a picket at the San Francisco Scientology building
Today was my first picket.
Four of us picketed the San Francisco org today. I got there a bit early and, since I'm a first-timer, I waited for the others to show up.
When they got there, I assembled my big, computer printed sign. On one side it said:
& TAX EXEMPT
and on the other side:
SCIENTOLOGY - USING YOUR TAX $$$ TO
DEFRAUD THE PUBLIC
PRACTICE MEDICINE ILLEGALLY
HARASS CRITICS IN COURT
(I know - both are a little too wordy. I'm sure Scientology could help me with that. ;-) )
It was a lovely day. I had been worried that it would be chilly, but it was actually very pleasant.
There was a Stress Test table set up with a staffer and an E-meter and a big pile of books - they were setting it up just as I arrived. Not a lot of takers while we were there, but a few people did sit down and seem to listen to the spiel.
Right after we started a man came out of the building and, while walking past me, told me that I should get my facts straight - that the ED (Executive Director, I think he said?) of the San Francisco org is a woman. I said that ElRon said that women should raise children, and he said "No he didn't", and I asked if he wanted to see the quote, but he just kept walking. (pp. 192-193 of DMSMH, 1984, if anyone wants to check.)
(I spent some time last night with my old 1984 edition of DMSMH, stickering and underlining key passages about women not competing with men, attempted abortion being the primary cause of insanity and crime, homosexuals being perverts, and the various ailments that auditing supposedly cures. I was so disappointed that I didn't get to take my book out and quote ElRon at anybody. Maybe next time.)
I had been in touch with one of the other picketers who said he was bringing fliers, so I didn't print up any Lisa or Xenus to bring with. I did, however, bring about 20 of my own flier, titled "Why I'm Picketing Scientology" (which you can read at
, reachable from
). I was able to give all of mine away, plus several Lisa and Xenus which my fellow picketers generously shared with me.
I didn't hear much debate from the
s. I thought I overheard the woman at the Stress Test table say something about how it was all lies and it was just amazing, but the comment wasn't directed at me and I didn't hear it clearly. Most of the people who seemed to be affiliated with Scientology appeared to be practicing that new non-confront tech I've heard so much about, including the two women who were pointed out to me as Sea Org (they looked like Jehovah's Witnesses to me in their identical suits). The only guy I saw with a camera was friendly and supportive.
Many of the passersby were supportive. I registered a few honks and a few thumbs up, and a number of people stopped to make eye contact and say "thanks" or "I agree" or "I support what you're doing". One gentleman asked an excellent question about the "anti-" side of my sign, pointing out that all of that could describe Islam, too, so what was my point? I SHOULD have mentioned the write-offs that only Scientology gets, but I did manage to point out that lots of people know Islam's stand on those issues, but many people don't know Scientology's. I also said that the government wasn't deciding who was a religion, but rather who was properly non-profit, and that under that designation, Scientology doesn't qualify.
I think I'm gonna keep stats next time - honks, waves, supportive comments.
After we finished, we stopped in a nearby cafe for refreshment. A couple of other patrons saw our signs and politely approached and asked what made us start picketing. We gave them some fliers and answered a few questions and they went on about their lunch. (They sat at the next table, and at one point I heard the woman, apparently reading the Xenu flier, say "That's really what they believe?!?")
As we were leaving the cafe, a man started walking with us and told us he really supported what we were doing, and said he had lost a friend to Scientology. I thought our conversation with him was one of the most enlightening of the day; he seemed to think that Scientology won all their legal battles and that there was nothing that could be done against them, but I suggested searching the 'net for info on their illegal activities, and T. told him about many of the lawsuits that Scientology HASN'T won. Even though lots of people know about Scientology, I think there's still a lot of good to be done just spreading information and correcting misinformation - and simply letting people know that we CAN take effective action.
I'd like to thank my fellow picketers for a lovely time and the Scientologists for being non-confront and not making it ugly. I dedicate this, my first picket, to my mini-heroes here on a.r.s: Andreas, RVY & Stacey, Bob Minton, Keith Henson (I hope I get down to the San Jose org one of these days for a co-picket), Bruce, Paul (I've GREATLY enjoyed your thoughtful debates with various posters, and they've inspired me to pick up a book or two on critical thinking next time I'm at the library), and all the courageous people who have done so much, and risked so much, to expose Scientology's wrongdoings.
Let's do it again tomorrow!!!
(I'm just kidding. We've already talked about a date for our next picket, and it isn't tomorrow. I'm just looking forward to it. That's all. Really.)
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.