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Arts and Entertainment

Were Elisabeth Moss' Emmy Speech F-Bombs Actually A Scientology Thing?

Actor Elisabeth Moss in the press room during the 69th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
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Last Sunday, Elisabeth Moss won an extremely well-deserved Emmy for her role in The Handmaid's Tale, and also garnered quite a few headlines for her expletive-laden acceptance speech. The Emmy win was the actress's first after many a nomination, so it would be easy to presume that the f-bombs came from mere excitement—but was the cursing actually, um, a Scientology thing?

"Invoking four-letter words in public is part of a church practice that involves reading the 'tone scale,'" according to the Hollywood Reporter, who first reported the potential Church of Scientology link. THR quotes Tiziano Lugli, "a former friend of Moss' inside the Church of Scientology" who decamped from Team Hubbard seven years ago, who told them that the profanity had a very specific purpose: helping Scientologists communicate with regular, no-chance-of-ever-Going-Clear plebes.

"Scientologists are urged to communicate with 'average people,' and to do so effectively you have to 'go down the tone scale.' So they all use 'fuck, fuck, fuck' every time they talk. It’s fascinating," Lugli told THR. "The quote-unquote philosophy behind it is you match the tone level in order to communicate on the same level of the people with whom you’re communicating. If you’re too 'high-tone,' people will not understand you."

Devised by L. Ron Hubbard in 1951, the tone scale, according to the Scientology Handbook, "plots the descending spiral of life from full vitality and consciousness through half-vitality and half-consciousness down to death."

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Lugli told THR that the propensity for profanity trickles down from the highest levels of Scientology brass, referencing a speech given by David Miscavige in the early aughts where the Scientology leader "was like 'fucking this' and 'fucking that' the whole time."

"Cursing in Scientology is almost a sacrament," Scientology expert/whistleblower Tony Ortega told THR. "The Sea Org [a clergy class with a nautical heritage] sets the tone for all Scientology — and it's literally sailors. It's a paramilitary organization that runs Scientology. And the one thing you notice when you run into ex-Sea Org members is they all curse like sailors."

"There's no question that Scientology has this kind of throwback, hard-smoking, curse-language culture that dates to Hubbard being a Navy guy," Ortega explained.

The tone scale has also been brought up in reference to Tom Cruise's [in]famous, couch-jumping 2005 Oprah Winfrey Show interview. "Enthusiasm is very high on Scientology's tone scale," a former Scientologist says of the Cruise interview in Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion.

"That was nothing, that was the classy version," Moss said when asked by Entertainment Tonight about the cursing in her speech. For what we can only assume is the uncensored version, we suggest checking out fellow Scientologist Danny Masterson's 2015 interview with Paper Magazine, where he drops 22 f-bombs.