Meet the new James. Same as the old James.
As reported here yesterday, star of The Secret and convicted negligent homicider James Arthur Ray is on the comeback trail, and on Monday night, November 25, he made his first talk show appearance since his release from prison in July -- or as he euphemistically put it, his "re-emergence" from Arizona, and his return to his home in California, where he can once again see and feel the ocean, and spend time with his loved ones, far away from the filthy, disease-ridden conditions he had been forced to endure for nearly two years. He appeared on a live interview on the Piers Morgan show on CNN. His handlers had apparently negotiated the terms of the interview, and although Ginny Brown, mother of sweat lodge victim Kirby Brown (and founder of SEEKsafely.org) had requested to be on the show with Ray, she was rebuffed. Ray said he would not do the interview unless he were allowed to take up the entire hour.
The fact that Piers Morgan is managed by Octagon Entertainment Management's Managing Director, John Ferriter -- who also happened to be one of the witnesses for Ray during the latter's pre-sentencing mitigation hearing in September 2011 -- may have had something to do with those easy-for-Ray terms. Ray and Ferriter had a working relationship in the past and hey, they're back together again. Cozy, huh? [See the PS below.]
And so the interview went, with Ray reportedly playing every sympathy card he could, including getting weepy about his mom's cancer. (I was not able to watch the interview but I have seen reports from people who did.) Many people, including some who had suffered direct physical or emotional damage because of Ray's recklessness, were disgusted that Piers did not play hardball and that he and CNN provided this platform for Ray. Here is a link to the page on the CNN site. There is a blog post summarizing the review, and there are currently links to several short video snippets. If I can get a link to a video of the entire interview, or to a transcript, I will add those as well.
Some were truly distressed to see that, despite previous faint glimmers of hope that the trial, conviction, and all-too-brief but nonetheless grueling prison sentence had changed Ray in some significant way, the Piers Morgan interview seemed to indicate that here he was again, the same old James -- with a false-humility persona to boot. He nearly cried a few times, but some noted that they had seen him cry on cue before.
It's somewhat encouraging to see the outpouring of critical responses on the Piers Morgan Live Facebook page in the wake of this interview, but that doesn't mean we should count Ray out at this point. I'll explain why. For some of you, this may be another one of my overstatements of the obvious, but I am banking on the possibility that it isn't so obvious to everyone. So here goes (and I apologize to those of you who have already read most of this rant from me on Facebook).
Some people have suggested that James Arthur Ray has been irreversibly tainted by his conviction and incarceration, and that he will again never be able to rise to his previous lofty status in Scamworld. Some have speculated that even if he does manage to get a sizable following, he will never again attract the premium quality of followers he had before the trouble began. They seem to be saying that that ship has sailed, and that the type of people James really wants or needs in his flock are now immune to his charms. Some even insinuated that his current fans and followers are of a lower caliber than those former fans whose eyes are now wide open.
I think it would be folly to take any of the above as a given -- particularly the statements that seem to pit former but now awakened fans against current unawakened ones (although this us-against-them mindset actually seems to be fairly common among some ex-followers of charismatic gurus).
I believe it is a mistake to underestimate the ability of any skilled sociopathic "guru" to seek and find new waves of followers. As I've said numerous times on this blog and other forums, the public has a short memory. Moreover, those of us who don't have short memories need to keep in mind that the majority of people either don't know about the sweat lodge tragedy at all, or for one reason or another they do not think it was a big deal, in the larger scheme of things.
I know it may be immensely difficult for anyone who has been following this saga closely to accept that, but to the "average" person this case was barely a blip on the radar.
It is possible that many potential new Ray customers, not knowing the entire context and the arc of Ray's career -- and not really caring to do the research -- will look at the incident as a tragedy, an aberration... but not directly relevant to THEM.
And there are vast potential markets in other parts of the world where, despite the Internet and global media, the Sedona tragedy may barely register at all.
Whether one deems all of those potential followers "quality" or not, I think it's a pretty certain bet that if they have money, James Arthur Ray will gladly take it, and if he is true to form he will happily take their adulation and their trust as well.
