Picket Report, Tuesday, June 2, 1998

a picket at the Scientology building in San Francisco


  • Suppressives: Taniwha and me
  • Date/Time: 6/2/98, about 11:50 am - 1:00 pm
  • Handouts: fliers ("Don't Be A Sucker", "Why I Picket", Lisa, Xenu), suckers,
  • Attorney General postcards
  • Weather: overcast but mild, windy but not too windy
  • Foot Traffic: Steady
  • Street Traffic: Steady
  • Scn Response: Pleasant, Mostly Non-Confront
  • General Passerby Response: Favorable
  • Stats: 44 suckers and 52 sucker fliers; 15 "Why" fliers (according to my notes but I could swear it was more than that); 5 Lisa fliers and a few Xenus; 25 Attorney General postcards

Note: as I do NOT have perfect memory, any quotes below are very close paraphrases. I apologize for any inadvertent inaccuracies and will try to correct any errors that are pointed out to me.


I had my usual sign (USING YOUR TAX $$$ TO DEFRAUD etc. / NO SCIENCE IN $CN / $CN DESTROYS FAMILIES), plus suckers and fliers and some postcards pre-addressed to the California Attorney General.



I did my usual picket tech on the way to the org today, but no one asked for a flier, so I did no dissem until I arrived - although lots of people get to look at my sign as they're driving by, and $cn was nice enough to locate their org right near City Hall, so lots of politicos and policy-wonks get to read my message as I walk past. (I also saw another policeman read my sign from his patrol car today.)

When I got there, there were no Scientologists in sight - not even standing outside smoking. Shortly after I arrived, though, the Sea-Org-Lady came outside and had a smoke. I wished her a good afternoon, and she replied in kind. (Comm!)

Shortly thereafter, a woman rounded the corner in front of me and read my sign. "Would you like some information?" I asked. "No thanks," she said with (what I took to be) a friendly smile, "I'm a Scientologist. I've got all the information I need." "Great!" I replied. More comm! I saw her come outside again later once or twice for a cigarette.



My suckers were VERY popular this time, with a number of people coming up and asking for one. As before, though, there were also people who declined the sucker and were more interested in the info.

One woman who declined my fliers gave me a thumbs up and some supportive comments. She said she was currently suing a different cult and appreciated my picketing.



Tani arrived shortly after I got there. He had brought black armbands with him and he was nice enough to help me tie one on ;-). I think Wayne may have stopped posting to a.r.s. shortly before I started reading it heavily, but since we got the sad news, I have been reading his archived posts. It's sad to only discover you care about someone after he's gone.

I was delighted to see Tani and I spent some time walking with him and talking instead of practicing non-clumping. When we did separate, though, we covered both ends of the sidewalk quite well. I gravitated toward the traffic signal, since the foot traffic is heavier there.



A very nice gentleman came out of the org and came up to me and read my sign. He asked me about it, and I gave him some literature. As I did, I asked him if he was a Scientologist. He said he'd read a lot of their books. We talked over some of the points in my fliers. He was VERY nice and friendly. After we'd been talking for a bit, he took my hand and kissed it! Talk about affinity. Later on, he returned to the org and went inside with Our Lady of the Stress Test Table.



No picket seems complete without hearing at least one story about Ron that's completely new to me (and seems to be contradicted by the facts). Today's story was from a gentleman who took a flier (and an AG postcard, IIRC) and told me that Ron had been a Baptist minister in Riverside, Colorado, and that that church had collapsed when he took all the money - and that's where he got the money to start Dianetics. In the 70s. Oops.



As before, I noticed that different messages on my picket sign attract attention from different people. At least two people today asked me "How does Scientology destroy families?" and I got a chance to explain $cn's disconnection policy. One person replied, "I thought religions were supposed to help families."



A couple of people mentioned the Moonies today, asking if $cn was like them and so on. I replied that I don't know much about the Moonies. Maybe it's something I should read up on (...like I don't already spend way too much time on this stuff).



Today was song lyric day. One gentleman who took a flier told me he thought $cn was a scam and "of course, I think that about all religions." He went on to recite the complete lyrics to three John Lennon songs (copyright terrorist!), including "Working Class Hero." (I didn't recognize the other ones.)



A gentleman came up to me and asked for fliers and a sucker - "Gimme one of them suckers, I'll put a brick through their window for you! I HATE those people!" Says I, "No, please DON'T do that. I'll give you a sucker if you DON'T throw a brick through their window." We chatted for a few minutes about $cn. He told me he had gone into the org and they called the police. "Why did they do that?" I asked. "Because I'm a seven-foot-tall black man!" he said. (Unfortunately, he's a seven-foot-tall black man who's offered to throw a brick through their window - if he voiced similar thoughts when he visited the org, I'm not surprised they called the police.)

A little later, a young man on a skateboard asked for a flier and offered to paste it on their window. I gave him a flier but told him I'd rather he not paste it on their window, since that would probably be vandalism. I asked him to give it to a friend instead, and he said "OK."



At 1 pm we split - Tani needed to get back, and I had an appointment to keep. I asked Tani to take a couple of pictures of me (I really need to use up my roll of film, and I'm sure my family will enjoy seeing my in my bright red picketing jammies).

I strolled off to the bus stop, and stood there waiting for a very late bus. After a few minutes, the gentleman who had been sitting in the bus shelter when I got there glanced at my sign and said "You must have had a very bad experience with them." I told him that actually, I'd spent very little time in $cn (about a week, for anyone who hasn't seen me mention this before), and that it was really reports about $cn hurting people and breaking the law that brought me out picketing. I asked him if he was a Scientologist and he said he had been one, for about six months, about 15 years ago. (He said he had been on a ship, but I didn't catch the name of it. It wasn't Freewinds. Were there any other $cn ships sailing 15 years ago?) He said, "There sure are a lot of suppressive people in Scientology." We talked for quite a while. I gave him a Lisa flier and he shook his head as he read it. ("Rollercoastering ... I remember we used to use that term ... Scientology CAUSES rollercoastering ...") He asked my name (I told him my alias and my reason for using one), whether I had a degree, where I got it, where I was from ... I answered these questions as vaguely as I could and apologized for being paranoid about giving out details. He told me his name (Jack - I'm omitting his last name in this account) and wrote down his phone number in case I "got any trouble from $cn and needed someone to talk to". He even tried to give me $5 for lunch! (Lately sympathetic passersby have been trying to give me money, or apologizing for not having any money to give me. Of course, I tell them I'm trying to provide information, not looking for money, and refuse all offers.) He seemed very nice and sincere, but I couldn't help worrying that he might be a Scientologist still, and I was very glad when he got off the bus before I did.



Nervous after all Jack's questions, I was very cautious getting off the bus and heading toward my appointment. As I was walking down the sidewalk, I watched for eye contact and offered fliers to people who seemed receptive. One gentleman appeared before me and asked if I got my information from the Internet. I handed him some fliers and said, "Some of it. Some of it I got from reading Scientology books at the library, including the policy that calls for locking people up." "That's a lie!" he said.


I asked him if he was a Scientologist, and he said yes. I told him he might want to go to the library and take a look at the $cn books himself but he refused to believe that $cn policy could call for imprisoning people.

He managed to run through all the standard $cn-prop b.s., all in a loud, agitated voice. (I mostly smiled and replied calmly, although I did raise my voice a few times.) He asked me if I believe everything I read on the Internet. "Of course not," I said, "but I believe some of it, especially when what I've read coincides with what I've read in $cn books." He asked if I'd ever been involved in $cn. I told him I studied a little but decided it wasn't for me. He asked why, and I told him it was because of the ethics formula that requires you to "strike an effective blow" against someone else. He instantly miscontrued this to mean that I was out-ethics and COULDN'T get into $cn because they wouldn't take me. (In fact, although $cn never really went after me very hard after I told them I decided not to join, the couple of Scientologists I met at the mission - the one who body-routed me and I think the one who audited me - did try to revive my interest on the few occasions when we met on the street ... and someone from the mission started working at the place where I ordered pizzas and tried to talk me into joining when I called to order a pizza, which I thought was VERY inappropriate. They definitely didn't reject ME.) He asked me if I believed in psych treatment and I said "Some of it" (I may have said "most of it"). He told me he'd worked in a psychiatric hospital for 2 1/2 years and that he never saw anyone get better. He asked if I'd had psychiatric treatment and I told him it wasn't relevant. He asked "Are you using drugs right now?!" and I told him I didn't think that was relevant. He took this to mean that I WAS on drugs and that furthermore I'd probably had ECT.

