FRONT SIGHT, SCIENTOLOGY
Diana Hsieh is a good friend, an ardent proponent of Second Amendment rights, and a fellow blogger. She's also, and very unfortunately, now apparently the target of a lawsuit. I'll tell this story briefly, and focus on the essentials.
Diana and her husband Paul first became acquainted with Front Sight Management in April 2002. For many months, they had nothing but the highest regard for Front Sight, where they had attended a four-day defensive handgun training course. They admired both Front Sight's "superb firearms training," and also Front Sight's "remarkable plans to change hearts and minds about guns and gun rights." As Diana says, she "was on board 100 percent."
Then, in October of this year, Diana began hearing certain stories about the alleged connections between Ignatius Piazza, the head of Front Sight, and Scientology. After investigating these claims as best she could, Diana was very skeptical about them, and in effect dismissed them. Immediately after this, Diana received additional information -- and then the picture began to change, and serious questions began to emerge about the ties between Piazza and Scientology. Throughout this process, Diana contacted Piazza directly with her questions.
But the more information that came to light, the more likely it appeared that there indeed were some perhaps important connections between Piazza and Scientology. At this point, Diana sent Piazza a third email about these matters. In addition to providing links to information about the "disturbing" and "harassing" tactics of Scientology, particularly with regard to anyone who dares to question Scientology and its practices, Diana said this -- which is an issue that I think should concern anyone who seriously defends Second Amendment rights:
"Second, your association with Scientology may well pose a grave danger to the gun rights movement as a whole. As you succeed in 'changing hearts and minds' about guns, the anti-gun lobby and media will look for any convenient smear tactic to advance their cause. Your association with Scientology would be the perfect fodder for such folks. The damage that could be done by a '60 Minutes' report exposing the 'disturbing connection between the dangerous cult of Scientology and owner of a massive firearms training facility in the desert of Nevada' is unfathomable. Gun enthusiasts would no longer be thought of as uneducated, paranoid rednecks, but rather brainwashed cult members. The cause of gun rights could be seriously damaged."
Diana also told Piazza that she and Paul were very excited about attending the four-day training seminar for the second time, and that they would be traveling to Las Vegas from Colorado on October 30, and going to the first day of class on November 1. It now turns out that Front Sight filed a complaint naming Diana as a defendant on October 29. And Diana indicates on her blog that she and Paul returned home from the seminar earlier than they had expected. So what happened in Nevada? Draw your own conclusions.
Even though Diana still does not know the contents of the lawsuit, or the nature of the claims against her, word has quickly spread throughout the guns rights community. Not surprisingly, people on various discussion threads are very upset at what they perceive to be Front Sight's high-handed, strong-arming tactics. For example, at The Firing Line, people said:
"How can you be a proponent of the second amendment, when you try to strongarm people out of their first amendment rights?"
"I agree ... this is classic Scientology material. They use the legal system to intimidate people with the threat of a lawsuit. Unfortunately, it often works because most people prize their money above their autonomy and sovereignty. In this case, we have a business that operates within a specific subculture here in the US. I would think that FSI Would need to watch their step at this point. Coverage and publicity of the lawsuit would make FSI look like major whiny baby but losers."
"Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to point out a classic example of the 'shotgun' school of problem-solving, versus the 'rifle' school. The 'shotgun' school fires projectiles in vast numbers all over the landscape, in the hope that some of them will connect. The 'rifle' school takes careful aim at a predetermined target, and fires a precisely-directed round that will have the desired effect, without spraying lead all over the place. In the light of Scientology's long-demonstrated technique of suing everybody and anybody whom they consider a threat, and the apparent similarity of Front Sight's response to those involved in the recent fuss, would anybody care to venture a suggestion as to which 'problem-solving school' both of these entities fall into???"
At Glock Talk, there are many similar comments:
"Due to events described by the administrator of this website, I intend to permanently boycott a particular training facility located near Las Vegas, NV, and will encourage all others that I know in the training community, to do the same."
