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His words are wise, his face is beard: 10 years ago, Anonymous got some good advice

 
Ten years ago, at 2 in the morning on January 27, 2008, Mark Bunker uploaded a 9-minute video he’d made after a long day of work.

Two weeks before, on January 14, Bunker had made a little history by posting another 9-minute video, one featuring Tom Cruise talking about what it was like to be a Scientologist which had been leaked out of the church and ended up in Bunker’s hands. That video (which had actually been recorded in 2004) went nuts on YouTube, and the church reacted by trying to get it yanked down with various legal threats.

Offended by what they perceived as Scientology’s censorship of information on the Internet, the Anonymous movement then struck back with a video of its own on January 21 as DDOS attacks took down numerous Scientology websites.

Alarmed by some of the tactics that Anonymous was using in its sudden war with Scientology, Bunker decided to say something. The result was his message to Anonymous, which itself garnered a lot of attention and won Bunker a new nickname: Wise Beard Man.

Watching the video again for the first time in nearly ten years, we’re struck by how much has happened since then — this was before “The Truth Rundown” and Going Clear and of course Scientology and the Aftermath — but also how timely Bunker’s words still are.

He’s right: The best way to expose Scientology’s controversies and abuses is by spreading information, and doing so as forthrightly and honestly as possible. A lesson for us all.

So here’s the video, a transcript of it, and then some thoughts from Bunker himself.

 

Hi, this is Mark Bunker from XenuTV. I’ve been hearing from a lot of members of Anonymous and a lot of other people asking me, well, what do you think about Anonymous? And I thought it was kind of important to talk about this. First off, I think it’s incredibly exciting to have an army of young, passionate people wanting to do something about Scientology’s fraud and abuse. It really is exciting. However, I think you’re making some major mistakes that are going to hurt in the long run. They’re going to make you look bad, they’re going to get you in trouble, they’re going to get us in trouble — those of us who have been longtime critics of Scientology. Scientology is good at tar-and-feathering us with other people’s actions. Keith Henson was a critic of Scientology — he still is. A few years ago he responded to a post on alt.religion.scientology, the newsgroup. Somebody had made a joke about “Tom Cruise missiles” aimed at Scientology’s desert compound. Keith responded to that post. At the same time he was doing daily pickets of Scientology’s compound in Hemet, California. They got him arrested. They got him sent to jail. He just recently got out of jail. It may seem like fun and games, but Scientology is serious, and you have to be prepared. You can say, “well, we’re all anonymous they’re not going to get us, if they get one of us there’ll be ten others who stand up” — well, that’s good for you, but how about the ones who get caught? I am concerned about that. I’m mainly concerned because you shouldn’t be doing things that are illegal. You just shouldn’t. It’s not morally right, and it’s not right when Scientology does it, it’s not right when we do it. But there are some things that were on your website that thankfully are down now. I looked at your site the other day and I saw that there were suggestions that people go to the orgs and put bleach in the gas tanks of cars parked outside the orgs. Or cut the wires underneath the cars. Or go inside the building and flush rubber gloves down the toilets to plug up the sewer systems. These are just wrong, morally and legally. And it’s going to tar the entire group of you if you push for these type of things. And I see those particular tactics are down. But you’re still attacking Scientology’s website, all their websites. And can I see where that can be fun. I mean, for those people who are computer literate and can do this, I can see how it can feel satisfying in the moment. But it’s not right. It’s the type of stuff they do to us as critics. And we shouldn’t be doing it back to them. I’m not afraid of anybody hearing what Scientology has to say, or reading anything that Scientology puts out to read, including their attack website on me. They have a site called Religious Freedom Watch which you have shut down. And frankly, as critics we prefer to have it remain up because it is so wild-eyed and defamatory that no one can take it seriously. It does more damage to Scientology when it’s up than it does when it’s down. I don’t know how long you can keep attacking their websites and keep their sites down. You may be able to do it for weeks or months — you’re not going to keep them off the ‘net forever. But a better way to attack them would be try to get rid of their tax exempt status — that’s going to hurt them. How do you do that? Well, in my phone I have programmed my senators, my congressman, the White House, I can call them anytime I want to immediately and talk them about these things. They also have offices in your area. You can go to their office. Get a group of you together and go to visit your congressman or your senator. And take with them information, give it to them, and demand action. Now, if a whole lot of people do this, if you have 30,000 people out there who are doing this, maybe somebody will pay attention. I’m going to give you a link in the description of the video — just look up there, I think it’s up there — and you’ll see a link to Dave Touretzky’s page on IRS, Scientology versus the IRS. You can see how Scientology sued the IRS aggressively to get their tax-exempt status. And there are things about it that are worth a second look by our government, things that are just wrong. Things like the fact that field staff managers, FSMs, get a commission off of religious donations. When they bring somebody into Scientology and those people pay for courses, they get a commission from those courses. A commission off of a religious donation, and that’s tax-deductible someway? Let’s do something about that. Now I know that doesn’t sound anywhere near as interesting as attacking their websites. It sounds dull. But that’s going to hurt them. Going out on the street and protesting, handing out leaflets — I saw a couple people in a video in Manhattan the other day who were doing that. Wonderful. That’s wonderful. Speak out, be strong, and do it smart. Don’t do things that are illegal. Call up your local radio stations, everywhere, and say, we’d like you to talk about Scientology — why don’t you do an hour on that and book Tory Christman, who was in Scientology for 30 years. Or Professor Dave Touretzky, who is about the best around at explaining Scientology and all their various front groups. Or former members like Arnie Lerma. Or Jeff Jacobsen, who’s very knowledgeable. Or me. Call your stations, get them to talk about Scientology. The more people who talk about it the better. The more people who are exposed to the truth about Scientology the better. And that’s where you can really make a difference. It’s exciting when people can go out and just spread the word. Go to Andreas Heldal-Lund’s website, Xenu.net. And on his page, on his website there’s a page on how to support the fight. Click on that. He’s going to give you a lot of good ideas on how to take part in this legally, peacefully, and do it the right way. It’s very important. And this is going to sound incredibly self-serving and there’s no other way to do it — one other way you can help, buy my DVDs. I have a lot of my videos out on DVD. They’re cheap, they’re affordable. If all of you buy my DVDs, I’ll be able to raise the money to do a feature-length documentary really exposing Scientology. You don’t have to do that, of course. I’m not suggesting “stop doing what you’re doing and buy my DVD because I want to make money.” But this would be a good way to actually get the funding together to do a solid documentary that will really explore Scientology. For close to 10 years now I’ve been fighting Scientology on the Internet through streaming video. I’ve always given away my videos for free and I continue to do that, and I want you to take the videos that are on my website and spread them around to every place that you can. Get your friends together, if they haven’t watched “The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard,” make them watch it. If they by some chance they haven’t seen South Park, they need to watch South Park. There’s lots of video from the decades past, showing you why people need to speak out about Scientology. Get those out there. Get the word out there. But do it peacefully, do it legally, please, and don’t tarnish your reputation. If you do this the right way, you can make a big difference. Taking down their websites right now is not going to do much except make Scientology really want to get to the bottom of who’s doing it, and it’s going to get you in trouble. I don’t know, maybe, I don’t know if this makes any sense to you or not. I wish you luck, and please, please, please, reform your group the way we want Scientology to reform their group, and life will be wonderful. Thanks so much. I’ll see you at Xenu.TV.

