July 10, 2011

Sweat lodges = parked cars?

Cars and Sweat Lodges Can Both KillAfter a jury turned up the heat on self-help guru James Arthur Ray and convicted him of negligent homicide in connection with the deaths of three people who overheated in a Sedona, Arizona, sweat lodge, PETA hopes to erect a billboard in the sizzling Southwest town to remind people of the dangers dogs also face in the heat.

Update: Since originally posting this, we were contacted by a representative of the family of two of the victims and asked to stop our campaign out of respect for the families. We are announcing that we are pulling the campaign out of deference to the family's wishes, although past victims of tragedies (and their families) have supported our educational campaigns. Our billboard was intended to turn a tragic and preventable occurrence into something positive by stopping further tragic and preventable heatstroke deaths. However, we understand the concerns of the family and will not be putting up our billboard in Sedona.

Comment:  I don't have any special feelings for the three who died in James Ray's sweat lodge, so this doesn't bother me. If I die in some manmade calamity, feel free to use my death in a political cause I approve of.

But if I were an Indian, I might think twice about this billboard. How many Americans have heard of James Ray? And how many associate sweat lodges with him? Not many, I'm guessing.

In contrast, how many associate sweat lodges with Indians? All of them? Do we really want an ad that implies Native sweat lodges are killers?

Unlike Ray's sweat lodge, Native sweat lodges don't push people to the brink of death intentionally. Few people die in them, and probably not because the conditions are unsafe. But this ad doesn't make that distinction.

For more on James Ray, see Ray Gets "Spiritual Comeuppance" and Ray Guilty of Negligent Homicide.

No comments: