a picket at the $cientology building in San Francisco
Suppressives: phr, Peaches, and me
Date/Time: 7/18/98, about 12:10 until about 1:25
Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", criminal allegations, Lisa, Xenu), suckers, Attorney General postcards
Tools: sign, disposable camera, tape recorder
Weather: sunny and hot
Foot Traffic: mostly steady
Street Traffic: steady
Scn Response: mostly pleasantly ignored us; stress test table set up late in the picket; one (two?) polite "stay on the sidewalk"
General Passerby Response: favorable
Stats: 37 suckers and 39 sucker fliers; 2 "Why" fliers; 5 Lisa fliers; 1 Xenu flier; 4 Attorney General postcards; 6 "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.
Peaches, phr and I put in about an hour and a quarter picketing at the San Francisco org on McAllister. It was unseasonably warm for San Francisco. Despite the heat, Peaches wore another of her lovely professional-looking suits. I, of course, was in my trademark red picketing jammies (the version with the lighter top - the sweatshirt is only for cool weather), and phr was in standard computer geek attire.
THE PRE-PICKET PICKET
The busses were slow (typical for a Saturday), so I walked the whole way, giving lots of people a chance to see my sign. I was able to give out a few fliers before I reached the org. As before, I had my tape recorder affixed to my picket sign and I turned it on as I approached the org. The org looked quiet for a Saturday, although there were a few kids rollerskating in the area, who may well have been the kids of students or PCs in the org.
Peaches had arrived about five minutes before I got there, and phr came at about 12:30. Peaches told me I could be seen from blocks away.
Phr very kindly supplied us with juice drinks, which were most welcome in the heat. Thanks, phr!
THERE'S A SUCKER-LOVER BORN EVERY MINUTE
My suckers were a big hit once again, with several people coming up to me and asking for a lollipop. (One gentleman tried to give me a dime for a sucker, but I told him that wasn't necessary.)
As before, I gave away more "Don't be a sucker" fliers than suckers, showing that people are more interested in info than sugar.
OUR FRIEND THE SP
Our friend the Bay Area SP (I believe she's got an actual declare) came by early in the picket to say hello. I urged her to come picket with us, but she pointed to her crippled leg and indicated that she can't stand or walk comfortably for long periods. I mentioned my picket reports and asked if there was anything she wanted me to share with a.r.s., and she said, "If you've got a firm grip on reality, you can see for yourself that it's a load of crap. It's as simple as that."
NO FAMILIAR FACES
Nobody I saw at the org today was familiar to me. None of the regulars - Mr. Get-Your-Facts-Straight, Mr. Moustache, Our-Lady-Of-The-Stress-Test-Table, Sea-Org-Lady, Ms. Pixie - none of them were in sight. My OSA handler and all-around Scientology pal, Jeff Quiros, was absent as well. I was a little disappointed, as I had wanted to show him my "Is $cientology breaking the law" flier and point out that I had corrected it, thanks to his sharp eye (he pointed out that, in the Geary case, only Mrs. Geary had been held against her will, not both of them). I guess I'll have to let him know next time.
We had a couple of younger-looking probable Sea Orgers. At one point, phr and I strayed a little too close to the planters on the sidewalk and the young Sea Org gentleman came out and very politely said he had to ask us to stay on the sidewalk.
Points to the San Francisco staffers, who have been increasingly friendly and polite to me.
THE EMPTY STRESS-TEST TABLE
A little after 1 pm, a young gentleman came out of the org and started setting up the stress-test table. Although it was eventually outfitted with four chairs, it didn't get any books, E-meter, or staffers (or anybody else) while we were picketing.
I suggested to the gentleman that he might want to set up in the shade so he could be cooler. He responded that no one would see him there (the sunny part was closer to where most of the foot traffic is). I urged him to find a hat, at least.
Points again for friendly comm.
ANY NEW FLIERS?
Several of our return visitors (including Bay Area SP) like to ask me if I have any new fliers - they want more info, if there is any, but don't want to take fliers they've already seen that could be given to other people. (I know, I know - I should remind them to give extra fliers to their friends, but I always forget.)
SAN FRANCISCO'S FINEST
Our trio of bicycle police officers rode by again. I greeted them and they said hello back.
I gave one gentleman a sucker and a flier and my usual "If it disturbs you as much as it disturbs me, I hope you'll tell your friends and your legislators," and he paused, and said, "That's like, Congress, right?" I confirmed that that, indeed, was what I had meant, and he nodded and continued on his way.
(My reactive mind was messing with my other stock phrase: several times I almost said "I think $cn is breaking people and hurting the law", but I think I caught myself each time.)
IS $CIENTOLOGY BREAKING DIVINE LAW OR U.S. LAW?
