By Robert Vaughn Young more
2 September 1998
The length of this post is relevant to its subject. It does
include some Scientologese. If you find a word you don't
understand, call your local Dianetics or Scientology
organization and ask them to define it. They like people to do
this. Be sure to tell them you are reading
Hi, guys. Long time no write, which is what this post is
I've been posting to ARS for a few years now and then I
disappeared, although I was occasionally in touch with several
of you via email. I want to tell you what's been going on. Plus
it will give the criminal cult something to whine, bitch, carp,
natter, scream, cry, rant about which might get someone's stats
up there so they can get a day off to do their laundry. (Boy, do
I remember that routine!)
For those who don't know me, I was in the cult for nearly 21
years. (I know that Martin Hunt has archived some of my posts at
<http://www.islandnet.com/~martinh/rvy/rvy.htm>.) Because I
spoke out, they had to have spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars in the last five years trying to silence me and probably
even think they finally did it. Right. Read on.
If you can manage about 7,000 words, this post will tell you
more than the cult wants you to know.
You've heard about Jesse Prince. Well, I was with him having
a great time in Southern California back in July, when he was at
Dan Leipold's law offices. Of course, we were being followed by
the Church of Paranoia's criminal Dept. 20 and typical of their
ineptness, we slipped in behind them and followed them for
awhile. It was hilarious they way they panicked, zipping and
dashing about through traffic while we kept on their tails,
sometimes bumper-to-bumper, reading license plates and laughing
our heads off in this darling red Mustang convertible, with the
top down. (Hey, do it in style!) If this was a paid PI,
should ask for a refund as they were a pathetic joke. Anyway, we
did it for a while and then tired and left them, wondering if
they would tell the truth in their report how they screwed it
Later I went back to Minneapolis, where Jesse lived. We spent
a few days there while he wrapped up things and then we toddled
on over to Chicago to visit relatives and hung out in the Windy
City for a few days, checking out everything from the music
clubs to Lake Michigan. I had my dog Mac with me and we romped
on the sands and down in the water, having a great time.
(Meanwhile someone told me the OSA sock puppets on ARS were
saying how I've disappeared. Yup. With Jesse in a red Mustang
From there we went south to visit more relatives, caring less
if the paranoid criminal cult was tracking us. Let em spend
Travolta's money to get nuttin'. After a few days here and
there, we turned west and ambled across Kansas (spare me from
EVER driving across Kansas again) and into Colorado.
So while the OSA sock puppets were claiming I was missing,
they were lying to you. (I'm shocked!) They knew I was with
Jesse. (In fact, we enjoyed it that they knew. It's called
"critical mass.") They just hated it that two very good friends
were having such a good time!
I should have mentioned that earlier. Jesse and I go back
many years, into the cult. He and I are old buddies and it was
great spending many weeks with him. He is as outrageous as ever.
Runt leader David Miscavige was always afraid of him and as
evidenced by the tantrums of his sock puppets, he's still
afraid. (By the way, if you ever want to see a good portrayal of
the runt-punk, watch
Al Pacino's character in the movie "Scarface,"
who can't complete a sentence without three forms of the word
"fuck." But perhaps the best example of life with
DM is truly
Kevin Spacey's abusive character in the movie "Swimming With
Sharks," which takes place in Hollywood. Small world. But then
so is DM.)
As to what I else I have been doing and will be doing, I am
doing some intense writing and in such an effort — for those of
you who haven't had the experience — it requires considerable
time and solitude. And in my case, more than usual, as you will
It was no accident that I chose the handle "writer" when I
set up my Eskimo.com account years ago. I've been writing all of
my life. It is not only a love of the Muse but it can be a
curse, as many a writer will tell you. Mine was both.
I did a lot of writing in the cult, but there is little there
of any pride. Since then, I won some awards but nothing else
captivated me until now. So sit back and let me tell you how it
happened. I think some of you will find some of this
Let's start in late 1981, when I happened to acquire the
archives that contained Hubbard's private papers. (These were
the ones that Gerry Armstrong started.) The truly essential
material came down to perhaps 15 linear feet of paper. Over the
months, with nothing else to do, I had a chance to read private
letters, papers and manuscripts (including the three, yes,
three, versions of the infamous Excalibur, which has to be the
most overblown piece of hype he EVER produced and, no, it has
NOTHING to do with OT3), which also gave me the full uncensored
view of this man. I read everything from love letters to (and
from and about) his mistresses, his girlfriends (such as Fern,
who gave him the clap, forcing him to secretly take sulfa), his
private pornographic ramblings (he liked to draw penises and
vaginas around the margins in red ink, which gave the page a
grisly look), his black magic material, his letters to family,
wives (in the early 1950s, while having mistress Barbara on the
side and at the same time preaching about the dangers of illicit
relationships), editors and even to himself, as journals.
