#SylviaBrowne is a terrible, terrible, terrible person
(Thanks to Vox151 for the clip.)
I fucking hate “psychics.” Hate ’em. And I put ’em in quotes because they’re all bullshit, fraud, scam artists who prey upon the hopes, tragedies, and grief of the desperate and gullible. That, and most of them, especially the more famous ones like Browne, not only insist on the validity of their powers, but more staunchly refuse any objective test of said powers to prove them. (Of course the same can be said of most religious, so I guess I can’t single psychics out too much, but I want to, so I am.)
I’ve long loathed Browne, mostly because of her unapologetic arrogance. Even when she’s gotten it wrong, which has been often, she’s not taken responsibility for her actions. She’s usually just made justifications.
A few weeks ago, I found out about the case of the kidnapping of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight. I was horrified. I wondered how the religious could justify such a thing in a world controlled by an omniscient, omnipotent god (more on that later). But then I found out about fucking Browne’s involvement. This was the prediction she made to Berry’s mother on the Montel Williams Show.
“She’s not alive, honey. Your daughter’s not the kind who wouldn’t call.”
Not alive. As in “dead.” Except Berry wasn’t dead. She was the opposite of dead. Which is alive. Any apology? Fuck no.
But here’s the thing. This wasn’t a prediction about a presidential election or a lottery. It was about a person’s life. It was given to that person’s devastated parent. I know parents who’ve lost their kids. It’s terrible. To be in that emotional space–where you truly believe your child is dead–I can’t even imagine.
I’m sure some naysayers like Matt Dillahunty of The Atheist Experience or the cats over on Ask an Atheist might disagree with me on this, but I feel like Browne bears some responsibility. Back when that whole Harold Camping bullshit was going down, the above-mentioned publicly stated that, technically, Camping bore no responsibility over his listeners’ choices to sell all their property in preparation for the imminent Rapture. The key word being “choice”; Camping didn’t force them. While I agree with this assessment, and I agree that Berry’s mother wasn’t forced to believe Browne’s prediction, I can understand that sentiment. Berry’s mother was a believer, Browne knew that, and Browne could’ve said anything. She could’ve dodged or given some non-commital answer. She chose to make a 100%-sure prediction.
(Thanks to DarkMatter2525)
Back to God, what I’ve never understood from the religious’ and their theologies is I often hear a lot about free will. Evil exists because we humans choose to do bad things to each other. The problems are these 1. the doctrine doesn’t say anything about the suffering caused by natural disasters and 2. it doesn’t deal with the fact of a victim’s experience. Berry, DeJesus, and Knight didn’t have a choice when it came to being kidnapped. They didn’t have a choice when it came to getting raped. Sure, the religious will claim that the suspect Ariel Castro will get his post-mortem, but who cares? The suffering those women endured was real. The 10 years they lost was real. Let’s say I’m wrong, there is a god, there is judgment, and there is a Heaven. That’s all fine and good, but it doesn’t change the reality that has occurred. Those women really suffered, really have to rebuild their lives, and for what? What possible purpose? An omnipotent god could easily have prevented the crime, but chose not to because Castro’s free will of kidnapping and rape trumped the ladies’ free will to just go about their lives without fear of abduction? God can intervene when it’s about miraculously making Mary appear on a jacket, but not when Castro’s gassing his car?
Oh, and Montel? Fuck you too.