Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ebay bans fortune tellers and miracle workers

[Update Sept 5th--there is some doubt that eBay has actually made a policy change. This may just be an internet illusion.]

[Additional update Sept 5th--having looked for the information, I can firmly say that this is actually going on...despite the fact that the information was buried deep on Ebay. Added another post with screenshots of the eBay information.]

Yesterday, a fuss started to be made on the blogosphere and Yahoo forums about eBay's recent decision to no longer allow the sale of fortune telling and spell-work. Initially, people were crying that it was a "pagan and Wiccan" ban, but a little research showed that pagan and Wiccan products were still allowed for sale, provided that they were physical items and not just services (good job, David, for spotting that).

Interestingly, the Los Angeles Times article include magic potions in the banned category (wait for it--I will have a few words about that before the end of this post).

Now, living in Denver and having been involved (somewhat--I was the public representative for the ROAM/EOEW at the time) in the fight against Denver's anti-fortune telling regulations, I am positive that it is a service ban and not a product ban. And unfortunately, I can understand eBay's position, just like I can understand the position of Denver's laws on fortune telling.

From 1950 to 2000, it was illegal to perform fortune telling in the city of Denver. The law was part of the anti-gypsy laws. (Discrimination is discrimination is discrimination.) There was a whole set of laws that were designed for the sole purpose of keeping gypsies from being able to make a living in the city of Denver. Violating the law could result in jail time. And then, it became legal to be a fortune teller, provided that you paid a fifty dollar a day license fee (which may still be on the books--I am not sure).

The law was only periodically enforced. The last time, the Denver Police Department decided to enforce it was 1999/2000. The Police Chief actually used the term "gateway crime" to describe fortune telling. Among the Wiccans who decided to fight the law, the joke was that obviously fortune telling led to drug abuse, prostitution, and urinating in public.

(The Wiccans managed to get the illegality of fortune telling overturned, but I am not sure about the license fee.)

But when you look at some of the bad fortune tellers out there (and occasionally, they make national news), fortune telling is a gateway crime. It is the hook to a bigger scam. "The reason why your life generally s***s rocks on toast is the fact that you have been cursed. For a thousand dollars and all your jewelry, I can lift that pesky curse off of you."

There are also things like Divination Addiction that helps make fortune telling a cash cow for those who do readings. Well, a cash cow for the dishonest readers.

And those are the fortune tellers that eBay is really targeting. Unfortunately to get rid of them, they have to get rid of everyone else who is offering such a service or variation thereof. Because of they leave any door open, the slimy con-artists will find it.

This ban is on ALL spiritual advisors and healers--there are a ton of Christian fortune tellers and miracle workers who are also affected by this ban.

(Kinda reminds of the little problem that is ongoing in the erotica market--the Forbidden Four sell, and some people are weasels who keep finding ways to continue writing about yucky themes.)

Now, let's look at from the viewpoint of Golden Dawn. One of the things that people talk about is how some Orders collect dues and provide astral initiations...and because you cannot prove that the officers involved are not sitting around drinking beer, they must be frauds. This is what eBay is targeting. How do we know that Reiki treatements are actually being done? How do we know that spellwork is actually being done? EBay doesn't know how to tell, and might be too lazy to check, therefore everyone selling a spiritual service is banned.

(On a sidenote: I have been told that astral initiation are a scam; self-initiations are a scam; books about the occult are a scam; products made by Golden Dawn members are a scam; and I have argued that memberships in Orders are a product, and have heard people argue that they are also a scam--in fact, I have been told that any Order collecting dues or any monies at all is running a scam. Basically, if you are charging for anything in the esoteric field, there is someone out there who is going to scream that you are running a scam. I tend to ignore the screams of fraud because everyone is accused, and a lot of the people doing the screaming are cheap-skates or sworn enemies of the people they are accusing. It is just easier to presume that everyone is a fraud, and ask yourself, despite that fact, if you find value in the product and/or service that someone is offering.)

Now, one of the loopholes that the frauds will try to use with eBay is the physical product loophole. But eBay is already going after the loophole with the ban on "magic potions." In other words, if the primary selling point is not the product, but its magical power, then it is banned. On the other hand, selling essence oil mixtures will still be acceptable provided that you make no claims about its spiritual and magical virtues (beyond the standard statement "Traditionally, this oil was used for XYZ magic").

So--do I agree with eBay's banning of spiritual advisors and miracle workers? No. Do I understand why they are doing it? Yes.


Frater A.M. said...

This is a far better article than it would seem by the title. I worked for the Felician Sisters for q while and before they expanded the hospital the Gypsies were allowed to camp on the Sister's property surrounding the hospital. This was not all that long ago. I really hate to see such an interesting culture persecuted for who they are. Your synopsis of the history of these laws is really quite interesting! A slight expansion would make a very interesting Social study.

Morgan Eckstein said...

Titles are hard to write.