Bigotry & Hate = Threats & Violence, Part 1
If there is any doubt that Alex Gibney’s bigoted, blatantly one-sided HBO movie about the Church of Scientology irresponsibly incites religious hatred and even violence, one need look no farther than Austin and Los Angeles.
In Austin, a woman who unabashedly endorsed and promoted Gibney’s propaganda via social media sits accused of a felony for driving her Acura sedan across a sidewalk to smash through the glass front door of the Church of Scientology next to the University of Texas campus. She plowed her car through the lobby, narrowly missing startled parishioners before coming to a stop just in front of a nursery where children were playing hours before. After her arrest, the suspect continued spewing anti-religious hate about the Church to police, even expressing disappointment that no one was injured.
In Los Angeles, a Chicago man pleaded guilty to one felony count of making a criminal threat and one count of stalking after calling the Church threatening to kill its leadership and “every single one of you.” The suspect told police he became angered about Scientology after viewing the “HBO special” (Gibney’s film).
In a third incident, a deranged young man drove to the front reception of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles, got out of his car and threw a hammer through a window, retrieved the hammer, threw it again a second time even more forcefully, and drove off. His attack followed e-mail threats to a Church member. The man was subsequently arrested by police and is awaiting trial.
Incredibly, the only response from Gibney and his co-producer Lawrence Wright wasn’t to condemn such acts, but to take to Twitter after the Austin hate crime to cover their collective behinds. Wright’s passive missive was, “For the record, I don’t support such actions” to which Gibney responded, “Me neither.” Gibney then shamelessly used the opportunity to promote his film with: “Woman who saw #goingclear smashed car into Scientology building in Texas.”
Forget that the tweets are utterly inane—what sane person does support the endangering of lives by crashing a car through the front door of a religious institution? What the knee-jerk reaction really shows is that Gibney and Wright knew their hit jobs were so incendiary that it was just a matter of time before an unhinged, troubled individual would be incited by their propaganda and lash out.
With their bigoted books and films, Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright plant the seeds of violence. And as the recent hate crimes directed at the Church show, they also reap what they sow.