a picket at the Scientology building in San Francisco
Suppressives: phr, Peaches, and me
Date/Time: 7/3/98, about 11:55 until about 1:35
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: handly; stress test table set up late in the picket
General Passerby Response: favorable
Stats: 33 suckers and 7 sucker fliers; 28 "Why" fliers; 7 Lisa fliers; 2 Xenu fliers; 16 Attorney General postcards; 4 "is $cn breaking the law" fliers
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.
After my 5-org picket on Monday, I hadn't planned to picket any more this week, but it turned out that I had a chance to see Peaches and phr, and I couldn't pass that up.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
I didn't distribute any fliers on my way to the picket today, but I was spotted by my friend from UPS (see my
picket report) as I walked down the street. He saw my "IS SCIENTOLOGY BREAKING THE LAW?" and yelled out the window, "YES! Yes, they are! They are! Yes!"
I had rigged up a tape recorder affixed to my picket sign (thanks for the idea - was it MadCow's?) and I turned it on as I approached the org. There was no one hanging around outside - no smokers, and no stress test table.
I had taped a Lisa flier to the front of my FlierHolder[tm] (a green hanging folder hung on a string around my neck, leaving my hands free to hold my sign and hand out fliers), so as I walk down the street, people can see the words "Killed by Scientology? We remember Lisa McPherson". At least one or two people pointed to my taped-on flier and asked for a copy.
WHERE ARE MY FLIERS?!?
I had printed up plenty of fliers to bring with me, but as soon as I started handing out fliers at the org, I realized I had left the freshly printed ones at home. ARGH! I ran out of "sucker" fliers practically right away, but I still had plenty of "Why I Picket" fliers, and I only ran out of Lisa fliers right at the end.
I'll have plenty for next time, though!
I had plenty of interest right from the start. I spent quite a while with a few interested passersby - two of them took fliers and stood there to read them in front of me. One of them, reading the Lisa flier, was stunned that she had paid $97,000 to Scientology. His friend had mentioned seeing Wayne's solo pickets, and I was able to tell him that Wayne had spent $95,000.
Peaches showed up right about then, and she and I spent a lot of time at the crosswalk sharing information with the pedestrians.
ME AND MY SHADOW
Not too long into my picket, I was joined by my new Scientology friend, Jeff (Quiros, for anyone who didn't see my
6/17 picket report
). He conversed with me the whole rest of the picket. Just like last week, he was friendly and reasonable (for the most part) and (by and large) responded to my points, and he was once again impeccably dressed. (As I told Jeff, I've developed quite a fondness for him and Darlene, my conversation partner down in San Jose.) I was, as usual, delighted to have a chance for dialog, and despite our conversation, I managed to give out a lot of fliers.
As before, we discussed many things. I brought up illegal imprisonment pretty early on (since it's the primary thing that brought me out picketing), and handed him another copy of my list of allegations against $cn (see
). He picked out the Geary case and said he was quite familiar with it, but that contrary to the information I had, Bob Geary had never been held against his will and had not required hospitalization, whereas Doty had some serious emotional problems beforehand that she hadn't disclosed to $cn. In response to his claim that ALL the allegations I've heard are fabricated or wildly exaggerated, I suggested that someone in $cn write up a response, presenting $cn's side of the story in each case. I believe he said he would undertake to do some of that; I hope he does - I'd be interested to know his/$cn's side of any of the stories I've read.
He spent quite a bit of time, beginning to end, talking about all the good $cn does. I tried to make clear to him that he doesn't have to convince me of that. I believe $cn has done good for people. He doesn't need to convince me that $cn is doing good - he needs to convince me that $cn isn't doing harm. I don't much care whether $cn is doing a tiny bit of good or a whole lot of good - either way, I think they can do whatever good they do without locking people up, and if they can't, well, there's a problem there.
