Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Amityville Horror, alien abductions, Menachem Schneerson, Woody Allen, etc

One time, I was sitting in a Pizza Hut having lunch. There was a large extended family sitting at a row of tables pushed together. The grandmother spoke in an eastern European accent. She said that all the places they lived had ghosts. Her mother would get up and yell at the ghosts to be quiet, they're trying to sleep. One night, she heard someone get up and go to the bathroom. They waited to hear whoever it was come out and go back to bed, but they never came out. So she yelled, "Get out of the bathroom already!" but no one was in the bathroom-----it was a ghost.

Here I am watching a documentary about The Amityville Horror. I think the best explanation is that the adults got the creeps living in a house where a mass murder had taken place. They started listening too carefully to the normal sounds you hear at night in an old house. Children are afraid of ghosts and monsters anyway. Normally the grown-ups comfort them but in this case the adults had the heebie jeebies and just made it worse. They fled the house the way I used to hurry to get out of the basement when I was a kid. The basement always creeped me out.

The next family moved into the house and had no such problems. I remember seeing them on TV showing the house, the room in the basement. There was no gateway to hell. The front door was fine, no signs of it ever having exploded off its hinges like in the movie.

I thought the 1979 movie based on the book was dull. I tried to read the book but found it boring. It also had a tendency to end chapters with something shocking, like the woman seeing glowing eyes outside the window. So----what happened? What did she do? Did they go away? It's okay to cut away from a scene like that in a movie, but in a book that's supposed to be a true story giving you a factual account of what happened, it seems like they should have told us.

But here, it's almost like the Woody Allen-Mia Farrow case. When someone claims to be a victim of a sex crime, you don't want to say it's not true even if you don't believe it, because what if it is true? You don't want to call this poor family a bunch of frauds when they fled their house in terror because what if they really were scared for whatever reason? It's not uncommon for perfectly rational people to live in places they believe to be haunted. The British journalist Claud Cockburn, a former Communist at the time he wrote his memoirs, wrote of an apartment he lived in as a young man. He was anxious to move out because it was cold and drafty and also because, although he never saw it himself, his friends claimed to see the previous tenant who had committed suicide there sitting in the corner.

So you don't want to call these poor people frauds, but, come on. You're really going to profess a belief in demonic possession just to spare their feelings?

I was watching a daytime talk show once. They were talking about alien abductions. Phillip Klass, a UFO skeptic, was there. He had written books debunking and explaining UFO sightings and had written a book on alleged alien abductions.

A pair of angry young feminists in the audience were outraged by Klass. He was an old guy and he politely addressed one of them as "ma'am" which enraged her even more. They seemed to think that believing in alien abductions was a political issue, that he was oppressing people by not believing the space aliens had kidnapped them for breeding experiments.

Being open-minded is fine to a point. But only to a point.

There was a time when Menachem Schneerson died. He had been brain dead for some time and they finally pulled the plug. He was a Hassidic rabbi whose fanatical followers believed he was the Messiah. They believed he would rise from the dead.

Ted Koppel reported on this on Nightline. He interviewed several people who were experts on cults, religion and the psychology involved in situations like this.

The experts kept talking about how Schneerson's followers would react WHEN he didn't rise from the dead. But Ted Koppel, out of some confused idea of journalistic objectivity, kept saying IF he didn't come back to life. Like there was actually a possibility.

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