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Scientology Mythbusting with Jon Atack: Fair Game!

ALSO, IN TODAY'S POST: Is there a subliminal message from Lisa Marie Presley on the back of this T-Shirt? See below!

ALSO IN TODAY’S POST: Is there a subliminal message from Lisa Marie Presley on the back of this T-Shirt? See below!

In 1990, author Jon Atack published what is still one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, A Piece of Blue Sky. Atack now has a new edition of the book out, and it reminded us what an encyclopedic resource he is. So we had an idea. In the world of Scientology watching, we noticed that there seem to be some legends, myths, and contested facts that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. With Atack’s help, we’re going to tackle these issues one by one, drawing on Jon’s deep knowledge and sharp sense of humor.

Jon, this week we wanted to ask you about one of Scientology’s most hurtful and notorious legacies — its history of going after people with what it calls “Fair Game.”

For decades, there is quite a well documented pattern of Scientology hiring thugs to harass, intimidate, and attempt to destroy people for so much as criticizing the church publicly. Where did this ruthless, cloak-and-dagger practice originate in Scientology?

JON: It comes from L. Ron Hubbard’s early idea that there are “merchants of chaos” who would later become “Suppressive Persons.” He formalised his harassment in The Scientologist: A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, in March 1955, where he says: “The DEFENSE of anything is UNTENABLE. The only way to defend anything is to ATTACK” (emphasis in original). Hubbard goes on to say that if anyone tries to practice Scientology without a license, they should be sued: “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win.” He adds: “The law can be used very easily to harass.”

THE BUNKER: What in Hubbard’s life do you think convinced him to write that? Was it just the time period, the McCarthy years, and he was absorbing that era’s paranoia? Or were there things in his life which convinced him that it was best to attack?

JON: He was paranoid from the outset. I think the attempt by Sara, his second wife, to have him restrained by psychiatry was significant (Lawrence Wright misses that one of the first Dianetics foundations was run by a psychologist, and initially Hubbard had no difficulties with that end of the profession). Hubbard’s application to the VA for psychiatric help in 1947 shows that he didn’t distrust psychiatrists back then, either. He later used the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) to attack both Sara and the man she was with after Hubbard, Miles Hollister. Given his generally drug-addled state, it is hard to pinpoint the exact moment, but Hubbard became convinced that anyone who criticised him was out to destroy him. Ultimately, he came to believe, as he wrote in Hymn of Asia (published in 1974, but written 1955-56), that the future of humanity depended upon him. It’s convolute:

See me dead
Then I will live forever
But you will
An Earth in flames
So deadly that
Not one will live
Fail once to stem a hand that smites
Against me and
I die

From the same text:

Appoint Amongst you
Some small few
To tell about me lies
And invent wicked Things
And spread out infamy
Abroad and Within
And to stand before
Our altars
And insult and
Lie and tell
Evil rumors about us all

Hubbard was an opportunist, willing to use any trick or trap to pull down an opponent.

THE BUNKER: One early Dianetics adherent was the very good science fiction writer A. E. Van Vogt. He later had a falling out with Hubbard. And we read recently that he may have been an early victim of Fair Game, which affected his career for several years. Do you know anything about that?

JON: Van Vogt told me that he was always treated kindly. He gave a glowing review of Battlefield Earth, but didn’t actually share Mitt Romney’s adulation for that text. He said he hadn’t read it, but that Hubbard was an old friend. He stopped writing when he met Dianetics — a terrible loss, as he was such a remarkable story teller. When the supernatural stuff started to appear, he set up his own shop — one lifetime only — which came to be known as Idenics. I’ll try to remember where I put his letters, to see if my memory serves me well.

The first case of Fair Game proper was Fred Hare, who was chased by a raving mob of Scientology staff members through the streets of East Grinstead [Hubbard’s headquarters from 1959 to 1966]. The Fair Game Law had just been developed as a spiritual technology, and this application was perhaps enthusiastic, though in his policy letter “The Responsibilities of Leaders,” Hubbard says quite clearly that it is best not to tell the leader about any necessary murders…

Fair Game is tangled up with the Ethics Conditions, and is really the lowest. It was called “sharkbait” on the ship [Hubbard ran Scientology from the yacht Apollo for most of 1967 to 1975], and overboarding was a form of punishment to cleanse away the suppressive taint. The images of overboarding from Auditor 41, proudly labelled “L. Ron Hubbard,” are still the most shocking and the legend — “bequeathed to the deep” is utterly bizarre. Hubbard’s sadism seems to be played down. I’m not sure if that isn’t because he managed to be perceived as a religious figure, rather than a mercenary narcissist with his own intelligence agency.


The Ethics Condition of Fair Game encourages believers to persecute non-believers in “any possible way,” which should lead to them either being “destroyed” or able to rise to Confusion on the scale. This is, of course, religious scripture, as approved by the theologians of the IRS (along with the scripture that says you must mix up your files before submitting them to the IRS — I’ll bet they didn’t realize they were mandating that when they accepted Scientology’s alpha male position.)

THE BUNKER: And what about Hubbard’s decision to rescind Fair Game? What prompted it, how should we read it, and what evidence was there that Hubbard himself continued to direct Fair Game operations after supposedly cancelling the policy?