He expressed his view that I was abusing my right of free speech by harassing $cn, and I asked him whether he thought my picketing was harassment - he said yes. He asked how I would like it if he came out and picketed me. I said I didn't know for sure but that it was a free country and he has a right to free speech, just like I do. (My "lack of certainty" - I freely admit that I don't know for certain that these allegations are true, although I believe them to be credible - seems to really bug him. I'm not sure why. He's tried to convince me that I shouldn't picket over things I don't KNOW to be true - a viewpoint that, clearly, I don't share.)
We talked some more about psychiatry - he wanted to know why I wasn't picketing psychiatrists for locking people up, and asked where I got my love of psychiatry. ;-) (Why, from the eevil pharmaceutical companies, of course, Jeff! ;-) ) I said, as I've said before, that when psychiatrists lock someone up, there's appropriate governmental oversight (Jeff claimed that $cn has plenty of governmental oversight but conceded that they don't tell the government every time someone does the Introspection Rundown). I said that I don't love psychiatry, but I do appreciate scientific thinking, and medicine, which is a branch of science, and that I thought psychiatry had helped many people. I agreed wholeheartedly that abuses within psychiatry should be stopped.
At one point I mentioned Fair Game and Fair Game tactics, and Jeff said that was another example of how I had gotten twisted information, that Fair Game had been cancelled ... I said, "Oh, Jeff, don't go there" (I apologize for using that phrase - if anyone hears me say "talk to the hand", please assign me some ethics chits) and I mentioned the defense in the 1990's trial where a $cn lawyer? official? claimed Fair Game was okay because it was part of $cn religious beliefs. Jeff went into this whole thing about how it never applied to anyone outside of $cn (he completely lost me there) and how he wished it had been written differently because it was so easy to misunderstand, and I said if it's that easy to misunderstand, $cn needed to make it REALLY, REALLY clear what it DOES mean so that no one goes around misapplying it.
We discussed whether Fair Game attacks had happened in the last ten years. I asked what he thought about Bob Minton having had his kids followed, and he said, "Bob Minton? Is he that guy in the East who's funnelling all that money into Scientology?" I said, "INTO Scientology? Is he?" He said, "Into anti-Scientology", and I teased him, "There's your reactive mind, Jeff!" I do hope he doesn't mind it when I tease him like that. He seemed quite good-natured about it. (Of course, I know he doesn't have a reactive mind.)
Jeff spoke quite a bit with Peaches, too - she even admitted that he was very likeable! At one point Jeff told us that his wife had stopped by, and that he had thought about introducing us, but that he was a little afraid to (you never know what kind of people those picketers are). We discussed critics a bit, and the fear that critics and Scientologists have of each other. (I asserted that, with written policies like Fair Game, critics had more reason to fear Scientologists than they have to fear us.) I asked him if he knew my real name (from what I know about $cn, it's always seemed likely to me that they would try to find out my real name as quickly as possible), and he said no. He said he would like to know, though.
As I was getting ready to leave, I reiterated that I'm picketing because I care, because I'm concerned about injustice, not because someone's paying me (as I said, I've never known anyone who's gotten paid to picket anything). He asked me why it was any of my concern, and I said that, to a certain extent, I think everyone is everyone's concern, and that I believe - as many Scientologists believe - that it's important to speak out about injustice and about wrongs so that problems can be righted.
OTHER THINGS BESIDES TALKING WITH JEFF
Our Lady of the Stress Test Table came out and set up the table quite a ways into our picket. I wished her a good afternoon and complimented her on her hat (she had a broad straw hat on to keep the sun off her face), and got a little bit of pleasant comm in return. (I also saw Mr. Get-Your-Facts-Straight and wished him a good afternoon - I couldn't quite tell if his response was a half-smile or a grimace.)
I had another visit from a Bay Area SP who has, to my knowledge, never picketed but is always very supportive. I believe she said she was too poor to Fair Game. ;-)
I offered a flier to one gentleman and he said he had all the info he needed. Jeff said, "Don't you know him?" and I said I didn't, and the gentleman introduced himself to me - it was Meklar! Now I've met SIX other critics. I'm still hoping to meet Keith someday. Meklar didn't join our picket today - he was off to the museums instead.
