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Hollywood irony: Lies and broken lives

The Daily Times, USA
Nov. 30, 2003 Editorial
Gil Spencer • Sunday November 30, 2003

On Thanksgiving Day I went to see a movie called “Shattered Glass.” Its the true story of Stephen Glass, a young and rising star journalist for The New Republic magazine, who made a whole lot of stuff up, put it in the magazine and then lied like crazy to avoid getting caught. (Good news: He got caught anyway.)

A Public Challenge To Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise’s viewpoint on why people criticize Scientology (as reported in this transcript):
These things — you know, any time — where there’s ignorance about something or people don’t want to know about something, you know, it really gets back to gossip or, you know, just people don’t know something, there you have racism. There you have bigotry. And that’s where those things stem from.
Our Challenge:
The publishers of Apologetics Index publically challenge Tom Cruise to show where and how these research resources on Scientology are the result of “ignorance,” “gossip,” “racism,” and/or “bigotry.”
Memo to Tom Cruise: We challenge and counter Scientology because we know all about it.
We ask our readers to examine these issues as well, so that they can make an informed decision regarding both Scientology and Tom Cruise’s statements.

The movie was based on a Vanity Fair magazine piece about Glass and was produced by, none other than, the popular film star Tom Cruise.

After seeing the movie, which I like a lot, I happened to catch Cruise on CNNs “Larry King Live.”

He wasnt on to promote “Shattered Glass,” which is enjoying a very limited release (I had to go to Bala to see it). He was on to promote his new film “The Last Samurai.” But he did talk about “Shattered Glass” a little bit.

“Its about the writer from the New Republic..who lied,” Tom explained to Larry, “and then, you know, later it came out in The New York Times.”

Actually, it came out in Forbes Digital online magazine, and the New Republic itself, not The New York Times. But then Tom Cruise is a very busy man running a very big filmmaking career and he cant be expected to remember every little thing just right.

But he does know that it is a journalists job to base their reporting on “facts.”

“I think people deserve that,” he declared, “deserve the truth. But some people cant handle the truth.”

This line is a lift from Toms movie “A Few Good Men.” But if he meant it as a joke, Larry didnt get it.

In the course of the interview, Larry and Tom got to talking about L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology of which Tom is an enthusiastic member.

It came up when Larry asked Tom about his growing up dyslexic. Tom denied he was or ever had been dyslexic. That was just a label that some school shrink had put on him when he was 7.

Scientologists have been trying to discredit psychiatry since L. Ron Hubbard went crazy like a fox and decided to invent the religion as a moneymaking scheme back in 1950s.

When Larry asked Tom why Scientology was so “controversial,” the star denied that it was. Larry persisted but politely.

King: I mean — the FBI looks at it..

Cruise: No, it doesnt.

King: ..investigated it. Remember that..they wanted to raid their books.

Cruise: Oh that was — youre talking decades (ago).

Not quite. Back in 1991, Time magazine devoted its cover to Scientology referring to it as a Cult of Greed.

“The Church of Scientology, started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to clear people of unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion,” wrote Richard Behar. “In reality the church is a hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members and critics in a Mafia-like manner. At times during the past decade, prosecutions against Scientology seemed to be curbing its menace.

Eleven top Scientologists, including Hubbards wife, were sent to prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing and wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts to block their investigations. In recent years, hundreds of longtime Scientology adherents — many charging that they were mentally or physically abused — have quit the church and criticized it at their own risk.

Some have sued the church and won; others have settled for amounts in excess of $500,000. In various cases, judges have labeled the church “schizophrenic and paranoid” and “corrupt, sinister and dangerous.”

It hasnt changed much, but since then another, even more dangerous cult of religious fanatics has garnered the nations attention.

Still, when it comes to lying, the late L. Ron Hubbard makes Stephen Glass look like Nelson Mandela.

Hubbards lifetime of lies has been well reported. He lied often, promiscuously and “pathologically” according to one California judge.

He lied about his academic career, his military record, and his supposed scientific credentials.

Whether Hubbard was lying when he claimed that human beings are made of a cluster of spirits (“thetans”) who were banished to earth some 75 million years ago by a cruel galactic ruler named Xenu, well, thats impossible to verify.

However, the more you read about Hubbard the more he sounds like one of those fascinating characters that Stephen Glass made up out of thin air. But the damage Scientology has done to thousands of former members is no fiction.

It is well documented despite the cults best efforts to intimidate and silence those it has caused to suffer.

That Tom Cruise would remain oblivious to the lives destroyed by this so-called religion is hardly a shock. He is a gullible idiot who lives in a cocoon of weird but comforting lies.

That he would produce such a good film about deception and self-deception is irony at its Hollywood best.

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