Leave my cable alone, Scientology

John Law

By John Law, Niagara Falls Review

If you were looking forward to HBO's Church of Scientology documentary Going Clear on Sunday night, it was conspicuously absent from HBO Canada. PHOTO: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

If you were looking forward to HBO's Church of Scientology documentary Going Clear on Sunday night, it was conspicuously absent from HBO Canada. PHOTO: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

I don't know any scientologists. None in my neighborhood, as far as I can tell. If I've met one, I wasn't aware.

We don't have a beef with each other, to the best of my knowledge. Maybe they have a file on me, who knows. They wouldn't be the first.

Sure, I loved the South Park episode that tore a strip off them (the classic Trapped in the Closet), but surely they wouldn't know about that, right? Can they tell what DVDs I'm watching? How far does this rabbit hole go?

I suspect just typing the word 'scientologist' will now put me on their radar thanks to their alien-powered search engine, so now that I have their attention, please enlighten me:

Why are you messing with my cable?

I can overlook your 'spiritual rehabilitation' and that we're all cosmic beings called 'thetans' and maybe even your theory that we were all brought to Earth millions of years ago by the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy named Xenu. Every single religion has stuff that seems crazy to outsiders, how is Scientology any different?

(And before you get too uppity, just remember what we're celebrating this weekend.)

If I'm what you call a 'suppressive person' because I think it's a bunch of hooey, so be it. I can still watch a Tom Cruise movie without thinking about it.

But now that you've interfered with my TV viewing, all bets are off. You know what I'm talking about.

Like most Canadians, I spent Sunday night watching The Walking Dead. But I had full intentions of catching up on HBO's high-profile documentary Going Clear afterwards. It was being broadcast at the same time, and attracted 1.7 million viewers — the most for an HBO documentary since 2006.

It had been hyped for months. Based on Lawrence Wright's 2013 book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, the two-hour movie by director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), is a probing look at the church's tactics of intimidation and legal threats to keep its secrets safe and members quiet. One ex-Scientologist asserts John Travolta has been forced to stay with the church because of threats his personal life will be exposed otherwise.

Sounds good. Maybe some day the cable I pay for will offer it.

When I clicked Cogeco's On Demand this week, Going Clear was AWOL. Stuff on Sunday is usually available Monday, but it wasn't there. Checked again Tuesday — nope. Wednesday? Nada.

Intrigued, I searched 'Going Clear Canada' on Twitter, and saw a whole bunch of other folks wondering what happened.

- 'Glad Going Clear released this week, too bad it's not available in Canada.'

- 'This is starting to get a little embarrassing for you guys. Why won't you say if Going Clear will ever air on HBO Canada?'

- 'When will Scientology doc Going Clear air on HBO Canada? Why won't you respond to tweets about it?'

I sent an e-mail to HBO Canada asking what's up, and 10 minutes later got this response: "Unfortunately, we were unable to broadcast Going Clear at the same time as its airing in the US. That is all the information we have at this time. I will forward your comments to our Programming Department for review."

Really? That's all the information they have?

Do you suppose the fact Wright's book was never carried by Canadian book stores two years ago out of legal concerns had anything to do with it?

Might the fact HBO Canada also kiboshed the March 6 episode of Real Time With Bill Maher, in which Wright was a guest, be related?

Might the fact the Church of Scientology has a long history of suing magazines, newspapers, governments and thousands of different people — spending about $20 million per year on legal actions, according to TIME — be the reason I can't watch this freakin' movie?

Is Scientology happy they're forcing me to illegally download it? Xenu would be so disappointed.

Let's go straight to the Church for answers. At www.scientology.ca there's a contact form to ask a question.

They want your name. They want your e-mail. They want your phone number.

On the other hand, I think I'll wait for the DVD.





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