Three policemen on bicycles rode by. I greeted the first with a sunny "Good afternoon, officer! How are you today?" (He replied with a joke about needing to put on his shorts - it was rather warm out.) They rode around in a little circle in front of the org and sort of circled around for a few minutes before going on their way.
A gentleman stopped to talk with me and take some fliers. He asked a lot of questions like "How do they get to call themselves a church?" and I said that it was a tradition in America that whoever wants to call themselves a church, can. He mentioned the Heaven's Gate group - it's interesting to me that many people seem to connect $cn to Heaven's Gate.
One gentleman declined a flier, saying "Y'all must not have much of a life." I was amused that Jeff then said, "I think he thinks you're with us." I wonder if Scientologists hear that sort of thing a lot. I mentioned to Jeff that I thought people often mistook me for a Scientologist (reading "Scientology" in my sign and then not reading any further). But surely no Scientologist would wear red picketing jammies!
A gentleman who's come by my pickets once or twice before said hello and asked for any recent fliers. He was concerned about Jeff talking with me and warned me not to let Jeff talk me inside! I told him I was enjoying our talk and not to worry - I wasn't going to join up.
THE POST-PICKET PICKET
phr showed up just as Peaches and I were getting ready to leave, so we all headed over to the cafe for a refreshing beverage.
As we were leaving the cafe, we encountered a lady who expressed interest in our signs and took a few fliers. She said she had had a run-in with a Scientologist a few years ago - she had been walking near Union Square and a Scientologist had offered her a personality test, which she declined. He then got right in her face, blocking her way, and she took the test, threw it behind her, and walked on. He ran after her, got in her way again, grabbed her arm and shouted that she had no right to throw away the test! She said she had reported it to the press, and the press had contacted the org, but they said it was against policy to talk with the press.
A gentleman called to me, saying he wanted to read my sign; he was very interested in what I knew about $cn and took some fliers, too.
As I was walking toward the bus, I saw a homeless gentleman on a park bench, reading my sign, so I offered him a flier and a sucker. He took the flier and began reading it, and began telling me what a hard time he was having lately. He said being homeless, it was hard even to find people to talk to. He said he'd been feeling suicidal lately and had almost called a crisis line. I listened to him, and asked him please to be sure to call a crisis line if he did feel suicidal again, and asked him whether he believed in God, and when he said he did, I asked him to promise me that he would go talk to a minister TODAY to try to get some help. He expressed a lot of regret about things he had done in his life, and I reminded him that you can't change what you did yesterday, but you can change what you do today. I told him to remember that there are people who do care about him.
I hope he's sleeping well tonight.
In the bus, I sat near the back, and a trio of young ladies were sitting together. One of them read my sign out loud ("DID $CN STANDARD TECH KILL LISA MCPHERSON?") and then said aloud, "Yes, it did." (I think she was just goofing, the way young people sometimes do; I don't think she knew anything about Lisa until I told her what I knew.) I asked her if she knew much about $cn, and she said she didn't, so I offered her and her friends fliers and suckers, which they gladly took. They started avidly reading the fliers and asking questions.
I've found myself automatically going into trade show mode (I've worked at trade shows during my long, checkered career ;-) ) at pickets. I make eye contact with as many people as possible (politely avoiding those who seem emphatically uninterested in eye contact), I offer fliers to everyone who seems at all interested, and I have a couple of standard phrases I've developed: when I'm giving out a flier, I say, "I think $cn is breaking the law and hurting people, and I think they should stop," and when I'm finishing a conversation, I say, "If this bothers you as much as it bothers me, I hope you'll tell your friends and your congresspeople." As I joked to Peaches, I should get a second tape recorder - one to record, and one to play my stock phrases.
It was a good picket. It was nice to get back to the San Francisco org, and always a pleasure to talk with Jeff. I was especially pleased to get a pleasant response from Our Lady of the Stress Test Table.
Jeff asked Peaches and me if we were going to picket Saturday, or if he could take the day off. I hope he's having a nice relaxing holiday with his family!
Happy 4th of July!
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.