"Nothing has been refuted, critics have been threatened, retractions have been made not to promote truth but to escape predatory lawyers. People who resort to such disgusting tactics do not deserve respect. I prefer to deal with honest people who have no fear of the truth, who do not run to shyster lawyers to threaten lawsuits in order to clamp down on free speech. If someone has something to hide, it shows."
"I think the fact that the guy is suing Diane Hseih (spelling?) one of his own 'family' members for just ASKING QUESTIONS is appaling. In case some of you don't know, the law suit is public record and the link can be found on her web-site. The owner of this board getting threatened with a law suit for members expressing opinions and having general conversation?? COME ON!! If one of this guy's investors can't even question what is going on without getting sued what does that tell you? The person is so self conscious about the truth, he doesn't want anyone talking about the truth."
And, remarkably, Glock Talk itself was threatened by Front Sight:
"Hi folks. I recently received a certified letter, from Front Sight Firearms Training Institute's lawyer, concerning negative posts made on Glock Talk. In addition to wanting me to ban an individual that made allegations against them, the message threatened legal action against this site if I didn't 'Carefully check posts in the future concerning Front Site'."
Subsequently, the administrator of Glock Talk said this:
"Hi folks. I just wanted to take a moment to post a clarification of my message concerning Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. It was not my intention to capitulate, by disallowing discussion of Front Sight here. My action was intended to deny them any exposure here at all, if they thought they could strong-arm me into removing negative content, while they benefited from the positive content that was left. I don't like bullies and have no intention of backing down. I sent a letter to them yesterday outlining my position, along with a refund check for their banner ad spot.
"Perhaps my actions yesterday weren't very well thought out, or maybe I should have made my intentions clearer, but I have no intention of bowing to such heavy-handed tactics. Front Sight and this site have had a relationship for more than two years and they have been a sponsor most of that time. For them to contact me via a lawyer, instead of calling or emailing me personally, was a supremely arrogant and singularly short-sighted act. It was also quite insulting. I do not need the money of a company that conducts business that way. Front Sight does, on the other hand, need the exposure sites like this can provide. They need the potential customer base sites like this can give them a chance to pitch to and yet they are trying their best to alienate that very audience. I don't understand their actions."
Diana has collected all the information about this story, with numerous links to additional background on Scientology and related matters, here. I strongly recommend you visit there, and read the details of this entire affair.
I can only repeat what some of the comments point out at The Firing Line and at Glock Talk: if there were only questions before about possible ties among Piazza, Front Sight and Scientology, many of those questions have become much more serious -- and appear to have perhaps been answered -- by Front Sight's speed in deciding to sue Diana. And I point out again that, throughout this business, Diana has approached these issues with great care: she asked questions directly of Piazza, she weighed the evidence with great scrupulousness, and she demonstrated enormous integrity. Moreover, she revealed what I view as an important understanding and concern for not only the well-being and reputation of Front Sight, but for the cause of gun rights in general.
It appears to me - and I stress the word "appears," since I obviously do not know myself about the specific contents of the lawsuit against Diana -- that Front Sight is trying very hard to get Diana to shut up quickly, to put the matter bluntly. On the advice of her attorney, Diana indicates that she will have no further comment about this for the time being. However, that does not mean that the rest of us cannot talk about these issues. As a result, one of the most important things you can do -- if you care about justice, and the cause of gun rights in general -- is to spread the information that is already publicly available as far and wide as you can. That alone may well help to defeat at least one of the purposes of this lawsuit, and it may mean there will be an end to it much sooner than otherwise would occur.
Through her honest, and serious, questioning about important issues, Diana has now been drawn into legal proceedings against her will. I hope many of you will support her in this -- so I urge you to visit her special Scientology site, and her blog, and leave her a comment to let her know that she has your support, and that you will help her in any way you can.
After all, they're your rights, too. http://www.raids.org/fsite1.htm