There was one problem with what I read. It didn't match what
we (collectively then, meaning the organization) were saying
about Hubbard and what Hubbard, based on what he had say to say.
When I tried to gently point this out, the
Shinola hit the fan.
It didn't matter that it was in Hubbard's own hand. It didn't
match the story he put out so — straight out of "1984" — it
didn't exist. (These documents were later confiscated and sealed
away to make sure no staff see them but enough of us did — including a few still on staff (hi, guys!) — so it can be
verified someday, if it comes to that. But that is another
In the years that followed, Hubbard and I had a fascinating
relationship because I was intrigued with him as a writer and I
found I could easily mimick his style, which came in handy
But in 1982, drawing from the archival material, I proposed
the idea of the "Ron" magazines. Hubbard loved the idea and we
cranked out the first issue which is a serious collector's item.
(Because Stacy and I produced it, it no longer officially
exists. It is an
At one point I was tagged to be his biographer but the
biography went the way of all the other attempts, ranging from
Omar Garrison to Fletcher Prouty. (Meanwhile I was identified as
such, from the San Luis Obispo paper to the Washington Post in
Scientology-produced stories that it is difficult for the cult
I also ghosted for Hubbard, meaning I wrote material for
which he was credited, which was not uncommon. I wrote
everything from these short little greetings that were sent to
events (staff and public always thought that Hubbard was writing
to them, which always showed us how gullible they were) to
policy letters (I wrote the current
disconnection policy with
some help at the end of it by
Ray Mithoff, who ghosted a lot of
the technical material and issued it under Hubbard's name) to
ghosting sections of his "Mission Earth" series, while I was
editing it. (And boy, is THAT another story! Whew!)
When Hubbard died, everything changed. (duh) I went to the
death site (his ranch at Creston, near San Luis Obispo CA) that
night along with David Miscavige and some attorneys. Since none
of us — including Miscavige — had ever been there, we were met
at a restaurant by Pat Broeker who took us to the ranch. We
arrived at perhaps 4 a.m. (Hubbard was found dead at about 8
p.m. I was told at 10. We left LA at perhaps 1 a.m. I wasn't
always watching the clock, given the circumstances.)
What's amusing in the cult's attempt to
DA me is their saying
that I went to the ranch along with some gardeners and cooks.
Right. Gardeners and cooks were the first to be rushed up that
night, before the authorities were called or the body taken
away. ROFL! Don't you just love these guys!
Creston was where the story was put together that he had
moved on to the next level of research, or however it was
worded, when it was announced at the Palladium and to the world.
The event was so carefully constructed that no one noticed that
something essential was missing, but Ill get to that in a
moment. But during the event, I stayed at the ranch to deal with
any media who might show up or call. None did and less than 48
hours later, the
Challenger space shuttle blew up, bumping news
of his death and any serious questions from the media. I was
monitoring the TV news via a satellite dish and watched it
happen and reported it. While the rest of the world was in
shock, DM was happy because we had been bumped from the news.
But that is how one comes to view the world at that echelon.
I later moved to another ranch Hubbard owned, at Newberry
Springs, east of Barstow CA and stayed there for a couple of
months. Hubbard never visited it (it was merely a fallback
location for him) and I never did see that anyone learned about
this one, even the media. I guess they were all hung up on the
Creston property, near San Luis Obispo, where he died.
The most lasting benefit of my stay at Newberry was that that
was where I stopped smoking. One day DM, Mithoff, Pat Broeker,
Mike Eldridge and I were sitting around and we all agreed to
stop smoking, although Broeker was the only non-smoker. Mithoff
had a horrible time of it. He ended up on
spitting disgustingly into a bucket while driving back and forth
to LA, and also addicting me to the little cusses. In the end, I
was the only one who stopped, making me wish we had put some
money in a pool.
