SP Times: $cientologists, paranoia, & Clearwater

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Rev. Dennis L Erlich

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Feb 24, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/24/97
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mdal...@kcii.com (Mark Dallara):

>The following column appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Sunday,
>February 23. [...]

>So throngs of strangers who think they are kin to spacemen are controlling
>the atmosphere of this old downtown. Forget about good-looking movie
>actors putting a happy face on this stuff. On these sunny streets, the
>unease is real.

Perhaps if I went there next week and helped with the protest
march and candlelight vigil for Lisa McPherson, I could ease the
tension in downtown Clearwater a bit. Maybe I could conduct a
tour of the Ft. Harrison hotel and show the police where I was
held in the basement for 10 days and where I saw Lynn Froyland
chained. That might help.

What do you think?

"Clearwater is a city under siege." Former CW Mayor, Gabe
Cezares

Rev. Dennis L Erlich * * the inFormer * *
<dennis....@support.com>
<inF...@primenet.com>

Mark Dallara

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Feb 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/25/97
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The following column appeared in the St. Petersburg Times, Sunday,
February 23. That issue of the paper has not been placed online
(www.sptimes.com) due to technical difficulties, so here it is. Mary Jo
Melone is a rather outspoken columnist who consistently shows a
willingness to take on controversial issues, despite the inevitable flood
of hate mail that she receives. She rules.


--- BEGIN QUOTE ---

A quiet paranoia settles in Clearwater
- Mary Jo Melone
St. Petersburg Times
2/23/97

The Bank of Clearwater used to be just that, a bank. But the
Scientologists own the bank like they own so much else in downtown
Clearwater. A small sign by the big green doors announces the place is
open to the public.

So I entered the lovingly restored lobby Friday and just as I began to
inspect the photographs of founder L. Ron Hubbard and various monuments to
him around the globe, a female voice rose brightly from behind. "Do you
know what this place is?" she asked. She said quickly that "my church",
as she called it, is glad to let any civic group use the room we were in
for their meetings. She mentioned the Girl Scouts.

I started to ask if the Scouts had taken the Scientologists up on their
offer, but first I said I was from the newspaper. Her face froze. I was
supposed to speak to somebody else, she said. She mentioned a man's name
and began quickly punching the buttons on her phone. Since the
Scientologists have a weird reputation when it comes to the kind of help
they offer people - think of Lisa McPherson, the woman who died while in
their alleged care in December 1995 - I figured it would be smarter to
leave under my own power. As I walked out, the woman was still punching
away at her phone.

Perhaps I'm paranoid. Paranoia is an occupational hazard for anybody on
these sunny streets overlooking the bay who doesn't subscribe to this
sci-fi fundamentalism. It is Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker cross-pollinated
by Star Trek. It is also instructive of the weakest parts of human
nature.

Only some Scientologists are obvious in Clearwater. One shop owner called
them The Red People and The Blue People, for the plain uniforms they wear
to signify they work for the church. They telegraphed a remarkable
fixedness as they passed, alone or in groups, on Friday. They looked
straight ahead. Their faces were expressionless. They did not
acknowledge one another. They walked briskly. When they approach on
foot, one downtown office worker said, you tend to think you'd better get
out of the way.

And you'd better be careful what you say. Not every believer is in
uniform. If you express skepticism of the church within earshot of the
wrong people, as I did, you can find yourself the target of some mighty
frosty looks.

"They eat vitamins, whole wheat toast and smoke a whole pack of cigarettes
in an hour," said Denise Lambert, a waitress in a downtown restaurant.
She asked me not to name it. The restaurant feeds a lot of
Scientologists. Saying anything bad about them might hurt the business.

Here we are, back to paranoia.

At the Downtown Newsstand, owner Linda Franklin said so many
Scientologists are crowding Clearwater, her customers can rarely find a
parking place. Her partner complained about this to the mayor. When
church officials heard of the complaint, Franklin said, "they told their
people not to come in here anymore."

"We lost hundreds of customers," she said.

So throngs of strangers who think they are kin to spacemen are controlling
the atmosphere of this old downtown. Forget about good-looking movie
actors putting a happy face on this stuff. On these sunny streets, the
unease is real.

True believers from around the world - I was told it's the Italians' turn
right now - come to Clearwater to "get to clear," as they say in
church-speak. This means they have mastered their feelings, that they
will never be troubled by them again. All I can think is, what right do
they have to believe they aren't like the rest of us?

Cindy Henry, the owner of a pawnshop, remembered a day when a young woman
in the church came in and announced her mother had died. Mrs. Henry did
what anybody would do. She said she was sorry. "It's nothing," the young
Scientologist said.

Because feeling is part of living - even when the feeling is grief over
great loss - Henry couldn't get over what she'd heard.

"I want to feel my feelings," she said. "I don't want to get to clear. I
want to feel my pain."

--- END QUOTE ---


Ya gotta love the SP Times...


Eric Bohlman

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Feb 25, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/25/97
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Rev. Dennis L Erlich (inF...@primenet.com) wrote:

: Perhaps if I went there next week and helped with the protest


: march and candlelight vigil for Lisa McPherson, I could ease the
: tension in downtown Clearwater a bit. Maybe I could conduct a
: tour of the Ft. Harrison hotel and show the police where I was
: held in the basement for 10 days and where I saw Lynn Froyland
: chained. That might help.

: What do you think?

They'll undoubtedly get another restraining order against you, just like
last time. Except this time, it will become part of a major off-the-net
news story, and people will start asking why the Co$ is so scared of you.
Go for it.


Martin Hunt

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Feb 26, 1997, 3:00:00 AM2/26/97
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In article <33142a20...@news.eskimo.com>,

mdal...@kcii.com (Mark Dallara) wrote:
}
}A quiet paranoia settles in Clearwater
}- Mary Jo Melone
}St. Petersburg Times
}2/23/97
}
}The Bank of Clearwater used to be just that, a bank. But the
}Scientologists own the bank like they own so much else in downtown
}Clearwater. A small sign by the big green doors announces the place is
}open to the public.
}
}So I entered the lovingly restored lobby Friday and just as I began to
}inspect the photographs of founder L. Ron Hubbard and various monuments to
}him around the globe, a female voice rose brightly from behind. "Do you
}know what this place is?" she asked. She said quickly that "my church",
}as she called it, is glad to let any civic group use the room we were in
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

}for their meetings. She mentioned the Girl Scouts.

Cool! Can we book it for the ARSCC for the next picket in Clearwater?
It seem handy and close by, and surely we're a civic group by any
definition of the word, even if we don't, technically, exist. Wouldn't
that be a handy spot for a press conference for the protesting critics?

--
Cogito, ergo sum. Just the FAQs: http://www.ncf.carleton.ca/~av282

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