Monday, March 03, 2008

The Right to Say Tom Cruise is Crazy

I just came across a hysterical parody of Tom Cruise's infamous scientology recruitment video. The original video (shown below) basically comprises of Tom Cruise saying really pointless things with great intensity and passion. Statements like:
"Look, you're either on board or you're not on board ok, but if you're on board then you're on board like the rest of us".

Oh and by the way:

KSW = 'Keep Scientology Working' a piece of Literature regarding the approach to be taken by individual Scientologists.
SP = Suppressed Person - i.e. a person who does'nt believe in Scientology

Anyways, this video is the mock up.

I've watched that so very many times. It's still hysterical.

While I agree that Tom Cruise is a self important tool, I have to admit that most of the Scientology bashing I see annoys me quite a bit. First there's the question as to why Scientologists are somehow undeserving of the cultural presumption that people's personal beleifs should be respected. Secondly there is the legal question as to why Scientology is not recognized as a religion (even in the United Kingdom) and instead is subjected to discrimination from the state.

That said, the answers to those questions are very grey depending upon the factual position of Scientology on the cult-religion axis. However, what pisses me off unequivocally is when people with their own faith based literalistic religious beliefs and dogma go on to trash Scientology for its ludicrousness and implausibility.

I've heard Pakistani uncles rant on saying "Xenu the intergalactic dictator? Gimme a fucking break". Well yes Uncle Toolface, it is absurd. But you believe:

A) that Shaitan says his prayers on your janamaz if you leave it unattended (is that even a bad thing?);
B) that Jinns live in the eucalyptus trees in your front garden and occasionally possess your servants;
C) that your son broke his leg becuase Aunty Pinky did black magic on him because he has a six figure dollar salary and her own son is a dumbass;
D) That you crashed your car because everyone told you repeatedly how nice it was and you forgot to give sadqa;
E) that Hazrat Musa literally turned sticks into snakes with his magical powers;
F) (for the Christian Uncle Toolbox) that Jesus' father wasn't a human being but was literally an extraterrestrial being that exists in an alternate state of reality, or is a being that is reality itself.

Now I'm not saying such literalistic and/or superstitious beliefs aren't legitimate, but frankly, as far as logic or reason are concerned, they cannot be evidenced and thereby hold up just as well as Xenu.

I don't mind when Scientology is critiqued by people who regard Koranic or Bibilical stories as abstract moral metaphors or allegories, or when it is criticized by atheists or agnostics. But the hypocrisy of an admitted literalist deciding that that logic is the arbiter of Scientologist beliefs, but not Islamic or Christian ones... God. It makes my blood boil.


Ahsan said...

yes. i agree.

Moss J said...

I am not much surprised that this writer chose Islam to deride in his attempt to show why Scientology is not as far-fetched as other religons.

It was actually quite very predictable in this blog. The lack of respect for institutionalized religon is okay. Im guess religon is given too much blind respect. But guys why always choose Islam to be the one religon you use to make fun of. Surely there are examples in Judaism in Christianity you could use as well?

How about Jesus turning water into wine? That is pretty funny wierd. But may since you guys seem to like alcohol that you think this is a good thing and this kind of myth is cool since alcohol is cool.

Anyway. I was jsut rather miffed. I agree with the point of this artice. But truthfully, as i read the text after the video links i quickly realized: "Okay, this guy is saying that why is Scientology treated with such amusement when its beliefs are no more outlandish than other religons. He will DEFINITELY use Islam's examples to show how unbelievable other religons are."

And sure enough I was right. AND THISS TOO considering the fact that Islamic countries dont really go out of their way to deride Scientology. IT IS THE WEST (particularly western television and media) which makes fun of scientology. But u choose to use Islam as a bashing board. When u SHOULD use christianity sicne they make fun of them more.

I know I am starting to become seem as conservative. Im sorry but it really annoys me that Islam is always used as the butt of jokes, even when u are making a valid point as u are here. I do not know why u fear christians or hindus so much.

Anonymous said...