In the months I spent between the Creston and Newberry
ranches, Pat and I became good friends. He had been Hubbard's
closest and most trusted aide and confident for those final
years. With what I already knew about Hubbard, Pat and I had the
greatest talks. Sometimes Pat and I were the only ones at the
ranch, so we would chat while moving horses or going to town to
shop. I began to learn about the life Hubbard had lead while in
hiding for those last years, moving between towns in the
Bluebird bus and finally settling down in Creston. (BTIAS)
Meanwhile, a power struggle was brewing to see who would take
control of Scientology and Newberry was the place where many of
the discussions occurred while DM stayed either in LA or in
Hemet. (Jesse will have something to say about that someday
because he was seriously involved in the ensuing explosion.) It
would result in a number of people fleeing (such as Jesse) or
going to the RPF (such as me).
A key element in the power struggle was Hubbard's last
message to the rank-and-file. Those who were in the cult back in
1986-87 will remember this incident. It was a message from
Hubbard that was issued as a Sea Org directive. It said goodbye,
wishing them well and establishing a new rank/position called
Loyal Officer or LO. (The term is taken from OT3.) Pat was to be
the LO1 and his wife Annie was to be LO2 and it basically turned
the management of the Sea Org over to them. And since the SO ran
Scientology, that meant they were at the top of the heap. DM was
not mentioned in the directive. It was later issued to all
staff — with DM's approval and authority — reduced in size and
put in a small frame with a photo of Hubbard for the desk of
every staff member.
In the meantime, Pat began to slowly take control. I would
often get phone calls from him. He would never identify himself
on the phone, going back to his years of tight security, but
merely would say, "Hi, it's me."
I won't try to give the details of the ensuing power struggle
because I was in LA and it was happening at Creston, Newberry and
Hemet. (I leave it to Jesse, who was there.) But the outcome was
that Miscavige won. And typical of any political coup, there was
a sudden purge as he consolidated his power. Anyone DM thought
might be a friend of Broeker's who would pose a threat were sent
to Scientology's equivalent of Lubayanka Prison or Siberia: the
RPF, so I went. For 16 months and three escape attempts.
Now here is where it gets interesting, folks.
While I was on the RPF, a directive came out from Miscavige
saying the supposed final message from Hubbard that named
Broeker was a forgery by Broeker and it was being canceled. That
same day, Annie Broeker appeared on the RPF. This was not the
Annie I had come to know. What stumbled into the RPF was a
completely broken person. She was pale and hollow and her eyes
were empty. There was no mistaking it. She had been broken and
only now was she being thrown away into the trash heap called
the RPF. Even then, she was kept under guard, just to be sure.
With the cancellation of the message from Hubbard, there were
now two vital things missing that were 100% Hubbard and 100%
standard tech and yet no one seemed to notice or, if they did,
no one dared to remark on it. But then, as Hubbard correctly
pointed out, the hardest thing to notice is the thing that is
What was now missing was (1) something from Hubbard to all
Scientologists saying goodbye and what he was doing and (2)
something that passed his hat, which is one of the most basic
tenets in the organization. They had been missing at the event
announcing his death but with the cancellation by Miscavige,
they were missing more than ever.
One does not require much knowledge about L. Ron Hubbard to
know that it would be completely unlike him to simply leave — especially if the story about his going off to do more research
were true — and not leave a message. So if he HAD left as
Scientologists were told, where was the message if the other was
But perhaps more importantly, where was the hat turnover? I
don't mean the volumes of policies and bulletins. I mean
something that says, I hereby appoint Joe Blow to take over
as... Would Hubbard leave the planet and not pass on the
Or let's put it in one of the most basic tenets from Hubbard:
if it isn't written, it isn't true.
(Note: Hubbard's will was hardly a Scientology hat turnover
and has not been issued to the rank and file as policy.)
So the question became (to those of us who wondered), if the
LO directive was a forgery, where was the real one? Where were
Hubbard's wishes IN WRITING?
Of course, DM never provided anything and no one was willing
to ask and risk being sent to the RPF with the rest of us. He
said it was a forgery and that was that. End of discussion.
For the rest of my stay in the cult, Pat Broeker was never
mentioned because, in the cult, you learn what to not talk
about. Pat became what in
Orwell's "1984" is a non-person. He
had been written out of history, with anyone who cared (such as
me) being sent to the RPF or interrogated (security checked)
until they got the point, which meant (per the head on a pike
policy) that everyone else got the message.
