a 1 1/2 hour picket at the San Jose Scientology building
I happened to be in Silicon Valley on Wednesday so I thought I'd pop over to the San Jose org for a lunchtime picket. I hoped I might run into Keith or Brent, but no such luck.
I arrived at about 12:30 and drove around looking for a parking space across from the org. I doubt they'll bother to try to trace the plates on the car I was driving, but I'd rather they didn't try to hassle the person who owns it. I pulled out my picket sign and walked up the street and started strolling back and forth in front of the org.
I had my same sign - one side says
& TAX EXEMPT
and on the other side:
SCIENTOLOGY - USING YOUR TAX $$$ TO
DEFRAUD THE PUBLIC
PRACTICE MEDICINE ILLEGALLY
HARASS CRITICS IN COURT
It's a quiet street. There was zero foot traffic. I made sure my sign was clearly visible to the people driving by (pretty steady car traffic, usually one or two cars passing by at all times). I got to see a really cool bird with a long tail.
A gentleman was riding around on a bike. I noticed him while I was looking for a parking place, and he stayed in the area for quite a while - maybe the whole time I was there. Security or just a neighborhood guy? I couldn't tell.
After I'd been out for about 5 minutes, I heard sprinklers, but I didn't see anything. I looked around, and realized they must have been across the street. No sprinklers were turned on me while I was there.
A few minutes later, two gentlemen came out of the org, stood by the door for a moment, then sat down. I think one of them had a smoke. They sat by the door the whole time I was there. I tried to offer a friendly non-intrusive smile but saw no response.
Shortly after that, a gentleman walked up the sidewalk toward me, carrying a camera. He seemed open and friendly, so I guessed he wasn't a Scientologist. He started to aim the camera. I stopped and posed and asked which side of my sign he wanted. He said "Both." He snapped a picture, I flipped the sign, he snapped another picture. He thanked me and walked away, and I went back to picketing. I called back over my shoulder "Are you with Scientology?" He replied, "No."
I kept walking. After my San Francisco pickets, it was a little lonely, but I really enjoyed the walk in the mild weather.
A short time later, a well-dressed woman appeared on the sidewalk. She asked if she could talk to me. I said "Sure." She gestured toward my sign and said she'd never heard the anti-feminist angle before. She asked if I had anything (fliers, I guessed she meant), and I handed her my "Why I'm Picketing" flier. I had some Xenu and Lisa fliers with me. I asked if she was OT3 or above, and she kind of smiled and said if she wasn't supposed to read it she wouldn't (How does that work? Does she read it, realize she's not supposed to, and then unread it?). I didn't give her a Xenu, just to be safe, but I did give her a Lisa. (She was surprised that I was considerate about respecting her restrictions on upper-level materials.) While she was glancing over my "Why I Picket" flier, I told her that, if it mattered, I have no hostility toward individual Scientologists. I just think the corporation is breaking the law and endangering people, and I want them to stop it. She asked if I was part of the Internet group <heh> (maybe they have trouble finding "WDNE" in the dictionary) and I said "Group? ... I'm not much of a joiner." She asked if I was on the Internet and I said yes, who isn't?
So we talked. We talked for more than an hour, probably. She started by addressing the anti-feminist charge. She said that she was a Scientologist and although I don't remember her saying it in so many words, indicated that gender discrimination had never been a problem for her. I told her about the Hubbard quotes in DMSMH (she didn't seem interested in having me show her the bookmarked quotes, either - won't ANYBODY let me pull out my book and quote Hubbard at them?!) and that I found the whole attempted abortion thing ridiculous. We talked about a lot of things - Purification, Introspection, Lisa, fair game, lawsuits being used to harass.
Several minutes into the conversation she told me that she was "the famous Darlene." She was calm and pretty rational. She clearly would have liked me to stop picketing, but she made no effort to stop me other than by trying to persuade me that it was unnecessary. (She did ask why I was picketing Scientology when there are so many other causes to picket for, and asked if I was a college student!) She made a couple of concessions (for example, she claimed Lisa's death was an isolated case, and I said she couldn't be sure of that, any more than I could be sure it wasn't, and she agreed).
I tried to make clear my position: I'm not trying to shut Scientology down, but I do expect them to obey the law, especially regarding people's lives and well-being and regarding compliance with tax laws and non-profit corp. laws. I want Scientology leaders to make it clear, in word and deed, that no one in Scientology will be permitted to endanger the well-being of anyone else or to violate the terms of Scientology's non-profit status (and the "deed" part of that includes emphatically discouraging those acts - excommunicating or otherwise severely sanctioning anyone who DOES break the law). I'm not trying to change anyone's mind; I just want to provide information so others can make up their own mind.
During our conversation, she said she didn't think I was going to get what I wanted. I mentioned the Roman Catholic Church, and how even that huge powerful institution occasionally submits to change - they had finally come around to admitting that evolution was a valid part of science. Sometimes change is slow, but change always comes.
I'm really glad Darlene came out and talked to me. She said she'd email me some information on Purif and the Liability condition process that bothered me (the one that says you must strike a blow against the other group if one is struck against your own group). I hope she comes out to talk to me next time I picket, although in fairness I should probably tell her to help me keep an eye on the time - our conversation kept me there and picketing at least a half an hour longer than I had planned to be there.
2 fliers handed out, to Darlene
lots of cars slowing down to read my signs
2 photos by an anonymous photographer
1 lengthy surveillance by an unknown bicyclist
1 ARC-enhancing (for me at least) long conversation with a Scientologist
Do I get hazard pay for the sunburn on the tip of my nose? And when I do the ARS Purif to get rid of the sunburn, can I substitute a hot tub for a sauna?
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.