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A dispatch from the front: Protesting Scientology’s anti-psych quackery

There’s always been strong interest in Scientology’s controversies from concerned Canadians. We’ve written at length about some of them, and we’ve noticed an uptick in Canadian activism at Facebook in recent months. One of our longtime readers, M.C. Mayo, who goes by EmmaDaoust here at the Bunker, sent us an interesting dispatch from her adventures this weekend after she learned that Scientology’s unhinged anti-psychiatry front group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), was opening a display at a public library in Toronto. We thought you’d want to see her account.

Mark Lawson found the event posted on the CCHR Canada Facebook page. Some of the Facebook group Canada Against Scientology posted comments there, which were of course eventually deleted. Mark put out a call for protesters and a few of us signed up.

There were no notices about the event posted in the library proper – until the day of the opening – and it wasn’t listed on the library website.

I submitted a customer Feedback form at the library information desk. I received a boilerplate email reply from Beth Kawecki, Manager, Venue & Community Space Rentals, Service Development and Innovation. Here was her reply…

Thank you for taking the time to raise your concerns with Toronto Public Library. We cannot deny bookings from the community or organizations that are in accordance with the law and the library’s room booking policies….To deny access to library spaces on the basis of the views or opinions held by individuals or groups contravenes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the principles of intellectual freedom, both cornerstones of the library’s mission and values. The event in question is an external third-party room booking and is not endorsed or sponsored by the Library.

Mark and I went to the ribbon-cutting Friday evening. There was a fairly small event poster beside the elevator. It’s TIFF time – Toronto International Film Festival. The poster read “Film Festival on Psychiatry: Multimedia Exhibit,” an obvious attempt at piggybacking on TIFF, and “Come in and view award winning documentary.” No one would say what award it was. And several of the attendees, including Mark and me, expected it to be an actual documentary film with a beginning and end. Yvette said later, “Oh no, we have documented everything about psychiatry. This is the document. Each topic has its own documentary film on its own screen.”

It was slated to start at 5 pm, but didn’t get going until after 5:30. It was held in the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon, a huge, stunning venue used for weddings and literary events.

There were about 60 chairs set up for the speeches. They kept removing them as no one was coming in. There were 30 people in attendance, all Scientologists but for four people involved in the ribbon-cutting, Mark and me, and a couple of walk-ins. There was much moving of people to fill chairs and remove empty ones. There was a videographer and 2 photographers.

Yvette Shank, the Scientology public affairs director, became my best friend. She said we should sit in the front row because the event was being videotaped and would be shown worldwide, so we’d be famous. We ended up in the back row.

Yvette spoke, introducing a Mormon elder from the Cambridge, Ontario area. He was there on Saturday as well; they have a long, tight relationship. Then Bob Dobson-Smith, Pres CCHR Canada, spoke. Then the ribbon-cutting to open the exhibit, with the Mormon, Yvette, Dobson-Smith, and a man and 5-year-old girl in costume from 6 Nations reserve near Brantford, Ontario.

On Saturday, I arrived before 2 pm and there were three Scientology “body routers” outside handing out postcards. Two security guards went outside at 2 pm, obviously awaiting our protest. A police car passed by. By 3 pm, I’d been joined by Mark and another companion.

Two of the women body routers went back into the library upstairs to the event room around 3 pm, leaving one man. He was replaced by an older woman. One of their photographers came out and took pictures of her. I got a photo of them. When I went out to set up she called out to me about the exhibit, and I went over and said “I was up there last night, remember?” She grinned and said “Oh great!” And then when she saw me pull out my posters around the corner, she scurried into the library. Security came back out. Several Scientologists came down and stood in the lobby watching us. Some came out and circled around, avoiding us. Cameras came out. The two outdoor security guards – they had bulletproof vests on and I’m sure were specially requested by Scientology – were joined by four other regular security guards (no vests). They all stood in the lobby and watched us. I smiled and waved. I was sitting on my mobility walker, about as threatening as a dumpling. I didn’t wear a mask. My two friends did. No one came out to speak to us. Later, the head of security came out and I said hello. Mark stated that we were OK standing on the sidewalk, the guard said he wasn’t telling us to move.