So without a shred of WRITTEN evidence from Hubbard and by
canceling what even DM had first agreed was from Hubbard,
Miscavige was now in control while Broeker had disappeared.
Can you say, "coup"?
But hold on! It gets better.
After Stacy and I fled the cult in 1989, I put it all behind
me. I simply wanted my life back and the last thing I needed was
to think about the cult. They had taken enough of my life
without my adding more. But after a couple of years of drying
out, Stacy and I were invited to help with some legal cases and
this gave us a chance to handle the material that once handled
us. We could now read Hubbard and TALK about the material, which
is completely forbidden in the cult. It was like back-flushing a
radiator and watching what comes out.
I came across a copy of Miscavige's cancellation of Hubbard's
final message and I began to kick it around with Stacy. As we
talked, I started to comment on the various little oddities,
starting with the cancellation itself. I began to remember a few
others that I had packed away at the time. We were having a
conversation that Sea Org staff could no more do than a loyal
Communists might question the a change of power in the Kremlin,
and for the same reasons.
In the weeks and months that followed, I couldn't shake the
events surrounding Hubbard's death and DM's takeover. Little
oddities took on forms like pieces of a jig saw puzzle. I felt
like an amnesiac trying to recover his memory yet what was there
to recover? I was there at the ranch. I was there when Hubbard's
body was taken out. I was there when the execs were called up
the ranch and told to get an event together, but not being told
why. I was there when the attorneys reported his death and then
scurried to get the body through the coroner. Etc, etc, etc. So
what was the problem? Yeah, the next higher level of research
story was the sort of pap we used to feed the rank-and-file all
the time but it wasn't as if we LIED to them. (Sort of the way
Clinton said he didn't LEGALLY lie.) We didn't LEGALLY lie, did
Per Hubbard's policy, they were given an "acceptable truth"
because of "the greatest good for the greatest number of
dynamics." What that means in plain speak was that there would
be panic and disaffection in the ranks if it was thought that
Hubbard — the OT of all OTs, of course — was not at cause over
life and death. If the tech couldn't help him, how could it help
others? That was the myth that had to be protected at all costs
and that was what the story did when his death was announced. It
fed the myth that everyone so wanted to believe. (And it kept
the money coming in.)
While in the cult, I had done a lot of investigative
reporting and some of the best I did was working on some of the
CIA's mind control documents created under the code name
ULTRA. When the CIA released them, much was blanked out and
working with a team of people hand-selected by Stacy, we went
through documents that the media had skipped past because they
were so fragmentary and so heavily deleted. In one file, for
example, there were receipts for the installation of mufflers on
a 1953 Mercury, a tiny battery-powered motor, elevator tickets
to the Empire State Building, nose plugs, a receipt for someone
to attend a Microscropy convention, etc.
Bit by bit, we struggled to give them meaning until one piece
cracked another, like breaking a code. We came up with the
experiment and got national news on Operation Big City where
bacillus were released (through the mufflers) to test for
bacterial warfare. (The elevator tickets were so agents could go
up and measure the amount of released bacteria.) It is a story
the cult still likes to cite, along with several others I did
for them, under my byline in the
Freedom rag. Since then, per
Orwell, my name has been deleted, of course.
Pouring over those heavily deleted CIA documents was how I
felt like while I chewed on the oddities around Hubbard's death,
such as nothing in writing from him, Broeker missing, the fact
Denk (Hubbard's physician at the time of death) had also
disappeared, Annie's appearance and little things that I had
seen and learned at the ranch.
And then it hit me. It was what Hubbard calls a blue flash,
the sudden insight.
Hubbard didn't die.
He was killed.
I fell back in my chair, completely stunned. In all of the
years since 1986, I had never once considered that possibility.
Even with my being long out of the cult and directing criticism
at various practices and policies, the thought had never crossed
my mind that Hubbard might have been killed.
I got a sheet of paper and began to take notes, my heart
pounding and my breathing hurried. That nagging feeling had
turned into an adrenaline rush that I couldn't explain.
Who was there at the Creston ranch when Hubbard died?
- Pat Broeker — MIA.
- Annie Broeker — broken, under their control.
- Two Scientology ranch hands. While trusted to work on the
ranch, I came to see how much they were kept out of the loop.
