"Don't ever defend.
Always attack"
Scientology's attitude to criticism



"The reactions of individuals and groups to criticism varies from grateful acceptance, or amused tolerance, at one end of the scale to a sense of outrage and vindictive counter-attack on the other. Perhaps unfortunately (especially for its adherents) Scientology falls at the hyper-sensitive end of the scale. Judging from the documents, this would seem to have its origin in a personality trait of Mr. Hubbard, whose attitude to critics is one of extreme hostility. One can take the view that anyone whose attitude to criticism is such as Mr. Hubbard displays in his writings cannot be too surprised if the world treats him with suspicion rather than affection."

[Sir John Foster, Report of the Enquiry into the Practice and Effects of Scientology (1971), p. 127]

Sir John Foster's perceptive words remain as true today as when they were first written over 25 years ago. Scientology has made it clear on numerous occasions that (as officials have put it) "it is not a turn-the-other-cheek religion." L. Ron Hubbard's death in 1986 has not led to a more tolerant attitude towards criticism - quite the opposite, as critics and publishers continue to be sued, attacked and harassed by Scientology and its paid agents. The policies instigated by Hubbard have now been set in stone as part of the so-called unalterable "scriptures" of Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard's paranoia

Years before Hubbard created either Dianetics or Scientology, anecdotal accounts suggest that he already was a very thin-skinned person. Those who knew him in his heyday as a pulp fiction writer in the 1930s noted his intemperate reaction to sceptics:
"One evening [in 1934], Frank Gruber [a friend of Hubbard and fellow pulp fiction writer], sat through a long account of his experiences in the Marine Corps, his exploration of the upper Amazon and his years as a white hunter in Africa. At the end of it he asked with obvious sarcasm: 'Ron, you're eighty-four years old aren't you?'

'What the hell are you talking about?' Ron snapped.

Gruber waved a notebook in which he had been jotting figures. 'Well,' he said, 'you were in the Marines seven years, you were a civil engineer for six years, you spent four years in Brazil, three in Africa, you barnstormed with your own flying circus for six years... I've just added up all the years you did this and that and it comes to eighty-four.'

Ron was furious that his escapades should be openly doubted. 'He blew his tack,' said Gruber. He would react in the same way at the [American Fiction] Guild lunches if someone raised an eyebrow when he was in full flow. Most of the other members expected their yarns to be taken with a pinch of salt, but not Ron. It was almost as if he believed his own stories."

[Russell Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah (1987), p.67; Frank Gruber, The Pulp Jungle (1967)]

In the late 1940s, Hubbard evidently suffered a period of acute mental distress; he wrote on 15 October 1947 to the Veterans Administration, requesting psychiatric treatment for "moroseness and suicidal inclinations." It is unclear whether he actually received any such treatment. His development of Dianetics in 1948-49 may have been an attempt to cure himself of his mental problems, but although it certainly made his name (and a lot of money) the strains probably worsened his state of mind. Hubbard faced many organisational problems, a hostile press and medical profession and political clashes within the Dianetics Foundation between those who favoured a scientific approach and those (such as himself) who veered more towards pseudoscience and mysticism. As if this was not enough, his four-year marriage with Sara Northrup Hubbard was on the verge of collapse.

In 1950, he took a lover - Barbara Klowdan, a 20-year-old psychology major. She soon recognised that he was, in her words, "a deeply disturbed man" who displayed all the symptoms of "a manic depressive with paranoid tendencies." She later recalled:

"He was highly paranoid and would be rushing along the street with me and I would say, "Why are you walking so fast?" He'd look over his shoulder and say, "Don't you know what it's like to be a target?"

At all times he thought the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association and CIA had hit men after him... he thought everyone was after him. This was long before the IRS was after him. No one was after him at that time, but he certainly had delusions.

When I went to work for him he had hired somebody who had been in the police department. He gave everyone who worked for him a lie detector test asking if he had designs on his life."