@moss j

You have to take these views in your stride because the contributors on this blog use religion bashing (especially Islam bashing) to prove how progressive they are. They desperately try to prove their non-conformism and how very independent their thought process is. By breaking the religious shackles they hope to show everybody how intelligent they are. It's like the teenager who lights a cigarette without paying attention. Desperately calling out to the world and saying look how cool I am.

Anonymous said...

"Look, your either on board or you're not on board ok, but if you're on board then you're on board like the rest of us"

What's so ridiculous about that statement? All he is saying is that either you are a scientologist or you are not. I.e. you cannot choose a certain set of beliefs and practice those while ignoring others. You are all in or all out.

However, if you choose to be all in then you are an equal amongst scientologists. There is nobody who is better than you, there is nobody more religious or 'higher' than you.

You reach out so far to bash religion that you end up saying the most inane things.

Farooq said...


Get it?

AKS said...

@ Moss J

You're way off the mark here dude. I'm not attempting to blindly leap to Nadir B's defence here, and I know that we do pick on Islam more than other religions, but if you were to review the post, you'll note that NB’s not singling out Islam at all.

In fact NB has not ridiculed a single fundamental Muslim belief. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Shaitan praying on a Janaimaz, Jinns living in Eucalyptus trees, Aunty Pinkys Black Magic (Taveez variety) and Sadqa (Black Goat kind) are all core Islamic beliefs rather than an ode to sub-continental cultural traditions. In which case I am sorry (I am so going to get a refund from Amil Junaid Bengali and, his damn Taveez doesn’t work; we’re still getting criticism AND I’ve not yet managed to become the greatest living constitutional lawyer!)

NB shame on you for not picking on the Jews and the Christians. How dare you not rubbish Moses and Jesus while making fun of Muhammad. You Dane!

@ Anon and Moss J

The contributors on this blog have spent most of their lives in Karachi, a city in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We have interacted substantially more with the imagery and ideology of Islam than we have with any other religion. We refer to Islam because we give priority to what we see and hear and we see and hear a lot of Islam.

It would be as absurd for us to start writing about regional elections in Equatorial Guinea as it would be for us not to refer to Islam, so you’ll have to bear with us.

And I don't have to prove my cool-ness to the world, thank you very much. I am as cool as Vanilla Ice, baby - I even dance like him!

NB said...

@Moss J

Firstly there is nothing Islamic about Pakistani superstition or literalism. That is your own interpretation of my post. I gave the examples i gave because i have lived in Pakistan most of my life and those are the literal beliefs ive come across, those too from the same people who I have heard trash scientology. If I grew up attending church, Im sure I would have remembered water and wine. I didn't omit it "because alcohol is cool". For Gods sake dude. What makes you think I even drink?

That presumption leads me to the second point, which is that I think you need to be wary of having a kneejerk reaction by getting defensive about Islam when absolutely nothing has actually been said about it.

I would invite you to read the post again. As you have discerned, the point is that there is no basis for literalists of any faith to make fun of Scientology, which they do. The state examples of recognition and discrimination I gave were of the UK. The Xenu link i inserted was from American Southpark. I gave a Christian example of immaculate conception, and mentioned literalist interpretations of the Bible alongside those of the Koran. That you (and anonymous) chose to look past these references, and somehow manage to conjure Islam getting bashed is pretty clear evidence you read into the article exactly what you wanted to read, based on your own ill founded presumptions and generalizations about the authors of this blog.

And if you think that I have bashed Islamic beliefs, in any of my previous posts, Im keen to see where. Your welcome to point them out. All of my posts are located under the 'minority reports' tab along with those of AKS.

NB said...


haha who the hell is Amil Junaid Bengali dude? Did you guys seriously hire a defence against the dark arts professional?

Farooq said...

Moss J,

I see your point and I definitely understand why you said what you did. Maybe I do get defensive when I read a post which uses my faith as a yardstick more than it does others. I think that’s just human nature, rather than some sort of personality flaw. If you subscribe to a certain belief, you’re bound to get defensive about it being derided (or if you are under the misconceived notion that it is being derided).

