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November 13, 2008 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Recently, everyone who pre-ordered a certain book on Amazon.co.uk received a letter notifying them "This item has been removed from sale for legal reasons." Amazon.com claims the book is temporarily out of stock. The book? The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology by John Duignan. Interestingly, on November 5th, Tom Cruise attended an "all hands" meeting of Amazon.com bigwigs. Photos. A random coincidence? What about all those one and two-star reviews that kept disappearing from books like Dianetics and Science of Survival?
posted by changeling (76 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
If Tom Cruise sat down with Amazon executives and told them not to sell a particular book, and they acquiesced to please his whims, then I would be very impressed. Maybe Mr. Cruise really does have mind control abilities!
posted by billysumday at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Can the CoS really pose that big a threat to Amazon? Even an interminable legal battle would cost like 3 days of profits and generate tons of spinably-positive1 news.

1"Giant bookseller stood up to censorship today in a story that is reverberating blah blah blah..."
posted by DU at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2008


Seriously, about 3 minutes ago I learned my co-worker was a scientologist. I was not surprised.

We once CLEARLY had a 10 minute conversation about her child... until she revealed it was her cat.
posted by Lacking Subtlety at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2008 [13 favorites]


Apparently this also happened back in 1999 with Jon Atack's book.
posted by mattbucher at 11:59 AM on November 13, 2008


Also, your Post-Intelligencer link states that the book will be sold again through the US Amazon.com as soon as more books are available.
posted by billysumday at 11:59 AM on November 13, 2008


.....so they claim, billysumday.....
posted by changeling at 12:01 PM on November 13, 2008


...your Post-Intelligencer link statesquotes an Amazon spokesperson that the book will be sold again through the US Amazon.com as soon as more books are available.

What else are they going to say?
posted by DU at 12:02 PM on November 13, 2008


You can try, billy.
posted by Mister_A at 12:02 PM on November 13, 2008


Playah!
posted by carsonb at 12:02 PM on November 13, 2008


Couldn't the book have been withdrawn in the UK due to their libel laws? Hasn't that been a tactic the CoS has been pursuing on the other side of the pond?
posted by Bromius at 12:06 PM on November 13, 2008


It is also unavailable at amazon.ca... CRUISE!! Damn you straight to hell!!
posted by pixlboi at 12:10 PM on November 13, 2008


Isn't Obama doing something about this? Why the hell did we elect him?
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:11 PM on November 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


CRUISE!! Damn you straight to hell!!

I think he's taken care of that himself.
posted by Rinku at 12:13 PM on November 13, 2008


"Xenu" is the sound that is made when an edge of paper slices across a sore of a syphilitic. Just thought I'd toss that into the mix.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:16 PM on November 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


You know, this kind of information suppression seems like it could have worked in the 70's and 80's and maybe even up through the 90's. But now with the internet it boggles the mind how Scientology continues to exist. I mean, say I'm sad and lonely and am recruited by some Scientology member, okay, I go to the internet and look them up and HOLY SHIT these people are crazy! Same thing with Mormons - the nice lads show up at my door and give me some pamphlets and I'm intrigued by the LDS, then I hop on teh Google and OH MY LORD golden plates and seer stones, WTF!

But then again it's silly to underestimate Americans - they can always be further misunderestimitated.
posted by billysumday at 12:17 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think this story has any teeth. There's a big, big gap, right up front. I suspect it is based on defective logic.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:18 PM on November 13, 2008 [27 favorites]


Scientology related: Why is there a Scientology kiosk, complete with the cans, at my local shopping mall? Normally, the only religion I see there is the one backed up by the all mighty dollar.
posted by captainsohler at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think this story has any teeth. There's a big, big gap, right up front. I suspect it is based on defective logic.

LOLOLOLOL!!!

MUST NOT DISCUSS FORMER CRUISE THREAD! (insert Drudge siren...)
posted by billysumday at 12:20 PM on November 13, 2008


I don't think this story has any teeth. There's a big, big gap, right up front. I suspect it is based on defective logic.

