A San Francisco billboard warns of the woes of drug addiction — and L. Ron Hubbard has just the cure.
By Joe Eskenazi
Strolling past the intersection of Jackson and Columbus streets, I was frozen in my tracks by a jaw-dropping sight –- and no, it wasn’t the death of Clown Alley.
It was the most lurid antidrug billboard I’ve seen yet: a black-and-white number reminiscent of a horror movie poster featuring a dead ringer for young Jennifer Jason Leigh putting something in her mouth even more distasteful than the objects Leigh has imbibed in her film career.
“THE TRUTH ABOUT DRUGS,” the billboard blares. “What you don’t know about them could kill you. Say no to drugs. Say yes to life.”
The sheer theatricality, the gaudiness, the amusement-park-house-of-horrors over-the-top nature of the ad: It was a blatant giveaway. I knew something was up ...
I also knew the billboard was perched almost atop the Church of Scientology.
And, surely enough, a quick trip to the Web site advertised on the billboard confirmed that this ad is just a thinly veiled front for Scientology.
Given the disturbing content I discovered, ribbing the Sgt. Joe Friday-esque tone of the text on the Web site would be like tossing matches at a bonfire. And still, I remain mystified by the top blurb on the page’s “official recognitions” section:
“I know that this drug prevention program is the most effective in the world. We need to handle this problem in all society and I am happy that finally there is an organization which is doing something about it.”
— A.J., executive director of a paper manufacturing company, Hungary
That’s right: If you can’t trust an anonymous Hungarian paper manufacturing executive, who can you trust?
A little more digging, however reveals the ulterior motive behind the flashy billboard and the accompanying sets of brochures educators are encouraged to order.
While the best way to stave off drug addition is to not use drugs, “for the person with a serious drug problem, there are real solutions to addiction. Narconon, a drug rehabilitation program, utilizes the methods of L. Ron Hubbard to free people from drug dependency.”
In fact, the forest-destroying author and Scientology founder “discovered” that drug residues are stored in the body’s fatty tissues and can be released at any time — even right before a big date or job interview. Narconon “is a carefully designed regimen of exercise, nutrition, and sauna use that can rid the body of harmful drug residues and other toxic substances. A person on this program is closely monitored by specially trained personnel in liaison with medical doctors to ensure that each step is conducted precisely and the desired benefits are attained.”
Needless to say, the notion that marijuana residue from Monterey Pop is still in your fatty tissue and the way to get it out is via massive doses of vitamins and boiling saunas is not a commonly accepted view among licensed professionals.
Also, it warrants mentioning that, up until a few years ago, Narconon advocates were surreptitiously pushing their ideas in San Francisco schools -- and, according to the Foundation For a Drug-Free World Web site, they continue to do so worldwide (notably, you can read the site in 13 different languages).
Between drugs and Scientology, you are presented with varying lifestyles. One rots and poisons a perfectly good mind, costing a fortune in the process.
And the other is drugs.
Photo | Joe Eskenazi