I’ve been planning on writing an article like this for some time and was finally inspired to actually do so by coming across what I can only describe as a shocking piece of bigotry and hate speech from this article from the Guardian -
The article was published in December 2006 and seems to have either gone unnoticed or people have passed by without complaint. Which I find a little disturbing, and it also speaks volumes about our current culture, in which bigotry towards psychics, mediums and other people involved in New Age or occult practices is still socially acceptable.
Guardian writer Julie Bindel was taken to task for allegedly transphobic comments, but as far as I can tell, there appears to have been no criticism of the prejudice in Charlie Brooker’s article.
Let’s go through some of the pertinent (and most disgusting) comments:
Article’s title: “When it comes to psychics, my stance is hardcore: they must die alone in windowless cells.”
Need I say more? I’ve seen people advocate better treatment for mass murderers.
Brooker openly calls for all psychics and mediums to be placed in jail – “I think every psychic and medium in this country belongs in prison. Even the ones demented enough to believe in what they’re doing. In fact, especially them. Give them windowless cells and make them crap in buckets.”
He then goes on to disaparage people who believe in psychics, grudgingly admitting that they have the right to believe what they want, but calling them “dangerous idiots.”
In my opinion, it’s Mr Brooker who more properly qualifies as a “dangerous idiot”.
Brooker is calling for the oppression and marginalisation of a group of people, a minority group who are different, a group that is outside what is considered “normal” or “mainstream”. Why? Because he *believes* they are all either fraudulent or mentally ill.
Well, there are also people out there who “believe” that all gay people are either fraudulent or mentally ill. That way of thinking may, thankfully, be less prevalent than it used to be, but it still, sadly, exists. Some people, for example think that gay people “make themselves gay” for show (which covers the fraudulent part), others believe that homosexuality is some kind of mental illness that needs to be treated.
See the similarity? If someone proposed (due to their beliefs) that all gay people be herded into prison, there would justifiably be an outcry and a storm of criticism. But when someone suggests the same thing of psychics and mediums, we have silence.
I agree that genuinely fraudulent psychics are a problem and perhaps some sort of jail sentence would be an appropriate punishment. But there is a huge difference between saying that genuinely fraudulent psychics should face the long arm of the law and saying that *all* psychics and mediums belong in prison.
Many psychics and mediums (in my opinion the majority) are quite genuine and sincere in what they do. They honestly believe they have an ability and their objective is to comfort people and help with the grieving process. They want people to be comforted by the fact that their loved ones still exist and that they will one day be reunited.
Even Brooker admits that not all psychics and mediums are frauds and that there are those who “believe in what they are doing.” (Brooker calls them “demented” – charming!) If they believe they have the ability then, regardless of whether or not they actually have it, they are not fraudulent, and therefore are not guilty of any crime. Yet Brooker still advocates sending these individuals to prison. “Even the ones demented enough to believe in what they’re doing. In fact, especially them.”
Let’s just think about this for a minute.
If Brooker believes these people are mentally ill, why is he saying they should go to prison and live amongst criminals? Shouldn’t he be encouraging sympathy and empathy instead? Shouldn’t he be advocating help for these people, rather than imprisonment? Shouldn’t he be calling for humane treatment instead? Are mental illness and self-delusion crimes now?
Silly me for thinking that the appropriate way to treat the mentally ill (or those thought to be mentally ill) is to show compassion, tolerance and to offer services that can help them. I suppose Brooker and his ilk think they should all be rounded up and placed in jail cells (or possibly concentration camps?)
Not only is Brooker displaying hate and bigotry against psychics and mediums, he’s also demonstrating how heartless he is to people he considers to be mentally unwell. Not only is he a bigot, but he has no compassion to boot.
There is also good evidence (including scientific evidence) to suggest that some paranormal phenomena exist and that some psychics and mediums have a genuine ability. Instead of calling for their persecution, perhaps Brooker’s time could be better spent reading some of the large body of research that has been conducted for over a century.
And that’s exactly what Brooker is calling for. He’s saying that *all* psychics and mediums in the country should be in prison. Not just some, not just the ones that are actually fraudulent, but *all* people calling themselves psychics or mediums. He’s encouraging the persecution and oppression of a minority group. He’s also demonising people who believe in psychics and calling them “dangerous”. Hmmm, remind you of other people who like to label gay people or people of different races as “dangerous”?
It’s no different to racism or homophobia in my opinion. The reason I think this is because I believe that psychic ability, such as clairvoyance, is a natural ability that people are born with. I think everyone has the potential to develop these skills, and that some people are born with a more “natural” ability for it. Rather like someone can learn to be a painter, but others are natural painters, who need little coaching or education.
I think people are naturally imbued with psychic ability (or the potential to develop it) and in that sense it’s no different to the race someone is born into, or the sexuality someone is born with. They didn’t choose it – they were born that way. So bigotry against psychics and mediums is no different to racism or homophobia, in my opinion, and it’s equally as disgusting. The difference is, that racism and homophobia are no longer so socially acceptable. But, as the lack of criticism of this article attests, bigotry against psychics and mediums largely is still socially acceptable.
If someone wrote an article for the Guardian stating that all non-white people belong in prison, or that all gay people belong in prison, it would quite rightly cause outrage. But because the target was psychics and mediums, there was nothing.