WARNING! This section contains material that may be offensive to the humour-impaired or those inclined to take things too damn seriously. If you believe that you qualify under either of the foregoing you a) need to get a life, and b) should not read on any further.
You Have Been Warned.
The "Church" of Scientology refers to individuals who criticise or attack the cult as "Suppressive Persons". Members of the cult who are declared as such have an SP declare posted at their local org (cult speak for "organisation"), and a declared Scientologist loses all rights to any church services until such time as they bring themselves back into favour, usually achieved by "striking a blow at the enemy". This is a pointer to Hubbard Policy on Suppressives.
The inhabitants of alt.religion.scientology have adopted the label of SP as a mark of status - something to be striven for. Accordingly, the ARS Central Committee has ratified a series of SP Levels, representing grades to which SP's can rise.
One of the things which adherents of the cult appear to lose is any semblance of a sense of humour: the clamour among their critics for SP declares has evidently been a matter of some puzzlement to the Scientologists who read alt.religion.scientology, and perhaps with good reason. Read on to find out more about the SP levels.These, then, are the Official ARS Central Committee SP Levels. To have your level ratified, it is necessary to claim, with supporting documentation, that some action by the cult has qualified you for that level, by posting your claim to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup. Since the ARS Central Committee, a faceless bureaucracy, run by we know not whom, but which no doubt contains a large number of psychiatrists, reads every message posted to the newsgroup, your message will be noted and ratification should follow soon.
The SP1 grade is gained by criticising the cult openly. This is generally achieved by posting a message critical of the cult to alt.religion.scientology, but can also be done by protesting outside a Scientology location (this, generally, ensures automatic promotion to SP2, thereby skipping a level - it is considered bad form to skip too many levels at once).
SP2 can be earned by receiving an acknowledgement from a Scientologist. This generally takes the form of a response to your message on the newsgroup, but in the case of protests, will generally be achieved by a Scientologist talking to you. The response can be (and generally is) completely inane - it is the fact that you have received the response that counts, not the quality of the response.
One of the early senior levels, SP3 is earned by having one of your messages cancelled by a forged cancel message from the pro-Scientology cancelpoodle. This level differs from many of the others by virtue of the fact that cancel messages are logged to alt.religion.scientology by Lazarus. Thus, if you have posted material that you consider likely to warrant a forged cancel, all you need do is check the newsgroup for a Lazarus cancel notification of your message and claim your new level.
There is no officially ratified means for acknowledging multiple messages being cancelled, although some SP's use the Clam Cluster to signify this.
SP4 is achieved by receiving a legal threat from the "Church" of Scientology. In the vast majority of cases, this has been via an email message from Helena Kobrin, the Scientologists' pet lawyer, but other forms of service are equally valid (for the purposes of SP status: email is certainly not a valid form of legal service, and you'd have though a lawyer would have known that).
It is regrettable that, thanks to Kobrin's recent antics, the status of SP4 has declined somewhat due to the number of individuals who have received legal threats from her. Indeed, since she recently "served" the entire newsgroup, an unprecedented action in legal history, some potential suppressives argue that everybody is now SP4. This is clearly not in the spirit of the SP awards, and it is my submission that a prerequisite for SP4 should be the attainment of either SP2 or SP3 prior to the legal threat.
Like SP3, holders of SP4 rank can endorse their level in cases where multiple threats have been received.
To attain SP5, you must be Fair Gamed, sued, or attacked by the cult. To date, membership of SP5 is an exclusive club, held mostly by
SP6 status is achieved by making SP5, then successfully defending yourself against their suit or causing them to cease their Fair Game activities against you. SP6 is, indeed, a lofty grade, and one hitherto achieved by very few.
To achieve SP7, it is necessary to instigate a legal action against the cult, or members of it. In some ways, this makes SP7 easier to achieve, since experience suggests that it is nearly impossible to force the cult to cease attacking once it has started (necessary for SP6), while cult members regularly provide SP's with cause to instigate a suit against them. Nonetheless, it takes a brave SP to do such a thing.
A prerequisite for achieving SP8 is to have made SP7: SP8 requires that you win your lawsuit against the cult. Note: winning a lawsuit against Scientology and collecting the damages are two very different matters.
Comparatively few individuals have ever made it to SP9, which requires that one not only makes SP7 by bringing a suit, but passes through SP8 by winning it, then finally, to qualify for SP9, collects the damages. The cult is quick to trumpet its respect for the values of law, order, and justice when it is bringing actions against other people. When the law finds against them, the response varies from accusations of duped judges through to a flat refusal to pay.
SP9's are indeed worthy individuals.
Note: These endorsements have not yet been fully ratified by ARS Central Committee, and may be withdrawn or modified at any time.
The Clam Cluster is used for SP levels 3 and above, and signifies that the action against the SP warranting his or her appropriate designation has been carried out against him or her on more than one separate occasion. Thus, if an SP receives two or more legal threats from the cult, his designation will be "SP4 with Clam Cluster".
Where an individual has suffered at the cult's hands beyond the call of duty, it may, at the discretion of the Central Committee, be acceptable for that individual to claim an Honorary SP level. Such claims must be submitted to the Committee for ratification on a case-by-case basis.
In general, Honorary SP status will go to individuals who have incurred the wrath of the cult in the furtherance of SP goals outside Usenet, eg., authors of critical books, or ex-Scientologists.
One of the most frequent accusations made by Scientologists against those who criticise them is that they are pawns in some great conspiracy. Protesters outside orgs are regularly pestered with "Who do you work for?" or "What organisation do you represent?" in a desparate attempt to discover where the central conspiracy that L Ron Hubbard said must exist behind any criticism of Scientology actually is. It is clear that the concept of a large number of individuals all acting on their own behalf towards a common purpose is one that Scientologists find difficult to grasp.
Accordingly, and because posters to alt.religion.scientology are an obliging lot, the ARS Central Committee was formed. It is a virtual committee, in the sense that it is never convened, and never formally sits. Committee decisions are taken via some means unknown to the lower ranks, but which probably involves massed ranks of psychiatrists, taking shifts to conduct frivolous ECT procedures and the odd lobotomy, conveying instructions to the Central Committee mouthpieces.
The Committee has introduced a comprehensive series of statistics-gathering procedures and documentary processes, which are far too complex to even begin to describe here. See alt.religion.scientology for more information.