Category Archives: Tony Ortega/Village Voice

“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.

ML,
Caliwog

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