That's a libelous accusation, as there's clearly one big tooth right in the middle. How many more do you need?
posted by granted at 12:22 PM on November 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


Customers who bought this item also bought:
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:24 PM on November 13, 2008 [11 favorites]


granted.... I JUST DIED.
posted by changeling at 12:24 PM on November 13, 2008


...am recruited by some Scientology member, okay, I go to the internet...

If there's one thing cult and religion members are known for, it's intellectual due process.
posted by DU at 12:25 PM on November 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


You know of what I speak, Metafilter.
A great eye, lidless, wreathed in flame.
The eye of Siri.
Very soon she will summon an army great enough
to launch an assault upon the intarwebs.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:34 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tom Cruise may be a *REDACTED*. But he can't be all that bad when this very thread is proudly brought to you by the Tom Cruise Official Website. (Warning: images may cause distress to some viewers.)
posted by Ben Light at 12:34 PM on November 13, 2008


I think you mean "intellectual due diligence"?

Scientology is known for trying to scrub information it doesn't like off the internet, too, billysumday.
posted by hattifattener at 12:34 PM on November 13, 2008


Seems a little hypocritical - Scientology wouldn't exist without the publishing of a crappy book. Hmmmm... I guess every religion has their book, though, don't they?

Tom Cruise can't clog the tubes, tho.
posted by angry jonny at 12:38 PM on November 13, 2008


It's just a matter of minutes before someone scans it, puts it on a torrent and before you can say "Xenu's a bloody alien!", out there for anyone and everyone to enjoy and marvel over.

In other news, I can't wait for "Valkyrie". TC looks spiffy in an eyepatch. Might get him that Oscar he's been coveting for so long.
posted by willmize at 12:39 PM on November 13, 2008


Now that I put this on my wish list, will the Scientologists begin their unlawful assault on my livelihood?
posted by grubi at 12:39 PM on November 13, 2008


Scientology is known for trying to scrub information it doesn't like off the internet, too, billysumday.

You think I could get a job with Scientology where I just seek stuff out on the internet and shoot off an attorney form letter asking them to cease and desist? That's gotta be a bummer of a job. Maybe that's what middle-rank Scientologists have to do before they're promoted to Sea Captain or whatever.
posted by billysumday at 12:39 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


guess every religion has their book, though, don't they?

Kibology mostly just has the newsfeed, though I guess there are a couple of PDFs floating around.
posted by cortex at 12:41 PM on November 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hm. I think I'm going to go back to using Powell's for online book shopping.
posted by batmonkey at 12:44 PM on November 13, 2008


It's just a matter of minutes before someone scans it, puts it on a torrent and before you can say "Xenu's a bloody alien!", out there for anyone and everyone to enjoy and marvel over.

Sure, but who torrents books? That's a significantly smaller demographic than the people who order via Amazon, and it gives the book a veneer of "fringe".

Honestly, though, with all the bad press Scientology gets, I'm consistently surprised there are people left who aren't aware it's a pyramid scheme, like Herbalife, only with aliens.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:46 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


And you know what else? I ordered a tea pot on Amazon last week, and not only did they take 4 days to fill the order, they shipped it from Reno, on the slowest truck leaving town! And UPS hasn't updated the tracking information since 16 minutes into Tuesday!
posted by paisley henosis at 12:59 PM on November 13, 2008


We once CLEARLY had a 10 minute conversation about her child... until she revealed it was her cat.

Next year it'll be her pet clam as part of a Sea Org investigation of Scientology's "theory" of evolution, so be grateful your 10 minutes with her were over because she went completely downhill.
posted by Law Talkin' Guy at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2008


But wikipedia says Herbalife is a multi-level marketing product, not a pyramid scheme. Wikipedia is always right! Oh, but lower down there's a section on litigation in 2004. And Herbalife is associated with those shady crazy fox TV promos. Hmm.