[Barbara Klowdan, interview with Russell Miller, 28 July 1986]

This paranoia deepened in later years. By the mid-1960s, Hubbard was convinced that he faced a sinister international conspiracy (the "Tenyaka Memorial") masterminded by the psychiatric profession, who organized attacks on Scientology through the IRS, the FBI, the CIA, the KGB, the American Medical Association, the World Federation of Mental Health, the Bank of England, Interpol and others. His paranoia has since become a fundamental and deeply-rooted element of Scientology (see the 8 October 1993 speech of Hubbard's successor, David Miscavige, for a prime example). Hubbard's paranoia came through in much of his work, particularly visibly in the example of the tape "Ron's Journal '67", still a compulsory part of a Scientologist's training. In it he states:
"... I found after the southern African matter that it was vitally necessary that I isolate who it was on this planet that was attacking us. The attacks were all of the same pattern, they always followed the same newspaper routes, they always used the same type of parliamentary member and I thought that I had better look into this very thoroughly. The organisation ... employed several professional intelligence agents ... [who] looked into this matter for us and their results ... have told us all that we needed to know with regard to any enemy we have on this planet.

Our enemies are less than twelve men. They are members of the Bank of England and other higher financial circles. They own and control newspaper chains and they, oddly enough, spin [sic] all the mental health groups in the world that had sprung up.

Now these chaps are very interesting fellows, they have fantastically corrupt backgrounds, illegitimate children, government graft - a very unsavoury lot - and they apparently some time in the very distant past had determined upon a course of action. Being in control of most of the gold supplies on the planet, they entered on a programme of bringing every government to bankruptcy and under their thumb, so that no government would be able to act politically without their permission.

The rest of their apparent programme was to use mental health, which is to say psychiatric electric shock and pre-frontal lobotomy, to remove from their path any political dissenters, and they were the people behind the Siberia Bill, which almost passed the House of Representatives in the United States and did pass, if I remember rightly, the Senate, which gave the power to any governor of any state in the United States simply to pick up anyone on the street and send him to Alaska. We defeated this Siberia Bill and many other mental health, quote-unquote, Acts of this character but never really before knew from whom they were coming ...

... These fellows have gotten nearly every government in the world to owe them considerable quantities of money through various chicaneries and they control, of course, income tax, government finance - [Harold] Wilson, for instance, the current Premier of England, is totally involved with these fellows and talks about nothing else actually. They organise these mental health groups which sprung up simultaneously all over the world and anything that has mental health in it - in its name - or mental hygiene or other things of that character - such names as that - are part of the organisation which stems from these from these less than a dozen greedy men."

[Hubbard, "Ron's Journal '67"]

Hubbard's opposition to civil rights

Hubbard's moral orientation had never been particularly clear - L. Sprague du Camp, the science fiction writer, recalled that before the Second World War some had thought him a fascist, others believing him to be profoundly liberal. It gradually became clear in the 1950s that he lacked what might be termed "conventional" morality. In particular, he despised the concepts of democracy and human rights. In Hubbard's 1951 book, Science of Survival, he wrote about people on the lower end of the "tone scale" which he had devised - a list of human emotional states ranging from 0.0 (death), to 40.0 (godlike).
"There are only two answers for the handling of people from 2.0 down on the tone scale, neither one of which has anything to do with reasoning with them or listening to their justification of their acts. The first is to raise them on the tone scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without sorrow. Adders are safe bedmates compared to people on the lower bands of the tone scale. Not all the beauty nor the handsomeness nor artificial social value nor property can atone for the vicious damage such people do to sane men and women. The sudden and abrupt deletion of all individuals occupying the lower bands of the tone scale from the social order would result in an almost instant rise in the cultural tone and would interrupt the dwindling spiral into which any society may have entered.

