Dilbert Guy Unclear On Whether Slavery Is Illegal In United States Of America
Scott Adams, the Dilbert Guy, has recently decided that he knows all about cults. What is and is not a cult, what is illegal for cults to do, etc., etc. Last week, he repeated the QAnon line about how they are the only "cult" in the world where no one has met the leader and they tell you to think for yourself.
This is just completely untrue, and not just because a number of cults have been led by "channeled" entities that no one has actually met. Many modern American cults, in fact, portray themselves as being full of people who have finally learned to think for themselves and reject the "programming" of the outside world. Scientology, Heaven's Gate, The People's Temple, even the Branch Davidians to a degree. I would even argue that it would be very difficult to start a cult in the United States that was not predicated on people being told they were finally thinking for themselves.
The penalty of leaving QAnon is that adherents no longer have that social support system and have alienated most of the people they know in real life. That is actually what the penalty is for leaving most cults or new religious movements, the majority of which are nonviolent.
This week, he is out here defending NXIVM.
NXIVM leader Keith Raniere, aka "Vanguard," was sentenced this week to 120 years in prison for crimes including sexual exploitation of a child and possession of child pornography, sex trafficking, identity theft, labor trafficking, forced labor, obstruction of justice, racketeering, and wire fraud.
Without reading very deeply into the actual charges, Adams speculated that perhaps Raniere didn't actually do anything wrong. Things sounded suspicious! Like did the 15-year-old he raped even say he raped her or was it all hearsay from the sister. (It was not! Also, he had naked pictures of her at that age, thus the charge for possession of child pornography!)
Of course, he also speculated that Raniere, being a skilled "persuader" like himself, would get a much lighter sentence after speaking to the court and was very wrong about that as well. He suggested that if he, Scott Adams, classically trained in the art of persuasion, were on the stand for a similar reason, he would likely be able to convince the court to give him a lighter sentence.
It is, of course, very difficult to be "persuaded" when someone clearly has no idea what the hell they are talking about and just keeps telling you over and over how incredibly persuasive they are, while standing next to the word "persuasion," which they have spelled incorrectly.
Also when they, like Scott Adams, are not even sort of charming.
Adams — who appears to have received most of his intel on this case from NXIVM recruiter Allison Mack's wife — seems to think that the true issue here was that the prudish court and jury just didn't like all of the totally consensual stuff Raniere did with the women he referred to as his "slaves" and so they got him on a bunch of random charges that they wouldn't have even known anything about if they hadn't started investigating him in the first place, and which maybe he didn't even do himself.
He then questioned whether or not slavery was in fact illegal in the United States of America.
If I say to you, "Here's the deal, you have to give me this information and then you would be treated as my slave." And let's say you agree to that. You agree to be a slave, for whatever reason, and you agree to give that private information. And then later you decide that you have to do what you're told, because you have agreed to this situation.
Where's the crime? Exactly. Where's the crime. Because it would be one thing if people stole blackmail information and then used it against you, but there's no indication that happened. It was all voluntary. So where does free will come into this? Can a person not agree, in this country, is it illegal to agree to be somebody else's slave and to give them private information, that, of course, could be dangerous later. Why is that illegal?
Well, Scott — yes, slavery is in fact illegal in the United States and has been for quite some time now. Unless we're talking about a consensual kink, slavery is very much illegal in this country, even if both parties agree to it. In fact, even if someone wishes to make less than the minimum wage, you cannot pay them less than the minimum wage. This not only to protect that individual person, but also the labor force at large.
If it were just people giving Keith Raniere "information," that would be no different from many other religions. But the difference between that and confessing one's sins to a priest is that the priest does not turn around and use that information to blackmail you. Or at least they are not supposed to.
If it were just people giving their money to Keith Raniere, it would be no different from practically any other religion on earth. Most religions pressure and require people to give them their money, whether it be for tithing, "seeds," or for "courses" to rid one of body thetans.
In fact, it is in fact totally legal for the leaders of a "religion" to ask for money even if they do not actually believe in their own bullshit — as per United States v. Ballard, a Supreme Court case, which was decided in favor of the "I AM" Activity cult.
If Raniere just wanted to have a non-abusive sex cult for consensual adults, in which they were supposed to give him all of their money and worldly possessions and confess their sins to him, he would actually not be going to prison right now, because absolutely none of that is illegal.
There is an incredible amount of leeway for people who want to start messed up cults or "new religious movements" in the United States, and the vast majority of people who do so do not go to jail. Raniere did a bunch of super illegal shit in the course of maintaining his sex cult, and that is why he is going to prison.
We are happy to clear that up for you.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse