How Scientologists pressurise publishers - 2008-12-04
Last week we learned that Amazon.co.uk has bowed to pressure to stop selling a book by a former senior Irish Scientologist. The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology (Merlin Publishing, Dublin) describes John Duignan's 21 years in the religion, not all of it a happy tale. According to Amazon, "Unfortunately, we have had to withdraw The Complex by John Duignan in the UK because we received a specific allegation that a passage in the book is defamatory regarding an individual named in the book". Other bookshops are also thought to have been warned not to stock the book. And everyone who has ever encountered the Church of Scientology sighs and says, "Here we go again."
Scientology has a long history of trying to suppress material written about it that it doesn't like. Several times they've taken legal action to try and stop websites revealing their teachings – particularly those which, to outsiders, might look a bit odd. (I won't quote them, but just type "Xenu" into a search engine, then sit back and marvel.)
With books, their usual tactic is to get their solicitors to send out letters alleging defamation; I had one myself a few years ago. If bookshops receive such a letter, most of them chicken out immediately. They lose very little by not stocking a book - except their honour.