"Down the Rabbit Hole"
by Michael Krotz
A first person account of the creation and realization of possibly the most controversial benefit concert ever...
In late July, 2000 I first came into direct contact with the Lisa McPherson Trust and its members. I was present at the Tampa Airport when German government representative Ursula Caberta arrived and was greeted by screeching Scientologists yelling such things as, "Nazi go home." At that time the Scientologists had no idea who I was, I was just present to videotape whatever might take place.
The following Sunday, I decided to attend a picket - my first one - in front of the Ft. Harrison in Clearwater. Again, I was only present to videotape. Almost immediately, I was labeled a "Nazi," and was interrogated about how much Bob Minton was supposedly paying me and asked to confess my "crimes." I took the Nazi label as quite an insensitive insult to my heritage, as my family is largely of German descent. I felt that such a label would be much like referring to a person of color by the "N-word." Not long after that I was assaulted by Scientologist Dennis Clark, who grabbed my arm while attempting to depict ME as the aggressor. This was all captured on tape from multiple angles, and some others filed criminal complaints regarding Clark's conduct that day. I was rather amused to learn that day that Clark was the Chairman of the Citizen's Commission on Human Rights, a Scientology front group. Since I came out of the altercation with Clark with only a scratch on my arm, I chose not to file a complaint that day. At that time, I still had my anonymity.
Two days after that, Ursula Caberta held a press conference at the Lisa McPherson Trust, to expose a German Scientologist who had obtained religious asylum in the United States by using fraudulent documents. I was present and was videotaping various goings-on outside the press conference, including Scientology's pet attorney, Kendrick Moxon, as he threatened various legal maneuvers and tried serving subpoenas for more of the endless lawsuits and depositions that he has become famous for. At that time I had just heard of the mysterious death of his daughter, Stacy Myer, by electrocution in an underground transformer vault at a Scientology compound in Hemet, California. He displayed no signs whatsoever as having the capacity to grieve for his daughter. This was only a few short days after her death, and he was as rabid as ever in his efforts on behalf of the cult of Scientology.
Someone noticed that there was a person lurking on the third floor of the parking garage to the East of the Lisa McPherson Trust. I decided to go see who this was spying on us, and I walked to the garage and up the stairs. Who did I find on the third floor looking over the edge, but Dennis Clark! He immediately picked up his belongings and elbowed his way past me and down the stairs, at which time I simply turned and videotaped him descending the stairs. He made it about a half flight down before he turned around and ascended the stairs, accusing me of harassing him. He then punched me twice in the stomach and took off. At that time I decided that I was no longer going to be anonymous, and I immediately approached one of the many Clearwater Police officers that were present in the area to report the assault.
As I write this (November 15, 2000) I can report that absolutely nothing has come of this complaint as far as an arrest or prosecution of Clark is concerned. I have been assured that the State Attorney is reviewing the case and considering whether to prosecute, but I am beginning to have doubts. After all, to date the State Attorney has lost the original complaint which caused at least a 30 day delay and evidently landed my personal information in the hands of Scientologists- and the videotape of the incident was "missing" for some time but suddenly reappeared. We have been talking about taking this and other complaints to higher levels, possibly even Federal authorities, as it is beginning to seem that Scientologists are getting away with criminal activity on the streets of Clearwater on a regular and DOCUMENTED basis, with no prosecution AT ALL.
At about the time that Clark assaulted me and I was getting a crash course in the tactics of the cult, the idea of a benefit concert came to mind. I saw it as a great opportunity to educate the community as to the TRUE nature of the Lisa McPherson Trust, and to expose Scientology and its tactics to the area musicians and fans. Mr. Scary Productions announced the concert in early August, and within 24 hours my name and personal information was posted to the internet...including where I work, live and other details. It seems that from the beginning they wanted to label me as Mr. Scary, without the least bit of understanding of how a concert gets promoted. Yes, I was the main volunteer for this event and did much of the organizing. I guess I could even say that I am the most public face of the volunteers, the spokesperson, if you will. There was and continues to be an orchestrated attempt to isolate me as the "only" person who was Mr. Scary Productions, the only purpose of which I can think of is to set me up for a future lawsuit. They also posted lyrics from a band I used to be in, attempting to label them as my words. Never mind that I left that band before the songs that they cited were recorded, and that I didn't write or sing those words! I play keyboards and synths.
So after an initial barrage of anonymous attacks by cultists in the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup, someone mentioned to me that L. Ron Hubbard's great-grandson, Jamie Kennedy, had a very critical piece about Scientology out on MP3.com, and that he would be a great guest at the concert. I immediately sent an email to Jamie, and we began discussing his appearing at the benefit. He was all for it from the first conversation, and even more dedicated to doing this after two Scientologists showed up at his house in a ruse attempt to "discuss his poetry." They spoke to his mother, who saw through them almost immediately, due to their "dead eyes" and robot-like behavior. They eventually confessed that they wanted to talk to him about his piece on Scientology, and specifically asked if he knew that it was being "used" by us here in Florida. They claimed that they had never seen the things he describes in his performance, such as the threatening visits to people's houses...which his mother responded to with, "Then what are you doing in my yard right now?"
