Skip to comments.No Laughing Matter (The Forbidden Side of Scientology)
Posted on 02/23/2005 5:52:36 PM PST by Murray Luther
The Forbidden Side of Scientology
By the Reverend Murray Luther, Feb 23, 2005
No Laughing Matter
One of the more curious paradoxes you'll find within Scientology organizations is how they deal with humor. L. Ron Hubbard must have had some degree of understanding on the subject, since as a writer of science fiction, he most certainly dealt with the elements of humor more than a few times. In his ten-volume sci-fi series Mission Earth he notes in the introduction, ". . . there is another aspect to science fiction: by its nature most of it has an element of satire." Hubbard also made a point of defining humor and its relationship to Scientology. In the Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary, you'll find this entry: ". . . humor is rejection. The ability to reject. The ability to throw something away." The word also appears in Hubbard's Modern Management Technology Defined: ". . . laughter is rejection, actually. And humor you will find usually deals with one or another out-point put in such a way that the reader or audience can reject it."
In 1977, Hubbard issued an odd bulletin titled "Jokers and Degraders," that limited the scope of what Scientologists could consider funny. Hubbard declared Scientology off limits to humorous expression. He wasn't opposed to joking in general, but in his view, those who made jokes within the Church environment were destructive people. He said, "In some cultural areas, wit and humor are looked upon as a healthy release. However, in the case of orgs, this was not found to be the case. Intentional destruction of the org or fellow staff members was the direct purpose."
American humorist Will Rogers once observed, "Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else." Maybe this was Hubbard's frame of mind when he determined that making jokes about Scientology was a suspect activity. There's a difference between being able to tell a joke and being able to take one.
Hubbard's take on humor is peculiarly inconsistent. On one hand, he acknowledged that humor could be a healthy release, even therapeutic. For example, laughter is considered a good indicator within the Scientology counseling environment. Yet when it comes to the organization, displays of humor are seen as a sure indication of trouble. Not only is the jokester displaying his own destructive impulses but, "He is also advertising an area of the org where there is enturbulation and down statistics as well as staff members being victimized."
In spite of Hubbard's dim view of laughter in the workplace, Scientologists aren't much different than anyone else when it comes to humor. While you might find some Scientologists who don't seem to laugh much, you'll also find those with an excellent sense of humor. Unfortunately, funny Scientologists are discouraged from displaying their talent. But it wasn't always that way.
During the Seventies, Scientology humor was frequently evident, especially in the Missions. Staff and public used to come up with all sorts of "Scientologist jokes." And around Christmas time you could always find someone who just wrote a Christmas carol parody using Scientology terms. I remember a high-ranking Scientology counselor who used to rewrite popular songs and turn them into songs about Scientology. I recall a Scientologist doing a hilarious impersonation of Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood doing a drill on the Communication Course. There was another Scientologist who liked to perform old TV shows as if the characters were all Scientologists. All of it was funny, and all of it was harmless.
L. Ron Hubbard considered himself a consummate expert on any subject he touched upon. The subject of humor was no exception. In his Policy Letter "Situation Finding," Hubbard claims that humorists really don't have any idea of what they're doing. He said, "Even humorists have no real idea of illogic. Reading their ideas of the theory of humor shows them to be off the mark. They really don't know what is 'funny.'" I guess Hubbard, in all of his in-depth research, never got around to reading the works of Shakespeare, Mark Twain, or Oscar Wilde. And somehow he must have missed the work of two of his contemporaries, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks, whose classic humor dates back to Radio and the Golden Age of Television. Hubbard's absurd claim that humorists have no idea of illogic is as unfounded as it is ridiculous. Comedians like George Carlin and Steven Wright can masterfully pit logic and illogic against each other in countless hilarious combinations. Hubbard might have been better advised to leave comedy to the professionals.
L. Ron Hubbard may have displayed a sense of humor at times but it certainly had its limitations. He had no trouble poking fun at the traditional institutions of society which he saw as inferior to his own organization. But he never for a moment saw a speck of humor in anything that he ever did. Hubbard could dish it out, but he sure couldn't take it.