Body routers – including Scientology management – apparently were down at the corner of Yonge & Bloor, a block from the library, one of the busiest intersections in the city. Mark saw one young woman heading into the library with a flier in her hand and started to explain that it was a Scientology exhibit. Five minutes later, the head of security came back out and told us we were not to stop anyone going into the library. I asked if the young woman, or anyone, had complained. He said no one complained, except Scientology was watching us through glasses from upstairs, and that they had complained to him. I made the point that we were not at fault if anyone approached us and asked us questions, we were just not to detain anyone going into the library.

We had some good responses from the public passing by. Many thumbs up. We had probably 30 people stop and talk for a few minutes and ask questions. Many didn’t know anything about Scientology. Some asked the usual about Cruise or Travolta. Several said they had a friend who’d been burned. A young couple stopped and the fellow said his friend had been the head of the Toronto org in the ’70s and was scapegoated by Scientology when the Canadian “Snow White’ went down, and he spent years in court. Didn’t get his name. There was a large rush of people as the library closed at 5 pm (the exhibit was open until 9 pm – only to Scientologists though, as the building proper was closed).

A cluster of library staff came out and stopped when they saw us. They said they had no idea at all that this was going on in their workplace. I told them I’d spoken to their boss. One of the women said she and her husband watch Leah’s show, and that if he had known, he would have been protesting with us.

A female security guard was walking by, I don’t think she was from the library, but from another building. She noticed my signs of Scientology Suicides & Deaths and was quite disturbed by it. She spoke with us for a couple of minutes, then said that her husband had just committed suicide two weeks ago and walked away. We gave her our condolences. It was very sad and quite odd.

Many of the Scientologists also streamed out at 5 pm. We greeted them and said goodbye, with no response. I saw a couple of men who looked like private investigators. Some of them I saw later at the corner of Yonge & Bloor, still handing out fliers, talking to people. I don’t know where their big van was parked.

The three of us went our separate ways. I walked down Yonge Street to see the decaying Toronto org. There was an older large man sitting in the alcove outside the building with a table full of Dianetics. He waved at a woman across the street and she was mystified, but waved back. I waved at him. I have a fuzzy photo of him.

For me, the most disturbing thing that happened over the weekend was speaking to a young woman who wandered in looking for the “documentary film.” She’s a holistic nutrition student and is against psych meds, believing mental illness could be treated with diet. One Scientologist glommed onto her, and she was starry-eyed. Idealistic, naive, sweet, maybe 20 years old. We had hoped to talk to her later but were unable to.

One final note: CCHR is doing a protest march (at the corner of Yonge & Queen’s Quay West) on Saturday, September 29 at 10 am, against the Canadian Psychiatric Association conference at the Westin Harbour Castle hotel.

— M.C. Mayo

And here are some videos of the event posted by Mark Lawson…

 

 
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Ideal, and preferably invisible

Scientology leader David Miscavige is determined to turn every org in the world “Ideal,” but he’s also increasingly doing his best to keep it as much on the down low as possible.

This weekend, a new Ideal Org had its grand opening in Stuttgart, Germany as quietly as possible. We have very few details about it, at least until Scientology itself starts posting its photos of the event.

We do know that big-time donor Tom Cummins made the scene, so it must have been a whale of a party…

 

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Wishing your money away…

 

 
Meanwhile, at Scientology Facebook…

 

 
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MEANWHILE, AT FACEBOOK…

 

 
Please join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,233 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,836 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 379 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 267 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,442 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,216 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,990 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,336 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,902 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,570 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,830 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,870 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,582 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,108 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,197 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,337 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,657 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,513 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,632 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 988 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,290 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,396 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,799 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,670 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,253 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,758 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,002 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,111 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 10, 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

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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