A review of the CJVI radio show on Scientology.
On July 22, 1997, radio station CJVI, 900 AM, in Victoria, British Columbia, did a
two-hour show on Scientology. At this point I don't have a tape or a transcript, so
I'll summarize it as best I can from memory.
The show started at 4:00pm Pacific Time, but I was told not to call in until after the
first hour and fifteen minutes. When I finally did call, I was put on hold and got to
hear the show from this point forward. Prior to that, the host, Howie Siegel, had been
interviewing Toronto Scientology leader Al Buttnor, and an anti-Scientology sociology
professor from the University of Alberta, Stephen Kent. I didn't hear this part of the
show, but I was told later that each guest had been allowed to speak uninterrupted for
moments at a time, so there were no real fireworks, or people talking over each other,
or anything like that. Towards the end of the first hour Howie gave five minutes of
time to cult apologist Wesley Wakefield (who is a Fundamentalist, but not a
Scientologist) as part of an agreement he had made in order to get Buttnor to come on
At the top of the second hour, Kent was sent away and Howie brought in his studio guest,
Martin Hunt, a former Scientologist who tells me that this was his first media
appearance. I never would have guessed that from listenting to him. By the time I got
plugged in, at a quarter after the hour, Martin was engaged in a lively dialogue with
Buttnor. I don't remember everything that was said, but I do remember that Martin
wasn't allowing Buttnor to get away with anything. He had well-prepared answers for
everything that was thrown at him, and he sounded like a true radio professional- calm,
confident, and not the least bit intimidated by his adversary.
Then Howie took a call from Gregg Hagglund. Gregg was just as effective going after
Buttnor as Martin. He made some fantastic points about the cult's use of hypnosis, and
then, without missing a beat, went on to explain how the hypnosis is used to get
Scientologists to believe- you guessed it- the OT3 Doctrine! So people from Vancouver
to Seattle learned all about Xenu, and Body Thetans, and the intergalactic space
confederacy, and the evil implants of Christ and God. And of course, Gregg made sure to
point out that new recruits are NOT told up front about Xenu, that they are first
deceived into thinking this is just about self-improvement and making your life better,
and you only learn about the secret stuff after you've been there awhile. Then, before
Mr. Buttnor had a chance to respond, it was time for a commercial break, which allowed
time for all of this information to seep into the audience's minds.
Coming back from the break, Howie immediately went to Buttnor for a response to all of
what Gregg had said. Now remember, Buttnor could have responded to any one of a number
of things: the accusation of hypnosis, the stuff about OT3, the deception in
recruitment, etc. So what do you think were the first words out of Buttnor's mouth when
given a chance to respond to all this?
"How is a guy who lives in Ontario, listening to a radio show in Victoria?"
"How does he know about this show, Howie?" Buttnor sounded very distrusting, as if he
suspected that he had been the victim of a set-up.
Howie then swore that he knew nothing about Gregg Hagglund before he called in, and that
this was no conspiracy. Gregg just called in and Howie took the call, not knowing where
Gregg was from.
Buttnor was not convinced. "A guy from Ontario just happens to get through, with all
the callers from Victoria?"
Howie continued to profess his innocence. Gregg called in, the engineer took the call,
wrote down Gregg's name on a piece of paper, showed the paper to Howie, and Howie took
the call. It is the same process that is used for any other call. He had no idea that
Gregg was from Ontario, or that Buttnor knew who Gregg was, or that Gregg had picketed
Buttnor's Toronto org in the past. There's no conspiracy, Howie argued, he's just
somebody who called in.
Buttnor kept challenging him. "How could he have known about the show?" Obviously,
Buttnor felt that Howie and Gregg had communicated at some point before the show, and
that they had pre-arranged to have Gregg call in. (Meanwhile, all this time Buttnor has
avoided responding to the stuff that Gregg had said.)
Howie then explained that information about this show was posted on the net. Gregg
could have seen it on the net, and decided to call in, he said. (Which is precisely
what did happen.) He then went on to say that he had no idea how it got on the net,
perhaps Martin or someone else had put it there, but he had nothing to do with it. This
was no conspiracy!
Of course, I was laughing hysterically by this point. After all, *I* am the one who
posted it to the net. I was impressed with how much of an impact I was having on this
show, and I hadn't even said anything yet!
Later on, after Howie got the show back on topic, he got into a confrontation with
Buttnor about the cult's views on Christianity. Howie played the tape of Hubbard
saying, "The man on the cross- there was no Christ!" Buttnor responded by pointing out
that Hubbard says in other places that there was a Christ. By the end of the exchange,
Buttnor was pleading, "We are not a Christian religion! We don't profess to be!"
I thought Howie did a good job of directing the show in the right direction. There were
a number of occasions when Buttnor clearly was trying to distract from the issues at
hand by launching into an attack against Martin or Gregg, and Howie responded by saying
that this show was about Scientology, and we are not going to attack anybody here. He
also made it clear that nobody was trying to attack Buttnor personally; that people
were only criticizing the Scientology organization. Howie even acknowledged that he
believes Buttnor is not a con-artist, but rather a well-meaning person who seriously
believes what he says, but who, unfortunately, has been brainwashed.
The biggest missed opportunity of the night, in my opinion, was when Howie asked Buttnor
what level he was at, and Buttnor responded by saying that he was clear. I had my
Dianetics book right in front of me, and I immediately turned to page 228, where it says
that a clear "has complete recall of everything which has ever happened to him or
anything he has ever studied." If I had been put on the air at that moment, I would
have quoted from the book, and then challenged Buttnor to a memory test. But I never
got the chance.
Finally, I did get to speak, but only very briefly. I had just enough time to read off
the names and phone numbers for Canada's two leading anti-cult organizations (Toronto
Cult Hotline and Montreal's Info-Cult) and I then gave some brief warning signs
explaining how you can tell an organization is a cult.
Howie wrapped up the show with a frenzy of five or six calls, all from Scientologists.
It had been mentioned earlier in the show, that because Scientologists are brainwashed,
they can't think anything bad about the group. So Howie asked each one on the phone,
"Tell me something bad about Scientology." And almost none of them was able to do it!
One guy finally caved in and mentioned that he didn't like the low pay. There was one
hilarious moment with a ten-year Sea Org member, who had a very difficult time figuring
out that he was on the air. He kept saying, "Am I on the radio? Are we on?" This
despite the fact that Howie was screaming at him, "YOU ARE ON THE RADIO! YOU ARE ON
RIGHT NOW!" I guess that guy needs a little more practice with his communication
I heard that after the show, Buttnor was very angry about the way that it went. He's
probably just nervous about a possible pneumonia outbreak in Western Canada, being that
the OT3 secret was revealed and all. At times like this I think we should thank God for
penicillin. That is, if God wasn't just an evil implant.
WELL DONE!!! BIG WIN!!!