When Trash Hunts Through Trash

Praise Thetans!
If you want to kill a bunch of your brain cells pick up a copy of Battlefield Earth and plow through it. One of the most blatantly racist books ever written it is almost incomprehensible in many other ways as well. For example, all the “good Chinese” people are Mandarins. You remember them, those fun loving, caste system enabling, psychotic bureaucrats? Gosh, they’d be my first choice too. Oh, and then there are those thrilling Germans. Somehow, according to the book, they managed to maintain a complete history of banking and a viable way to implement it even though …. wait for it …. there was no money for centuries. Let us not forget that the Scots were the only honest people on the planet. Well, until they got to the Russians who were honest but tended toward heavy drink. People from Mexico, those worth knowing anyway, are gauchos. Naturally the residents of Africa are “mud people.” No, I really see no need to comment further on that.

The good guy in the book has blond hair and blue eyes. The bad guy has brown hair and a limp. In case that’s too subtle for you the bad guy is named “Brown Limper” and idolizes Adolph Hitler. Oh, still too subtle for you? Okay, the “hero” is named Johnny “Good Boy” Tyler. If you haven’t caught on yet you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

Anyway, the author of that wreck, L. Ron Hubbard, is also the founder of a religion, Scientology. I use the term “religion” humorously. To join you have to pass a 200 question personality test that is so poorly written you would laugh at it if it appeared in a magazine.

Actual questions.

Do you have spells of being sad and depressed for no apparent reason?
Do you do much grumbling about conditions you have to face in life?

Believe it or not there are “correct answers” for those stunning insights into your day.

So, clearly, people – I guess we still have to call them that – who become Scientologists aren’t ever going to be Mensa members. Most should probably not be allowed to drive. Or marry. Or breed. Or ….

Never mind.

Nevertheless, they are very good at protecting their interests. Not explaining them since once you get to the “dead aliens inhabit my brain” part of their beliefs people (the real ones like you and me) are usually on the floor howling in laughter. So it comes as no surprise that when the creators of South Park made fun of them they would respond in a mature, rational and intelligent way.

Oh, you know I’m kidding. They spent tons of money going through the trash of Matt Stone and Trey Parker to …. well, to do something.

For Matt Stone and Trey Parker, nothing is holy or immune to satire. And since the launch of their groundbreaking animated TV series “South Park,” they’ve skewered a multitude of world religions, pointing out hypocrisies, inanities or just playing with ridiculous stereotypes. One of their most famous religious satires, 2005’s Scientology-targeting “Trapped In The Closet” episode, allegedly struck such a nerve with the church’s leaders that the group responded by targeting Stone, Parker and their friends in a long-term covert investigation.

Marty Rathbun, a former Church of Scientology executive-turned-critic and independent worshipper, revealed to the Village Voice a number of documents that detailed the religious sect’s detailed surveillance of the Emmy-winning TV moguls. Through the help of informants, public records and various other means, they searched for “vulnerabilities” in the pair’s personal lives, and after exploring their personal and business connections, widened their focus to investigating actors such as John Stamos, as well.

“Phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability,” Rathbun told the Voice. “They’ll read stuff into the kind of alcohol you’re drinking and how much. Prescriptions. They’ll figure out your diet. They can find out a lot about you through your trash.”

Rathbun’s personal site leads with a post that includes more information, including this summary: “In ’06 the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, became targets of Corporate Scientology’s OSA. Operations were run in an attempt to silence Parker and Stone. While Corporate Scientology was ultimately unsuccessful, left behind an instructive data trail during their efforts.”

“Trapped in the Closet” featured a storyline that had Stan, one of the four children that make up the show’s core, take a “personality test” after being encountered on the street by a group of Scientologists. The vague test reveals that he is miserable, which leads him to agree to pay the church to make him happy again. An “E-meter” reading reveals that he is housing the soul of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and various Hollywood celebrities who are members of the church flock to his home to help convince him to become their new leader.

One of those celebrities included Tom Cruise, who locks himself in a closet, which was a clear allusion to various rumors about his sexuality. John Travolta, another member of the church, soon joined him in the closet. Stan’s friends tell him that the religion is actually a cult, pointing out that Hubbard was a science fiction writer, though he at first refuses to believe it. Eventually, the Scientology elders reveal that the church is a for-profit con, calling their own religion “crap.”

Cruise was so incensed by the episode that he allegedly threatened to not participate in promotion for “Mission: Impossible III” junket if a re-run of the episode was aired; Viacom owns both Comedy Central and Paramount, the studio that put out the film. Cruise’s reps denied this, though the episode was indeed pulled. Stone and Parker, for their part, put out a satirical statement on the matter:

So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!”

“Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu.

Rathbun teased more documents, which reveal major advances in their investigations, would come soon. He was arrested in September, allegedly at the behest of the Church of Scientology, though charges were later dropped; the Voice reported then that the Church of Scientology was harassing him, in part because he practices the faith outside of the official Church.

“South Park” satirizes religion in just about every episode. The show has cast Satan as the cowardly lover of Saddam Hussein, while Kyle, another of the four core children, comes from a very stereotypical Jewish family. Parker and Stone also created the Broadway show, “Book of Mormon,” which pokes fun at that religion.

John Stamos? Yeah, there’s a threat to all that’s good and holy.

Next they’ll be suing Virgin Mobile for their holiday commercials.

Until the Thetans come to get me here’s a musical history of Scientology’s beliefs.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tT1UjCQTL0I&w=480&h=360]

Listen to Bill McCormick on WBIG AM 1280, every Thursday morning around 9:10!

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