We all know a few people that just can't take a joke. Take Fidel Castro for instance. It's a crime in Cuba to exhibit satirical portrayals of their jocular Communist dictator. Totalitarian Marxist regimes just aren't very funny, apparently. Neither is Scientology, it would seem.
Hubbard and Castro aside, most of us can usually laugh at our own foibles. In a way it's how we maintain our dignity in awkward situations. How would Hubbard have responded to humor at his expense? Would he have fired back with a snappy one-liner, or would he have reacted indignantly? Groucho Marx or Margaret Dumont?
Believe it or not, Hubbard himself may have provided us with the answer. The "Introduction" in "Volume One" of Mission Earth is essentially an essay on the subject of humor and satire. In one passage, Hubbard might have revealed more about himself than he knew. It's L. Ron Hubbard in perhaps his most ironic moment: ". . . the targets of satire are always the last to laugh. Due to various personal reasons, they cannot see the joke. But satire is not written for them. It is written for others so that, like the fable, they can see that the "emperor has no clothes."
Murray Luther is the pen name of a Scientologist of over twenty-five years who remains in good standing with the Church. © Copyright Murray Luther 2005. All rights Reserved
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Those people do not give up! In 1981, as a college freshman, a friend of mine put my name on one of their fliers around campus (as a joke).
For the next twenty years they hounded me with solicitations and junk mail. They absolutely creep me out!
Hey, if people are stupid enough to fall for L. Ron Hubbard's gag, then so be it.
It's like the idiots who keep sending money to the televangelists hoping for a miracle.
A fool and his money soon go separate ways.
Another excellent column. Thanks!
Wow. Good thing the Islam-o-nazi's don't get PO'd when someone dogs their...ummm...
religion...ummmm... beliefs, yea, that't the word.
Everybody is so touchy these days.
Welcome. I must have missed your arrival on FR. Please keep writing and talking. People need to understand the scope of the C of $ impact. Beslan, NYC over September 11th, are the tip of the iceberg, imho.
Sometimes I wonder if they put out the garbage about space aliens, thetans and electronic boxes simply to cloak their real plan to take over the world. / sadly only partially kidding.
How many scientologists does it take to change a light bulb?
what is enturbulation?
just want a context - such a different religion
Only one, but if you want a cleared bulb it'll take years and years and set you back a quarter million bucks.
We did that to a guy too, except it was one of those "Stop Bedwetting!" fliers. They called him once a week for six months.
Scientologists are straight up kooks.
It's a fake religion where they eat up all your money suckering you into trying to get to their higher levels (like "OT" or whatever else) and then you find out that some crazy "alien name Xenu(sp?) ruled the galaxie eons ago" and a bunch of mumbo-jumbo about some trapped souls.
I put them in the same category with the Raelians.
L. Ron Hubbard didn't write all those ten novels, unless you believe he wrote them from the Other Side. He was dead. The first couple of them may have been ghostwritten, too, I don't know.
I started reading SF back when Hubbard was still writing SF, and I have his first two novels, which I bought when they came out. He also wrote for the pulps, at the going rate of 2 cents a word.
I remember reading a letter to the editor from Hubbard in one of the pulps, announcing that he was quitting the SF writing business, because there wasn't any money in it. In that letter, he said that there was much more money in starting a new religion--which he then proceeded to do.
I'm not sure if I still have the magazine that letter appeared in. I tried to find it a few years back, among a stack of old pulps I had put in the attic, but unfortunately I couldn't locate it. But my memory of his basic point is clear enough. There's more money in starting a religion and milking the suckers than there is in writing SF for 2 cents a word. That's what he said, and that's what he did.
The irony is, Scientology itself is L. Ron's joke, and the joke's on the IRS.
[Hubbard declared Scientology off limits to humorous expression. ]
BWAAAAA HAAAAA HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!
Raelians came and went. The Church of Scientology is here to stay and it's a very large extensive group already.
Several years ago I joined the Apliantologists, but after the death of Frank Zappa the group fizzled.
Forbidden clam, aaaaaaaaagh. </ homer>
Scientology is a joke.
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