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SMERSH Madness: Sowing the Seeds of World Domination!

[Illustration by Ellis Rosen]

Our readers were so stunned in January by the publicity surrounding the publication of books about Scientology by John Sweeney and Lawrence Wright, they renamed the month “BLAMuary.” And then came FLAPuary, when Jenna Miscavige Hill’s book only made things bumpier.

How could March possibly keep up? With brackets, of course! After the jump, check out the seedings as we begin a tournament that asks you to determine the ultimate arch-enemy of the Church of Scientology!

For some of our longtime readers, you’ll remember how much fun it was to read about SMERSH in L. Ron Hubbard’s daily dispatches — his “Orders of the Day” — which he produced on the yacht Apollo in the late 1960s and early 1970s. An actual Red Army counter-espionage unit that operated from 1942 to 1946, SMERSH later showed up in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels (replaced by SPECTRE in the films), but Hubbard told his followers that SMERSH had actually continued on to become a shadow world government that was the only thing standing in the way of Scientology’s global takeover.

So in honor of SMERSH, we’re holding this tournament to see who today is doing the most to smash Scientology’s hopes for planetary “clearing.” Naturally, we’ve chosen not only the journalists and ex-church members who are doing the most to publicize Scientology’s abuses, but also the people inside Scientology who continue to pull the church down in its steady decline.

We’ve seeded these 32 merchants of chaos in an order that won’t please anyone, but that’s where you come in — these contenders are only going to move to the next level based on your votes. And we demand some upsets!






Yes, we know there will be no agreement about our rankings, but now it’s your turn. Let’s start round one with our first matchup…


We’ve given the Commodore first seed out of tradition, mostly. L. Ron Hubbard is the founder of the feast, the man who captivated readers in 1950 with his “science” that considered the human mind a malfunctioning mainframe computer gripped by demonic possession. He was also the cranky old paranoiac who, hacked off from the hardships of life at sea and tired of running and hiding from federal agents, instilled Scientology with such lovely ideas as brutal interrogations (“sec-checking”), dirty tricks retaliation (“fair game”), and splitting up families to punish defectors (“disconnection”). Still beloved by many who ardently believe he cracked the cosmic code, Hubbard’s unalterable legacy is still very much part of what is dragging Scientology into dangerous waters.

As Steve Cannane proved just this week, he’s Australia’s most aggressive journalist on the Scientology beat. At ABC’s Lateline, he broke the Valeska Paris story in 2011, and this week he told the disturbing story of Alice Wu, a Taiwanese woman whose family says she was held against her will by Scientologists in Sydney. Serious, thorough, and fearless, Cannane is the kind of TV reporter we’d like to see here in America.

So now, who would you like to see go through to the second round? Think carefully, and cast your vote!

(After exactly 24 hours, Hubbard defeated Cannane by a single vote.)


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 1, 2013 at 07:00


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