a picket at the San Francisco Scientology building
Suppressives: Taniwha, phr, and me
Date/Time: 6/17/98, about 12:10 am - 1:10 pm
Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", criminal allegations, Lisa, Xenu), suckers, Attorney General postcards
Weather: sunny and windy
Foot Traffic: Steady
Street Traffic: Steady
Scn Response: Pleasant, "handly"
General Passerby Response: Disinterested to Favorable
Stats: 14 suckers and 25 sucker fliers; 10 "Why" fliers; 0 Lisa fliers; 5 Attorney General postcards; 3 "is $cn breaking the law" fliers (also, phr gave out 6 Xenus)
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.
We had lovely weather for surf picketing weather today (hold on to your sign and let the wind propel you along the sidewalk). Shortly after I arrived, phr joined me, and Tani braved the traffic to arrive not long after that.
DID YOU EVER HAVE TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND?
There are so many messages I want to get out about Scientology that I get indecisive about which one to put on my sign. (Probably $cn can help me with that.)
Today I resolved that with my BRAND-NEW sign - a piece of 20" x 30" foamboard with plastic pockets on each side (I took the plastic wrap from the foamboard package and taped it onto the sign - one big pocket on one side, and on the other, two smaller pockets on each side of the picket stick). This means (a) when it rains my signs will stay dry and (b) I can change the message mid-picket. I did learn, though, that windiness makes changing the sign tricky, so I only changed it once today. The big side said
IS SCIENTOLOGY BREAKING THE LAW?
(smaller:) ALLEGATIONS INCLUDE FALSE IMPRISONMENT * FRAUD * EXTORTION * ASSAULT * PRACTICING MEDICINE WITHOUT A LICENSE
The other side said
DID SCIENTOLOGY STANDARD TECH KILL LISA MCPHERSON?
(smaller:) ASK SCIENTOLOGY ABOUT THE INTROSPECTION RUNDOWN
WHY DOES SCIENTOLOGY LIE ABOUT THEIR FOUNDER?
The latter sign was made of two pieces of paper taped together, and I had made extra phrases for the bottom half of the sign. So shortly into my picket, I swapped
- I also have THEIR ETHICS and THEIR CRITICS. Any requests for signs for the next picket? Heh. My picket sign takes requests.
I also turned my "Is $cn breaking the law?" web page (members.aol.com/jour0/investigation.html) into a quick-and-dirty flier and gave out a few of those.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
I did my usual picket tech on the way to the org today. I had no takers on the bus, but a passing pedestrian did stop me to get a flier and said he'd written about $cn for Details magazine, and warned me to be very careful - to take a circuitous route on my way back, and to bring a camera, and so on. I thanked him for the advice but was glad to say I already knew all that.
Another passerby said "Got nothing better to do with your time?", while another commented on what a nice day it was for a picket.
When I arrived, Our Lady of the Stress Test Table was setting up the table - two chairs on each side and a big pile of books. I wished her a good afternoon.
I may be mistaken, but I think the longest conversation she had was with the gentleman who kissed my hand a couple of weeks ago. I did see one other gentleman squeezing the cans while I was picketing.
A little later, a Scientology gentleman (one of the regulars - I see him nearly every time) came out and gave away pink fliers - personality tests, I think, although I didn't see one up close.
WORKING THE CROWD
It seemed a little harder to give out fliers today, for some reason (although I think my stats were pretty good, considering I was chatting with a Scientologist for most of my picket). One of my early flier takers said "I heard they're a cult," and I said I didn't know whether to consider them a cult or not, that I was mostly interested in expressing concern over illegal activities.
I was warmly greeted by a young lady who works in the law office next to the $cn offices. She's talked to me before, and her boyfriend has sent me a few email messages. If we were only out there longer, he probably would have joined us.
AM I THE BRINGER OF LIGHT?
A white-haired gentleman who'd visited a previous picket spent a lot of time with us again today. He seems to think very little of anyone, and rarely makes sense to me, so I didn't talk a lot with him. He seemed to know about Keith's trial, but was unclear on the details (first he said it was a $7,000 verdict, then that it was for picketing, then that it was for libel and slander). I mentioned that I hadn't heard of anyone being convicted for picketing $cn recently, and noted that picketing is a constitutionally protected right. At one point, as I was walking past, he pointed to me and said "That's Lucifer."
BUT I HAVEN'T SEEN DATELINE YET!
Tani arrived, having fought sports fans in traffic. He told me about the Dateline show, which I've taped but haven't yet watched. Sounds like it was pretty great, though.