I think we got a little sidetracked by Anonymous’s posts. I’m sorry but the second one was just stupid. And in the first one, F-Machi..uh.. Anonymous, just allowed his judgmental streak to run wild. I’m glad you got it off your chest dude. It sounds like you’ve been waiting bitterly for a while to say that to people you don’t have too high an opinion of.

Anyway, I’ll just ignore Anonymous’s rants (I think he’s being more defensive than Moss), as well as some of the judgment calls made by Moss himself (implying that the author drinks to be cool was low). The fact is, I think I have a right to call Scientology stupid just because it is lame and I don’t think I need to give a studied explanation on why it’s lame just because it IS so fucking lame.

I think the author makes a mistake when he says that people who believe in certain myths and notions originating from religion (which he enumerates) are not fit to cast judgment on Scientology due to a degree of hypocrisy involved. Such notions are as outlandish as the beliefs of Scientologists.
Yaar in that case NO subscriber of ANY faith can criticize or mock Scientology. I think you mentioned that the myths you enumerated are religous superstitions. Dude, even the stuff IN the scripture (I include Hadith here) which is widely agreed upon (by the subscribers to that particular faith) is pretty outlandish. Moses parting the seas; the concept that jinns live among us; wasn’t there some war where God rained down fire and acid to help the Muslims;e.t.c. There are millions of stories WITHIN the Quran which take a certain leap of faith to believe.

I believe that leap of faith is minute compared to the lunge Scientology asks you to take. I have a right to say Tom Cruise is crazy because my common sense tells me that Scientologist beliefs are crazy. Reincarnation or Jesus returning from the dead STILL makes more sense than aliens and life essence thingies. This has nothing to do with how out there my own religious myths or stories may be. You call a spade a spade.

NB said...


Dude i totally agree in that no one needs to give any studied explanation as to why Scientology is lame, simply because it is quite obviously lame. You also point out that all major faiths have stories or concepts that take a certain leap of faith to believe and your right there too.

I disagree with you however when you say that the leap of faith required to believe in the concepts or stories of established religions is somehow minute or less than the leap Scientology asks people to take.

People do generally feel that the Xenu thing sounds more outlandish than Christ's resurrection, but thats only because the former is new to them while the latter is old and established over time. But how does the age or popularity of a story affect the truth or un-truth of its content?

So my problem is not with the application of common sense with respect to Scientology, its with the selective application of that common sense only to Scientology's stories and concepts. If I came and told you today that I died in the morning and came back to life around 1.30, your common sense would tell you tell Ahsan to stop being friends with me because I was nuts. If I came and told you that I turned a stick into a snake or parted the swimming pool because I spoke to an extra terrestrial being (or to the state of existence itself), youd probably tell me to go and stuff myself.

At the risk of sounding like Tom Cruise, if something has no basis in fact then it has no basis in fact. In the complete and equal absence of any supporting facts there can be no question of one thing being more unreasonable than another. There is as much factual evidence to support and disprove Reincarnation or Jinns as there is to support or disprove Xenu, so why is does one require a bigger leap of faith than the other? Have you travelled around the galaxy? How do you know hes not out there?

Some people of faith can critique Scientology, but not those people who are unequivocal as to their own dogmas or superstitions . For example, there are those who's faith involves many unanswered questions but entails a fulfilled sense of spirituality and morality. Also as I mentioned there are others who regard certain Koranic or Bibilical stories/concepts as abstract moral metaphors or allegories as opposed to statements of historical and scientific fact. These guys can trash to their hearts content because theyre not themselves asserting that baseless stories are facts.

However any literalist who has a problem with scientology is simply being a pot accusing a kettle of being black. They're entitled to believe what they will and who knows they may be right, but then so might the scientologists.

AKS said...

@ Farooq

I agree with you that it would be ludicrous to restrain people from expressing their views on any such matter which is contrary to their own beliefs.

