With all the nuttiness coming out of Tom Cruise in the name of Scientology, it’s often forgotten that there are a lot of other Scientologists out there in Hollywood. One of the other most prominent ones is John Travolta. Compared to Tom Cruise, John Travolta seems, superficially at least, the height of reason. Certainly he’s a lot less obnoxious about his religion than Cruise is, and he always seems like a likable guy whenever he shows up on the talk show circuit. And, heck, anyone who can earn a commercial pilot’s license and fly a 707 around the country has to have something upstairs. Piloting such a plane requires a fair degree of skill and intelligence.
On Friday, April 7th, Hollywood, Interrupted was treated to the Los Angeles premiere of “Normal People Scare Me” – a feature-length documentary about autism, co-directed by the high functioning autistic teenager Taylor Cross and his mother, Keri Bowers. The event was sponsored by an organization called Cure Autism Now (CAN) and the new magazine, The Autism Perspective (TAP).
This enlightening film was produced by b-movie actor/director/producer and former special education teacher, Joey Travolta. Joey’s brother and sister-in-law, “Battlefield Earth” co-stars John Travolta and his wife Kelly Preston, were not present. Too bad…
…Had John and Kelly been at the screening, they might have a better understanding of the disorder reportedly affecting their 14 year-old son, Jett. Sadly, the Scientology couple cannot even publicly admit that their son is afflicted with a neurological disorder, lest – according to the incontrovertible doctrine of Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard – he be labeled a “degraded being” that brought his affliction onto himself. Instead, the Travoltas have long blamed their son’s disability on Kawasaki Syndrome-related “environmental toxins,” specifically carpet cleaning chemicals.
Uh-oh. If “environmental toxins” are blamed for a condition, can loads of quackery, such as chelation therapy or colon cleanses, be far behind, in order to “purge” the toxins? Also, Kawasaki Syndrome is a rare autoimmune condition for which neurological conditions such as autism are not recognized as sequelae. In fact, its symptomatology doesn’t resemble autism or ASDs at all.
The Hollywood actor interviewed describes having autism as “like being trapped within yourself, and having difficulty letting normal people know who you really are.” Now, imagine being trapped inside a mind-control cult that prohibits you from availing your child to the treatment available. No wonder Scientology has long been plagued by suicides, and wrongful deaths.
It’s true that the source making these claims about Travolta and his son seems a bit gossipy, but Mark Ebner, the writer who made the claim has a record of investigating Scientology before. It wouldn’t surprise me if this story is true, although I’d like more verification. If it is true, however, it’s just one more instance of the harm that Scientology’s unrelenting hostility to psychiatry and its misguided belief that all mental illness is due to entrapped aliens living in people’s brains that must be purged can do. It is these beliefs that lead to denying when one’s child might be autistic and to quackery such as Narconon.
For all his intelligence that allows him to master flying airplanes, even one as large as a 707, John Travolta’s intelligence does not extent to critical thinking about harmful consequences of letting Scientology dictate one’s views on mental health.
(Hat tip to Kev and my sister.)