Analysing the language of cult leaders, politicians and leaders of high control groups.

Update 13.12.16

I have been threatened by the trustee of the Shiva Trust (Reg. Charity No. 1148843). Please see below for the email correspondence.

The purpose of this update is to demand that Shiva Trust and ‘Sri Ramana’s children’ cease any further attempts to contact me.

If Shiva Trust wishes to pursue legal action, the Trust can do so by contacting City and Guilds- the awarding body which awarded credits for my language analysis. These credits counted towards my qualification, awarded by City and Guilds.

I will analyse the language in the email written by Shiva Trust in the near future. In addition to the threats, I am particularly interested in the significance of referring to Sri Ramana’s ethnic origin. Similarly, I am not certain whether the phrase ‘Ramana’s children’ refers to individuals under the age of 18 or merely infantilised adult sympathisers. 

Copy of the emails:

On 12 Dec 2016, at 11:38, Spencer Lloyd Pack <spencerlloydpack@gmail.com> wrote

Defamation of Sri Ramana Devi

Dear Petra,

I write with reference to your blog/article posted at: https://petramelville.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/analysing-the-language-or-cult-leaders-politicians-and-leaders-of-high-control-groups/.

In the article you analyse the speech of Sri Ramana Devi.

I am a trustee of Shiva Trust (Reg. Charity No. 1148843) the charity founded by Sri Ramana, and as such, am deeply upset, as are all the trustees, to learn of the way in which you have tarnished the reputation of our founder in this article.

Not only this but the presence of your article in online search results relating to the charity means that you are directly contributing to an online presence that is in places greatly hindering our ability to fulfil our charitable objects.

Having been deeply interested and involved in Sri Ramana’s work for many years now, I must say that the inferences in your writing are entirely inaccurate and unfounded.

I wonder what has caused you to form such an opinion?

If you have met people with derogatory things to say about Sri Ramana, to what lengths you have gone to satisfy yourself completely that such allegations have any foundation whatsoever?

I understand that our inherent tendency as cognitive beings is to take on good faith information that is presented to us. Surely however an an individual involved in academic writing, you have a responsibility to perform a greater degree of due diligence before publishing such damaging statements?

Sri Ramana’s children are deeply hurt by the presence of your article in the public sphere. They know Sri Ramana to be only a deeply kind and loving Soul, who has no inclinations whatsoever towards the desire for power and control that your article points to.

Whilst the references themselves are generally rather harmless – one can hardly expect to accrue a negative reputation for the use of the first person pronoun – the framing that you give to your analysis is highly damaging – not only to Sri Ramana and her close family, but also to our continuing efforts to do what is already a difficult thing – to promote the work of a White, Western female teaching Hindu Philosophy – non-violence and a cruelty free existence – to a sceptical and at times cynical world.

As someone who describes themselves as a life long learner, we hope that you remain open to re-evaluating your notions as to who Sri Ramana really is. To this end we would be happy to engage with you in a positive and constructive manner, and to provide you with any information that you may require, in order to consider re-assessing your judgements, and ultimately removing the page in question.

As a mother yourself, we are sure that you would not like to think of your work contributing towards the stress and distress in young children’s lives, and we hope that this situation may be resolved amicably.

We are appealing to your good nature as we hope to be able to resolve this situation through mutual consent. We remain however determined in our aspirations to preserve the good name of an individual who is doing so much good in this world, and will go to any lengths necessary to maintain the name of the charity that we represent.

We hope to hear from you soon,

Yours Sincerely,

Spencer Lloyd Pack

Secretary

For and on behalf of Shiva Trust Trustees:

Angela Carroll

Lucy Gardner

Tracy Parker

Harjinder Kaur

My response:

On 12 December 2016 at 12:25, Petra Melville <missemm74@outlook.com> wrote:

To Whom It May Concern,
I am writing to you regarding your email. I do not understand the purpose.
I have read about your group in various published texts about cults.
If your intent is legal action, I will have to remove the article. If you are not interning legal action, I can copy and paste your email- the readers will then have an opportunity to form their own opinion.
I will also inform the police about your email. The reason for this is that I perceive the following statement as a threat: ‘(we) will go to any lengths necessary to maintain the name of the charity that we represent.’
I am looking forward to your response.
Yours faithfully,
Petra

I made a typo-it should have been intending legal action not interning

Their response:

Re: Defamation of Sri Ramana Devi (No subject)

Mon 12/12/2016 13:17

Dear Petra,

The threat indeed is legal action and we would be grateful for the swift removal of the article, and confirmation of such action.