One gentleman arrived at the org shortly after Tani got there - a regular, one I'd seen often ... I was under the impression he was Jeff Quiros, but I didn't know for sure. (Do you think we could talk the Scientologists into wearing nametags?) He disappeared into the building, but a while later he came back out and stood watching us. So I called over to him, "Are you Jeff Quiros?" He lit up, smiled, came over and held out his hand: "Yes, I am. Who are you?" (as if he didn't know, me in my red picketing jammies). I introduced myself as Jour, and he said he'd been wanting to meet me. He said he'd read some of my web site and some of my a.r.s. posts, and ... he wanted to know who I was working for. I said nobody, and he said he found that hard to believe, and I asked him, when he'd done altruistic things in his life, if he'd been paid to do them. I explained that I thought it was important to make time for things that are important, and mentioned that I'd volunteered for other activist activities in my life. He still seemed rather skeptical, but he did back off some on that line of questioning.
We had a nice long talk. He spent the rest of the picket walking with me and asking me questions. He did the usual "how can you believe these reports if you weren't there" thing, and I gave the "I wasn't alive during the Holocaust but I believe it happened" response. We discussed the CCHR a lot - I mentioned that their activism was much like my own. Nobody's paying them to do it, and they're making the time to speak out. We discussed the Introspection Rundown - he asked how I knew that the version I'd seen was for real, and I mentioned that I'd seen it in a red volume - it could have been a fake, but it would have been a pretty involved forgery. He tried to compare $cn's healing practices to Christian science, and I pointed out that in Christian science, you're asked to have faith that you will be healed, but $cn claims it's all scientific, and I consider that fraud.
I know there's no reason for Jeff to know all of my views in advance, but geez - it seems like they already know my views fairly well ... I would think from reading what I've written, my thoughts would be pretty clear by now. Nevertheless, even if I was going over some of the same ground, it was a pleasure to talk with Jeff. He responded pretty well to some of my points and seemed friendly enough.
(Hmmm. Last time I asked OSA for a good-looking handler with a sense of humor. I guess Jeff pretty well fits the bill (he's downright dapper), although we didn't have enough time to really get into the sense of humor. Is it possible that <gasp> OSA is listening to me? If so - hey, guys, knock off the stuff that's hurting people, and I'll put down my picket sign and we can go out for coffee!)
Jeff also said that the person who ranted at me a couple of weeks ago was not following me - because if he had been, Jeff would have been in charge of that. Hmm. I told him I was glad to hear I hadn't been followed.
While I was talking with Jeff, I tried to keep handing out fliers, although I was trying to stay involved in our conversation, too. A very nice German couple (they're everywhere!) took fliers and commended my picketing, expressing their concerns about $cn's activities in Germany. They were impressed to see me and Jeff talking and walking together, and tried to express their concerns about $cn to Jeff despite their difficulties with English. The woman was trying to tell Jeff that people weren't free to come and go in $cn. Jeff pointed out that he had just come out of the org a few minutes ago, but of course, that wasn't quite what she meant.
Another gentleman took one of my fliers and mentioned that he was aware of $cn's homophobia. I pointed out the bit on my "Why I Picket" flier about that.
I had some other things to do this afternoon, so we all stopped a little after 1 pm. Jeff and I had a hard time wrapping up our conversation. I thanked him again for coming over to talk with me and encouraged him to email me.
In other random notes: I noticed that there were lots of construction workers out today, and lots of little kids all over the place (school field trips, probably, or something).
I also saw LOTS of police cars. As I've said, the org is very close to the police station (very reassuring), but I've never seen as many police cars as I did today.
THE POST-PICKET PICKET
On my way back, a lady took a flier and said she had seen the Dateline program. (I, however, STILL haven't seen it.)
Jeff, if you're reading this, again, thanks for coming out to talk with me. This is, in my opinion, a very good way to deal with critics. Dialog helps keep us from demonizing each other, and it offers opportunities for better understanding between us. It also makes you look good. Private investigators and harassment makes $cn look dangerous and unethical. Calm discussion makes you look reasonable and rational.
(One tip, though - if you'd like to reduce my overall picketing time, help me keep an eye on the time. It's easy to picket longer than planned when involved in conversation.)
I'm glad the weather's turned nice again. Pickets ho!
P.S. Jeff - it only took me a half an hour to write this. And if I WERE being paid to do it, would I have done frivolous things like watching the PBS special on Calder before I finished my "work" of typing this up and getting it posted? The evil German overlords would never put up with that nonsense. ;-)
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.