You have every right to call Scientology lame. I do so as well. But when we do so we are making a judgement call that has its foundations on the superiority we attribute to our own beliefs.

Anon 2 pointed out that once you "choose to be all in then you are an equal amongst scientologists. There is nobody who is better than you." However, he leaves out the bit where once you're in you imagine yourself to be better than everyone who's not. And this is true of any faith.

The thing that irks me is the supposition held by many people that their beliefs are irreproachable.

I find the leap of faith towards Xenu to be lame, and it's not wrong of me to say so. However, it is wrong of me to expect that no one is allowed to find my leap of faith to be lame. And this is exactly what Uncle Toolface does, and it really does piss me off.

@ NB

Amil Junaid Bengali is perhaps the greatest man to have graced this planet. One phoonk (blow) by Amil Saheb can cure cancer, depression, importency, small dicks and can even get rid of the thorny Mother-in-Law. If you don't belive me than explain to me how Amil Bengali's name appears over night on every freshly painted wall in Saddar? It's divine intervention man, you've got to take this leap of faith. You're such a loser if you don't!

CHUP! Editor [Kalsoom] said...

Hilarious - I love the funny or die video. I think your analogy is interesting - in Pakistan, I watched this show where people called in to ask this Maulvi advice - like if they did their wudu before their namaz, and a spider crossed before them, what did they have to do before they were "able" to say their namaz? (I don't remember the EXACT question, but it was something as ridiculous as that) Questions like that makes one realize how superstition has entrenched itself in Islam and most religions in general - as a result we tend to lose sight of the fundamental core of faith and religion because we are so preoccupied and bogged down with ideas comparable to Xenu the intergalactic dictator.

- k

Ahsan said...


I've been accused many a time of being exceptionally rude so I'm going to try my level best to not be so here. Promise.

Your comments were at best inane. Let me run through some points.

1. The idea that NB, or anyone else on this blog or anywhere for that matter, says things to appear "cool" and "progressive":

This is an inane thing to say for the following reasons. First, it is patently unfair for you to impute motives for the holding of an opinion to the opinion-holder, and then *use* said imputed motives to discredit the argument. It would be the equivalent of me saying so-and-so prays only because he wants to *look* pious and *look* noble, and thus is an evil twat because he's doing what he's doing for an audience. Why can't you deal with the argument as it stands? Why do you insist that we hold our opinions because we want to *appear* some way? Could it just be that we *actually* think these things, irrespective of the so-called instrumental value attached to holding these opinions? Could it just be that we are, you know, *intellectually honest*? Shouldn't that possibility be considered?

Second, who are we trying to impress? None of us are identifiable on this blog; two of us known only by initials and the third only by first name. If we're trying to impress people and look cool, we're going about it in a mighty roundabout way, wouldn't you say?

2. The idea that NB indulged in Islam bashing:

Ridiculous. NB was not bashing "Islam". Far from it. NB was bashing the "hypocrisy of those who have *literalist* interpretations of religions like Islam, Christianity, and the like, and then choose to point and laugh at liertalist interpretations of Scientology." Any fair reading of his words can reach no other conclusion. Note that nowhere did NB say that you *shouldn't* have these beliefs, or that having these beliefs is inherently stupid (*that* would be religion bashing). What he *did* say was that if you *do* have these beliefs, and take them *literally* (i.e. you ACTUALLY believe that the world was created in six days, or that sticks become snakes, or there's such a thing as "nazar lagna"), then you have little right to criticize Scientology for its outlandish beliefs. There really isn't an argument here. Faced with two sets of irrational beliefs, you can't cast off one as dumb and stupid only because it's been around for a shorter period of time or it has fewer followers. That's hypocrisy, and that's what NB's point was.

3. (This is addressed to Moss J as much as Anon515):
The idea that we "bash" Islam out of habit:

Islam is our reference point in these types of discussions because we grew up in an avowedly Islamic country. Personally (and this is just me, please don't unnecessarily transfer these opinions to NB and AKS as you people seem so eager to do), I think *all* organized religion is stupid. I play no favorites (note, this is not the same as saying someone is stupid because they follow organized religion. They are plenty of people who I have a ton of respect for who are deeply religious. I don't think *they* are dumb, I think the institution that makes them do what they're doing is dumb).