People are meat and the big sick machine is always ravenous.
And here I feel compelled to return to an all too familiar theme on this Whirled. We have only to look at the example of infomercial huckster and serial scammer Kevin Trudeau, who for many years was exceedingly well known, at least in the US, as a con man. He was laughed at, scorned, spoofed by many. (As I've mentioned a couple dozen times, Trudeau publicly defended Ray a couple of years ago, and Ray returned the favor by pushing GIN from prison. Again... cozy, huh?) Trudeau was even a convicted felon who had done a couple of years in a Federal prison. Of course he had many followers too, because he's charming that way, but the negative information about him was freely and easily available on the Internet.
You would think that "quality" people would therefore not be attracted to what has been arguably his biggest scheme of all -- the Ponzi-like Global Information Network, or GIN, which came along in 2009. You would think that "quality" people would see right through his tall tales about having been a long-time member of a secret organization called The Brotherhood, where, he claimed, he learned the secrets he was selling in GIN.
You would think that "quality" folks would scoff at his claim that even though he had ditched the Brotherhood, at great personal risk to himself, he was still being clandestinely advised by a group of ultra-elites (royalty, Bilderberg members and the like), whom he referred to as the GIN Council, and in whose stellar company he insinuated GIN members might someday find themselves too, if they played their cards right.
You would think that "quality" people who were even remotely tempted to join GIN would examine Trudeau's history of scams and frauduct peddling and endless lawsuits and business failures. You'd think that after doing their due diligence, they would laugh uproariously at his promises that he could make them rich and happy if they would just join GIN, and either upgrade their membership as quickly and as often as possible, or participate in the affiliate (MLM) program, or -- preferably -- both.
You would think that "quality" people would just say, "Thanks, Kev, but no thanks."
And you would, of course, be dead wrong. It is true that GIN attracted probably more than the average Scamworld share of greedy people, selfish people, damaged people, desperate people, and some who were a tad deficient in either education or intellectual abilities. I won't mention any names. Even so, many educated, affluent people also joined -- and again, I won't mention any names -- and many apparently joined for more lofty reasons than the greed to which Trudeau was so obviously pandering. Some spent $200,000 or more to be part of GIN and to be in KT's inner circle. (That may sound uncomfortably familiar to some who paid six figures to be part of James Arthur Ray's inner circle.)
As many know, Trudeau is currently in jail on contempt charges, and is facing a possible life sentence (even though he didn't kill anyone -- but Federal offenses carry their own punishment guidelines, while James Ray was tried and convicted as an offender against the State of Arizona). After less than four years in existence, GIN is falling apart as more people come to realize it is...duh... a scam. In August 2013, a court-appointed receiver seized control of GIN and KT's other assets, and the affiliate (MLM) portion of GIN is dead for now, provided that the court follows the receiver's recommendations. GIN, if not completely dead yet, seems moribund in its current form, though even now several factions are working to save and resurrect it (here's a link to one group). That story isn't over yet.
But despite the fact that Kevin Trudeau has -- yes, once again -- been revealed as a fraudster, he still has legions of fans who think he hung the moon and who believe his spin that he is being oppressed by the government. And his being behind bars has only strengthened the fans' love, loyalty, and resolve. (By the way, here's a November 26, 2013 dispatch from da joint, courtesy of some silly Trudeau minion who is still trying to convince Kevin's fans that all is well with him. Click on pic to enlarge.)
My point is that Scamworld is a big place, and the creative, skillful sociopath will almost always find a way to attract new followers. In the end, the caliber of followers a given guru attracts doesn't matter, if the guru is skillful enough at targeting markets. After all, a bank account does not care if it is replenished via "quality" or quantity.
So, while I think we should all be encouraged by the strong critical voices against the Scumback Kid, James Arthur Ray, I also think we need to avoid complacency, and we need to remember that the new mask of humility and "remorse" Ray is wearing is just that: a mask.
PS added 27 November: It's even worse than you thought. Here's my pal Salty Droid, with a lot more about the cynical PR campaign behind that travesty of an "interview."