In this week’s episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, we learned about former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder and the “Fair Game” he’s experienced since leaving the church in 2007.
For Rinder, it’s meant almost constant surveillance and harassment since he first began in 2009 to speak publicly about Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige. Examples shown in the episode included being followed and accosted by private eyes, keeping watch on him with the use of a remote camera in a bird feeder, and even paying sanitation workers for Rinder’s garbage. (In Tuesday’s post, we listed other examples of Fair Game that Rinder has had to endure that weren’t mentioned in the show.)
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard first announced a “Fair Game Law” in 1965 at a time when he was writing policies to crack down on splinter groups that infuriated him. In 1967, Hubbard gave his most notorious definition of what he meant by the policy, writing that Scientology’s enemies may be “deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”
Scientology denies that it engages in Fair Game today. It says that the Fair Game policy was canceled by Hubbard in 1968. But as Rinder and Remini discussed on this week’s show, in his 1968 order Hubbard actually said, “The practice of declaring people FAIR GAME will cease. FAIR GAME may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations. This does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP.” (When the church decides someone is an enemy, it labels them a “suppressive person” or SP.)
In other words, the policy of ruining SPs utterly and destroying people would continue, so long as the words “Fair Game” weren’t involved.
As Remini and Rinder discussed his harassment, we were watching Twitter as viewers expressed shock at the idea of a church hiring goons to do the things that Rinder managed to film.
And our first thought was, oh, they haven’t seen anything.
Although Mike Rinder and other former church officials have been through hellacious harassment in recent years, the most egregious example of Scientology trying to destroy someone over decades of harassment is still what the church did to a journalist from New York by the name of Paulette Cooper.
It’s such an outrageous example of what Scientology can do when it is determined to destroy someone, we wrote a whole book about it!
In The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, we described how Paulette survived the Holocaust as a toddler, was adopted by a New York couple, and then became a magazine writer out of college. When she realized that a couple of her friends had taken courses in Scientology (and acted bizarrely as a result), she decided to look into it for a possible magazine story. That 1969 magazine investigation turned into a 1971 book, The Scandal of Scientology.
And from the day her magazine story came out, Paulette became the target for an elaborate series of operations by Scientology’s “Guardian’s Office” that stretched well into the 1980s. At one point, in 1973, the Guardian’s Office had framed her for the crime of sending bomb threats to the New York Scientology org (even lifting her fingerprints to put on a piece of stationery), and she had been indicted and was facing 15 years in federal prison. She came close to killing herself that summer, but she managed to avoid prosecution and was eventually exonerated by the FBI. But Scientology’s complex schemes against her continued, as well as 19 lawsuits the church filed against her. We even found that a reporter on Scientology’s payroll was keeping tabs on her until at least 2010!
Paulette’s phone was tapped, her friends and family were targeted, and Scientology even sent in spies to live in her apartment building and to befriend her. And, incredibly, from May to September 1973, she even took in a roommate, not realizing that he was a Guardian’s Office operative. The total amount of resources that L. Ron Hubbard threw at this single woman in Manhattan over several decades is truly staggering.
But she survived it all, and she thrived. And she still keeps an active interest in what’s happening in the world of Scientology and supports the people who continue to investigate it.
And so we asked her for some thoughts on this week’s episode of Leah Remini’s show, titled “Fair Game.”
Here’s what she sent us.
I’m glad to see that “Fair Game” is being exposed. Maybe in the 1970’s if people believed that this existed, Scientology couldn’t have done what they did to me.
They’re still using a lot of the same techniques against Mike they used against me: Smears, photography, distorting the truth to discredit their enemies, having “friends” spy on SPs. But since Scientology faces so much more scrutiny now, and risks so much more exposure because of the Internet, they’re trying to stay within the law. With me they didn’t even try.
For example, the evidence of an illegal phone tap in my basement is not the same as a legal camera in a bird feeder down the street. And especially when they sent themselves bomb threats and blamed me, which was a double crime: Their sending it (even to themselves, it went through the mail) and then falsely accusing me.
Mike is so great to withstand being enemy number 1. Unfortunately for me I was number 1, 2, 3, etc., because no one else would really stand up to them in America.
It’s great that today an SP has a support system. Mike has so many people behind him who know that what he is saying is true and that these things really are being done to a Fair Game victim. In the 1970’s, without the Internet, when I said these sorts of things were being done to me, no one believed me.
They’re trying to break him emotionally and ruin his reputation, but they also tried to break me financially with 19 lawsuits — and it almost worked. Without the worry of litigation it’s easier to speak out.
I hope Mike’s Fair Game doesn’t last as long as mine — 15 years! But like Mike, I didn’t back down because I knew how bad Scientology was and that someone had to speak out and help those who were suffering.
I am glad to see him and Leah and Tony fighting to expose them, and continuing to do what I started. I am also pleased that there are now so many supporting the SPs by believing them and helping to spread their stories.
Thank you, Paulette. And a hearty wave to Paul Noble, who celebrated a birthday this week.
The guy behind Scientology’s Tennessee hellhole
Longtime readers will remember the horror stories we’ve told about two women who were sent to a Scientology-style rehab facility in rural Tennessee, Life Center for a New Tomorrow, that is run by a man named Marc Vallieres. A tipster pointed out that he’d found this interview of Vallieres spouting all sorts of Hubbardite psychobabble. While you listen to him, keep in mind the accounts we heard about Barbara Cordova Oliver and the disturbing story of “Candace,” and how they were warehoused by Scientology at this man’s facility.
Chris Shelton on ‘Scientology’
Steve Mango on celebrities and Scientology recruitment
Bonus items from our tipsters
Hey, more Christmas cheer from the Jesus-is-a-mental-implant people at Flag!
Go here to start making your plans.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield