Subject: Clearwater: The Vigil
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dustbin Anonymous Remailer) Date: Wed, 12 Mar 1997 17:03:19 -0500
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12 Mar 1997
This is the hard post to write. Every time I relive the event in my mind, I get depressed again. The word that I think most aptly expresses my feeling about the entire experience is "horror." Cold, flesh-crawling, gutwrenching queasy horror.
Unlike how I felt about the picket, I was most emphatically *not* emotionally prepared for the experience of the Candlelight Vigil for Lisa McPherson.
The harassment began as soon as we gathered at the courthouse. Jeff Jacobsen, the Keeper of the Suppressive Candles, was a bit late arriving, and while we were standing around two OSA goons came up and began hassling us.
"Where's the candles?"
"Is this really going to happen?"
Several people, including Gary Scarff and Steve Fishman made a few snappy comebacks. One of the OSAs said,
"How are you going to keep candles lit in this wind?"
Dave Touretzky said, "We're at cause over wind."
The OSA jerk said, "I guess that depends on what kind of wind you're talking about," and he and his buddy started making farting references and laughing derisively.
But mostly we ignored them, and eventually they withdrew about a hundred feet and talked on their walkie-talkies, disappointed that they hadn't caused the enturbulation they were sent to perform.
I gave a brief summary of the TV news clips, including Leisa Goodman's comment.
"That's *Doctor* Reject to you," said Dave Touretzky.
We marched over in a single-file line, trying to show some kind of solemnity and respect for the dead. Lawrence Wollersheim implied he had made some kind of deal with them, that they'd stay in front of the Ft. Harrison, and we'd stay on the sidewalk in front of the park across the street.
As soon as we rounded the corner, it was obvious that the deal had fallen through. There were already over 200 Rondroids milling about, and more pouring out of the Ft. Harrison every minute. None of them held any candles.
I couldn't believe the level of disrespect for Lisa's memory that was demonstrated by the Scientologists. Especially nauseating was that I was being accused of not respecting her memory by people who were performing incredibly disrespectful acts while I was trying to show my respect for her. Ravening wolves accusing a lamb of being a wolf. Talk about a double-curved reply.
Almost immediately after we got our candles lit and started walking, one of the Scieno's blew out a demonstrator's candle with an exaggerated fake sneeze. Amid cat-calls of "Hey! Good one! hyuk-hyuk-hyuk," the holder of the candle (I think it was Ray Randolph or maybe Mark Dallara) said loudly and pointedly, "Just like you did to Lisa's life."
I also had my candle blown out (but only once) as I described in another post.
As I moved through the crowd, I kept repeating over and over in my mind, "This is for you, Dell. And you, Lisa." I was overwhelmed with sadness, and found it very difficult to keep from crying.
Every time I thought I should just leave, I thought about Dell Liebreich. And Marina Chong, as I had promised her I would walk a few circuits for her, since she was unable to attend the picket herself. I was doing this vigil because I believed in it, but I was also doing it for them, and thinking about them gave me renewed strength of purpose to continue in spite of the horror.
I managed to keep my dignity while being divebombed by a flock of gabbling carrion fowl. The number of Rondroids in attendance was in my estimation greater than 500. We were literally surrounded by them, completely isolated from each other in a milling throng of smug, playgroundstyle detractors.
It reminded me of going to a rock concert at the moment when they let everybody in: a pressing multitude in which it was impossible not to constantly brush up against or run into other people.
The only good thing about being in such a tight crowd was that it really helped keep the candles lit. Contrary to dst's claim, we were at cause over neither wind nor candle flames, but the press of people blocked the wind very nicely. It was only at the ends of the mob that I had much trouble with my candle going out.
The closest I came to an altercation was when several girls pulled their rush-around-in-front-of-me-and-thenstop-dead trick. Rather than put up with it, I just forced my way through them.
"Hey, quit shoving!"
Their voices were getting more agitated and violent. But then I was free, and walking ahead of all of them again, so I don't really know what (if anything) happened in the knot behind me.
The first person to engage in any prolonged harassment of me was my youth handler, the guy 17-19 years old who had accused me of religious persecution at the picket. He was definitely the most rabid and intense of all the harassers I came in contact with.
Now he moved in on me in earnest.
