Demo at the Amsterdam Scientology Org
a.r.s., February 22, 1998
The Amsterdam org was picketed by net critics on Februari 1998, for the first time
in its history, it seems. Here's the report, a compilation of three accounts by Mike Gormez, Zenon Panoussis and Karin Spaink.
Not long ago, strange cars were driving about around Bid's house and she was the victim of a just as strange burglary attempt. Last week she had a minor heart attack. These events are unconnected to each other and they are - of course - totally unconnected to scientology. So is also yesterday's picket in Amsterdam unconnected to all and any of the above. It is, though, up the CoS to draw whatever conclusions they wish from these events.
The local org had organized an "open workshop" for Sunday
(the "see a film, meet people, get answers to all your questions"
drill) and had printed flyers for it. Mike and I arrived outside
the org about half an hour before the "workshop" was to begin
and were shortly later joined by Karin and "the fourth
demonstrator". Lots of people were leaving the org at that
time, with energetic looks on their faces and bags (of flyers?)
in their hands. We thought there was going to be massive body
routing going on, but we were later proved wrong; an hour later
we could only find two body routers in the area, of which one
gave up as soon as we begun to help her. We would like to
think that massive body routing had indeed been organized
and subsequently cancelled due to our presence but, naturally,
we will never know.
It was pretty quiet those first minutes before Karin arrived.
Mike and me just stood there, looking at the books in the
window with some interest and talking with each other. No
leaflets, no signs, no talking to passers-by. Apparently
no-one knew who we were and no-one felt any danger approaching.
People even said hello. That's what you get for not informing
your people that there are more suppressives out there, that
scientology is in trouble in other countries too. Anyway, all
this changed with the arrival of Karin. There was some agitation
inside, then some agitation outside, someone came out and took
a picture (you believe that? ONE SINGLE picture! I didn't even
have the opportunity to turn around and be in it, but I choose
to think that they did more filming later from inside and that
I too was honoured with some cellulosa and magnetic tape), the
scientology troops lost their smiles and dropped their hellos.
We spent a total of five hours between the org and different
cafés. We had a good time despite the lousy weather, laughed
a lot and, hopefully, got blamed for ruining the "open workshop"
that would hardly have been a success of any kind anyway.
Lady in blue, the beginning
In front of the org, we met a shy but nevertheless inquiring lady in blue with
red hair, glasses. She was smoking. After some stealth picketing on our part and a few words spoken between us, the lady moved slowly but surely towards us. "Are you scientologists?" she wanted to know. "We are all OTs" was our honest answer. That stopped her for a moment, so then we asked "Are you?" No she wasn't OT; still on the Dianetics level.
Of course this was a disappointment for us, since discussing the OT-levels with a real "OT" is a critics dream come true. The disappoint proved to be only temporarily: she answered affirmative on Mike's inquiry if she was a Christian. "Scientology says that it is compatible with Christianity, it isn't," Mike remarked casually, at which she replied that people have to find things out for themselves. "'The man on the cross, their was no Christ" was presented as a Hubbard statement but that hadn't any impact.
Next - hey, you're a critic or not - was Mike's past-lives angle. "That is incompatible with your faith." We looked hopefully to her, again she wasn't sure and replied that you've to find things out for yourself. "Did you live millions of years ago on a different planet?" No, she hadn't. "Hubbard said so." This took her off a bit and she didn't really knew what to reply. Which wasn't necessary anyway. A man suddenly emerges from the org, taps her on the shoulder and says "There is a telephone call for you inside. Will you please come along?"
Later - we're standing, talking, not doing anything in particular - another woman emerges from the org. She carries a camera. Karin spots her when she's about to make a photograph of Zenon's back and Mike and Karin's face. *flash* "Hey,' Karin says, you overlook another important critic!", attempting to turn Zenon so that the can photograph him as well. But as soon as Karin opens her mouth the lady runs back inside. Wow. They're even afraid to be spoken to.
Two body-routers, 1 body-router, no body-router
It was drizzling and damned cold at times. Us picketers had earned a coffee break. After the hot coffee we decided to picket with two people at a time. The first shift was for Zenon and Mike. We put on our tin-foil blackhats, and went into the cold back to the org, just around the corner.
After a few minutes two women came outside and walked towards the recruitment place, which again is just around the corner. Zenon thought that we should help them. In front of the org there was no traffic whatsoever anyway. On the famous "personality-test" place we spotted them, yes here they are, holding what looks like a graph-result of such a test in their hands. The tallest of the two women got a passer-by interested and Z. approached them and tried to make yet another OT-in-a-minute consumer. The word "UFO" does wonders in such circumstances.
