"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'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 paranoiaYears 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?'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?"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.
Hubbard's opposition to civil rightsHubbard'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.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."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."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".
"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'."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 ..."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.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]."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 ActsAt 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":
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'."
The invalidity of criticismAs 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.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.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."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.