Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Weekly Jackass Number Sixteen: Tom Cruise

A disclaimer right up front: I think Tom Cruise is a pretty good actor. I'm also insanely jealous of his looks and fortune. That's not the subject of this post. I'm looking very forward to seeing War of the Worlds. In fact, I'm being a wee bit sneaky in this week's edition...but we'll get to that. End disclaimer.

I graduated from Texas Tech but started my college career at the University of Texas at Austin, my current hometown. I lived on campus; we'd walk to "The Drag" to go buy our CDs and get our textbooks. Every day I would pass by the Church of Scientology, taking up the second floor of a retail building, and most days there would be some poor fool trying to get me to take a free 'personality test'. I was smart enough not to go for it, but here's what would have happened if I had done so.

As I took my free 'audit' on a cheesy modified lie detector, I would be told that I was full of 'engrams' that were causing me much stress, and that I needed to be 'cleared'. Here's what I wouldn't be told: every step of the process of being cleared is increasingly more expensive, and there's a lot of steps. Eventually, after shelling out tens of thousands of dollars, I would learn, among other things, that I'm composed of spirits called 'thetans' that were banished 75 billion years ago by a guy named Xenu (I'd find this out during my coursework to become an Operating Thetan III). If this is your first exposure to Scientology, you may think I'm joking. I'm not.

I'm not going to go into detail debunking Scientology; there are many great resources where you can find out about its phony baloney, like here, here, and here. It's also not my style to slam other people's religions; after all, an atheist will find a virgin birth and resurrection quite hard to swallow, as well. Scientology is not a religion, though; it is a mind-control cult dedicated to ripping off its adherents, and to do so, it must try to intimidate those who would spill its secrets (obviously, though, the Internet has made that battle moot).

Scientology does this intimidation through the promiscuous use of lawsuits and 'dead agenting' operations aiming to ruin the reputation and financial solvency of its critics. It also prevents people with genuine mental health problems from getting medical treatment, and has been implicated in multiple deaths as a result. It exploits this nation's income tax code by treating what is a blatantly obvious rip-off scheme as a religion. And it coddles celebrities.

Yep, ol' L. Ron knew a little about the PR business, so he put up a nice fancy place where celebrities can go and wash away their engrams in luxury. Cruise is the most vocal and recognized celebrity Scientologist today, and it is for this, not for his politics, nor his personal life, his acting, or any other reason, that he is this week's honoree. Wake up,'re contributing to a giant scam, and the little guys that can't afford it are getting hurt. Read the literature, Tom, and 'clear' your mind - ol' Mr. Hubbard has planted an engram the size of an elephant in your brain...

UPDATE 06/12/05 9:11 p.m. central: Subsequent behavior by Cruise has only reinforced the selection of Mr. Cruise: his flacking of Scientology on the set of War of the Worlds, his criticism of psychiatry (a favorite whipping boy of Scientologists), and his bizarre antics with Katie Holmes show a man out of control, and seriously deluded...and of course, now he's got Katie embracing Scientology; that's not surprising, either, for a Scientologist has to surround himself with other fools that embrace the 'faith'...

UPDATE 06/17/05 6:37 a.m. central: Now that he's brainwashed her, Cruise has proposed to Katie Holmes atop the Eiffel Tower...

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