“Great Middle Path:” The straw-man argument

Have a look at Marty’s latest, The Great Middle Path Revisited. In it, Marty claims that the polar reactions to his book — Church-goers saying Marty is trying to destroy Scientology on one side, “Scientology ridiculers” saying the whole subject is a pile of shit on the other. This, according to Marty, proves that he is right:

“On the one hand I am accused on attempting to destroy everything L. Ron Hubbard stood for. On the other hand, I am accused of being Hubbard’s greatest defender… It makes me feel like I must have hit the ball right in the sweet spot.”

Now, there are no shortage of “Scientology ridiculers,” myself included. But who does Marty cite? None other than his old buddy Tony Ortega, who has done more than anyone (even Tobin and Childs) to give Marty a fair shot in the press.

Except, for the sake of this argument, Tony is not Marty’s friend. Instead, he is, Marty says, “the most prominent and persistent of Scientology ridiculers.”

If ever a sentiment were worth of ridicule, that’s it. Tony has been so fair and even-handed about Marty’s indie movement that I’ve wondered in the past if Marty doesn’t have him snowed about Scientology. (I don’t think he has.) While I don’t agree with Tony’s light-handed treatment of Marty, I do admire his fairness and objectivity — even when Marty is perfectly willing to throw Tony under the bus, as he has in this blog entry.

Here’s what Marty says about Tony’s review of the book:

On the other extreme Tony Ortega, who has spent seventeen years attempting to make nothing of Scientology, calls What Is Wrong With Scientology?: a ‘predictable mass of Hubbard apologetics’, a ‘bundle of contradictions’, [the apologies are for a religion that is] ‘permeated with sickness’, ‘expensive malarky’, [attempts to pass off] ‘Eastern woo woo as ‘scientific certainty’, and the defense is a bunch of ‘new age happy talk.’

Sounds like the opposite extreme, correct? Well, yes… unless you actually read Ortega’s review of Marty’s book.

The review, though excessively long, is written with the fairness and even-handedness that marks Tony’s work. Yes, he says that Hubbard is full of shit. Yes, he questions the effectiveness of Scientology in such terms. But the bulk of the review, like the bulk of Tony’s stories about Marty, is fair and even-handed. Tony translates what Marty is saying for an audience unfamiliar with Scientology, and the small percentage of time spent ridiculing Hubbard and Scientology shows admirable restraint.

This is a straw man argument if ever I have heard one, which is funny, because there are no shortage of true “Scientology ridiculers” out there. Perhaps the problem is that few have enough interest in balanced coverage to slog through Marty’s latest diatribe. With limited time to devote to this blog, even I have wondered if reading the book is a worthwhile endeavor. (As it happens, I’m too morbidly curious not to read it, though I can’t say I’m looking forward to the experience.)

As for Marty’s treatment of Tony Ortega in this blog entry, it’s clear that Marty doesn’t understand the concept of not biting the hand that feeds him…

…probably because Hubbard never wrote a policy about it.


5 responses to ““Great Middle Path:” The straw-man argument

  1. Ironically, Tony’s review is a better example of the “middle path” then anything Marty has written.

  2. Hello,

    Reading Marty’s comment about Tony Ortega’s review I could only realize that Marty had ”made a change of considerations” about Tony since Tony made fan honnest review that is not what Marty would expect.

    So, as it appears to be a critic, I guess Tony could fall under the treatment on an sp for wno being “the most prominent and persistent of Scientology ridiculers.” …. reminds me ”jokers and degraders”

    LRH could not stand any critic – HE was RIGHT and the others wrong
    and deserved to be attack especially with ad hominem
    DM can not stand any critic – he learned his lessons with uncle Ronny
    the Black pr machine ready to spred it’s venin
    Marty can not stant any critics – so he adjust your reality about his detractors beig ridiculor, punk , low tone, sp, liar….

    If Marty would be capable of introspection he would see that Martyword is the same as Miscavige world and Hubblarbworld – worlds of the Unique True valuable taught their Big ego create and want others to adopt as their beleifs.
    Tony Ortega has been a real gentlement with him – and gave many sincere opportunities to explain his views – But Marty is the only responsible if he failed to gain credibility with half truths manipulated in a intend to pass on acceptable ”truths” (instead of unnacceptable true facts) per his lesson from Ronny.

  3. Excellent article. I was going to say just about the same thing!


  4. Marty is still living in the Scientology bubble — where the inhabitants have no idea how crazy they sound to the rest of the world.

  5. You were pretty nice about this. I thought what Marty said about his critics was one of the dumbest things he’s ever said. According to Marty, everyone who did not agree with his book (his tome to the “Indie Movement”), ie the Scios still in the church AND the people who know that Scientology is a made up religion created by a money hungry egotist (like Ortega) are both extremists while he is basically Ghandi with an e-meter, the great middleman, righteous and well… righteous. Just because one group still believes in Miscavige or needs the lack of identity a cult provides, and the other thinks Marty and the Scientologists are all ridiculous does NOT mean that he’s right. It means that he’s half nuts, not crazy or stupid enough to be Miscagives b*tch for the rest of his life, but not sane enough to recognize how bad Hubbard was or how illogical his path to eternity is.

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