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Scientology: The View from the Stall

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Dec 7, 2005, 2:39:07 PM12/7/05
Memory is an interesting phenomenon. Interesting because it remains so
fluid. The vaguer details are so easily forgotten or undergo constant
mutation or distortion. Yet certain concrete elements intervene to provide a
reliable enough anchor to allow locus and structure for narrative certainty.

Such pertains to the following anecdote. In this case, the anchor is
provided by a midget. Not a metaphorical midget, but a literal one. And not
merely a very short person such as Mickey Rooney or David Miscavige, but the
sort of tragically stunted individual one encounters at a circus or carnival
sideshow, such as Tattoo, Ricardo Montalbon's sidekick on "Fantasy Island."

One wintry morning in 1971, I took a needed break from whatever I was doing
at the old Boston ORG located on Beacon Street to attend to personal
business in the men's room. Once inside, I locked the door to the lone stall
and sat alone in the semi-darkness. Then, a moment later, unexpectedly of
course, the men's room door brusquely swung open and someone proceeded to
the urinal to relieve himself. Soon enough, the door opened a second time,
and another person availed himself of the facilities.

An odd conversation began. I remained as quiet as possible to maintain my
own fragile privacy while eavesdropping. Transfixed, I recognized the two
voices almost immediately. One belonged to a particularly glib and obnoxious
staffer; the other voice was that of the aforementioned midget. I remember
not the initiating or exact words constituting the exchange, but its gist
remains indelibly inscribed. The midget had been a frequent visitor to the
ORG for several weeks.

Somehow the staffer (even with his fly down) contrived this strange
situation into an opportune and upbeat moment for heaping praises upon the
efficacy of "Ron's" "tech." They clearly were unaware of being "audited" by
a silent interloper lurking in the shadows of the solitary stall. The
midget, infused perhaps with the staffer's enthusiasm, asked in halting
fashion if this meant that Scientology might enable him to have the body of
his own choice over the course of his next lifetime. "Of course," emphasized
the staffer, who then explained at length (this was becoming increasingly
bizarre from my vantage) that Scientology was all about being "at cause"
over one's material circumstances. However, he then qualified such
assurances with an even more grandiose one: that the need for choosing one's
body would be unnecessary because the real miracle of Scientology consisted
of its capacity to elevate *anyone* (yes, back then there were fewer "ifs"
"ands" or "buts" in the cult's litany of hollow promises; if anything,
Scientology has become more cautious) onto a plane of existence such that a
MEST body became superfluous.

At this point (more or less), the staffer and his diminutive captive
audience of one exited the small men's room, leaving me undetected in the
stall, alone with my thoughts. I never saw the midget again, and within
three weeks or so I had myself departed Scientology.

This episode represented for me but one straw in a succession that
eventually broke the horse's back. I distinctly recall that it suggested the
extent to which Scientology was prepared to tell anybody anything in order
to extract whatever it was that Scientology wanted to extract from any
particular someone for whatever reason. Scientology had gone on the record
as assuring this unfortunate individual that in the next lifetime he could
"live in a body of his own choosing." Such transparencies had nothing to do
with the entire doctrinal motif of reincarnation with which I had earlier
become acquainted while casually encountering it in Eastern philosophy.
Scientology cynically twisted a venerable tradition into a manipulative

The poignancy of the midget, a perennial outsider relegated to the most
outré margins of a social and cultural life that most of us take reasonably
for granted, is instructive. It once again illustrates in concrete fashion
the predatory depths of depravity to which Scientology routinely indulges.

I cannot help but to imagine from time to time of what became of the midget
in the bathroom.


"I was much happier in previous existences when I wrote plays, composed
music, conquered nations, discovered continents, and developed cures
for diseases." - Tom Cruise.

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