JON: Hubbard did not rescind Fair Game, he merely said that the expression would no longer be used, because it generated bad public relations:


Saint Hill Manor, East Grinstead, Sussex




The practice of declaring people FAIR GAME will cease. FAIR GAME may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations.

This P/L does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP.


If former Scientology official Bill Franks is right — and I have every reason to believe that he is — Hubbard directed the fair gaming of author Paulette Cooper throughout the 1970s, long after the term Fair Game was withdrawn. The evidence is very clear that Paulette was subjected to every aspect of Fair Game — she was tricked, lied to, harassed, and sued.

At the Clearwater Hearings, in 1982, evidence was presented which clearly showed that Hubbard directed the Fair Game harassment of Ernie Hartwell. In the chapter Making Movies, in Blue Sky, we find:

A few days later, Ernie Hartwell was asked to sign a bond for $30,000, payable if he said anything bad about Scientology. Infuriated, Ernie pointed out that he had kept his part of every bargain, while the Scientologists had kept to none. He demanded a letter from them, saying they would leave him alone. After half-a-dozen futile meetings, the Scientologists raised their demands. Ernie was to sign a statement that he had been an alcoholic all his life, had abused his children, had been a poor father and provider, had murdered his father, and owed Scientology $60,000. The threats and harassment continued for several months. Even the FBI raids had failed to halt the excesses of the Guardian’s Office.

Eventually, worn down and scared half out of his wits, Ernie felt compelled to do exactly what the GO was trying to prevent. To protect himself and his wife, he went to the police and told them the whole story.

Somehow the GO persuaded a newspaper to run a story saying Ernie Hartwell had tried to extort money from Scientology. Television picked it up. Ernie was one man against a powerful organization. Eddie Walters, who was working for the Las Vegas GO at the time, has since confirmed the Hartwells’ claims of harassment. Another witness has testified that Hubbard himself ordered that Ernie Hartwell’s confessional folders be “culled” for anything reprehensible.

Indeed, there are many witnesses to the systematic “culling” of confessional folders throughout Scientology over a period of many years, with the purpose of finding material to blackmail individuals into conformity with Church objectives. Mary Sue Hubbard wrote an order in 1969 for the GO to use this as an information gathering tactic. During the making of the Tech films, most of the crew’s folders were similarly culled for potentially useful information.

I was subjected to Fair Game for a dozen years. I’ve recently heard that Scientologists in East Grinstead took taxis so that they could spread rumours about me through the local taxi drivers. But while I was active, my house was broken into twice, I was reported to any and every authority (curiously at exactly the same time as a friend, which rather exposed the culprit). In 1993, a defecting intelligence agent told me that there were five people in my circle who sent reports to the cult. These included my driver, who let the cult know that I had a legitimate search warrant for Saint Hill (luckily, I found out before we went), because a Scientologist had boasted that he had read my medical records, indicating that they had been stolen. A vicar was told that I had attempted murder and was a rapist. Private investigator Eugene Ingram traveled the world to collect information about me, using the standard “We’re collecting information about his criminal activities” line. He accused my parents, then in their seventies, of growing cannabis (he didn’t have Hubbard’s intimacy with tomatoes, it seems). In the US, I was followed for days on end by gun-toting private eyes. The list goes on for pages. But none of it was called “Fair Game,” because that causes bad public relations…

THE BUNKER: And still it goes on, as we’ve documented numerous times. Something tells us, after the dust settles on the church’s current crises, it will be its legacy of Fair Game that outlasts it.



As we pointed out the other day, Lisa Marie Presley is back in the news, but not for anything new. After we pointed out, in our Voice stories, that two of Lisa Marie’s songs from her new album Storm and Grace, left really no doubt that she’s ditched Scientology, other reporters were hearing from her that she was only able to do the album after she got away from the grasping influence of a lot of meddlers. She didn’t call them Scientologists, but the implication seemed obvious. Now, a journalist who was told the same thing at the time has written a new story for Dame magazine, and that has spurred a flurry of new stories at Perez Hilton and the E Channel, for example. Lisa Maria herself, however, has said nothing new, and has still not spoken specifically about Scientology. As we’ve pointed out numerous times, because she has family members still in the church, she will find it very hard to talk publicly about what seems obvious in her songs.

And now, perhaps, in her T-shirts as well.

Last night, MissWog, one of our regular readers, pointed out to the forum posters at the Ex-Scientologist Message Board that at her website, Lisa Marie is selling a T-shirt that has a mesmerizing word on its back.

Take a look for yourself. As MissWog points out, the lyric being quoted comes from Lisa Marie’s single, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet.” It reads, “You can think that I’m evil and I’m off the rails … you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

But the word “evil” is highly stylized, and MissWog and others are saying that they can also see it as the word “cult.” They wonder if there’s supposed to be a subliminal message here, of an “evil cult.” What do you think?


Well, we’re not sure. But if it is a playful game from Lisa Marie, it might be as much as we’re going to get from her until she is no longer in the position of losing contact with her own family members because of the toxic church policy of “disconnection.”



Hey, check out the new Ex-Scientology Kids! Jenna Miscavige Hill has revamped the site that she, Astra Woodcraft, and Kendra Wiseman started back in 2008. It sure looks sharp, and we’re honored that one of the featured stories is one we did at the Voice about Valeska Paris.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 22, 2013 at 07:00


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