Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Scientology Meme: Mob Mentality

I’m no fan of Scientology, (had a personal negative experience with them involving a family member when I was young) but I’m no fan of organized religions or organized anythings. Like Groucho Marx once said:
I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.

On many esoteric blogs, as well as the anti-esoteric blogs and forums (otherwise known as “skeptics”) there’s been a lot of self righteous anti-Scientology posts. Well, yeah, okay. Let’s go after the Vatican, various Christian sects, Islamic extremists, the Raelians, Buddhists (just because they’re not American and are suspect you know), Yoga, and Jews. Oh, and Wicca. Let’s go after all religions, spiritual and philosophical systems. Get rid of them!

The reasons why so many all over the world are now going after Scientology have to do with its existence on the fringe. Everyone’s gone after all the above mentioned systems; and many of those systems (Catholics, Jews, Muslims) are accepted by mainstream culture. As soon as you step over that line of what’s accepted, you’re fair game. Scientologists, like Mormons and Wiccans for example. are suspect. Their rights to freedoms, in this country anyway, are swept off the table, because, well, they’re weird. And if we think it’s weird, really weird, then we get to vilify. We’ll leave the Methodists alone but don’t be going around saying you’re a Scientologist or practice Wicca. Then we’ll get you. Get you good.

Another reason for the smug sense of being Very Reasonable, is the fear of criticizing religious Muslim extremists for what they are: fanatics. We don't dare go near there for fear of staring up something, or being “anti Muslim” and vilifying an entire group of people.

The same with Judaism, though less so. Everyone from the Left to the Right and in between gets to insist they’re “not anti-Semitic, just anti-Israel,” before they launch into a long winded, often erroneous, mini history of why Israel is so evil. But that aside, most people leave that alone as well. (Wait, no they don’t, look at

The point is, no, I don’t like Scientology. (Although, as with all of these systems, don’t be so quick to throw the baby out with the bath water.) But there are issues far bigger than Scientology to focus your wrath on. The occupation (er, “war”) in Iraq. Global warming/climate changes/whatever the hell you want to call it, we’re all gonna die save the earth damnit, alternative energies, child abuse, elder abuse, domestic abuse, animal abuse (Christ, we’re an abusive species!) poverty, education . . .

I’ve noticed that for those who proudly state they’re “skeptics” -- those very same who remain stubbornly ignorant of the facts when it comes to UFOs, who assume all kinds of wild things regarding the paranormal -- are quick to believe the most paranoid, outlandish things about things they want to annihilate.

I suppose one thing that bothers me in particular about this is the idea that those working so hard towards eliminating or “exposing” Scientology feel so damn proud of themselves, as if they’ve brought us a rare gift from another realm. This rare gift is presented as enlightenment from ignorance and superstition. It's an intellectual coup.

Kind of like what they do with UFO and paranormal topics. There are those within and on the fringe (the chronic skeptics looking in) of UFO studies who insist UFOlogy needs some sort of guild, organization, committee -- some kind of official body --- that will once and for all get rid of all that embarrasses and angers, and keep only what is approved. (Who gets to do the approving, and why, well, you see why it's a problem. . .)

Exercising our right to voice our opinions about these things is one thing, and exposing illegal or unethical methods is a good thing. Other than that, ranting on an almost daily basis, hacking into web sites and calling for blood seems over the top.

What disturbs me is the momentum. Worldwide, people have been unquestioningly and happily joining in protests against Scientology. And it’s this crowd gathering/one-mind vibe that has me worried. At some point, the lines blur: who are the ones acting as a mob, as a single unit, as a controlling mass? That’s scary.


Lesley said...

Great post Regan!

I agree, I really have no more dislike towards Scientology than any other organized religion or group. Perhaps the only thing that makes them slightly worse than some is the way they go after their "enemies." However any fundamentalist religion is likely to do that.

I am equally as disturbed by those who want to organize ufology and decide who is worthy and who isn't. It reeks of religion.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

This was indeed some rock and roll, Regan. Utter salience if I may!


"I am equally as disturbed by those who want to organize ufology and decide who is worthy and who isn't. It reeks of religion."

I agree. Consider the latest attempt or suggestion to do so. Indeed, doesn't the effort have a strong fundie underpinning?