Well, there aren't any big-name (and middle-name) celebrities associated with Scientology, so it has to be real! Jason Lee is an alright guy by me (mostly), and would Doug E Fresh lie to me? Oh, he would? And Jason Lee doesn't publicly announce his (crazy) beliefs? You got me there, too.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:16 PM on November 13, 2008


Man, what's happened to Metafilter? Used to be a time a Scientology post would get at least a hundred comments, complete with a vigorous defense of Scientology and vicious condemnation of Catholicism by comment 25 at the latest. Are we really reduced to slyly referencing the post that dare not speak its name, a harkening back to MeFi's glory days? Playing the greatest hits one more time, for old times' sake? Perhaps our little Wild West here has been tamed. And for shame, for shame.
posted by billysumday at 1:17 PM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Just checking my copy of the comment that dare not be posted and I see the related metatalk post was deleted. I did not know that.
posted by Mitheral at 1:28 PM on November 13, 2008


That's why one dares not speak its name.
posted by billysumday at 1:29 PM on November 13, 2008


The MetaFilter Bad Religion Fighters are busy battling the Mormons over Proposition Hate. There are only so many fronts you can commit resources to, and so many Bad Religions out there. Maybe if we find a way to pit the Scientologists against the Mormons so they can beat each other up; it worked for a while with the Fundie Christians and the Fundie Muslims.
posted by wendell at 1:31 PM on November 13, 2008 [5 favorites]


I see the related metatalk post was deleted.

Link?
posted by ryanrs at 1:48 PM on November 13, 2008


http://metatalk.metafilter.com/13333/
posted by billysumday at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2008


MetaFilter badly needs a 'glibness' flag.
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:53 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can I get a summary of "the comment" that uses say, vegetables, instead of identifying details?
posted by Paid In Full at 1:58 PM on November 13, 2008


Wendell's got a great idea here. We just need a couple of fake CoS blogs and a couple of fake Mormon blogs, fill to the line with vitriol, light fuse, and run.

Inspired by a McCain policy advisor.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:58 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe if we find a way to pit the Scientologists against the Mormons so they can beat each other up; it worked for a while with the Fundie Christians and the Fundie Muslims.

For a while? We'll be paying for that matchup for the rest of our lives.
posted by rokusan at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2008


Just checking my copy of the comment that dare not be posted...

Wow now it's SELF-supercensorship. Wooo!
posted by rokusan at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2008


Can I get a summary of "the comment" that uses say, vegetables, instead of identifying details?

Exercising a little Google-fu will get your far enough.
posted by billysumday at 2:01 PM on November 13, 2008


The key is to pit one Bad Religion against another. There's gotta be some way to get the Mormons attacking the Scientologists.

'Hey Mormons, the Scientologists said that your mysterious tablets are what Xemu used for toilet paper!'

'Hey Scientologists, the Mormons say that their American Jesus can eat Xemu for breakfast, with both hands tied to a cross!'
posted by jamstigator at 2:03 PM on November 13, 2008


Exercising a little Google-fu will get your far enough.


Indeed, I see it now. Was it yanked due to legal threats or mod judgement?
posted by Paid In Full at 2:06 PM on November 13, 2008


I think a little combination of both.
posted by billysumday at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2008


LDS vs CoS
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:09 PM on November 13, 2008


I hate FPP's that end with question marks. bezos is pretty much online all the time. heck, he even responded to one my my emails. did nobody ask?
posted by krautland at 2:10 PM on November 13, 2008


The very very good Hubbard bio Bare Faced Messiah seems to also be unavailable at Amazon, other than through used resellers.

Great book. Very recommended. Made me admire the guy to death. Such chutzpah!
posted by rokusan at 2:12 PM on November 13, 2008


Question is, what's scientology's connection with Amazon? Surely this wasn't a one time act of applying pressure. Is Amazon a CoS front?

Because if they're doing CoS bidding in any way and it comes out, they're losing about $2500 a year in business from me.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:16 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great book. Very recommended. Made me admire the guy to death. Such chutzpah!