- Gene Denk — Hubbard's personal physician. (And mine. Small
world.) Denk had disappeared for a year after the death, which
was one of those oddities, before returning to his practice up
the street from the main Hollywood complex.
End of list, a too-short list so I started to add who went up
that night in the three-car caravan that included DM, some
attorneys and a couple of us "gardeners and cooks." Nothing
I looked at the list. Pat Broeker was the only possibility,
if he was out and alive. For all I knew, he was dead or locked
up somewhere and in a mental state that approximated cold
oatmeal. There was no middle ground. He wouldn't have been given
a safe back-lines job or I would have heard about it.
So how would I find Pat Broeker, if he was alive. I racked my
memory, trying to dig out some clue he might have given me in
the months that we were together but I came up with nothing. My
tendency to not inquire about a person's personal life had just
sold me short. I didn't even know what state he was from. Who
might? Who would know where he came from or where he was born? I
needed some clue to start the search and the problem was the
security that Pat used for his job. He had explained to me how
any trace of him had been wiped out, to ensure that no one could
find Hubbard by finding him. Plus if Pat had escaped or fled, he
was skilled enough to hide from any search as that was what he
had been doing for years to hide Hubbard from the authorities.
I finally remembered one location he told me about and sent a
message there saying that I was trying to reach him but no reply
came. After a few months I sent another and waited. The months
turned into nearly a year and I basically gave up until one day
when the phone rang.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hi," came a voice. "It's me."
I paused, saying nothing.
"Pat?" I finally said with some incredulity. "Is that you?"
"Yeah," he said, with what I swear was a twinkle in his
voice. "How are you?"
What a question!
Let's jump ahead a few years when I was in a deposition in
Denver, in the FACTNet case. The usual goon squad was there,
including Mike Rinder, who proudly heads up the criminal Dept.
20 where Scientology's felons are produced. Rinder was
struggling to stay awake in the corner while the cult attorney
was going through a list of names, wanting to know if I had
spoken with any of them. Rinder's head was bobbing as the
attorney asked monotonously, "Pat Broeker?"
I glanced at Rinder. I had to enjoy this one.
"Yes," I said.
I couldn't have gotten a faster reaction with a bucket of
water. Rinder jumped awake and looked at me in shock, fear and
hatred. I smiled.
The questions about my involvement with Broeker were routine,
from a list that they asked for each person I named but Broeker
wasn't routine. They soon stopped to take a break. Like the good
sock puppet that he is, Rinder dashed out of the room, obviously
to call DM. (I so wish I could have watched DM's face too.)
About 15 minutes later, Rinder returned and shoved some
questions at the attorney and the depo continued. But little was
gained and not one question was asked about what Pat might have
told me about Hubbard's death, if he had at all. They clearly
didn't want it on the record, under oath. I found it amusing,
this great powerful cult was so terrified of the subject, not to
So let me tell you a little bit about Pat: he's doing fine
and his sense of humor has improved. End of a little bit.
Now lets back up a tad, before Pat and I spent several days
together, going over old times. I went to San Luis Obispo, the
county seat for where Hubbard died. It was there that I got the
full coroner's report from a very friendly deputy sheriff. I
poured over the pages and noticed that something called
was found in Hubbard's blood. Since the cause of death was a
stroke, I assumed it was a stroke medication so I didn't bother
further. Several days later, I called a physician friend and was
going over the documents and the medical language.
"By the way,? I asked casually, "what's Vistaril?"
"A psychiatric tranquilizer," he answered matter-of-factly.
I nearly dropped the phone.
"Excuse me," I said in near-shock, "but what did you say?"
"Vistaril is a psychiatric tranquilizer, usually injected
through the buttocks."
I flipped to the document where the Coroner had examined
Hubbard's body. I read it to my friend, about the needle
puncture wounds found on the left buttock, under a band-aid.
"Could that be the Vistaril shots," I asked.
"Probably," he said. "That's where they are usually given."
I looked at the Coroner's report and the blood sample report.
Holy shit, I said to myself, in my best French. Holy fucking
I pulled out another document, signed by Hubbard. It
prohibited any autopsy of his body on religious grounds, which
was legally binding on officials. DM and attorney
had shoved it at the coroner to stop him, leaving him to take
only blood samples, which turned up the Vistaril.
