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Demonstration Against Scientology

Melbourne 14 March 1998

by David Gerard

Note: I apologise for branding the videographer and photographer 'Rabid Boy' and 'Gilligan' in this report. I let my anger get the better of me when I was writing this.

As last time, we got some extra leaflets printed up and Frank and I distributed them to the commuters and random passers-by in Swanston Street (the busiest foot-traffic in Melbourne, one block from the Org) from 4:00pm to 5:00pm on Friday afternoon. We got about 180 leaflets out in an hour.

A few people asked what we were about, including the Big Issue seller who asked who I was from and what my organisation was, and when I handed her a leaflet said "Thanks, I'll pass it on." Who to, I'm still wondering.

The public dislike leafleters in general, though some did a double-take and came back when they saw what ours was. Teenagers are ideal targets: curious, arrogant and likely to check stuff on the Web for the sake of it.

Saturday's picket was basically uneventful. There was myself, Frank Copeland and Cyril Vosper for most of it, with Barbara showing up for the last half-hour. We were there from 11:10am to 1:00pm.

They had seven clams handling us - Brian Johnston (OSA), Mary Anderson (Public Relations), Rabid Boy (the video guy with the long white ponytail), Gilligan (named for his hat - the Clueless Cultie Git who took the lens-cap-on pics at the March '96 picket), an unidentified woman helping hand out 'Freedom' and 'PUBLIC WARNING' and two Sea Orgs, one male and one female - and two public members hanging around for parts of the demo. The pseudo-priest didn't show.

Our leaflets were my Lisa leaflet, Roland's Xemu, Roland's Lisa and - for enturbulation of the Org and enlightenment of the publics - two Pilot leaflets - one a printout of the Scientology Reformer page (which juuust fits on two A4 sides at 8pt) and the other a post called 'World Conspiracy'. These are completely unsuitable for the general public, but just the ticket for getting under the Org's skin.

Their leaflets were Freedom (1997 Australian edition) and 'PUBLIC WARNING'. That's all.

One of the publics came up to chat to us at the start, mentioning that he was (celebrity clam) Kate Ceberano's stepfather. We chatted politely for a while - he seemed quite a normal fellow - and I spoke to him of how it should be possible to do Scientology without the abuses of the organisation, and handed him both of the Pilot leaflets.

Our signs were the same as the last couple of times: one with ANTI-SCIENTOLOGY DEMO on both sides, which I held in the middle of Russell Street, and one with SCIENTOLOGY HURTS PEOPLE backed with IT'S NOT ABOUT RELIGION, which Cyril held outside the Org. They had three crappy hand-drawn signs in multicoloured marker - one about Internet copyright terrorists, one with the "When we can trust each other" quote and one about respect of religions. The first two were stood up on the Org wall and the third was held by the unidentified woman helping distribute Freedom.

(This third sign was lovely. It looked like it had been assembled from whichever household items were to hand - what looked like a chipboard coffee-table top mounted on what looked like a stick of pink-painted wardrobe trim, with a hand-drawn sign written on paper and sticky-taped on.)

There was nearly no foot-traffic outside the Org, but lots of cars circling the city for a parking space. We gave out about 70 or so Lisa and Xemu leaflets, most going to cars stopped at the lights. Many shouts and toots and waves of approval from passing motorists.

Rabid Boy recorded from all possible angles, Gilligan took pics everywhere. (He came up and got nice shots of my Xenu T-shirt, even asking me to move my hair out the way so he could get a good shot of the back :-) We stood around. Nothing much happened. We gave away maybe two leaflets between 12:30 and 1:00 and considered leaving, but felt it was worthwhile taking up their time and resources on a lovely Saturday afternoon. I think our target audience is CoS members rather than the general public.

1:05pm, we disassembled the signs and packed up. Me: "Bye now. See you in three months." Mary Anderson: "Maybe you'll have gotten a life by then." Charmed, I'm sure ;-)

After the demo we went down to Swanston Street (very busy on a Saturday afternoon) and handed out our remaining fifty or so leaflets - each a Lisa inside a Xemu. They went very quickly indeed - the public appear more leaflet-friendly on Saturdays. I chatted to some socialists for a bit (they, like everyone, have a stall out on Saturdays), who said that Saturday was the CoS's usual body-routing day - "judging by the trail of personality-test tickets all over the footpath." Saturday pickets look like a better and better idea.

Brian Johnston tried very hard to piss me off at the demo, and I must say he's succeeded. He's been doing a pile of research into my private life - particularly into an old girlfriend of mine called Louise Dickinson.

Some background (all of this is already public information; Louise was well-known in the Australian music industry): Louise was suicidally depressive all her life and finally killed herself in 1995. She was in and out of mental hospitals quite a lot near the end of her life. So, at the September 1996 Sydney picket, the CoS tried to piss me off with a sign saying 'How many patients in psych hospitals has Gerard had SEX with?' You can appreciate how charmed I was.

Today, Brian casually told me how much investigation they've been doing. He (or someone - this David Middleton PI?) has been extracting information from Louise's family (how, I don't know). Investigating everyone they can track down. Investigating friends and associates of Louise in Australia and the US.

He probed a few times for who knows what response; I responded curtly and politely at first, said - three times - "These are personal matters I would prefer not to discuss, thank you" and then stopped responding at all. Brian then came out with what (judging by his face) was clearly intended to be his zinger: "You won't talk about Louise, but you'll say all these things about Lisa McPherson, and you didn't even know her!" (Indeed, I am struck by the logical equivalence between Louise and Lisa ... not.) I maintained my composure and he gave up and went away.

These foul and loathsome toads. I am, once again, actually freshly disgusted by them. How dare they dredge through her life, investigate her family and friends, and all just to try to find something to use against me.

This action did indeed successfully push my buttons: specifically, the 'righteous anger leading to considered action' button. I have spent Saturday and today finally getting around to updating the web-page; writing this report; and working on a leaflet suitable to hand out in the street all next week, and future weeks where possible.

[Demonstrations against Scientology]