Another Scientology front group, The Foundation for Religious Tolerance, began attacking this event and the bands, and me personally. First, Mary DeMoss sent out a letter to press and the community suggesting that we were all "anti Christian," in an obvious attempt to inflame passions and avoiding the fact that this event had nothing to do with our views on Christianity. She also included the usual mug shots of Bob, Mark, Jesse and others from the Lisa McPherson Trust along with the manufactured "criminal records." This was followed by several anonymous fliers that criminally infringed on copyright laws by printing band-owned artwork, which again went on to suggest that we were all anti Christian.
Fortunately, the vast majority of those in the public and the press saw through this thinly veiled cult attempt to destroy the benefit concert. In fact, we forwarded this information to area press to show them how desperate Scientologists were to stop this event from happening. Mary DeMoss later acknowledged that she was behind this orchestrated attempt to discredit the event and the bands involved, when she said in an interview in the Tampa, FL paper The Weekly Planet that our promotional efforts for this concert were a "counterintelligence program," and suggesting that "FBI" tactics were utilized. In a way she is exactly right...we had to "counter" her "intelligence program." I would suggest that Mary is a little upset that we were able to use her Dead Agent material to further promote this event and the cause. After all, the exposure of any and all cult tactics was one of the goals of this event. We were very pleased that they cooperated with us and gave us so much promotional assistance.
Jamie Kennedy arrived in town the Wednesday before this event. We immediately went to downtown Clearwater, and accompanied by Jeff Jacobsen, we took Jamie on a little walking tour of the downtown area. Jamie asked at the front door for a tour of the Ft. Harrison, but was turned away because he was "with those people." He tried to explain his genetic relation to "source," but this did not seem to have any impact on the guy at the door. The streets were unusually quiet, as they seemed to remain the entire rest of his visit.
The next morning, Jamie appeared on the 98 Rock morning show with Bubba the Love Sponge, WXTB FM 97.9 in Tampa. He was initially scheduled for a brief appearance, but this ran over in excess of 30 minutes, and Bubba was so impressed he asked Jamie back on the show on the following Monday to talk and take calls. We also went on Tampa radio station 88.5 FM WMNF, on Thursday night's Dark Horizons show. This appearance was a great time, and they played Jamie's piece, Judas' Son. Their switchboard was flooded with positive calls that night.
During the middle of that day, we went to the Pinellas County Courthouse and Jamie sat in on a court hearing regarding Scientology's attempt to get a restraining order against the entire staff of the Lisa McPherson Trust, in a blatant attempt to stomp on their constitutional right to protest in the form of pickets. He got a firsthand view of their sleazy attorneys at work, while OSA chief Ben Shaw testified about "bombings" and other criminal activity against the "church" that had NOTHING to do with the folks from the trust. In fact, most of what he described happened long before the trust even opened.
It was described to me recently that the 1st Amendment is currently straining under the pressure being brought by both sides of this argument. Scientology pushes from its side, claiming the right to practice their so-called religion. The critics push from their side, claiming the right to peacefully assemble and protest. Meanwhile, the Constitution is straining under the efforts at work here. If Scientology wins their court battle and prevents anyone from peacefully protesting, then our Constitution has failed us. If that happens, we all better get ready for the Orwellian future that is a Scientology world.
The Friday before the event, Jamie got another viewpoint on what critics must endure when taking on Scientology. We were at a private dinner with Bob Minton and most of the folks from the trust, when a Scientology process server walked up to our table and served Bob with a subpoena. I had my video camera out and taped the entire thing. I then followed the process server as he walked out of the dining area of the restaurant. He then threatened to break my camera, and hit my arm in an attempt to make me drop the camera. I have filed a battery complaint against this process server, and also complained to the supervisor of process servers at the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. The assault was captured on more than one camera and witnessed by several patrons of the restaurant. To me, it is just one more example of the nature and methods of these cultists and their various "tools." They like to operate covertly and behind the scenes, but react violently when exposed to light...or in my case, to the lens.
The benefit concert began quietly a little past Noon on Saturday, November 11, 2000. Early on, we spotted church Private Investigators spying on the club. At least four different ones were observed during the day, and later in the afternoon I saw Scientologist Richard Hirst cruising by. As things picked up, I was too busy to deal with the goings on outside the venue, but I was told by none other than Frank Oliver that he saw Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun cruisin' the 'hood, checking out the activities at the event. Later that night, around 1:00 a.m., I watched as Jamie Kennedy and one of our security guards approached a suspicious vehicle that was parked across the street from the backstage door of the club. Jamie asked the driver if he could help him, for which he got a "f**k you" response. The driver, most likely another Scientology PI, then sped off.