So, I thought, L. Ron Hubbard, the man who fought psychiatry
since 1950 and who railed against the dangers of any psychiatric
drugs had died with them in his brain while signing a new last
Plus even the coroner was suspicious of the will as it had
been signed by Hubbard just before he died. Coincidences like
that tend to make coroner's worry. (I wonder what the coroner
would have thought had he known that Denk was gambling at Lake
Tahoe when Hubbard had his stroke, as several people can attest.
The impression the coroner had was that Denk was "in
with Hubbard not only at death but was there at the stroke,
having stayed at the ranch for months. Hmmm....)
I fell back in my chair, trying to catch my breath.
Okay, I said to myself, lets see if we understand this.
Hubbard signs a will while on the psychiatric tranquilizer
Vistaril and then dies. The coroner cannot conduct an autopsy
because Hubbard also signed a paper (also while on Vistaril?)
prohibiting an autopsy on religious grounds. The Scientologist
doctor who was in attendance (except when he went to Lake Tahoe
and Hubbard had the stroke) signs the death certificate as the
physician attending to Hubbard and then disappears for a year.
Then even though David Miscavige has nothing else in writing
from Hubbard, he cancels Hubbard's last message and hat transfer
to trusted aide Broeker and ousts Broeker, who disappears while
his wife is turned into a compliant vegetable, leaving DM in
Nope, nothing wrong here, I facetiously thought. No
outpoints, borrowing Hubbard's word for oddities.
I had to take a walk.
I don't know when it was but I clearly remember a particular
moment when I sat down at my computer keyboard. I am one of
those writers who needs either the opening words of the article
or a working title in order to really start. I had a working
title, not for an article, but a book, and I typed it out. Then
I leaned back in my chair, took a deep breath and read it. It
said, "Who Killed L. Ron Hubbard?"
I leaned back and my eyes roamed over each word and letter. I
took in the question and then the words and letters and back to
the question. I even digested the tiny pixels on the screen, as
if I hoped the answer would leap from the phosphorescence but
nothing changed but the black cursor blinking at me, almost
mocking my effort. Yes, I thought, it is a pretentious question
but it was the one I had to try to answer, if there was an
Then I had the exact moment for the opening words. It was on
the night that Terri Gamboa — former Executive Director of
Author Services, Inc. and now out of Scientology — called me to DM's office where I was told that Hubbard had died and that I
would be going to his ranch.
I leaned towards the keyboard and began to write. To my
amazement, the words and the scene poured out effortlessly. I
wasn't striving for literature. I merely had to capture the
As the cursor flitted across the screen, I began to remember
how it happened that night and into the days that followed.
There was more that I needed to remember but for now, this would
do. Let it roll, I told myself. Let it roll. It was as if I was
Perhaps six or so hours later, I finally stopped, exhausted
and sufficiently satisfied for the moment. But even then, I
found it difficult to sleep as my mind kept returning to the
ranch, Broeker, DM, the RPF, the Challenger disaster, Newberry,
the ambulance taking away his body. I was searching for pieces
of a puzzle that had no comprehension.
And how could I possibly answer the question?
What ensued over the next few years was more of a personal
journey than a professional quest, meaning — as I came to learn
very recently — because it was as much a search for closure on
part of my life as it was a search for the story. But then, that
is so often the case with writers, as anyone who has studied
As I pursued it/him/me, it took me around the country and
into subjects that I never expected, such as meeting with police
who were involved in the investigation of the odd suicide of
Barnett, David Miscavige's mother-in law. She was found with
several shots to the chest with the coup de grace to the temple,
all from a rifle. (At one point, the cult grilled me in a
deposition about her death, asking if I had any evidence of any
foul play. No, I said, which made them happy. They failed to ask
me if anyone else has any evidence. Scientology: Knowing how to
I even came across people who claimed to know about
Miscavige's in-the-cult-sex life, via accounts from his wife
Shelly. (Scientology confessional methods have an interesting
rippling effect.) If true, I felt sorry for her.
But when I tried to continue my writing, it stalled and I
struggled. At one point I became so disillusioned that I killed
the idea for nearly a year as a ridiculous obsession but then
like a weed taking root, it sprouted again but only to wither
and die in my inspirational drought. Was it the subject or was
it me? Had my disregard of the Muse prompted a like response?
I had not written anything truly worthwhile since 1991, when
my article for San Diego Magazine won two journalism awards,
Society of Professional Journalists and the San Diego
Press Club. The article was about the dangers in the flight
pattern of the San Diego airport, from the perspective of the
pilots who flew it.