The lady was not amused, and quickly got hold of a new potential victim,
who was lost to her in the same way.
This clearly won't work, she must realize that at some point, and yes, she does. Standing on the side of the busy shopping street and not too happy, she confided to us that she didn't like this at all. We answered that we don't like the organization so that settles the matter. Mumbling some magic words (xenu knows what) she decides that she had had enough and goes back to the org.
Leaving the critics in bewilderment.
Who is going to save the planet now? We are honestly worried but we won't take over her job. The body router left to make something of this prison planet turns out to be a very nice lady who has just joined staff.
"Bridge to total freedom?", no, she has never heard of it. "OT-levels?" No. We start counter recruitment: perhaps she'd like to work for Zenon's church. It's just like Scientology, only better. Z. offers her a higher salary: twice as much as she's earning now. Well... she considers the idea. Some name dropping ("free church of scientology") and his assertion that with him she only has to pay next to nothing in payments for studying the OTs, and so on and forth - the lady is confused. "No, we are not squirrels, we only use original LRH tech."
God forbids that someone should alter "Source," she must have thought, or else Mike did. She accepts a cigarette ("won't smoke it now or my colleague will be angry") and pops it in her pocket. After some more talk, Z. writes his name on one of her leaflets, and says to show it to the ethics officer. Virtually the only person left in the org she knows, because we know more staff-members by name and face than she does, apparently. Using the abilities one acquires by being "OT", Zenon explains to her what will happen if she shows the folder with his name to the EO. (It will be taken away from her and no questions will be answered if she enquires who he is and why she musn't speak with him.) Not quite sure what to make of this, she promises to do just that: show it to the EO. Then, which shows that scientologist aren't "cause over MEST" she too decides that it is too cold and goes back to the org, us 2 low-life critics strolling along side her to the cafe and offering her a coffee. The lady declines.
Flowers (or: how to have loads of fun on a Sunday afternoon
for only a few guilders)
After having decided that this was enough by way of a
mini-demo, we went to another cafe for more coffee. I left
my car next to the org. That way, they would know that we
would return but not when, or what we would do upon
returning. That would keep them on tenterhooks.
So we talked, smoked, drank, ate and had a good laugh.
At one point somebody remarked that no matter what we did,
everything would only serve to further antagonize them.
Even a kind act as, for instance, giving them flowers.
(Earlier on I had wanted to offer the children that were
outside the org some liquorice - I always have some with me
and offer them to others when I take one - but refrained
from doing so. The children would have been chastized for
accepting it. The parents might even fear that I'd given
them something poisonous.)
Zenon caught on. "Actually it's a very good idea.
We must give them flowers. We can put them in front of the
org and leave them there, just to tease them." Mike chimed
in: "Yes, and attach a card to it, giving all our names."
Mike was still angry at not having been photographed. "A
condolence card,' he added. "Yes, on their soon-to-be sad
demise," I added.
We came up with the following text:
In memory of the Greek Org, 1994 - 1997
"They'll take this to be harrassment," one said. "Nah, it's
only flowers," another answered. "They'll say we're
threatening them." "The Greek Org wasn't bombed out of
existence, it was investigated out of existence. We're only
wishing them the same."
And may you soon follow suit.
"We need to do this properly," Zenon said. "I'll go
and but flowers and a condolence card." "Erm, make it white
flowers," the fourth demonstrator said. "White is the
colour of mourning, isn't it?" "We might even go in and
hand them over," I said. "Nah," Zenon said, that will be
considered tresspassing." "They do have this general
invitation outside," I answered. "Outside we'll have more
fun," Mike proffered. Zenon left, bought 50 white tulips, a
vase and a condolence card (thank whomever for shops being
open on Sundays). When he returned, we decided we needed a
camera. Mike went and bought one. We arranged the flowers
in the vase, wrote the card (with the "And may you soon
follow suit" bit on one of these yellow paste-it papers,
not on the official card itself, but taped to it) and went back.
We had a small ceremony. We placed the vase in front of
the org - in full view of the guy sitting at the reception
desk; and yes, he was watching us intently - walked back
a few steps with out eyes fixed on it, kept silent for a
couple of minutes and saluted, bowed, whatever. The fourth
demonstrator took pictures of us, of the vase, of the
scene. The guy inside was twisting his body in strange ways
in order to unobtrusively find out what the fuck was going
on. (Guess he hadn't made it to OT yet, otherwise he surely
would have exteriorated.)
After a few minutes I proposed that we would withdraw.
There's was a niche twenty meters away; we could hide there
and see what would happen.
Within a few minutes some other guy came outside.
He stared at the flowers. Suddely he saw the card and knelt
down in order to read it. You could almost hear him think.
