Monday, 5 January 2009

Internet rumour and the death of Jett Travolta

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The tragic death of John Travolta's son Jett has, perhaps inevitably, generated a great deal of macabre online speculation, especially among members of the anti-Scientology protest group Anonymous. The basic outline, as Damian Thompson also points out, is as follows:

Jett Travolta was known to have had "a history of seizures", and his death in his bathroom on Saturday is reported to have occurred as a result of a seizure. Notoriously the Church of Scientology, of which the Travoltas are members, is opposed to psychiatry and any related drug treatments, which would include drugs used to treat seizures.

In the wake of Jett's death this link has been doing the rounds – it leads to a page from a celebrity gossip site, seemingly from 2007, in which a blogger predicted that Jett Travolta would die by the end of 2008. In addition to this Michael Pattinson, a former high-level Scientologist, has written an article entitled "What Scientology will probably do about the tragic death of Jett Travolta", in which he suggests, based on his own extensive knowledge, how the Church will handle the news, the grieving Travolta family and subsequent rumours. In additon, this article from an Anonymous site provides further speculation on Jett's death and Scientology's record in opposing psychiatric treatment.

I certainly agree with Damian Thompson on this one. It's not pleasant to be browsing all this speculation about the death of someone's child, but this has the potential to be a major story and there are questions that need to be asked. Whether we'll see them answered remains to be seen.

3 comments:

Lesley said...

Nonsense. We now know Jett Travolta was taking a drug called Depakote, a strong anti-seizure medication. There have been reports Travolta refused to give his son anti-seizure meds because of Scientology but those stories are not true.
http://www.tmz.com/2009/01/05/john-travoltas-son-meds-ultimately-did-harm/

Also, there is a statement of the Church of Scientology now:
http://www.bignews.biz/?id=791879&keys=scientology-medicine-illness-seizure

Nathaniel said...

The wayback machine says that blogger was not quite so prescient. http://web.archive.org/web/20070513033558/http://www.wwtdd.com/post.phtml?pk=2268

Anonymous said...

Jett Travolta was NOT taking Depakote.

http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,24886738-5001026,00.html