I regret that you interpreted any other malice in the original email sent.

I would be interested to know about the ‘various published texts about cults’?

There are many things published about many things in this day and age, none of which holds any proof of their veracity?

I hope that you will remain open to gathering a wider circle of information in relation to Sri Ramana, which, as originally stated, we would be more than happy to assist with should you express an interest.

Sincerely,

S. Lloyd Pack

 

I wrote the following analysis as a part of my LEVEL 5 ADDITIONAL TEACHING DIPLOMA 6503 ESOL AND LITERACY UNIT 509Task B, Assessment outcome b.)

Produce a presentation which analyses:

How language is used in the formation, maintenance and transformation of power relations

The  presentation excerpt can be found here

The language that I analysed can be found here (it’s actually been removed since)here and here

The first video is of Rachel Ennis Cole aka Guru Satguru Sri Romana, of the Shiva Trust, that practices Hindu teachings (2.49 mins long). The second video is of  Louis Farrakhan Muhammad, the leader of the religious group Nation of Islam. (11.20 mins-12.30 mins) The third video is of  Stefan Molyneux, the leader of a therapy/political cult, Freedomain Radio (29.50-3.54 mins).

The analysis:

  • The above videos are excerpts of speeches of various politicians and cult leaders. Regardless of their ideology, they are all attempting to use language for persuasion. Their rhetoric shares similarities with political discourse. The first leader is trying to convince listeners that she can help them live a deeper, more meaningful life. The second leader is advocating Black supremacy and the third leader urges his audience to abandon their family and friends and subscribe to an anarchist ideology. It would appear that all three leaders use a small number of specific truths and the rest of their speech contains exaggerated deceptions. In addition, leader number three uses philosophical jargon.
  • All three leaders make a great use of personal PRONOUNS. Leader no 1 and 3 talk exclusively in the first person singular using ‘I’ Leader no 1 goes even further and refers to herself as ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’, giving herself even greater importance as the agency to actions, emphasising her responsibility.
  • Only leader number two uses the first person plural using ‘we’ on some occasions. This suggests that he is willing to share responsibility for success with their followers. Leader number two however makes it clear that is it him who is in a position to give orders.  All leaders demonstrate a clear sense of personal involvement. They do not appear to have any concerns about collective responsibility in case of failure. They can be perceived as self-important, placing themselves above or outside of their audience. Leader number one wishes to be seen as a tranquil, empathetic individual. Her tone of voice and body language is very calm and gentle. Leader number two, on the other hand, portrays himself as a passionate, righteously angry man. This is apparent through his tone of voice, rising intonation and body language, i.e. hitting the table with his hand. He also pauses between his statements, alternating between righteously angry and sophisticated persona for a greater impact. Leader number three adopts the tone of voice of a frustrated, close friend. All three leaders make a direct connection to their audience by addressing his/her listeners as ‘you’. All three leaders also make use of repetition which is also a political rhetoric device. 
  • Some of the repetition includes: ‘lovable’ in speech number one and ‘force’ in speech no two. Leaders number one and two also maintain eye contact with their audience, with leader number two pausing for a few seconds and looking away from his audience for an added dramatic effect. The unnatural gaze of the leader number one adds to her enlightened master aura persona that she has created for herself in order to gain followers. The leader number three uses a slightly different approach. He uses laughter in his speech, although it varies in pragmatic function. The purpose of his speech is to persuade people, not make them laugh and he is not attempting to make a joke.

Note: I will read these books one day This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party and A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story

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