a picket at Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles
Suppressives: Zinjifar and me
Date/Time: 6/6/98, about 11:45 am - 1:30 pm
Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", Lisa, Xenu), suckers,
Attorney General postcards
Weather: overcast but mild, windy but not too windy
Foot Traffic: Light
Street Traffic: Heavy along Sunset, light elsewhere
Scn Response: Pleasant, "Handly"
General Passerby Response: Hard to Gauge
Stats: just 2 fliers, to OSA
My picket was in honor and memory of Wayne Whitney.
Note: as I do NOT have perfect memory, any quotes below are very close paraphrases. I apologize for any inadvertent inaccuracies and will try to correct any errors that are pointed out to me.
Since Zinjifar has already posted an excellent report, I'll try to keep mine short (well, shorter than usual).
We had good picketing weather, and Zinj and I put in over an hour and a half around the LA HQ.
Zinjifar generously offered to supply picket signs, which saved me the hassle of getting my huge sign onto the airplane.
I found out just last Sunday that I would be going to LA for a Saturday event. I tried really hard to figure out a way to be at the SF picket in Wayne's memory (11-1, picket SF org; hop on plane; 5-7, picket LA org ... but that would have made me very late for my event). I'm glad there was a nice turnout in SF.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
I was staying with a friend and seeing some friends while in LA. My main friend knew I was planning to picket, but I hadn't planned to mention much about my picketing to my other friends and acquaintances (I'm not much of a proselytizer-type). However, my main friend mentioned my picketing to a few of the other people, and so I gave out some fliers and answered a whole lot of questions. A couple of people asked me to point them to my web pages when I got home.
On Saturday morning, Zinj came by and we assembled signs. I had brought pre-printed pages to assemble - one said "DID SCIENTOLOGY STANDARD TECH KILL LISA MCPHERSON?", and the other side said "DOES SCIENTOLOGY GIVE YOU LIVER DAMAGE?" and in smaller letters (since I had extra space to take up), "ASK SCIENTOLOGY ABOUT TOXIC LEVELS OF NIACIN IN THE PURIFICATION RUNDOWN".
While we were putting the signs together (they were old 'X', 'E', 'M', and 'U' signs), my friend's neighbor came by and asked who Lisa was. I dashed inside to get her a Lisa flier, and told my friend, "I'm indoctrinating your neighbors." ;-)
SMALL GIRL ON CAMPUS
(Well, heck, Zinj's report mentioned that I'm a girl (and a small one at that). I had hoped that my handle would be nice and non-gender-specific, and judging by some of the posts to a.r.s., it's been fairly successful, with several people thinking I'm a guy.)
I found the $cn campus very interesting. I had braced myself against the possibility of feeling intimidated, but I didn't feel intimidated at all. The groups of Scientologists seemed unthreatening and barely reacted to our presence (that I could see). I was pleased that they seemed non-hostile. I tried to make polite, friendly, non-intrusive eye contact when I could.
Zinj mentioned Cat coming out to talk with us. I'd say she was with us for about 3/4 of the time we were out there (and Gail about 1/4 of the time - maybe more). Cat really wanted us to go sit down somewhere, but we were there to picket, and picket we did.
Cat did try a bit of the usual "how can you know what $cn's really about" and "do you believe everything you read" stuff, but she pretty much gave it up after I said that I'd satisfied myself about what was credible and what wasn't, that I'd read for example the Introspection Rundown myself, and that I'd never been to Africa but I believed it was there. She also kept saying I had a "fixed idea" about $cn but I finally got through to her that I DON'T have a "fixed idea". I have information and evidence, and if she has information and evidence that contradict what I think I know, I'm interested in hearing it.
Much of our conversation was about the IR. I maintained my position that it constitutes false imprisonment, and Cat mostly said that Scientologists are opposed to psychiatrists so they can't abide by the law (to which I responded that they should then work to change the law or petition for an exception which still allowed for governmental oversight but without psychiatric care, and she said they were working on changing the law and that that would happen very soon - I said that they should abide by the law in the meantime), and occasionally threw in that nobody underwent the IR involuntarily (I could never pin her down on how someone who's had a psychotic break can competently decide whether to undergo a procedure).
At one point, after she said that all auditing is voluntary, I said I thought I remembered reading something about, if the auditee is uncooperative, ways you could attach the cans to feet or armpits. I explicitly said that I didn't remember it clearly, but told her what I thought I remembered. At this point she launched into a whole thing about the Golden Era of Tech and about David Mayo, who she said wrote a whole bunch of stuff that was out-tech, and which is now not considered part of $cn. So, anybody know - how can we outsiders find out what's considered to still be current tech?
Cat spent a lot of time discussing the evils of psychiatry with me, too (although she let up a little when I told her that I DON'T think psychiatry is evil and I know one person who's had ECT who's doing fine now thanks) (next time I'll have to remember to say "I'm here about Scientology, not psychiatry"). She also tried a fair amount of "but $cn helps people and Scientologists are happy with $cn and support it", not really responding to my "but there's still illegal activity, whether people support it or not". At one point she said that there was no scientific evidence for chemical imbalance in the brain. I said I was pretty darn sure there was (although I haven't read it and now I guess I'll have to go look for it), "but there's no scientific evidence for the reactive mind, either!", to which she had no reply.
I also pleaded several times for intelligent representatives from $cn for a.r.s. to answer our various questions and respond to our criticisms. She said it was policy not to do that. Well, it's their choice, but I think it's a policy that's hurting them.
AND GAIL MAKES FOUR
As Zinj wrote, Gail came out to join us too. (I was amused that, upon hearing my alias, she said "You're from the Bay Area, aren't you?" I should have asked her how she knew that.) She did ask in passing "You didn't come down just to picket, did you?" and of course I said no. (I would much rather have been picketing SF this weekend.) (Note to OSA: I've been in LA probably 3 or 4 times in the past year, and as you've surely noted, this was my first LA picket. Probably not my last, though.)
I immediately liked Gail and was slightly disappointed that she focused on Zinj. (Hey, OSA, next time can I have a cute guy handler with a good sense of humor?) After a while, Cat turned back to me and we had two separate conversations. Gail said she would get some info for me on questions Cat hadn't been able to answer (let's see, what were they? One was why $cn doesn't present itself as a church in Mexico; one was scientific studies on the Purif; I've forgotten what else).
Gail asked me for a flier and I gave her my "Why I'm Picketing" flier, at which point Cat asked for one too.
AFTER THE PICKET
After we left, Zinj drove me over to the Celebrity Center so I could see it for myself. We took a wrong turn on the way, so we took a little longer to get there than the $cn folks probably thought we would (sorry, guys), but as soon as we rolled into view, the security-uniform guy started talking into his walkie talkie.
We really didn't have time for a picket, so we just took in the view and left.
Later, Zinj pointed out another $cn building or two, but my favorite sight was this:
We passed a club with a marquee listing upcoming performers. (I think it might have been at Franklin and Roosevelt but Zinj would know better than I.) According to the marquee, Andy Milne was slated to appear there on 6/9! Wow! Andy Milne doing standup comedy! (Or maybe he's a singer-songwriter or something.)
(No, I know it's probably not the same one. It was just one of those synchronicitous moments.)
During the afternoon and evening, my friend mentioned my picketing to some of the other folks at the event, so once again I got to spread information and answer questions.
I am very grateful to Zinj for coming with me. It was a great picket, and I'm looking forward to the next one. (I'd like to get to at least one other location, though, next time.)
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.