Blaming the Victim: Comments on Louise HayMarch 4, 2012
There have been some interesting comments on an earlier article about Louise Hay. Here is a link to it. I want to make some general comments here as well, in addition to the exchanges there.
It’s always a bit disturbing to find people who are obviously kind, intelligent and caring people suddenly advocating a ruthless blame the victim mentality. I’ve seen it often enough but it still shocks me. It’s nearly always expressed in tolerant spiritual sounding language, but I still haven’t seen anyone back down or shy away from the hideous implications. The relevant part of one comment:
We are not victims. If I hear something that resonates for me from an author or speaker/presenter, I can choose to take that and leave whatever doesn’t fit for me. I don’t believe there are mindless droves of human sheep who are experiencing some kind of horrendous consequences from reading her books, AND if there are, that’s not about her, it’s about each person who chooses to disregard their own inner truth.
The commenter means here that someone who dies as a result of believing Louise Hay’s cancer quackery, it’s not Louise Hay’s fault. If that person had have listened to their “inner truth” they would have known that Louise Hay’s teachings were “not right for them”.
Now the person who left that comment might still withdraw it or qualify it – I hope so, though I doubt it. But in any case it’s a perfectly representative expression of New Age ideology. (I will take it as such for now, rather than referring specifically to the particular commenter.)
By this view, of course, the most tragic and horrifying events are inevitably portrayed as something the victims somehow brought upon themselves. Now, if anyone wants to tell me that people who got burned as witches brought it on themselves with their negative thoughts, they had better have a damned good argument for advocating such grotesque ideas. And they don’t.
But it also specifically clears Ms Hay of any responsibility for any damage her teachings may cause. No attempt was made here to address my specific accusations of cancer quackery. According to these standards, Louise Hay is free to claim whatever she wants. If someone dies, then it’s not a sign that Ms Hay’s methods and credentials need to be checked, rather, another thought process automatically and instantaneously kicks in. The fault can’t lie with the teachings, no matter how spurious. The fault must lie with the victim.
This is what consumer protection looks like in the New Age.
Got a complaint? It’s your own fault because you filtered out the positive values from your perceptions. Dead or injured? You failed to listen to your inner truth. See a possible problem? Look away and stop indulging in negative emotions.
There are absolutely no standards whatsoever in the New Age culture which has developed over the years. The only limiting factor is marketability, and that standard is adhered to religiously. Apart from that it’s anything goes, and anyone goes as long as they say the right things (if they’re a woman) and look good in a suit (if they’re a man).
Quality control or checking the validity of claims is anathema to this ideology. No one has the right to do this, and metaphysically speaking, it is not even possible. Consumers learn quickly that they are not to see themselves as consumers with rights, despite paying up front (price set by “perceived value”) and risking their health, wealth and loved ones. Risks are not to be called risks. Again, their very existence is metaphysically impossible. Perceived successes include any seemingly positive event that can be in any way connected to the teachings. Failures are, as explained by the comment above, the fault of the consumer. The mere hypothetical possibility of deceptive practices does not enter into the equation anywhere.
Has there ever been an ideology more finely tuned to to protect the salesman and disempower the consumer?
Is there any other industry where professional standards are set so low?
Is there any other industry which is so doggedly defended by consumer loyalty?