It is not necessary to produce a world of clears in order to have a reasonable and worthwhile social order; it is only necessary to delete those individuals who range from 2.0 down, either by processing them enough to get their tone level above the 2.0 line - a task which, indeed, is not very great, since the amount of processing in many cases might be under fifty hours, although it might also in others be in excess of two hundred - or simply quarantining them from the society. A Venezuelan dictator once decided to stop leprosy. He saw that most lepers in his country were also beggars. By the simple expedient of collecting and destroying all the beggars in Venezuela an end was put to leprosy in that country."

[Hubbard, Science of Survival (1951), p. 157]

This passage is worth quoting at length, as it illustrates a key point in Hubbard's view of "ethics": only "honest people" deserve rights. It is a point reiterated in his 1967 book Introduction to Scientology Ethics:
"As the society runs, prospers and lives solely through the efforts of social personalities, one must know them as they, not the anti-social, are the worthwhile people. These are the people who must have rights and freedom."

[Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics (1967)]

By "anti-social personalities" and "dishonest people" Hubbard meant those who commit "Suppressive Acts" by criticising Scientology. Suppressive Acts, he wrote, are
"clearly those covert or overt acts knowingly calculated to reduce or destroy the influence or activities of Scientology or prevent case gains or continued Scientology success and activity on the part of a Scientologist. As persons or groups that would do such a thing act out of self-interest only to the detriment of all others, they cannot be granted the rights and beingness ordinarily accorded rational beings."

[Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics (1967)]

In short, civil rights should only be granted to those who do not criticise Scientology. This consideration is what lies behind Scientology's infamous "Fair Game Law".

Fair Game

"A Suppressive Person or Group becomes 'Fair Game'. By Fair Game is meant, without right for self, possessions or position, and no Scientologist may be brought before a Committee of Evidence or punished for any action taken against a Suppressive Person or Group during the period that person or group is 'fair game'."

[Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics (1967)]

This is far from being a theoretical sanction and has been applied to critics and dissident Scientologists on many occasions. Perhaps the clearest example is that of Amprinistics, a group founded in 1965 by a group of breakaway Scientologists. Hubbard wrote a directive of breathtaking ruthlessness on how to deal with the dissidents:
"They are each fair game, can be sued or harassed ...

(2) Harass these persons in any possible way...

(4) Tear up any meeting held and get the names of those attending and issue SP orders on them and you'll have lost a lot of rats."

[Hubbard, "Amprinistics", HCO Executive Letter of 27 September 1965]

"Fair Game" was supposedly cancelled in October 1968, as follows:
"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."

[Hubbard, "Cancellation of Fair Game", HCO Policy Letter 21 October 1968]

As this letter makes clear, though, the only thing cancelled was the publication of Fair Game orders, not the policy itself. This was confirmed in 1981 in the trial of Jane Kember (Guardian World-Wide) and Mo Budlong (Deputy Guardian for Information World-Wide), the second of the two cases arising out of the Operation Snow White scandal:
"Defendants, through one of their attorneys, have stated that the fair game policy continued in effect well after the indictment in this case and the conviction of the first nine co-defendants. Defendants claim that the policy was abrogated by the Church's Board of Directors in late July or early August, 1980, only after the defendants' personal attack on Judge Richey [the presiding judge in the trial of Mary Sue Hubbard et al]."

[Sentencing Memorandum of the United States of America, USA v Kember & Budlong, US District Court or the District of Columbia Criminal No. 78.401(2) & (3)]

Finally - and this is not mentioned at all by Scientology spokesmen - the policy letter supposedly cancelling Fair Game was itself cancelled on the orders of the current Scientology leadership, in HCO Policy Letter of 8 September 1983, "Cancellation of Issues on Suppressive Acts and PTSness" (the most recently published policy on Fair Game). The policy has thus been restored in all its unpleasantness.