We asked Mark for his thoughts on this auspicious anniversary. And here’s what he sent us…

I just watched it again for the first time in years with a knot in my stomach at what I might have said and was relieved that there weren’t too many missteps. That video was shot at 2 a.m. after I came home from my night shift at XETV in San Diego. All week long the world had gone nuts over the Tom Cruise tape. It was everywhere. On every TV channel, every website, being talked about on the radio and by people in the streets all over the globe. On Friday night, I collapsed on my couch and as 20/20 started playing their opening credits and Cruise’s face appeared, it was only then that I took a moment to glance over at my desk and tell myself, “Damn, that tape came out of that computer,” and the enormity of it sunk in.

I made this video out of concern for the people in the orgs as well as for the members of Anonymous who might not know what they were getting into. I had little to go on for info on Anonymous other than one L.A.-based Fox TV news report which painted Anonymous as a dangerous terrorist group. I was worried that by addressing them, they might turn their wrath on me, but that didn’t turn out to be the case.

To my utter surprise, they understood my message. They quickly adopted me as a kind of Obi Wan Kenobi, dubbing me Wise Beard Man. I offered some further suggestions for peaceful protests; rules that Jeff Jacobsen had been advocating for years. When the media wanted to talk to someone from the group, they asked me to speak about them so they could remain anonymous. But it was very clear that they didn’t need my help. They very quickly got up to speed and set out to chart their own course, taking on Scientology in their own loopy but determined way. They mixed fun with facts and threw in some caek.

A few weeks into their efforts, they launched their first global picket and around ten thousand people turned out in cities across the world to peacefully protest Scientology. They built websites and spread fliers and gave speeches and scared the hell out of Scientology’s leaders who had no idea how to bully or intimidate a huge, amorphous, leaderless group of people with no names, all wearing the same Guy Fawkes mask. People had been protesting Scientology since Scientology was formed but never on this scale. And Anonymous added costumes and themes and brought street theater to their events.

As the months wore on, the numbers dwindled but that was to be expected. Some were in it just for the lulz. But others came to see that there was a real reason to take action and help those being abused by Scientology and they continued to protest, to flood the net with terrific videos and build websites and help the cause. I admit I am not an expert on Anonymous but I’ve met hundreds of them at pickets across the globe and talked to thousands in e-mail, on YouTube and elsewhere on the net. They come from all walks of life and while many are young, net-savvy students, Anonymous spans all age groups.

Ten years later, people still will address me as Wise Beard Man. For a brief spell I became a meme. Slogans popped up along with amusing images. Someone turned me into a puppet and created a bizarre series of videos featuring me, Tory Christman and Carol Channing. It was all very surreal. I was amused, shocked and proud to have played a tiny little part in this continuing saga.

Co-workers Google me and surprise me with a “Hi, Wise Beard Man.” There’s a little buzzing as the word spreads around. It gives me a chance to share more info on why those who came before me (and those who follow me) have good reason to speak out about Scientology’s fraud and abuse. I’ve slowed down some, others have picked up the slack. Such is the way of life. I’ve had my heart overhauled and have more energy and feel better all the time. And don’t worry, someday I’ll get the movie done.

So says WBM.

 
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Jeffrey Augustine talks to Katrina Reyes, part 2

 

 
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Make your plans now!

Head over to our HowdyCon 2018 website to start making your travel plans!

 

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,007 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,610 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 153 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,216 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,990 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,764 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,110 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,604 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,644 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,356 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 882 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,971 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,111 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,431 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,406 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 762 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,064 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,170 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,573 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,445 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,027 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,532 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,776 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,885 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 27, 2018 at 07:00

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 can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

 

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