Agreed. It takes a certain kind of man to state that he's going to start a religion for the purpose of making a shit-ton of money, then do it, then live a life of drugs and women, surrounded by sycophants and indulging himself with ships and whatnot, satisfying his unquenchable thirst for nautical porn.

It's like a pedophile telling his friend, "I'm going to rise to the rank of Police Chief, so that when I diddle little boys, I can just cover it up and keep doing it forever," and then ten years later you find out that he's become Police Chief, is single, and is the youth pastor at a local church, and a coach for the 10 and under YMCA basketball team.
posted by billysumday at 2:17 PM on November 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


I mean, say I'm sad and lonely and am recruited by some Scientology member, okay, I go to the internet and look them up and HOLY SHIT these people are crazy! Same thing with Mormons - the nice lads show up at my door and give me some pamphlets and I'm intrigued by the LDS, then I hop on teh Google and OH MY LORD golden plates and seer stones, WTF!

Most religions are, when you get down to it, riddled with really... quaint... claims. Seriously, every week you eat a magic cookie that turns into the flesh of your god? Your holy book says pi is 3? God is all-loving and all-powerful, which is why two year olds get eaten alive by dogs?

...complete with a vigorous defense of Scientology and vicious condemnation of Catholicism by comment 25 at the latest.

I'll try to work something up.
posted by rodgerd at 2:17 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


you mean, riddled with really... quaint... claims clams.
posted by changeling at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


*sigh*

clops.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:27 PM on November 13, 2008


The very very good Hubbard bio Bare Faced Messiah seems to also be unavailable at Amazon, other than through used resellers.

I'm surprised nobody has pointed out that you can read Bare Faced Messiah online for free, courtesy of xenu.net. That's where I found it (and read it). It's an excellent book.

Almost makes me want to start my own religion...
posted by Snowflake at 2:33 PM on November 13, 2008


The key is to pit one Bad Religion against another.

Round 1: BEGIN
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:35 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hmm... I may have been mistaken... This link at nots.org seems to be more familiar, so that's probably where I read Bare Faced Messiah. Either way, read once, read often. It's a great story.
posted by Snowflake at 2:37 PM on November 13, 2008


Round 1: BEGIN

I think CoS versus LDS would make excellent Mortal Combat characters. CoS would be dressed in a black turtleneck, and have a "thetan ray" that fires from his palms. LDS would, of course, have that white shirt with black pants combo, and would be able to fan out a barrage of pamphlets. Who would win? There can be only one!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:40 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't like Scientology. But not for the obvious reasons; my parents were murdered by an evil space lord who chained them and millions of other people to volcanoes, and then set off nuclear weapons to incinerate them.

As a result, I had a lonely childhood. Then one day I was reading in a library, and a kid came up behind be and smacked me over the head with a hardcover of Dianetics (or maybe it was Battlefield Earth. Whatever, it was big, heavy, and written by Hubbard.)

That book gave me a really bad headache and I've never liked anything associated with that writer since.
posted by quin at 2:50 PM on November 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've briefly met John Duignan but not got the book yet. I hope people read his book in paper form, not some shared-on-the-net version, because he, his co-writer and publisher have clearly taken a risk bringing this to us. In the description in The Register's link, it says he exposes the punishments of cult members including children. What they do to children, including the "Sec Check Children" (google it) is amongst the most distressing aspects of this cult. If I were running Scientology, I know I'd pull out all the stops to prevent discussion of it.

Bare-Faced Messiah is a great book, but for a quicker alternative I'd recommend the "Secret Lives: L. Ron Hubbard" TV documentary that is available on YT. The makers of that programme had more than their fair share of harassment from the "Church".
posted by infobomb at 3:57 PM on November 13, 2008


Kibology mostly just has the newsfeed...

omg I saw a "KIBO" license plate on the way home.
posted by DU at 4:39 PM on November 13, 2008


Sure, the Fundie Christians vs. Fundie Muslims match-up is costing us all a few trillion bucks, but imagine how much crappier life would be for the rest of us if the two groups were working together. And the strategy might work even better if that Dawkins dude would just hold it down.
posted by wendell at 4:53 PM on November 13, 2008


And the strategy might work even better if that Dawkins dude would just hold it down.