Suppressive Acts

At least as worrying as Scientology's disdain for the concept of universal civil rights is the wide scope of "offences" which the organization regards as "Suppressive Acts":
  1. Public disavowal of Scientology or Scientologists in good standing with Scientology organizations;
  2. Public statements against Scientology or Scientologists but not to Committees of Evidence duly convened;
  3. Proposing, advising or voting for legislation or ordinances, rules or laws directed toward the suppression of Scientology;
  4. Pronouncing Scientologists guilty of the practice of standard Scientology;
  5. Testifying hostilely before state or public inquiries into Scientology to suppress it;
  6. Reporting or threatening to report Scientology or Scientologists to civil authorities in an effort to suppress Scientology or Scientologists from practicing or receiving standard Scientology;
  7. Bringing civil suit against any Scientology organization or Scientologist including the nonpayment of bills or failure to refund without first calling the matter to the attention of the Chairman at Saint Hill and receiving a reply;
  8. Demanding the return of any or all fees paid for standard training or processing actually received or received in part and still available but undelivered only because of departure of the person demanding (the fees must be refunded but this policy letter applies);
  9. Writing anti-Scientology letters to the press or giving anti-Scientology or anti-Scientologist evidence to the press;
  10. Testifying as a hostile witness against Scientology in public;
  11. Continued membership in a divergent group;
  12. Continued adherence to a person or group pronounced a Suppressive Person or Group by HCO;
  13. Failure to handle a person demonstrably guilty of Suppressive Acts;
  14. Being at the hire of anti-Scientology groups or persons;
  15. Organizing a splinter group to use Scientology data or any part of it to distract people from standard Scientology;
  16. Organizing splinter groups to diverge from Scientology practices, still calling it Scientology or calling it something else;
  17. Calling meetings of staffs or field auditors or the public to deliver Scientology into the hands of unauthorized persons or (persons) who will suppress it or alter it or who have no reputation for following standard lines and procedures;
  18. Infiltrating a Scientology group or organization or staff to stir up discontent or protest at the instigation of hostile forces;
  19. First degree murder, arson, disintegration of persons or belongings not guilty of suppressive acts;
  20. Mutiny;
  21. Seeking to splinter off an area of Scientology and deny it properly constituted authority for personal profit, personal power or "to save the organization from the higher officers of Scientology";
  22. Engaging in malicious rumor-mongering to destroy the authority or repute of higher officers or the leading names of Scientology or to "safeguard" a position;
  23. Delivering up the person of a Scientologist without defense or protest to the demands of civil or criminal law;
  24. Falsifying records that then imperil the liberty or safety of a Scientologist;
  25. Knowingly giving false testimony to imperil a Scientologist;
  26. Receiving money, favors or encouragement to suppress Scientology or Scientologists;
  27. Sexual or sexually perverted conduct contrary to the well-being or good state of mind of a Scientologist in good standing or under the charge of Scientology such as a student, a preclear, a ward or a patient;
  28. Blackmail of Scientologists or Scientology organizations threatened or accomplished - in which case the crime being used for blackmail purposes becomes fully outside the reach of Ethics and is absolved by the fact of blackmail unless repeated.

[Hubbard, Introduction to Scientology Ethics (1967)]

The implications of this list of offences were spelled out by Lord Justice Stephenson in 1971, in a case before the English Court of Appeal:
"'Suppressive acts' include 'proposing, advising or voting for legislation or ordinances, rules or laws directed toward the Suppression of Scientology . . .' So that if a voter in this country were to have the temerity to cast a vote in a Parliamentary election for a candidate who had indicated that he was minded to propose legislation which would 'suppress' Scientology, that person would be guilty in the eyes of this organisation of having committed 'a suppressive act'. Again, 'testifying hostilely before state or public enquiries into Scientology to suppress it';'reporting or threatening to report Scientology or Scientologists to civil authorities in an effort to suppress Scientology or Scientologists from practising or receiving standard Scientology'; 'bringing civil suit against any Scientology organisation or Scientologist including the non-payment of bills or failure to refund without first calling the matter to the attention of the Chairman . . .'; 'writing anti-Scientology letters to the press or giving anti-Scientology or anti-Scientologist evidence to the press'; 'testifying as a hostile witness against Scientology in public.' If words mean anything, that meant that in the eyes of this organisation a person became 'a suppressive person' - 'a suppressive person' guilty of a suppressive act - if, however truthful, however much compelled by process of law, he should give evidence in a court of law hostile to the organisation of Scientology. And this is the organisation which is seeking to have its documents treated as confidential by the order of the court. It went on to include among 'suppressive acts': '1st degree murder, arson, disintegration of persons or belongings not guilty of suppressive acts'. There can be no doubt that the last five words relate to the preceding word 'persons'. What does that mean? That it was, in the eyes of this organisation in 1965, 'a suppressive act' to be guilty of 'first degree murder', provided that the person you murdered had not been guilty of suppressive acts. The implication is obvious. Yet another 'suppressive act' is, 'delivering up the person of a Scientologist without defense or protest to the demands of civil or criminal law'."

