Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can James Ray's inner warrior can get him out of this one?

If you are or were a regular reader of this blog (or, indeed, a reader of almost anything), by now you know that an Arizona jury found James Ray guilty of negligent homicide, pursuant to that whole sweat-lodge debacle. I will have more to say on the Ray affair, and its fitting denouement, in days to come. For now, I take comfort in the belief that our movementthis campaign-for-sanity that you and I and Connie and the Droid and John Curtis and Barbara Ehrenreich and Sally Satel and maybe a half-dozen others pioneered against great cultural oddshad to have played some supporting role in the jury's finding of guilt. As I observed during my ABC Mind Games segment of just about a year ago, (a) there is grave danger in thinking of one's self as an omnipotent g/God who knows what's best for His flock, and (b) there are many ways to block a door besides standing physically in front of it.

This is not about schadenfreude or gloating or any of that. This is about just desserts for what happened in the desert. And what happened so needlessly! I hope that the loved ones of those who died under Ray's irresponsible tutelage now feel a measure of vindication.


Cosmic Connie said...

Thank you for the mention, Steve. And thank you for the part you (and SHAMblog) have played in the "campaign-for-sanity."

As Salty noted on his blog, however, Ray is just one pea in a large and crowded pod. And as I've mentioned several times, we really can't even count Ray out of the selfish-help game, even if he does end up doing serious prison time. (After all, Kevin True-dough went to prison on felony fraud charges, and look at him now. Granted, he wasn’t convicted of killing anyone, but remember that even mass murderers have their cult followers.) As for Ray, he still has a crowd of followers and defenders: clueless folks who continue to re-tweet his (or his minions') inane Twitter patter even after being reminded or informed of Sweatgate. His marketing machine continues to churn out emails for his products and for other joint-venture projects in which he is involved.

Moreover, the public has a short memory -- and if they're not even aware of all of the details in the first place, that makes the “sanity” campaign even more challenging. Many if not most people remain basically unaware of the nuances of the sweat-lodge story. For the average person, it's just another small blip on the media radar: tragic, yes, but not worth losing much sleep over, and certainly not something that affects the rest of us.

If the comments I've been seeing on mainstream media sites are any indication, many people are willing to concede that JAR is probably a con artist, but at the same time they aren't very sympathetic to the victims. Some commenters have implied that the people who were foolish enough to pay $10,000 for a retreat, and then foolish enough not to leave the sweat lodge when things got bad, deserved what they got.

The Death Lodge incident has spurred a whole new round of vehement and sometimes self-righteous opining about people's unwillingness to take personal responsibility. Of course this dialog has been going on since the story broke in October 2009, and the fact of Ray's conviction seems to have made little difference.

In short, there's still a long battle ahead.

Like you, however, I hope that the families of the victims are feeling somewhat vindicated. At the very least they can be comforted that Ray has been convicted of felonies, and that whatever happens, he won’t get off scot-free.

Anonymous said...

Just because you say it is not "schadenfreude or gloating or any of that" does not mean that it is not. More then likely Steve, you say it is not those things to cover up that it is those things and you yourself see that it is 100% those very things.

Steve Salerno said...

Our latest Anon clearly is someone who's very new to the blog.

RevRon's Rants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Ron , if anything is "all-too-familiar" and consistent, it is your harsh insulting treatment of ALL dissenting views/posts/posters on these blogs and these blog authors tolerance of your conduct.

RevRon's Rants said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


"we" ?

is the "we" you refer to your fellow cyber bullies and the internet agreement party gang you huddle here with celebrating your mutual superiority over others and the small cyber mob who all share the same evil doer / enemies?

I am familiar with that "we". That "we" can be found on any message board on any topic on the internet.

Steve Salerno said...

See, I posted these last few comments because they remind me of why I basically stopped blogging. After a while (and not a very long while), it is sooo tiresome, arguing just to argue...

Anonymous said...

Steve, any dissenting opinions usually devolve to arguing just to argue...that is my experience of all message broads and blogs that have discussions. Unless people are cheering you or nodding or winking or supplying additional fodder for what is being mocked or accused of being "bad and wrong", the name calling and one-upping and undermining and name calling begins.

It is not personal to you or me or this topic whatsoever. It is an inevitable internet phenomena IMO. People let their shadows run wild in these settings, just because they can without consequences. Ro and i talk to each other in ways we never would in person in a million years.

These bogs amount to propaganda boards where one point of view reigns. More often than not, dissenters are labeled trolls, troublemakers and unwanted elements who are not making sense and are mobbed by the prevailing point of view of the blog or message board.

RevRon's Rants said...

"any dissenting opinions usually devolve to arguing just to argue...that is my experience of all message broads and blogs that have discussions."

What our anonymous fails to recognize is that the single common denominator among all those "broads and blogs" is herself. Having participated in numerous discussion forums for years, I have certainly seen conversations devolve per her description, but such degradation of the dialog typically occurs soon after the appearance of a troll, whose obvious motivation is to deflect the discussion, rather than add to it.

I, for one, have had HEATED disagreements in some discussions on this board and others, including quite a few with Steve himself. What differentiates the disagreements he and I have had from those which you seem to have with every forum in which you participate is that while civility might be strained sometimes between myself & Steve, or by others who contribute to discussions, there is an inherent level of respect for the other person's opinion - not to mention, a willingness to actually discuss pertinent points - which your offerings typically lack.

You might want to consider the wisdom of Pogo, who has famously said, "We has met the enemy, and he is us."

Steve Salerno said...

I think Ron pretty much nails it here. There is a WORLD of difference between animated discussion and an immediate knee-jerk tendency to ignore the stated word and, instead, present a "more delving" analysis of (a) the covert and unrecognized motives that explain why someone else takes the position he or she takes, and/or (b) the endemic character flaws that (supposedly) render someone else incapable of genuine debate. And I also agree with Ron that this is not true debate, but an only slightly more elevated form of schoolyard name-calling.

RevRon's Rants said...

I was with you right up until the last sentence, Steve. With your comparison, you have besmirched the value and integrity of schoolyard arguments everywhere. I think the most pertinent response to your statement is, "Oh, yeah?"

"Sez you" is a close runner-up, however.

a/good/lysstener said...

This is why I don't participate much in blogs or post much on my own. Very early I had a bad experience with some people making it personal, about the other people making comments rather than the comments themselves. It gets very old very fast.

On another subject, I really like the digital enhancement of the photo on your resume page, Steve. Did you need enhancement? ;-)

Anonymous said...

You guys are right.

Thanks for setting me straight.