"How can you justify persecuting a religion? You're no better than a Nazi. You're a Neo-Nazi. What are you going to do next, kill 10 million Scientologists?"
I must admit that this was the only time during the whole day when I actually had an emotional reaction to something a Scientologist said to me. He had successfully pushed one of my buttons, although I did not indicate it to him. But it really got to me to be called a Nazi, after I have spent so much effort and soulsearching in clarifying and understanding my position, opposing and resisting Scientology without hatred of or unfairness toward individual Scientologists for the past two years.
I knew it was a double-curve, I knew it was hypocritical on his part, but it kind of got to me nonetheless.
For the last 20 or 25 minutes of the Vigil, I once again had my own personal handler. I have no idea who he was. He was about 5'6" tall and quite stocky, about my age with light brown hair, built kind of like a wrestler. I know he was some high-up OSA, as the other $cienos held him in awe.
As he began to walk beside me, he just waved his hand slightly from side to side down by his hip and others backed off. At one point we went around a tree, and one of the droids tried to plant himself in front of me by the usual trick.
But he was a little too slow.
"Hey, quit pushing!" he shouted as I passed him by, not even touching him.
"He's not pushing," said my handler quickly. "Give him some room here."
And the droid slunk off without another word.
For at least the last 20 minutes of the Vigil, the guy was walking backwards directly in front of me, spewing a non-stop stream of harassment and invective. He should have been a disk jockey. I have never heard anyone talk so non-stop for such an extended period.
At one point we walked past a couple of cops. I glanced at him meaningfully, and then eyed the cops with a prolonged pleading expression. A few minutes later, one of the cops came up and said,
"Hey, will you back off and give this man some room to walk?"
But the effect of this warning was short-lived, and soon he was back right in my face walking backwards in front of me.
Finally our candles were burned down to nubbins, and it was mercifully time to leave. This time, I don't think anyone was wishing it had lasted just a little longer.
As we walked back to the courthouse, we heard an uproarious cheer from the park behind us, like at a football stadium when the home team scores.
I felt physically ill, like I was going to throw up.
"Hip hip hooray," I sneered lugubriously.
"Another Big Win for the Church of Scientology."
The power of Keeping Scientology Working had driven away the eevile SPs. Those horrible people who were actually expressing concern, respect and compassion for someone who had "dropped the body."
The thing that depressed me so much was to see people, loving joyous creations of God who had had all the things that make human beings valuable trained out of them.
They have atrophied their hearts, leaving only an empty shell shallower than the thickness of a piece of paper.
No compassion, no caring, no love, nothing but petty mannikins delighting in vicious one-upmanship and rejoicing in doing damage to others unfortunate enough to come into contact with them.
What an outlook on life. This is how the able are made more able.
Standing around at the courthouse waiting to leave, Ray Randolph and I came to the conclusion that their recruitment slogan ought to be, "Join Scientology. Learn to be an asshole."
After the Vigil, I was so depressed that I didn't want to sit in my hotel room alone. Besides, one of the critics I had most hoped to meet in Clearwater was Maggie Council, who had been unable to come to either the picket or the Vigil because she was playing a gig over in Tampa. Several of the suppressives expressed a desire to go. I accompanied Jeff Lee, Nancy, Tashback, Ron Newman and Bill Winfield to see her perform.
Due to dawdling and not having our act together, we were late, and missed the gig. But we had an extrememly enjoyable time at Maggie's house, watching 6 clips from local news broadcasts (I made the 11:00 news! Apparently the reporters thought it unusual that someone would walk backwards in front of me for a 20 minute harangue.) and sitting around in her back yard discussing the past 3 years of a.r.s and Scientology in Clearwater.
When we returned to the hotel where most of the demonstrators were staying, at about 1:30 AM, there were two OSA goons strolling the parking lot, one of whom was the first guy who filmed us gathering for the picket that morning.
All in all, it was one of the most depressing experiences of my entire life.
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - + | Prignillius (Sorry, no email addr right now. I'm workin' on it!) |
| | | The Church of Scientology is a boil, expanding and swelling as | | the corruption that is at its heart festers and builds pressure. | | In time, it will burst, splattering corruption and exposing | | itself to the world. Hopefully before that happens, people will |
| have had enough warning to avoid the spray of putresence. |
| - Matthew Quirk | + - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - +
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