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Responses to Criticism 

Mister Earl wrote (Feb 25, 2001):
In two years reading ARS, you've perhaps noticed that a few times a year a public Scieno will wander in under the radar and honestly attempt to answer questions. They get bombarded with questions, they try to answer, and ~invariably~ they disappear within a few days.

That isn't correct. Many continued posting for years. For example Whippersnapper, Russ Shaw, Enzo and RonsAmigo.

ME>I can only conclude that it's because OSA emails them, asks them what org they're onlines at, and tells them that their ass will be reporting to Ethics if they don't stop posting.

I'm sure that's happened. A lot of things have been tried by different church staff with regard to the phenomenon of public bulletin boards.

However no one from the org has contacted me and asked me to stop. So it doesn't happen in every case. (There were a couple of mild suggestions from an anonymous poster or two but even they didn't push it). One can always disagree with whoever is trying to shut them down. To operate successfully in Scientology, particularly if one wants to follow one's own path, one needs to be aware of the policies that LRH laid down (and that the staff should operate on). And one must also use good people skills to handle people who disagree with you.

I think things are easing up in a number of areas. Ethics appears to be getting lighter, more precise, and less dependent on arbitraries. I consider not ordering me to stop posting to be an example of this growing moderation. 

I think it might be good to have more Scientologists posting on ars.

For a long time I didn't post because I didn't want to contribute to making the group more interesting.

(Yah, yah, yah, I don't need to worry about that, etc.)

There is certainly a good case to be made that the Church and individual Scientologists should ignore a.r.s.  When they don't contribute the newsgroup tends to become boring  and I imagine less people bother reading it. Subsequently the more moderate and interesting critics tend to get disgusted and leave because of the in-fighting that develops when there are no Scientologists to squabble with. 

It's tricky because I see some critical activity as being quite positive in some ways, and I think that it helps keeps the organization on its toes. I suspect the orgs are in better shape because of the critical activity over the past few years than they would otherwise have been. Although it has probably affected dissemination adversely, it has been helpful in terms of getting various areas straightened out.  Being legitimately criticized about something is a form of strong feedback that can help locate trouble spots. Someone once called the LMT 'Flag's external Qual division' as a joke.  There was a small element of truth in it.

'Criticism is some sort of index of degree of contribution. There are, roughly, two types of criticism: one can be called "invalidative criticism," the other "constructive criticism." ...

'"Constructive criticism" is a term which is often used but seldom defined. But it has use. It could probably be best defined as criticism "which indicates a better way to do," at least in the opinion of the critic. Those who simply find fault and never suggest a practical means of doing it better rather forfeit their right to criticize.'

L. Ron Hubbard. HCOB 26 Sept 77. Rev. 30 Dec 1979. Art and Communication.

I feel it would be helpful if we could get to a stage where the church is mainly being criticized for things it might still actually be doing wrong and not for things that it is erroneously conceived to be doing. The latter occurs for various reasons, and whilst I can't do anything about some of these I can certainly correct a few misconceptions that I know to be untrue. They confuse people and encourage them to attack a chimerical form of Scientology that doesn't exist. As Ron stated back in the fifties:

'Not all the people, of course, who make the attacks upon Scientology, its organizations, its auditors or LRH, do so from any other motive than confusion.'

L. Ron Hubbard. Ability Magazine. Circa Mid March 1955. ~The Scientologist. A Manual on the Dissemination of Material.~

Quite right.

Here are three nice quotes which show a good, relaxed line for the church to take on criticism: a line which I believe it largely does take nowadays.

The first is from a policy I often reference:

'No effort should be made by HCO to censor opinion or comment on policy or technology; the whole effort is to be directed to the dissemination and use of correct Scientology technical and policy materials only.'

L. Ron Hubbard. Tech and Policy Distribution. HCOPL 4 March 65RA II, Rev 7 July 1983

Second we have the Creed of the Church:

'We of the Church believe:  . . .

That all men have inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others'


And thirdly there is one that shows the Church's long time legal position on internet criticism:

Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 23:15:44 -0800 (PST)
From: Helena Kobrin <hkk@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: Official letter to Kobrin
To: Andreas Heldal-Lund <heldal@online.no>

Dear Mr. Heldal-Lund:

     Your e-mail indicates to me that you are confusing two issues.  You
state that you want certain things in order to stop your criticism of
the Church of Scientology.

     We have not asked that you stop your criticism, and do not do so.
Our objection is to infringement of copyrights in unpublished works as
to which my client, Religious Technology Center, and not you, holds the
rights.  Those rights have been recognized in multiple lawsuits by
judges in three separate countries.


I think that post shows a good attitude.

They have to protect the copyrights, because otherwise the subject could be brought into disrepute by people supposedly doing Scientology but actually doing bad or stupid things. If they keep a tight rein on the people they license to open centers then it becomes easier to keep the subject clean and standard.

~My~ ideal scene involves standard Scientology being used inside the orgs but the Church taking no actions to stop others from doing their own research and delivering whatever they'd like (as long as it's differentiated from C of S brand Scientology). As for the criticism, I don't want newsgroups like a.r.s. or the critical sites to ever fully go away. They are quite simply a part of a free society.




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