Since Islam is what I grew up with, it is Islam's beliefs and practices that I am most intimately aware of. The same, I suspect, is true of NB and AKS. There is no great conspiracy here on our part to discredit Islam.

I have more to say but I'm going to let it go because I have real work to do. Suffice it to say, Anon515, your comments were completely illogical, not actually responding to what was written (and instead responding to something you imagined was written because you have your preconceived notions of what the three of us think and why we think it), and a tad unfair too.

Farooq said...

I hope judgmental old F-machi.. UH!!... Anonymous is feeling mighty stupid right now.

ali mate said...

i like antonio gramsci. he wrote about this divide between northern italy and southern italy. he gave northern italy the metaphor of a 'garden culture'; whereby southern italy had many a 'wild culture'. from what i understood of it, he warned of the garden culture's hegemony which artificially and prematurely hinders the wild culture's progression.

i'm also reminded of max weber and his theories on rationalization of man, the protestant ethic & the spirit of capitalism, and the disenchantment of the world [read: western europe].

Anonymous said...

lettuce make love not war.

Anonymous said...

aks, its things like your first post here that reminds me why i love you (also your retarded hairstyle back in school.... if that wasnt you trying to be "progressive" and "cool" i dont know what is)

nb: you are not to bad either

also: if your blog rejects my post again i'm done forever. you'll be sad when i'm gone..

islamhaters-hatersculb said...

@ anon and moss j

you guys are so right! the writers of this blog suck. they hate freedom and our way of life too!

ali mate said...

let me say it in other words, i strongly feel the issues are not about religions as they are about socio-cultural development.

peep weber and gramsci! and foucault (not really, just felt like throwing that in there after reading your interview with Pak Spectator - all i've read on foucault is about biopower/biopolitics and a slight bit on the history of sexuality).

AKS said...

@ ali mate

I wonder what you mean by biopower / biopolitics? I recall reading Order of Things and The Archaeology of Knowledge, and biopower / biopolitics doesn't strike a note. But my memory is a temperamental entity so I wouldn't really rely on it too much.

Especially when you consider that my intentions for reading Foucault were not the most intellectually honest. I was just trying to impress a certain French girl.

Man, did that not work!

I should've just kept my cool high school hair (eh, anon?)

Anonymous said...

i always said you should chopped off your wings of love aks! women everywhere wept

Anonymous said...

weeeelllllll, i have a literalist interpretation of my religion and i am quite happy to bash the living daylights out of the scientologists and anyone else really that doesn't believe in my religion (with respect and within reason - as my religion instructs me to) AND i reserve the right get pissed off when they do the same to me.

why? because, by definition i believe my religion is right and the others are not. if i did not believe that, then why in the world would i adhere to it in the first place?

of course literalists can take apart other religions bit by bit, as long as they sincerely believe they are right.

this blog appears to based on a set of principles that are entrenched in the authors mind:

he wouldnt mind if 'atheists criticized scientologists' - but to me, being an atheist is one of the biggest leaps of faith you can take in this world! it takes a lot of faith to believe in nothing, it is still believing as such - thus making the atheist no different from uncle tool and no less ludicrous.

so, NB, your 'blood boiling' when literalists bash scientology is no different to uncle tools blood boiling when he hears of scientologists. in fact you are mirrors of one another, clutching on to your respective beliefs.

Yeti said...

@anonymous person above me

22 comments and you still dont get it? Thats a little sad.

Besides, athiests dont push facts including the existence or non-existence of God. They simply dont beleive or disbeleive things in the absence of fact. No leaps of faith involved, thats the point.

Anyway, enjoy your self righteous Scientology bashing! God knows they probably deserve it anyway.

ali mate said...


Foucault wrote about biopower/biopolitics in The History of Sexuality, wouldn't have come up in The Order of Things.