Since it's the journalistic thing to do, I'm going to briefly recapitulate the story leading up to the arrest, trial and conviction of this self-help charlatan. Unlike most consumers of the news, I hope the teeming fives of readers I have will please check my facts behind me as I'd hate to have an audience as stupid as CNN's reading my blog - guilt by association being what it is and all. Anyway, here are the essential facts:
James Arthur Ray is a professional liar who bilks people out of money by peddling imaginary snake oil to people. In essence, he writes things, speaks and has people stand in precariously stupid places for hours at a time all the while encouraging them to use their brains to think really, really hard about things while he's busy laughing all the way to the bank. In 2009, he had arranged for one of his brainstorming sessions at a retreat in Sedona, Arizona. At least a part of this retreat involved a sweat lodge style something another, which makes sense considering it's going on in Arizona. Location, location, location.
Anyway, some bad things happened there and he was last month convicted of three counts negligent homicide, which means something like he inadvertently fell down and killed three people. It could happen to anyone. At any rate, this story is particularly sad because of the victims, who've been kind of stashed behind the wigwam as I'm sure I imagine they say in Sedona, Arizona.
- Kirby Brown of Westtown, NY, aged 38
- James "Jersey" Shore of Milwauke, WI, aged 40
- Lizbeth Marie Neuman of Prior Lake, Minnesota, aged 49
So, having somehow or another flawlessly executed the ingenious escape plan, our now moose-on-the-loose-out-patients pressed on, further managing to give their handlers the slip, squirreled themselves aboard a hapless aircraft, trekking halfway across the country where they involuntarily entered a hastily constructed sweat lodge in the middle of a desert. Held prisoner under the irresistible sway of this platinum-tongued he-devil, they were then forced to sign a waiver of informed consent which they wouldn't have been able to read and appreciate anyway. It was at this critical point in the ordeal when they were all taken by surprise and held hostage at Nerf gunpoint by a cabal of evil, crazed Ewoks - all the while being led further and further into the desert where they were made to do things (better imagined than spoken) against their will for following 36 hours.
After those unspeakable deeds were done, they were forced to eat a buffet meal, to fatten them up. Like pigs to the slaughter, they were herded into the abattoir where the doors to the pen were shut and locked from the outside; these poor bastards screamed, and brayed for help from some would-be savior on the outside, pressing against the door trying to get to fresh air all the while when--tragedy of all tragedies--the unfortunate befell them: they were selected next, on the dock. These three collapsed dead right there. Dr. Nell Wagoner, a veterinarian from Juneau, Alaska was in attendance monitoring the entire soiree, and never once attempted to intervene on behalf of the swine to give them a break from the cruelties inflicted upon them against their will. On a happier note, in the made for t.v. movie that is sure to follow, the actress to play her role has already been selected. It's worth noting that this actress was selected for three primary reasons:
- name recognition
- practically her twin - a real spitting image
- this actress if there would have been just as useless as Dr. Nell Wagoner (who's actually a gynecologist) was useless, go-go medical school, huh?
So, Ray was convicted of negligent homicide, and is appealing that conviction. But am I wrong to think that the "victims" in this case (if they'd lived that is) bear a substantial portion of blame for the own credulity? These people were all rather well-educated. They had the means to spend, in some cases, upwards of $10,000 to some guy whose message of enlightenment reads like a goddamned throw away line by some high on helium cartoon character in a D.5 rated napkin-comic strip, "I fully know, for me, that there is no blame. Every single thing is your responsibility ... and nothing is your fault. Because every single thing that comes to you is gift ... a lesson"
First world fucking problems right here. There were doctorates in the audience, all of whom too gullible and emotionally underdeveloped to be let out alone, but still somehow capable of getting a great education, excellent jobs and enough disposable income to pay on a lark enough money to feed several subSaharan villages for years to come. And I'm supposed to feel anything but contempt for these assholes?
First off, these people in my estimation aren't victims in any true sense of the word. To the extent they're victims it's the extent that they kept paying other people to beat the shit out of them emotionally when their own efforts were inadequate to the task.
Woo is dangerous. It's why our whole society day in and day out tells people to stay away from that shit. It's not brainwashing. These assholes went out of their way to find this guy, and then pay him to kill them. Victims. Yeah, okay. Like I'm a victim when I take out a razor and cut my own wrists, huh?
Or, am I just being an asshole here? How else should I think of these fucktards?