[Lord Justice Stephenson, Hubbard and another v Vosper and another, 17-19 Nov 1971]

The invalidity of criticism

As Lord Justice Stephenson rightly observed, the extreme breadth of Hubbard's code of "ethics" effectively outlaws a wide range of activities which are not only common rights but, where testifying to courts is concerned, are part of a citizen's duties. This is, however, completely consistent with Hubbard's contempt for what he dismissively referred to as "wog morality". In particular, he refused to accept the validity of any criticism of Scientology:
"Attackers are simply an anti-Scientology propaganda agency so far as we are concerned. They have proven they want no facts and will only lie no matter what they discover. So BANISH all ideas that any fair hearing is intended and start our attack with their first breath. Never wait. Never talk about us - only them. Use their blood, sex, crime to get headlines. Don't use us.

I speak from 15 years of experience in this There has never yet been an attacker who was not reeking with crime. All we had to do was look for it and murder would come out.

They fear our Meter. They fear freedom. They fear the way we are growing. Why?

Because they have too much to hide."

[Hubbard, "Attacks on Scientology", HCO Policy Letter of 15 Feb 1966]

Another key article on Hubbard's view of criticism was first published in Scientology's Certainty magazine in 1968 (and repeatedly republished thereafter, most recently in vol. 1 issue 2 (Spring 1997) of the Office of Special Affairs' internal newspaper, Winning):
"Now get this as a technical fact, not a hopeful idea. Every time we have investigated the background of a critic of Scientology we have found crimes for which that person or group could be imprisoned under existing law. We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts. Over and over we prove this.

Politician A stands up on his hind legs in a Parliament and brays for a condemnation of Scientology. When we look him over we find crimes - embezzled funds, moral lapses. a thirst for young boys - sordid stuff.

Wife B howls at her husband for attending a Scientology group. We look her up and find she had a baby he didn't know about.

Two things operate here. Criminals hate anything that helps anyone instinctively. And just as instinctively a criminal fights anything that may disclose his past ...

We are slowly and carefully teaching the unholy a lesson. It is as follows: "We are not a law enforcement agency. BUT we will become interested in the crimes of people who seek to stop us. If you oppose Scientology we promptly look and will find and expose your crimes. If you leave us alone we will leave you alone"."

[Hubbard, "Critics of Scientology", 1968]

This underlies the concept of "Dead Agenting"; as a critic of Scientology invariably has a criminal past, all that is needed to discredit (or "Dead Agent") the critic is to expose that past. Or so a Scientologist would claim. It is this belief which lies behind, for instance, Major Target #1 of OSA's "558 Program" in Greece - "Priest Alevizopoulos investigated with his crimes exposed."

However, Hubbard seems to have been conscious that publicising past indiscretions does not always work. In 1960, he wrote (emphasis added):

"If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace."

[Hubbard, "Dept of Govt Affairs", HCO Policy Letter of 15 Oct 1960]

This can be a dangerous tactic, as it leaves Scientology wide open to libel writs; it backfired disastrously in Canada in 1995, where the Church was ordered to pay the highest libel damages in Canadian history after defaming Supreme Court judge Casey Hill.