But Dawkins' sense of self-satisfaction could be harnessed to power the entire eastern seaboard. We need to think of the planet!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:01 PM on November 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


In September 2002, lawyers for Scientology contacted Internet Archive (archive.org), the administrators of the Wayback Machine and asserted copyright claims on certain materials archived as historical contents of the Operation Clambake site. In response, the Wayback Machine administration removed the archive of the entire Clambake site, initially posting a false claim that the site's author had requested its removal. This claim has been removed but (as of February 2008) the site still returns a "Blocked Site Error" from the Wayback archive.[60]

Wow. Didn't know that one.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:13 PM on November 13, 2008


Am I the only one that sees 'CoS' and thinks of Curse of Shadows first?
posted by iamkimiam at 11:50 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Those who want to order the book online but don't want to wait for Amazon to pull its head out of its ass can order it directly from the publisher here.
posted by scalefree at 6:03 AM on November 14, 2008


There's another new book by an ex-Scientologist about escaping the cult that seems to be having trouble getting published: Escaping Scientology: An Insider's True Story by Karen Schless Pressley.
posted by scalefree at 9:36 AM on November 14, 2008


“It takes a certain kind of man to state that he's going to start a religion for the purpose of making a shit-ton of money, then do it, then live a life of drugs and women, surrounded by sycophants and indulging himself...”

I remember playing video poker obsessively for a stretch on my pda. One day I hit a royal flush. I was like “WOW! Royal Flush. I won hundreds of thousands of ... waitaminute. This is all bullshit!”

Yeah L. Ron was nuts. Del Close met him. (Maybe. Either way he wrote about him. Said he was nuts.)
L. Ron was like one of those cocaine rats that keeps pressing the switch until they die.
I mean, hedonism is ok, but damn, it’s not the lifestyle its the endless repetition.
L. Ron was pretty much the epitomie of what Blake was talking about in terms of Newton Sleep. This push-pull religion of his. Sheesh.

To me, most other religions are tolerable because when it comes right down to it, it’s not about the religion really.

Oh, there’s the guy on the cross, or the ritual in the temple or whatever, but mostly - it’s just a pretext for being together. (And, on holidays, eating)

Like saying “We should go out for coffee.”
Well you don’t really want the coffee, it’s not about the coffee at all.
Same deal.

Of course, you do have some people who obsess over coffee. They listen to the Coffee Cantata by J.S. Bach while cleaning their espresso machines and gathering their beans from exclusive stores and worrying about the roasting and on and on.

I suspect they don’t get as much out of the company or the experience.
(anyone who reads too closely into that metaphor and starts arguing coffee with me? Yeah, it’s you I’m talking about)

I mean, life is way too important to take too seriously.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


I used to spend a metric shit ton on Kopi Luwak, until I realized that it was just as good if I processed it myself.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:12 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, there’s the guy on the cross, or the ritual in the temple or whatever, but mostly - it’s just a pretext for being together. (And, on holidays, eating)


Unitarian Universalists perfected this.
posted by sondrialiac at 3:33 PM on November 14, 2008


BillySumday wrote
Also, your Post-Intelligencer link states that the book will be sold again through the US Amazon.com as soon as more books are available.
Just to support the author, I tried to order it from Amazon in the US when this post first came out. Today I received the following email from Amazon:
Though we had expected to be able to send this item to you, we've since found that it is not available from any of our sources at this time. We realize this is disappointing news to hear, and we apologize for the inconvenience we have caused you.

We have cancelled this item from your order.
Now I'm going to have to order 2 copies. Anyone know of a different source?
posted by ShadowCrash at 8:22 AM on November 26, 2008


Anyone know of a different source?

Try ordering directly from the publisher here (via).
posted by scalefree at 11:16 AM on November 26, 2008


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