Measlesboat McScientologyface Quarantined In St. Lucia
In this week's episode of Antivaxxers Fuck Everything Up, we learn that a small cruise ship with up to 300 passengers and crew has been quarantined in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia since Monday, when health authorities learned a female crew member on the ship was diagnosed with the measles. Not just any old cruise ship, though -- the virusboat has been identified as the MV Freewinds, the cruise ship belonging to the Church of Scientology. Huh!
One female crew member has a confirmed case and St. Lucian authorities said they've been working in close consultation with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) [...]
"Measles is a highly contagious disease. Anyone who is not adequately immunized against measles can contract the disease, if there has been close contact with a confirmed case," according to a statement issued Wednesday by Dr. Merlene Fredericks-James, the island nation's chief medical officer. "It is therefore likely that other persons on the boat may have been exposed."
Dr. Fredericks-James said the sick crewmember was in isolation aboard Measlesboat McScientologyface, according to the ship's doctor. Who for all we know may be a hologram. And while the health agency declined to identify the ship, a St. Lucian Coast Guard sergeant confirmed to NBC News it was the Freewinds, which merely confirms what online geeks had already figured out from an online boat-tracking website.
Scientology-debunking blogger Tony Ortega notes that while Scientology doesn't officially have a position on vaccines, many of the group's members share founder L. Ron Hubbard's "longstanding distaste for the American Medical Association" and that many Scientologists are anti-vaxxers. The Freewinds, he explains, is
crewed by members of Scientology's Sea Org, extremely dedicated members who sign billion-year contracts and work 365 days a year for little or no pay. The Freewinds is also a destination for Scientology's celebrities and for church leader David Miscavige.
The Ship of Tools is used to host super-high level Scientologists for their super-expensive top level "audits," which leave them free of ancient evil souls, and possibly minty fresh. In addition, Scientology lets lesser Scientologist families take cruises, often with kids in tow. That includes the big annual whoop-tee-doo called "Maiden Voyage," never mind that the name makes no nautical sense. They probably have an annual virginity week on the moon, too.
Hubbard's Folly The Freewinds was scheduled to leave port today, at noon local time, although it's possible the ship may stay right where it is rather than risk making the terrible publicity for Scientology even worse, according to Valeska Paris, a former Scientologist who says she was forced to serve as a crewmember of the ship against her will for 11 years. Ortega spoke to Ms. Paris about another outbreak of a preventable disease from the time she was aboard Freewinds.
What I can say is that the Sea Org member who got measles will be in serious trouble. She'll be isolated from everyone around her so that no one else gets the measles. There will be ethics investigations, as it is a PR flap. When I was on the Freewinds in 2006 a Sea Org member named Angela got chickenpox. She passed it to another Sea Org member named Isabel. All crew members were asked if they were vaccinated for chickenpox and if they had had it before. There were a handful of us who had never been vaccinated and had never had chickenpox including myself. It was right before Maiden Voyage, and legally we should have been quarantined. But it was kept hidden from the authorities. [...] The ship's doctor got vaccinations for us and we were all vaccinated on the ship. Then Isabel, Angela and everyone who hadn't had chickenpox were sent ashore to stay in a hotel. Isabel still had chickenpox when she was sent ashore.
St. Lucian health authorities were alerted to the outbreak by authorities from the ship's previous port of call in Curaçao. Ms. Paris told Ortega that if the Dutch Caribbean authorities hadn't notified St. Lucia, she has little doubt the church would have tried to cover up the current outbreak.
We asked her what she thought would be going on at the ship while it's in quarantine.
"There would be investigations. They might be investigating why this crew member was sent to the doctor ashore," she says. Scientology will be as focused on rooting out who put them in this situation as they would helping to keep it from spreading.
"That person would be severely punished. There's nothing Scientology hates more than bad publicity. Nothing."
In extreme cases, we bet errant crew members are forced to read Battlefield Earth. Or made an Unperson and sent to crew the lower decks of MV Freewinds forever, which is the premise of our spec script, The Boatnichts.
A former Scientology executive, Tom DeVocht, told Ortega the church is probably in chaos at the moment, since the shit has hit the e-meter (yes, we're paraphrasing). "From a PR perspective, they're fucked and they know it," he said.
"The worst-case scenario is how many people were in contact with that crew member who have now left the ship and went back to Flag [in Florida] or PAC Base [in Los Angeles]. This is a real close-knit community, and they have to be panicking right now," he says.
Gosh, that's quite a shame. Makes you wonder how such an advanced group of Healing Minds even managed to let sickness come unto them, huh? The only cure will be additional spiritual growth, however much that might cost the poor infected saps.
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.