The bands all performed and had a great time, and Jamie performed Judas' Son and several other of his spoken word pieces. There was a local radio reporter present, who interviewed me, Jamie, Peter Alexander, Frank Oliver and others regarding this event and Scientology in general. This will be edited into an hour long program, which he will then present to area community and public radio stations for airplay. This interview will also be made available on the internet, watch for a post announcing it in alt.religion.scientology.
There were no incidents, attempts on anyone's life, and all present had a great time. On the Thursday prior to the event, I received a call from Club More management, telling me that they had been visited by the Clearwater Police regarding this event. Evidently, someone had anonymously presented to the police a printout of one of the replies to a newsgroup update about this event, in which it was posted that everyone should come to the show armed. We had already posted replies that violence would not be tolerated, but to further insure safety and at the club's request, we arranged for a handheld metal detector and checked everyone at the door. This anonymous "tip" to the police was just one more example of the desperate attempts from all angles to destroy this concert.
The Monday after the event, Jamie Kennedy appeared again on 98 Rock, and the majority of his appearance is now available online. A Scientologist finally called in, saying he is "OT-8" and immediately began attacking...but not defending! He never answered a single question, and accused me of being a Felon in possession of copywritten materials because I was wearing a T-shirt with OT-3 on it... a shirt that was a gift from a friend, by the way. The shirt has on the front a copy of the original handwritten document from Hubbard describing this level of Scientology. This is were Xenu is first mentioned. For the majority of an hour, this caller danced around the subject and never once answered one question about Xenu. He did acknowledge three things however, that Hubbard did say that the purpose of a lawsuit is not to win, but to harass and destroy utterly, that they do believe in "always attack, never defend," and that the "fair game" policy once existed, though he claimed that it had been canceled.
Bubba really seemed to be enjoying himself on this show, and we all had a great time. Bubba even offered to broadcast his show live the next day from the Ft. Harrison, and to have everyone on the show get hooked up to an E-meter... the caller said the Bubba would NEVER be allowed inside the Ft. Harrison.
We then went to Clearwater, where we filmed Jamie performing his piece, Judas' Son, all over downtown. The highlight was the portion filmed in front of the main doors to the Ft. Harrison, while no fewer than SIX different Scientology cameras were pointed at us... not counting the ones mounted on the building! We also filmed Jesse Prince auditing Jamie with an E-meter in front of the Ft. Harrison and the Bank building. Bob Minton even got into the performance art mood, carrying around a briefcase so overstuffed with cash that bills were spilling out of all sides... As Jamie left the Ft. Harrison, he shouted out that he would be back, that he was coming back to claim what is rightfully his, that he wants his great-grandfather's office!
There are more details, which may be filled in as time allows. Watch for postings about Jamie Kennedy's performance of Judas' Son, which will be available soon. I took Jamie to the airport Monday night, and he is now back home getting ready for his next poetry slam event this weekend. I have noticed several different cultists and apologists posting to the internet about the event, including some who posted updates during the course of the day of the event... rather shocking that they have nothing better to do than attack a benefit concert.
The show and surrounding promotion was a tremendous success as far as I am concerned. It succeeded beyond my wildest imagination as far as reaching more people and educating them as to what Scientology is really like. I owe tons of thanks to everyone involved, including Ted and the staff at Club More, all those who volunteered to work the event, the bands and their fans, and everyone at 98 Rock and WMNF in Tampa.
I can only imagine what the future now holds. To date I do not know of anyone attempting to visit my neighbors or to "DA" me to acquaintances or clients, except for what has appeared in the newsgroups. I remain a rather public individual in that I play in a band that appears frequently in the area and statewide, so any attacks on me are sure to get some press. I would expect that the next approach would be some sort of frame-up, since the direct approach hasn't worked. It is probably important to them to discredit me as soon as possible, for the combined embarassment of this concert and my insistence on getting Dennis Clark prosecuted for assaulting me. I have repeatedly asked that their crack team of investigators dig up the mug shot from my one and only arrest...for unpaid parking tickets. It would be a wonderful addition, maybe put it right next to the underage possession of alcohol mug shot for Karin Case, or under the picture of Mark Bunker that describes an allegation of trespassing... which took place on a public sidewalk! Dig up those "crimes" boys! Manufacture them if you have to!
Or maybe they will get a warrant to break into my house alleging theft of copywritten material, because of the T-shirt I was wearing... nevermind that it was a gift, created from a posting to the internet.
I now think Orwell was more visionary than ever, having met the modern day equivalent of his "Big Brother." If you value your privacy and your right to your opinion and your thoughts, do not be afraid to speak and to act. I firmly believe that everyone has a right to freedom of religion. I also believe that we have a right to freedom FROM religion. Especially from this one.