And fresh off the press at that!
We all have inalienable rights. Locke put them as the right to ‘life, liberty and property’ in the state of nature, and Jefferson changed that to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. In the US Constitution and subsequently in most such documents in the ‘western’ world, additional rights were granted and together we now call them the human rights. Some were amended over time, but somehow the right to ‘life, liberty and property’ of the mind was never asserted. In a sense, Elizabeth Anderson
, a noted Feminist Epistemologist, enhanced our inalienable rights somewhat (Feminist Epistemology on Wikipedia
; and one of her articles originally published by the University of Chicago Press titled ‘What Is the Point of Equality?
’). She said that there are many ‘goods’ that should not be treated as open to use or profit, are properly valued in ways other than utility, 'goods' including respect, honour, awe, sanctity, appreciation, love, etc. In short, one could say that human dignity cannot be used as a means to make money; it wouldn’t be ethical in any way whatsoever.
I understand the potential conflict of interest with the right to freedom of religion. Yet in light of these, let’s call them enhanced inalienable human rights, religions and sects should be put under scrutiny as to whether they respect their devotees’ dignity. If they don’t respect this dignity, this humanity in their believers, then one has to wonder what the message is after all. How can they be restrictive in such a manner and still claim to fulfil spiritual needs? Yet in case of NXIVM, the right to religious freedom actually does not apply: The organisation explicitly states that it is non-religious. (From the ESP Training Materials as contained within the patent application for Rational Inquiry™ (1999) on public record at WIPO, ‘Rules and Rituals’, pg 62
under ‘16. Non-religious tribute, Non-sacred, Non-mystical: …’, and referred to thereafter throughout the document.)
Another consideration, deterrent and way to know what goes on, and whether that is an infringement on the students freedoms, rights and (mental) health, would be to set up a clearly defined system of inspection. Most proper schools are subjected or subject themselves to government inspections, at least in some countries. This not only ensures a productive and sensible environment, sound teachings and ethical conduct, but the accreditation also enhances the public standing of the institution and thus the revenues can only profit. Inspection is not operative control by the government, but merely a way to ensure that a certain set of infrastructural and professional requirements, educational standards and ethical considerations are met that give the student a security to their investment. Such inspections would come in three types, regular, unannounced, and covert when suspicions or complaints about the operations of the institution arise.
If a school fails the inspection, dependent on the concerns and their gravity, a warning would be issued (direct or public), the school temporarily closed pending further investigation, or even shut for good if blatant misuse/abuse were detected. Repeat offenders would be closed for good; people involved in such misuse barred from ever teaching anything to anybody again. Such accountability and responsibility would be in the best interest not only of the student, but of the school and the state as well. It should therefore and most importantly be extended to include not just schools with a fixed location but seminars as well. Under consideration of the enhanced inalienable human rights, any form of awareness training, success coaching and so forth, on personal or group levels, has to be included in such an inspection system. A due process, legal framework and proper training of inspectors has to be set up and enacted, giving this the professional authority it needs.
How would the costs of something like this be covered? Parts of the money would be saved from health care (less (mental) abuse patients); parts could be regained by the increase in taxes people would generate, who are once again able to work in a normal environment; and in general these people would be spending their money not on a single institution anymore, but in the economy at large, which again leads to an increase in taxes. Would this cover all the costs of such an inspection system? Maybe not, but then what is the value of everybody's (mental) freedom and health, including our own, to us all?
Organisations such as NXIVM will offer objections along libertarian lines. They will insist on the concept of a minimal state and call this an attempt at a police state. Yet does not such a system of inspected accreditation ensure their continued existence (life), operations (liberty) and the resulting revenue (property)? That is in essence not just a system of protection of the students, but also of the school, seminar and any other form of training facility; and according to libertarian ideas, the state’s only role should be the protection of these individual (or organisational) natural rights. If they run a truthfully professional institution, then again, it would be in their own interest and aligned with their philosophies to support such a system. By that logical reasoning, any rejection of such accreditation would constitute an implicit admission of guilt in matters under contention.
A further point to address should be a potential enhancement or at least better public information of the existent avenues to lodge complaints. AntiCult mentioned some options to file a complaint, but they were mostly in California and concerning licensed or unlicensed psychotherapists (Byron Katie thread
). Some of these complaints maybe led to an organisation doing such unlicensed mental meddling being shut down, but I think that system needs addressing and amending.
So, for those active in informing about and weeding out cults, these should be some points to address with their respective governments. Only by actually creating a legal framework (ideally international as well, since many organisations operate in several countries(NXIVM, Scientology, etc.) which allows us to protect individuals and properly operating organisations from misuse, allows us to prosecute those who abuse others under due process can we hope to ensure the protection of everybody’s (enhanced) inalienable human rights. And isn’t that what we have created civilisation, states, justice, ethics and human culture for?
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/21/2010 04:05AM by Macumazahn.