"The Greek Org? What the fuck happened to the Greek Org?
Is this a bomb threat? Are these flowers safe?" We saw him doing it. We saw him ponder
his various questions.
Zenon took the camera and stealthily approached him,
taking snapshots meanwhile. The guy must have heard the
clicking of the camera because suddenly he knew he was
not alone. He got up quickly, turned around, went back in
and slammed the door hard. I mean: hard. It was exactly
the same sound you would expect in a cartoon. *whack-whammo!!*
So we decided to wait. They couldn't very well collect the
flowers. Not only because they were put there by
suppressives - two of their list of twelve global enemies
were there, after all - but also because the flowers were
an insult. Yet to allow them to stand there would attract
attention, attention of the unwanted kind.
So, what could they do?
But we could.
There were people passing. Sometimes they looked at the
flowers. Sometimes they didn't.
There are ways to make them notice.
Somebody was nearing us. I stopped him and asked him if he
would please do me a favour. Yes, why, of course he would.
"Well, there's these flowers over there. Would you please
continue walking, act as if you suddenly notice them, take
a closer look, then see the card attached to them, kneel
down to read it, get up, cast a concerned look inside, and
continue? That's all. Oh and can we please take your
picture while you're doing that? It has to do with
Scientology. We dislike them."
He didn't understand the whys & wherefores but decided
to be game anyway. He did exactly as he was asked (but looked
back at us after he'd finished the little routine, to get
confirmation that he'd done it the right way, which was a pity).
By now, we really warmed up to our task. There were a couple of
people who were photographing my car (which is a very small car that usually attracts lots of attention from tourists) (there's never been as
much photographing in the Org's environment as that
afternoon, I bet: we photographing the flowers and the
passers-by, and the tourists photographing my car). When
they were done I stopped them. Four tourists. "You just
photographed my car. Will you allow us to photograph you in
return?" and explained the ploy. Yes, of course they would.
More tourists. Americans. "Would you help us?" "Yes, with what?" "Do
you know Scientology?" "Aw, those fuckheads." "Well, we have a
bone to pick with them too. Would you please ---" "Oh, gladly!"
Ad infinitum, as absurdum.
We asked Dutch people. We asked US people. We even asked a
couple of people that turned out to be Spanish. All of them
complied: they knelt, looked at the card, cast their
concerned glances and continued their way. Every now and
then a CoS member would leave the org, noticeably not see the flowers,
noticeably not see us and walk out.
We walked back to the org and stood there, admiring the
flowers. We took turns in devoted meditation: kneeling down
in front of them. That didn't work inasfar as attracting
people's atteention to the card was involved. It only meant
that people somehow respected whatever mourning we were
presumably going through and berthed us with wide bows. So
we put a few coins - guilders, 25c coins - in front of the
vase and stepped back a few meters to see how that would
turn out. Would that increase attention? Would people
approaching the flowers from the other side bow down
without any further directions from out part?
Meanwhile, the guy at the reception desk was reading. He
was just reading. He was doing nothing but reading. As a
matter of fact, he was reading vehemently. One might even
say that he was reading with a vengeance. He was proving
with all his might that he wasn't concerned, no, he wasn't,
and that business was as usual. It was. Really. I mean, he
was reading, wasn't he?
Some of the children were running up and down the
staircase. "If they're smart, they'll ask one of the
children to fetch the flowers," Zenon said. They weren't
smart but then again, we knew that already.
After an hour, we left. Zenon and the fourth companion went
one way, Mike and me another. I dropped Mike at Central
Station and drove back to the org for a small inspection.
The flowers were still there. The card too.
One more thing. We decided to plan future pickets openly
on the net in every detail except the date. The date is
not only not be announced, but really not even to be
secretly decided, but at the earliest a day before each
picket. This is a nice way of binding up scientology
counter-resources with or without picket.
For the coming picket I propose "Scientology clearing the
planet" rain jackets and brooms. By spending a day sweeping
the pavement outside the org - no signs, no leaflets - we
probably can avoid having to apply for a picket permit
and yet can attract more attention.
Alternatively I suggest we do some body-routing of our
own. Kalverstraat, usual corner, actually asking people
to go to the org and take a free personality test, but
with the consumer information that we think the CoS
should provide: "free personality test, cheap course,
cheap book, you will need another course, the bridge to
freedom, it will cost you some years and a few hundred
thousand guilders, you will learn everything about the
extraterrestrials in volcanoes, presumably you will be
able to move matter and move in space and time with the
power of your will, please now, why not give it a try?"
If anyone accepts, we really direct them to the org.
Tell me please, could the CoS possibly object to us
doing their job? To helping them out for the good
Copyright Karin Spaink.
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