One gentleman stopped and talked with me for quite a while - maybe 20 minutes. He said he thought $cn was violating divine law, but he wasn't sure about human laws. We discussed religious freedom and consent, and I mentioned cases in which people have said that they were held against their will and/or given auditing against their will. He agreed with me that many of $cn's representations are fraudulent. As we talked, he told me he had been in $cn, on staff, in the late 60's, or maybe 1970.. He had since become a devout Christian. He spoke very softly and slowly (thoughtfully).
Like Jeff, he had a little trouble believing that it was concern over Lisa McPherson and similar abuses that brought me out picketing - it seemed more likely to him that I must have had a bad experience myself. I told him I'd been concerned about human rights for a long time, and that I thought $cn was violating people's human rights.
(Actually, come to think of it, I think I've been involved in human rights activism since before I'd ever heard of $cn.)
CODE NAME: JOUR
Several people asked me my name today, giving me an opportunity to explain why I use an alias.
A couple of gentlemen came over for suckers. One of them, apparently mistaking me for a Scientologist, said he was going to be working for me soon (heh). The other gentleman, coincidentally, said he HAD worked for them in the past, so I suggested that the one who had, discuss his experiences with the one who was considering it. I specifically mentioned the many reports I've read of minimum wage violations, which the gentleman who had worked for them corroborated - he said he wasn't paid based on hours worked, but rather on how much the org made. I told the job applicant that, if he didn't get paid minimum wage, he could report it to the labor board.
FIRST GERMANS, NOW FINNS
A young couple came by and took fliers. The gentleman said they were from Finland, and they didn't have much $cn there. Phr and I filled him in on the remailer lawsuit, and I mentioned $cn's activity in other Scandinavian countries, such as their attempt to impose US copyright law in Sweden.
(Although we've had Germans at previous pickets, I couldn't say for sure that we had any at this one - although one of the first gentlemen to ask me for a flier today had a rather German-sounding accent.)
HUBBARD SAID THERE WAS NO CHRIST
We get all types in San Francisco - transvestites and gays and straights and ultra-straights, blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics (and Finns and Germans, oh my!), women and men, old folks and little kids. Interestingly, we do get a lot of Christians - especially people who like to share their faith in response to my picketing.
Although I am reluctant to share Hubbard's racist quotes with blacks and Asians (I guess I feel that's needlessly divisive), I don't have the slightest hesitation to let Christians know about $cn's lie that $cn is compatible with other religions. I had at least two opportunities to share LRH's pronouncement about Christ today.
A LAUGH RIOT, MAYBE?
One gentleman took a flier and said, "I think y'all better calm down before a riot starts." I looked around and saw that he was the only person on the sidewalk besides us three picketers. I said, "There's so few of us - I hardly think there's going to be a riot." He went on to say that he thought $cn was a load of crap.
(Honestly, I don't know how I can be much more calm - the only time I've gotten at all agitated was when Jeff and I were discussing Lisa, and then all that happened was I raised my voice ... and not even to the level of a shout.)
ANOTHER FLIER GOES INTO THE ORG
Toward the end of our picket, a gentleman crossed the street and asked, "What's all this about?" I started to say, "I think $cn's breaking the law and hurting people", and he said, "What people?" So I gave him a Lisa flier. At this point he noticed my tape recorder, and he said, "You're taping me?!" I said, "I can shut it off if you'd like," but he turned on his heel and walked off into the org.
ARE YOU A BOY OR ARE YOU A GIRL?
A couple of rather manly-looking ladies came by on bicycles and talked with all three of us for quite a while. They took a bunch of fliers, although they declined an Attorney General postcard.
THE POST-PICKET PICKET
As Peaches and I walked away, we encountered a couple of gentlemen waiting for the light to change, who asked for fliers. One of them asked where we were from - what organization we represented. I told him I was just an individual protesting $cn, and said I thought they were hurting people and breaking the law. He said, "I know!" and proceded to tell me that he had gone in and taken a personality test, and how they had tried to make him feel inadequate and directionless. He was wearing a cross, and I mentioned the "there was no Christ" quote.
The gentleman I sat next to on the bus spent the whole bus trip trying to convince me that picketing was a waste of time (he felt that anyone dumb enough to get involved in $cn deserved what they got - I told him I didn't think everyone who got involved in it was dumb). He invited me to come visit him on his houseboat at Fisherman's Wharf ;-) . I declined, as graciously as I could.
As I crossed the street, a couple of gentleman approached me and asked for suckers and fliers. They didn't know much about $cn and were quite surprised to hear about the allegations of criminal activity.
It was a good picket. I was glad I had put on some sunscreen. (It's supposed to be foggy from June through September in San Francisco.)
Two weeks is way too long to go between pickets ... I'll have to see if I can work in another one soon.
This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.