By Erin Sherbert
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By Kate Conger
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Then Gorman became the joke. Someone in the Thunderdome Photoshopped his head onto gay porn. Another poster slapped up his promotional amateur boxing photo at the top of the forum. They mocked his bad spelling and his intelligence: "Poor guy, they mutilated his brains ... it's like watching ozzy after all those years of drug abuse."
Poster LordCeptimos added: "HA HA HA! Funny shit ... however ... know this ... tommy can beat the shit out of you ... literally. lets hope he can take a joke."
Turns out he could. Gorman posted that it was a misunderstanding and he had found the porn "hella funny." For now, peace reigns again — "Tommy doesn't understand how the Internet works," Pandarific says — but the Anons are still laughing. One in Austin created a mask of Gorman's face to print out and wear to protests. They created a lovingly satirical entry for him on Encyclopedia Dramatica, the Wikipedia-style archive of troll culture. Megaphonebitch changed one of his screen names on the Bay Area message board to Tommy Gorman, and Anons have started dropping "Tommy Gorman" into their speech as a verb or noun meaning nothing in particular. "Poor Tommy has become a meme," says SanFranAnon, using the term for an idea or joke that catches on and is circulated ad nauseam throughout the net community.
Gorman takes a let-the-nerds-be-nerds view of his infamous status among Anonymous, and says he has more important battles. Though he admits he has no solid proof, he stacks up the scratches on his grandma's car, the mysterious van parked outside with its lights on, and a stranger telling his mother not to let him go to a recent protest in D.C. as evidence of continuing harassment from the church. "I feel it's normal," Jennifer says flatly. The couple bought three Rottweilers to guard the house and named them Killer, Beast, and Boss, the last of which responds only to commands in German. Gorman posted a chronicle of the van episode on YouTube, which even Quiros watched.
"Just try to look through it and go, 'Am I watching a delusional human being, or am I watching a rational person that's making rational arguments?'" Quiros says. "I got cut off [while driving] a couple of weeks ago. I should have said it must have been Tommy Gorman."
Still, Gorman says the days of fear for him were gone long ago, and for Jennifer, they're diminishing with every protest. She carries a sign: "Scientology Protected the Man Who Raped Me." After a surprise pregnancy — she still finds intimacy difficult — Jennifer gave birth a year ago to their daughter, Gwendolyn. Having a child has helped her focus on something other than the past: "She makes me happy," Jennifer says. "I just think about her. I don't really think about myself." She hopes to eventually get a nursing degree; Tommy, who works for his dad's construction company, dreams of becoming an attorney to represent cases against Scientology. First, he'll have to get his GED.
Now if he could just get Quiros to face him. That was the issue at hand at the July raid where Gorman delivered his "chicken-shit ass" line.
"Tell him Tommy wants to talk to him very peacefully. There's an officer here to, you know, watch the whole thing," Gorman says, motioning to Sergeant Carl Tennenbaum.
"I'm not gonna be out here," Tennenbaum says with a smirk, sensing a beef he didn't want to be dragged into. "I don't think [Quiros] is coming out here, either. I think he's smarter than that."
Gorman knows darn well Quiros wouldn't be coming out that day — probably never. It's just that his camcorder is rolling, and the suspense makes such good YouTube.