Sunday, April 29, 2007

No agape for psychics in Philadelphia

City inspectors in Philadelphia shut down more than a dozen psychics, astrologers and tarot-card readers after learning about a decades-old state law that bans fortune telling for profit. More --->

This is a timely warning for anyone in the "psychic business" that antiquated laws and attitudes still rule in many parts of the USA. Hopefully the ACLU and some of the affected businesses will sue to repeal this unfair law. In my opinion it is an infringement and a violation of the civil and spiritual rights of the people of Philadelphia.

I am as concerned as anyone about hoaxers and frauds in this business, and I believe that the police should be called in wherever there is evidence of "curse removal" or similar scams going on. I want to see hoaxers hammered - hard. But if we were to apply the same broad-brush tactics to medicine or psychiatry, we'd be closing down hospitals willy-nilly just because of the presence of a few quacks. In my personal experience with the medical establishment and with psychics, I have to say I have encountered as many frauds and quacks in medicine as I have in psychic fairs.

Canada has a federal law dating back to the 1800's outlawing "witchcraft", which forbids anyone from "pretending to tell the future". In Canada, it is rare that there is any attempt to enforce it. Periodically fundamentalists invoke that law to try to get psychic fairs and businesses shut down. I was present at on fair in Calgary, where the week before we'd been forced to get "fortune teller" licenses at $200 a pop. Then the police reluctantly showed up to try to shut the show down, with a small gaggle of placard-waving protestors behind them. The irony was not lost on police that we had city-issued licenses for the activity they were wanting to shut us down for. We put up signs saying readings were for fun and entertainment purposes only which satisfied the police, and the issue was dropped.

Even though the situation was resolved amicably, the repulsive law remains on the books in Canada, and it is periodically dragged up by religious groups or skeptics to harass psychics. If this law outlawed any other religious belief and forbade "prophecy", there would be an outcry across the country. But it is still okay to persecute "witches" and those who would pursue faith and spirit independent of an organized faith. Psychics beware ... Salem is not that long past us.

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