Earlier this week, former Scientology bigwig Marty Rathbun leaked documents on his blog describing the church's efforts to plant a mole inside South Park Studios. Everybody saw "Trapped in the Closet," and everyone with half a brain looked that shit up after the episode aired to confirm the truth of its claims.
Trey Parker and Matt Stone exposed Scientology's wacky intergalactic secrets to millions of viewers around the world at a time when the church's membership (and thereby its revenue) was ever-expanding. These secrets were supposed to be kept behind a pay wall. Who thought the COS was just going to let this go? Fact is, you fuck with Miscavige's bottom line, the best you can hope for is a mole in your workplace. I can't wait to see more documents, to find out exactly how far they got in this ill-advised Super Adventure.
Until then, I'd like to discuss something about the documents that disturbs me intensely. Apparently, the church used Lloyd Kaufman's old "Yale buddy" Eric Sherman to pump Kaufman for information about Parker and Stone. Kaufman, of course, is the founder of Troma Studios, and one of my favorite human beings on the planet. Top ten, for real. I love this man. Here I am with him a few years ago at a convention (I'm next to Sgt. Kabukiman).
I show you this for full disclosure. When Lloyd Kaufman says that he had no idea Eric Sherman was a Scientologist, I believe him. When he says he would never intentionally do anything to harm Parker and Stone, I know this to be true. It angers me to my core that someone purporting to be his friend would lie to him just to get information that could hurt other people. In what universe is this moral?
It is moral in the universe where society affords privilege to the religious liar--in other words, the universe we currently occupy. We have no way of determining whether or not there was a moment when Sherman said to himself, "Gee, it's kind of shitty to use my friends this way." Regardless, it's clear that Sherman determined any reservations he had were less important than doing as his religious leaders told him to do.
And Sherman's religious leaders declared that Parker and Stone needed to go down for having the temerity not only to mock Scientology's ridiculous ideas, but also to point out what those ideas actually are (which circumvents the revenue stream). Sherman decided that this crime--the crime of producing a cartoon that his religion did not like--was a worse offense than betraying the trust of his old college friend to get gossip, and presenting a mole for formal introduction, that said mole might sabotage people's lives.
In a culture that encouraged people to question religious authority, would Sherman still have made this decision? Possibly. The authoritarians will be with us always. But in such a culture, a mendacious organization like the Church of Scientology (amongst many others) would be less likely to flourish.
More thoughts on this later.