When we fled the cult in 1989, we settled in Ocean Beach, on
the Point Loma Peninsula because of the nearby Dog Beach where a
hundred canines would romp on any given summer day. The downside
was that Ocean Beach was in the westerly flight path of
Lindbergh Field and the roar of the jets above us garnered
enough attention to prompt my learning that the flight path was
the target of a citizens group. They in turn introduced me to
pilots who were concerned about the safety of the eastern
approach and my journalistic tendencies took over and the
magazine accepted my query.
The article was woven around a hypothetical flight
approaching Lindbergh Field that I had constructed from
interviews with a dozen experienced commercial pilots, moving
the reader from cockpit to the airport back to cockpit to FAA
regulations and back to cockpit and then to buildings that
loomed in the pilot's eyes as he seemingly navigated them like
the cars a few hundred feet below. The pilot's called it a
"white knuckle landing."
Braiding these elements was a thrill and a challenge and the
article drew more letters of praise than anything the magazine
had published in years, the editor told me, prompting them to
publish letters for the next three months. They received only
one critical letter, from a Coast Guard pilot who liked the
approach. I guess he loved the thrill.
When my name was announced as the best news magazine article
at the awards banquet for the San Diego Press Club, I was
stunned for two reasons. Yes, winning was a thrill. But there
was a more important reason: I had succeeded as a writer. I
hadn't written it according to "policy" or to fulfill some
program step or as an amends project or to attack some imagined
enemy. My editor didn't require that I include certain buttons
and attack phrases and the article didn't need i/a or issue
authority to be certain that it forwarded the most current Party
Line. It was MY article and I had chosen the style and
techniques and my professional peers applauded as I walked to
the podium to accept the plaque.
THIS was what writing was about, I realized: the freedom to
write without propaganda or Party Line, without a
looking over my shoulder, as if I am the old Soviet Union.
Suddenly there was a separation between what I had been doing
for 20 years in the cult and what writing truly was about. All
one has to do is pick up any Scientology publication, especially
their rag called Freedom and watch the propaganda drip off the
page like the rotting garbage it is. What astounded me was how I
had come to believe that this was writing, not unlike how
writers for Pravda probably felt during the Communist regime.
But writing for Pravda or
Freedom is to writing what prostitutes
are to love and for the same reason.
And so I began to long to return to my greatest and dearest
love and I realized that just as the cult had drained my
creativity by demanding propaganda instead of art, so had my
post-cult days. A piece that I wrote for
Quill magazine about
how Scientology manipulates the media (Robert
Vaughn Young: "Scientology from inside out")
was informative but it was hardly satisfying to me as a writer.
Another that I wrote for
Der Spiegel magazine about the top
Snow White program (http://cisar.org/g50925ae.htm) was as
satisfying as eating cardboard because it appeared in German.
How can a writer see and judge the final piece if he/she cant
even read it? At least it had some photos.
I began to ask myself, what am I doing? In the cult they
wanted propaganda pieces attacking imagined enemies that made
the cult executives feel good when they read them. (That is
always the most important audience for such propaganda. It makes
the members feel as if this is reality and truth when it is
nothing but one's own sock puppet show.) And outside of the
cult, I was writing stories and giving sound bites about
Scientology, whether it be for a newspaper, magazine or TV show.
Where was I as a writer, other than as an email address? So I
turned more to cats than cults. At least they purred.
With some help, I began to see what had happened to me.
During my nearly 21 years in the cult, I had sold my creative
soul as certainly as if I had worked for a money-grubbing ad
agency, and in that regard, the two aren't any different. My
proudest achievement — the San Diego story — came after the cult
and before I started consulting on Scientology cases and writing
about the cult. As a writer, I had moved from one cult to
another. It was no wonder that I had spun my wheels for years on
that book. I realized that if I am to regain that joy of writing
so the Muse can inspire me to the completion of any effort, it
had to recapture what I was free to do a few years earlier. But
to do that, to entice the Muse to return, I have to step away
from this arena for as long as it takes, whether it be a month
or a year. The Muse works not by deadlines.
