I understand Sharron Angle’s press strategy: since her positions are completely crazy, she needs to stay away from real reporters who might ask her about them. So she’s talking only to fellow wingnuts, such as John Gizzi at Human Events.
But Houston, we have a problem: Angle is so at odds with consensus reality that a reporter doesn’t have to ask hard follow-up questions to make her sound like a loon. For example, Gizzi tries to help her deny some damaging revelations in a Washington Post story:
The same Post story claimed that as a legislator, Angle had supported “a prison rehabilitation program promoted by the Church of Scientology and involving massage and saunas.”
Seeking to “clear the record,” Angle told us “I am not even sure that the Church of Scientology fits into it at all. You have to make some quantum leaps here.”
She noted “the program itself is a multifaceted program, and it had two protocols: one in the area of withdrawals, and it was a natural withdrawal system. As s you know, that can have some severe physical side effects and the cramping that was involved there required that other people be taught how to relieve the cramping. So that is where it said that people were being massaged.”
“The second protocol was what they called the ‘disintoxification,’ which was actually sweating the drug out of one’s system so that there were no longer any cravings for the drug. This is a very intense potassium, calcium, vitamin, mineral regimen, with a hot rock sauna that sweats the toxins out. Those two protocols were developed by [the late Church of Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard, and they had to give him credit. But it is not Scientology, but rather natural homeopathic medicine.”
All right, then. As long as that’s clear. The bogus drug-treatment program Angle endorses, and wants to impose on prisoners at taxpayer expense, isn’t a Scientology program; it’s just a program of “natural homeopathic medicine” invented by the pulp science-fiction writer who founded Scientology. Because we all know that “disintoxification” is a sure cure for drug addiction.
Update A reader writes to clarify:
Since Sharon Angle obviously won’t say, and probably doesn’t know, it might be useful to clarify the relationship between the program she supported and Scientology, which is in fact quite direct.
The detoxification program being described was created by Hubbard about 1980 for the Church of Scientology, which still sells it as the Purification Rundown. It consists of brief periods of exercise daily, followed by sustained sweating in a sauna. The purpose of the sweating, for 5 hours a day, is to flush out remains of drugs and toxic chemicals which Hubbard believed were lodged in fat. Along with these elements, it involves large doses, with daily increases, of calcium, magnesium, niacin, and various other vitamins. The program sold by the Church of Scientology affiliates Narconon (drug rehabilitation) and Criminon (criminal rehabilitation) is normally called the Detoxification Program. The Scientology phrase, Purification Rundown is never used by these officially secular groups. However, it is exactly the same program.
It has been claimed (http://www.xenu.net/archive/oca/narconon/safety.html) that the program is dangerous. However, it should be noted that many thousands of individuals (including me) have done this program in the past 30 years, and I’m unable to find any documented case of significant harm. Although I actually found the experience quite positive, objectively documented evidence of real benefits seems to be equally scarce.
The reference to ‘massages’ in descriptions of the program at first confused me, since massage isn’t part of the program. But actually, it seems to be a reference to a Scientology procedure known as touch assists, which really aren’t massages in any plausible sense of the word. In Scientology, the process is always referred to as detoxification, which unlike ‘disintoxification’ is at least a real word. In no sense at all is it homeopathy or in any way related to homeopathy, another instance of Angle’s ignorance.
The structure of the Church of Scientology is extremely complex, but the following points are relevant: In practice, there is one extremely unified and hierarchic organization controlled by a single person, David Miscavige. But what most people don’t know is that on paper the picture is very different. Legally, there are at least 150 distinct corporations in the US alone which constitute the Church. Miscavige controls the Board of Directors of all of the different corporations, and it is reported that he has on file undated resignations for every board member of every corporation, giving him the ability to remove any person at will, or even to retroactively remove a board which has acted against his wishes, by backdating their resignations. In practice, I doubt he has ever had to do this; in fact the various boards in most cases never meet. The directors just sign off on the board’s ‘actions’ as dictated by attorneys. This is the structure of
Narconon, Criminon, and ABLE (the umbrella group which includes both of these and several other formally non-religious organizations).
Two corporations are atop the pyramid. One, the Religious Technology Center (RTC), controls the trademarks Scientology, Hubbard, Dianetics, and hundreds of other terms. Since a number of these terms are used by Criminon, all Criminon groups must be licensed by RTC, and pay a licensing fee set by RTC. (They also must agree to inspections by RTC to insure the trademarks are correctly used, which RTC performs at its own discretion and bills at rates it sets.) Miscavige is the Chairman of the Board. The other is Author Services International (ASI). This is officially, unlike the rest, a for profit corporation in which Miscavige is CEO and Chairman of the Board. It is a literary agency with only one client, the estate of L Ron Hubbard. All materials used by the Church of Scientology and the ABLE groups are copyright by Hubbard, regardless of who actually wrote them. Since all Scientology groups must use Hubbard’s copyrighted works, ASI is able to
charge any fees it chooses for that use. And since it is for profit, there are no restrictions on how much is paid to Miscavige personally. (Not a penny goes to any of Hubbard’s surviving children.)
Between ASI and RTC, a very large proportion of any funds, including taxpayer funds, paid to Criminon or any similar group – I believe over 25%, but I don’t actually know – goes directly to the Church of Scientology, with a significant cut going to Miscavige personally.
So to summarize: the organization which delivers the detox program is under the absolute control of the Church of Scientology (or at least of the same person who controls the Church of Scientology), the methods used are exactly those of Scientology with only the names changed, the senior staff are all members of the Church of Scientology Sea Organization, and large chunks of the income are skimmed off the top by Scientology. And Ms Angle is “not even sure that the Church of Scientology fits into it at all”.