-on fest. Since then I have watched it degenerate from even that: from a blame-filled pity party into a hate-driven trolling fest. A relatively neutral review of the postings – and ‘discussions’ – on the go-to ASC forums reflects that.
ASC bloggers and moderators and their following regularly congratulate one another for poking sticks in the eyes of Scientologists. They don’t talk about how their blustering will reform anybody or any institution. Instead, they revel in how much ‘pain’ or destruction it will create. ASC’s media liaison Tony Ortega has taken the krew to new depths. For instance, he ‘reported’ on a woman who intentionally drove her vehicle through the front doors of the Austin Texas Scientology Church. The vehicle stopped after smashing through the door to the Scientologists’ nursery. Afterward the driver expressed regret that she had not struck someone with her vehicle. Not one ASC voice in disagreement was raised when Ortega characterized the crime as an act of “vandalism.” Ortega – and his ASC following by encouragement – demonstrated that he literally places more value on inanimate fixtures than the lives of Scientologists, including nursery-aged children.
Anyone who advocates a more objective, intelligent discussion on Scientology is quickly labelled and treated as an enemy by ASC members. Even outsiders simply reporting newsworthy facts. For example, Ortega ragged on TMZ chief Harvey Levin for months because his outlet reported the fact of the prosecution of a man who made death threats against Scientology’s leader. Ortega publically denounced Levin for “carrying water” for Scientology. Apparently in the head of the ASC’s daily anti-scientology meme creator, the only good Scientologist is a dead one. That was certainly the way he treated Cathriona White upon first news of her death; at least while he used his feigned concern to charge (with zero evidence) that Scientologists were somehow responsible for her death. All that changed when media reported facts that pointed suspicion away from Scientologists. Then, even a deceased Scientologist became fair game for an Ortega-led, ASC slime campaign.
The ASC fora are not only riddled with trolls, the bloggers themselves have become trolls. Their antics have little to do with education, imparting understanding, and least of all heroics. The latter was made clear by one ASC blogger pronouncing with an air of authority that scientology is “Fair Game” and one may “say or do anything against scientology” and get away with it scot-free.
Trolls are free to troll and no doubt will continue to do so with lots of derisive laughs, and with no sense of conscience about the cumulative effect such hate might have on others. Those who find themselves considering whether to join the ranks of troll followers who employ degradation and belittlement for entertainment might want to step back and evaluate before they get sucked into that vortex.
A couple of credible studies show that trolls are a special breed of ugly creature. Please see Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists. The studies highlight an irony. ASC trolls wrap themselves in the ‘abolish disconnection’ flag to give their trolling some sort of noble justification. Yet, Dr. Golbeck notes that the solution to trolls is just that, disconnection. Just as modern psychology recommends be applied to any sociopath or psychopath who might cross one’s path (see e.g., The Sociopath Next Door – Martha Stout).
I imagine that is why most self-improvement, awareness-raising and religious groups teach the virtues of some form of disconnection. For more on that, see Barbara Ehrenreich’s Smile Or Die. She traces the non-denominational disconnection tradition to the Transcendentalists – Emerson, Thoreau, et. al. – who found societal forced-connection to be oppressive. Her book is a strong indictment of that tradition which in a way makes her account that much more credible. In attacking it, she reveals that the idea that ‘disconnection’ can be considered cathartic is as American as apple pie.
The specter of someone mustering the intelligence and courage to disconnect from sociopathic toxicity is seen as a clear and present danger to ASC leadership. I have seen them resort to deceit, attempting to break up families, bribery, infiltration, propaganda campaigns, intelligence ops, extortion and blackmail to prevent people from disconnecting from their klub.
Those in ASC leadership applying such tactics are also the ones most loudly and persistently complaining about Scientology disconnection. Paradoxically, those people made conscious decisions to disconnect from the ones they spend years wailing about having disconnected from them. They campaign other well-meaning people to join them in a war that promises to mend their familial rifts. By objective result, it has proven to be an avenue that only exacerbates the problems they sought to resolve. When someone is perceived as a threat to their hypocritical racket, ASC leaders apply their own version of disconnection; one that is far more arbitrary than that practiced in Scientology. That they can make a living on such hypocrisy is an interesting study in the culture of complaint our society seems to have devolved into. By wailing loud enough and long enough any wolf in sheep’s clothing can apparently draw a flock.