How did I come to all of this? At a little retreat called
Wellspring in southern Ohio, where I was able to relax and write
and walk with Mac and talk with friends about any subject I
pleased. I could arise in the middle of the night, as I often
did, to pound out something on my laptop until I wanted to crash
until my next inspiration, whatever the hour. Meanwhile, the
kitchen downstairs was stocked for any meal or snack, or
prepared for me if I wanted to devote my time to my own recovery
rather than making dinner. Or I could walk the rolling hills
with Mac and a few others of his species and enjoy the fading
purple Ironwood flowers, indicating the end of summer. Or if the
silence was too much, I could watch TV or go into nearby Athens
(a college town, for Ohio University) and enjoy a coffee house,
movie or a good used bookstore, the kind found only in college
Yes, I realized, this is definitely the type of place that
Scientology would hate for it allows freedom and creativity.
They would have to hate it and pump the propaganda just as
Pravda attacked the institutions west of the Berlin Wall that
represented the antithesis of the official
Kremlin Party Line.
Any true freedom challenges boundaries, especially those that
pretend to be otherwise, as
Communism pretended to be the
bastion of true peace and freedom. One can even find and measure
totalitarian systems by their knee-jerk party lines and
Scientology is among the best. I know because I did it for so
very long from inside, and then became their target from this
Wellspring was important because they know what it is like to
try to be free in an abusive environment, whether it be a
marriage or a cult or a job. (They work with a lot of abused
women.) Abuse is abuse. Terror is terror. It differs by degrees
and it rips away individuality and creativity and future for the
But at Wellspring, I was free to write and to peel away the
barriers to my own creativity that included not only the cult
but post-cult and pre-cult experiences, even back to the days
when I wrote for school papers or for the anti-war movement in
San Francisco or a political campaign, of which there were
several for me in the 1960s. It was no wonder I was so qualified
to produce propaganda for an abusive cult. I had been writing
propaganda for years!
This is what my two weeks at Wellspring gave me, amongst
other insights. (Results will vary, as label disclaimers remind
us.) (laugh) But it was what I needed to regain a personal
integrity that any abusive system, especially a cult, despises.
So that is what I was doing, am doing and going to do and it
will require concentration and reflection and time which is why
I've not been on ARS and won't be, for as long as I must.
My apologies to many friends who have left messages or sent
me mail and gotten no reply. It's difficult to explain why one
is so involved with an idea or a project or any creative effort,
so that virtually nothing else exists. I usually don't even like
to talk about it or discuss it. Stacy is an exception because
she has followed this journey since it started. It was when she
told me how many were reaching her to ask about me that I
realized it would be rude to continue to say nothing, given the
role I have played in this endeavor. (I even shared this post
with her before sending it.)
So don't take it personal if you get no reply. Consider it
just the eccentricity that some writers get into when they latch
onto an idea and lock themselves away or take long walks or
won't talk to anyone and get up at all hours of the night (it is
4:30 a.m. as I type this), chewing on an idea, a style, a voice,
a scene, a thread and then throwing it all away and starting
again or merely prowling for more information or even traveling
with a friend or a dog to take a break.
My intention is merely to restore and rebuild the creative
self I touched earlier and then decide on my direction. It is
not a matter of disdain for hack writing. That is snobbery.
There is a place and time for classic hack writing just as there
is a place for great B movies. Few of us can live on pure diets
of Shakespeare, Mozart and Kant.
What does this have to do with the original idea that I was
writing about? The best answer I can give is, we'll see.
Besides, there is more to write about, including fiction. Or I
might find another airport.
Besides, with HTML and the Net, writing (not to mention
publication) has changed. One no longer needs a footnote or an
appendix with documents when HTML can link to a document, a map,
a photograph or even a video. A writer who knows HTML — which I
have had the good fortune to learn — has greater opportunities
and options and freedoms.
It used to be said that freedom of the press belonged to
those who owned one. Well, with the Internet, that freedom can
now belong to anyone with a keyboard and THAT is what dries the
mouth, puckers the hole and strikes fear in the heart of every
Tom Paine could have done today!
So there you are, a writer's account of himself, past,
present and future. It is long because it is easier than ever to
write. Never has a keyboard felt so clean and comfortable. I
hope each of you, especially those in a cult or out of a cult,
have a chance to find YOUR true talent and purpose. It is what
the world needs.
Keep the faith.
Robert Vaughn Young
with a keyboard as a email@example.com
P.S Wellspring has a web page at <wellspring.albany.oh.us>.