Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Revisiting the CCHR at Concordia affair: Part 1

The recent flap over Concordia University’s hosting the “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death” exhibit by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Scientology front group, is still fresh in the collective memory of Anonymous—not only in Montreal, but around the world.

It seems that the Concordia administration, represented principally by Vice-President, Services Michael Di Grappa (whose department booked the CCHR exhibit in the first place), stopped reading emails of complaint and concern long ago. With this in mind, Anonymous Montreal will use the public forum of this blog to directly address Mr. Di Grappa, university spokesperson Chris Mota, and those other members of the Concordia administration who seemed incapable of recognizing and acknowledging (at least publicly) the true nature and intent of the CCHR and its exhibit. By acting as de facto apologists for the CCHR, we believe Mr. Di Grappa and Ms. Mota in fact made the university administration look even worse than had they displayed a modicum of humility and maturity, and admitted (even if subtly) that they had perhaps made a mistake in allowing the CCHR to set up its traveling propagandist horror show in the atrium of the McConnell library building for a mere $250 a day.

(The fact that the October return of the CCHR exhibit appears to have been canceled leads us to believe that—behind closed doors, at least—the administration recognized its colossal blunder. As well, having seen what Anonymous was capable of accomplishing in a matter of days in alerting the local news media, spearheading an email campaign, and organizing a demonstration, they no doubt wanted to avoid a repeat of this headache as well as further negative publicity.)

With this in mind, this first blog post on the CCHR/Concordia affair will make clear the truth about the CCHR as existing solely to further Scientology’s stated goal of the global obliteration of psychiatry and psychiatrists. In fact, Dr. Nada Stotland, president of the American Psychiatric Association, recently declared the CCHR a hate group.

Mr. Di Grappa’s form letter sent in response to the hundreds of email complaints received about the CCHR at Concordia made arguments in defense of the CCHR that were weak, flawed, and poorly (if at all) supported. (Perhaps if Mr. Di Grappa—and it is indeed “Mister,” not “Doctor,” for he does not hold a Ph.D.—had actual research and teaching experience, he would have been able to construct a better argument, and would have displayed an understanding of the importance of academic integrity.) We will be addressing this form letter in detail in a future post. For now, we will look at two points made in the letter that are directly relevant to the video posted below.

Mr. Di Grappa wrote that “it [was his] understanding that the Church of Scientology is a recognized religious and charitable organization.” Further, he stated that “[i]t is a precondition of any event on our campus that the emphasis will be and at all times will remain on the respectful discussion and debate of possibly opposing positions in a secure, collegial environment.”

Meanwhile, in the news media, spokesperson Chris Mota parroted the same tired talking points that were no doubt fed to her by the administration. For example, in the CTV Montreal report on the CCHR affair, she said, “Even if you disagree with the content of what is being presented, if you can’t do it in a university, then there’s really no place left.” Ms. Mota, the CCHR exhibit left no room for disagreement. (In a French radio interview with Benoit Dutrizac, available here, Ms. Mota defends at length the university administration's decision to host the CCHR exhibitand then admits to not having actually seen it.)

With the foregoing in mind, then, we invite Mr. Di Grappa, Ms. Mota, and other members of the Concordia administration who defended the CCHR exhibit, to watch the following video. It features none less than David Miscavige, leader of Scientology, spouting incendiary anti-psychiatry rhetoric with clear undertones of violence. Please, out of respect to all those who emailed you to express their concerns about the CCHR’s infiltration of Concordia—concerns you in large part ignored—watch the following video, and then try and defend the CCHR as a charitable organization with a legitimate interest in “respectful discussion and debate.”

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