(<inappropriate dark humor on> I have had ECT, I just don't remember. <inappropriate dark humor off>)

I grinned and said it was amazing that he knew so much about me. He ranted about how I was out-ethics. "YOU ARE THE SCUM OF THE EARTH!" Finally he said "Scientology is the most ethical group on the planet!" I was delighted. "Thank you for telling me that! Where is that written?" This completely threw him. "Why does it have to be written anywhere?" I tried telling him I'd been trying to find where it says that in the $cn literature but I just couldn't get through his raving.

Finally, he clammed up, turned on his heel, and stalked away.

It was quite a trip to come face to face with a rant like that. It saddens me, in a way. Of the Scientologists I've encountered so far while picketing, the worst reaction I've gotten is a kind of sourness, which is understandable, considering I'm picketing them. But Saturday I got a friendly smile from Sea-Org-Lady, and today I got comm from her, and I also got comm from the other lady who walked by. And of course Darlene was perfectly nice when she and I talked the first time I picketed in San Jose. As I've told Darlene in email, I assume they wish me well, and I'll continue to assume that unless they prove otherwise. All the Scientologists I've met so far have seemed quite sane. This guy was a serious exception.

Interestingly enough, he'd chosen to berate me in front of a bunch of other people (maybe 10?). They all got to witness his meltdown. I doubt any of them were favorably impressed. After I watched in amazement as he strode away, I turned and made eye contact with a gentleman leaning against a truck about 5 feet away, who had witnessed the whole thing. I smiled and said, "Would you like some information?"

He and I chatted for about five minutes (during which time, I hope, Mr. Scum-Of-The-Earth had gotten far, far away). I gave him my Why and Sucker fliers, and as we chatted, I gave him a Lisa flier, too. A friend of his came over and joined our conversation, saying, "I read all about $cn when he wrote it as a science fiction story" (probably referring to "Typewriter in the Sky") - so I figured he'd be interested in the Xenu story and handed him a Xenu flier. The first gentleman said he'd looked into $cn some years ago and was unfavorably impressed. He quoted some Bob Dylan lyrics about religion. I thanked him for his interest and told him to tell his friends.


Hoping Mr. Scum was far enough away by now not to follow me, I headed on up the street. As I was passing a bus shelter, I saw a woman inside read my sign. I thought of walking into the shelter to offer her a flier, but decided not to, since I was in a bit of a hurry by now. As I waited for the light to change, though, she came out and talked to me. I gave her fliers and an AG postcard. She told me she'd been in $cn in San Francisco, maybe ten years ago. She was very supportive, and she and I chatted for a few minutes until her bus came.


After the little to-do with Mr. Scum, I was EXTREMELY cautious about being followed. I was not spooked and I'm certainly not going to stop picketing or anything, but it reinforced my healthy paranoia.

I will post this in another thread also, but for the record, I have a message for Scientology management, including the EDs at the Bay Area orgs, all the way up to Miscavige and company:

Scientology states in "What is Scientology?" that "ethical conduct always includes an adherence to society's moral codes" (p. 171) and that "Acts considered criminal by society are considered criminal by the Church and Scientologists. Scientologists do not tolerate illegal activities of any sort." (p. 177) As you probably know, California law states that

"Every person is bound, without contract, to abstain from injuring the person or property of another, or infringing upon any of his rights."

Furthermore, the Code of a Scientologist includes pledges to "take my share of responsibility for the impact of Scientology upon the world" (#17) and "To set an example of the effectiveness and wisdom of Scientology." (#19)

Finally, the Credo of a Good and Skilled manager states that a manager must fully and honestly interpret the group's goals and aims to subordinates (#2), and must never permit his planning to be perverted by subordinates (#13).

So, I'm holding you to your word. You've got the tech, and you claim to be the most ethical group on the planet.

If you encourage or permit any Scientologist or any agent of Scientology to hassle me in any way, including but not limited to stalking or threatening me, I WILL report it to the police, and I will hold Scientology itself responsible. It is your job to keep ethics in, so make sure EVERYONE on your comm lines knows the law and knows that you insist on legal behavior at all times.


I hope I'll be able to make it to the Saturday picket, but if not, <sips beer>, Wayne, this one's for you.





This page was last updated on May 8, 1999.