Thursday, 24 September 2015

Counting the cost.

Ghosts and ghouls.

The paranormal community is in shock today over the murder of Debbie Constantino by her partner Mark, who then committed suicide. Debbie and Mark were paranormal investigators, who have appeared on "Ghost Adventures" and as such had something of celebrity status in the para-community. It goes without saying that our thoughts at this time should be with the friends and families of Mark and Debbie and a second victim murdered by Mark.

Obviously this story is a saddening and shocking one and many details are yet to emerge, I'm not going to rake over the details that are clear at this time, I didn't know Debbie and Mark, I'll reserve judgement.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing about the aftermath of this terrible story has been the speed at which someone has come forward to attempt to exploit it. Steve Huff of Huff Paranormal has publicly stated he has attempted to contact Debbie by EVP and encourages others to do the same:

I'd categorically say whether you believe that a 24 hour period is the best time to reach the deceased or not... basic human FUCKING decency dictates that you don't take to social media boasting about it!

Steve attempts to justify this by saying 62 people asked him to attempt contact with Debbie, so what? Its hardly an overwhelming demand is it? Would it not be possible to tell 62 people "Sorry, I don't think that's appropriate." Sorry Steve that excuse is a cop out and you know it.

He then claims that he is a "researcher" and that justifies performing an EVP experiment so soon. I'd argue with that, foremost because I don't see any validity in EVP, but also, just because you are conducting "research" 
doesn't mean that you have to post about on Facebook! His third justification is that contact with becomes harder the longer one waits after death (I'd say any time AFTER death, you've waited too long). Any evidence of this statement Steve?

No, didn't think so.

Its all just ad-hoc justification in a situation where you probably should have just said "sorry, I was insensitive". 

His justification continues, the excuses flow, and frankly he gives me the impression of a man with a massive ego, who doesn't really know how to talk to the living never mind the dead. You can read the full statement here.   

Needless to say all this has led to an inevitable, and probably deserved backlash, with some people calling for Huff to be stuck out of the community.

Strong stuff. Personally I'm not sure whether I agree with people being drummed out of communities. I prefer a dialogue, but as Steve has already stated anyone who disagrees with him will be blocked, that isn't going to happen.  And besides, I think all this masks a far greater problem here, and one that needs to be addressed.

I see, amongst certain quarters of the paranormal community, a fundamental lack of respect for the deceased that can actually be quite staggering.

A little while back I wrote about the death of Elisa Lam and the way it  has been used to bolster the legend of the Hotel Cecil. Its been my least well received post thus far, many didn't seem to understand what point I was trying to make. They didn't understand that the Roadtripper's article I was commenting was exploiting the death of a young girl?

 That scares me. That lack of understanding, Of compassion.

Another example. How may times have you seen the story of the death of Anneliese Michel discussed on Facebook pages and paranormal blogs? Understandably, as its one of the most well known "possession"  stories due to being immortalised in a major motion picture. I'm sure you've seen the grizzly photos of Anneliese in her final days, often touted as evidence of the paranormal, how often have you seen this picture though? Anneliese as a normal young girl, with her life ahead of her, who eventually suffered a cruel and torturous end at the hands of those she loved and trusted?

Elisa and Anneliese have become part of a narrative, urban legends to be repeated and shared and poured over, speculated upon. Do they deserve this. Do their families? Do the others who have been assimilated in popular culture deserve this?

This isn't even considering the countless grieving families who have the memories of their beloved relatives manipulated and exploited by fraudulent mediums and physics.

Its not counting the public seances of the latest deceased celebrity. The alleged EVPs, The urban legends. The morbid tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of their phantom around their homes or places of death.

What about the Ghost Hunting TV shows in which a muscle bound idiot walks around a derelict building screaming at the supposed spirits of the deceased there?

For a community so interested in the afterlife, its worrying how little respect for the dead we can show. And its disgraceful how little respect we show their living relatives.

I'm not convinced that ghosts or spirits exist... but ghouls sure as hell do.

"What's the harm in believing in (insert supernatural belief here)?"

Every "skeptic" has had this put to them at some point of another. There is an entire website, quite brilliant at that, dedicated specifically to answering that question. But on some days its easy to see the cost, some days the cost can be given a name, or a face... or both.
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Those days are rarely good.

The Huffington Post, and numerous other sources, report today on the tragic death of toddler Bella Bond and the trial of her accused murderer Michael McCarthy. You can find the story here, but I have to warn you that it isn't a particularly easy read. Even before her death, Bella has seemingly subjected to some quite horrific treatment.

The connection to the paranormal lies in the accused  man's seeming obsession with the occult. Numerous books on the occult and in particular, demons were found amongst his belongings and he is alleged to have said to his partner, the child's mother Rachelle Bond, also on trial as an accessory:

"She was a demon, anyway, It was her time to die."
A friend of the couple's told investigating officers that McCarthy had believed Bella to be possessed.

Now we have to bear in mind here that there are other underlying issues here that have contributed to Bella's death. I have little doubt that McCarthy has mental health issues and there is certainly a substance abuse issue here, but McCarthy has at the very least used belief in demons and the supernatural to excuse the abuse and subsequent murder of a child, if he is guilty.

Would Bella still be alive if belief in demons and possession was less prevalent? One can only speculate on that. And by no means am I suggesting that these beliefs DIRECTLY led to murder, but in the mind of someone with mental health or substance abuse issues, they certainly seem to be harmful.

What's the harm in belief in demons and possession?

One less 2 year old little girl in the world.