The Shallowness of Hate: A Response to The Babarazzi. ~ Paul Morris

Via on Aug 25, 2012
photo: flickr/lydiashiningbrightly

Be forewarned that this article is a bit of a ramble that grew from a comment that got out of control to an interview that Thaddeus Haas did with The Babarazzia blog claiming to be “giving yoga culture the star treatment.”

The site (and my response) has nothing particularly to do with “yoga” at all—it is more about rhetoric, being genuine and the dynamics of presentation.

I dislike hypocrisy, so the site has bothered me since its inception; its acceptance of harmful language, praised by people I had assumed would have been wise to this (Haas himself has written—seemingly directly—on the value of humility and good company), has helped fuel and encourage the blog despite its hateful ways (hence the rant).

Below, I’ll try to explain why I feel the site is cruel, misleading and intentionally ugly—despite the blogger’s insistence and (twisted) logic that it is not; I do not take my argument outside of the single site but hope some of the ideas extend themselves naturally.

The blog was started early this year by “Baba” (who has chosen to remain anonymous) and refers to himself using the royal “we.”

In an earlier interview, “Baba” said that he draws inspiration from the Aghori, whom he says are, “outcasts, the left-hand of the tantra, as it were. Their thing is that they induce hatred in people in order to overcome the ego. They are considered abrasive and aggressive and they are all about subverting the social order.”

That is, “Baba” is your guru—whether you like it or not—and he will use dark means, especially hate, to get you beyond your ego.

This rationale permeates the site, which generally focuses on what he sees as “yoga culture” of the west, with writing full of snark and wistful humor, occasionally speaking directly—and lots of name calling.

By claiming he is using this dark approach, he attempts to excuse his hypocrisy, saying in Haas’ interview that,”Being cruel is not what we’re about,” yet when it comes to hate, “We like to take the things we say ʽnoʼ to and say ʽyes,ʼ to such a degree that you can’t but end up hating the thing.”

So, for this self-appointed “Baba,” hatred and inciting hatred, is good for you.

I did just repeat myself…but that “Baba” is out to proudly incite hatred has seemingly gone largely overlooked, in both the interviews and comments.

This position is, I think, based on some perverted notion of līlā, where rather than looking to the universe as the play of the dynamics of the universe, your teacher (bābā means father and teacher) assumes the role of God and anything goes.

The metaphorical (or real) house is torn down, so you’ll learn the lesson on how to re-build it.

This is called ego-breaking and those who play this game can pick anything and declare it is or is not genuine, to suit whatever cause they claim to be for.

Ego-breaking is common throughout the world and seen most commonly in military training—but also in “cult” tactics, possibly-legit spiritual practices (Gurdjieff’s Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson comes to mind), as well as the legit practices (like wearing certain clothes, all the time.)

Assuming there is an enlightened someone capable of such a thing (a Marpa for your Milarepa), a close master-student relationship, ego-breaking would presumably be effective, because the master can mediate the variables and be a guide—but to expect such intimacy from some disembodied “Baba” on the world wide web, given his hateful intent and harm without responsible legitimacy is totally bizarre to me.

“Baba” intends to use this path as a means of avoidance, a tactic based on a pick-anything instability and as a system, any position taken will have already predicated itself as false and therefore discardable.

In Haas’ interview, “Baba” expands on this dark means with further excuses, saying that anything he does as “okay” because the “intention is noble,” and, taking it even further, saying at even if it’s not okay, it’s okay, because “the critique is valid.”

This allows him, no matter what he does, to say he wants non-violence, while pricking the Shylock, who should find a way to enjoy the pain. (Shylock is a term for the “money-grubbing Jew” stereotype and the character who Shakespeare had ask rhetorically, “if you prick us, do we not bleed?”)

According to “Baba’s” logic, Shylock should have said, “If you prick us, we are grateful because we recognize the the body is not the Self.”

It is by this logic that “Baba” applies “the star treatment” to the Shylock, the “celebri-yogi,” he thinks ought to (and deserves) to be taken down some pegs, by way of snark and satire.

To me, something like Gradschool Barbie is good satire, bringing up issues of our ideals and expectations—and shades of these—but “Baba’s” satire is low grade, pointed, with little nuance or layers, made of such things as calling something poop, exaggerating his own popularity and saying someone’s breasts are too small and their butt is too big.

This last one, featuring a picture with arrows pointing to the breasts and butt of Sadie Nardini (his favorite target) was, I think, trying to compare body image with weightloss, saying they are the same and that by advertising “yoga for weightloss,” it is just as appealing to people’s unnecessarily negative body images.

It was easy satire to miss, being a cruel and weird juvenile-disection-power-thrill, in a world with the elegance of Colbert and Galifianakis.

Still, Haas laments to “Baba” that “people just didn’t get it. It’s almost to the point of willful ignorance with regard to understanding or appreciating this [satirical] approach.”

For satire to be understood, the audience has to be in on the joke before hand; it is indirect speech, passive-aggressive and has, at its core, the intent to shame, at one degree or another.

For these reasons, I have doubts that any satire can create change, as it is always a gamble if it will get through, in any meaningful way, to those being satirized—and usually, it takes a more natural intent, to give a jolt of righteousness to those who already agree with it’s position. Ad homenim/ad absurdum are ways to hide flaws of eloquence, as well as systemic rhetorical flaws and speak more to the character and intents of the critiquer than what/who is being critiqued.

But again, none of this applies to “Baba,” because he has committed himself to a system that leave him outside of rebuke, even for his violence.

Even when being (seemingly) direct, he shames, as when he names the names and the websites of two girls who had their feet inappropriately on, what he calls, murtis, despite trash on the ground by the statues and his (intentionally disingenuous) “always draws a line” policy, that he puts forth to misdirect; one that is supposed to distinguish between personality and person—apparently, if it’s shared on Facebook, it’s as fair game as any ad in a magazine. (And of course their intention, good or ill, has been decided by “Baba”—as if it would matter to him in the first place!)

In these cases, his fallback excuse is not that his hateful intentions are noble but that because a person has puts oneself out there (as a “star”), the person somehow deserves to be dissected, insulted and dismissed as fake, a dictate he tries to avoid being placed on himself, by remaining anonymous. He somehow knows the fakes and can parse the real self from the ones they present—yet he cannot define what a yogi is— I think because his anonymity shows he is not one in any sense, despite his insistence that inciting hate is noble and some sort of “authentic” India.

Anonymity is great and can be a useful tool for introducing new ideas without bias—and of course protection—but in this case “Baba’s” claim to be protecting his family is only because he insists on his being hateful, which in modern parlance is called the right to be an asshole.

We have that right, I think—but only if we can be called out on it.

In Haas’ interview, “Baba” claims that he was shocked when Nardini responded directly to an article that attacked her; as if in the small yoga blog world he has a hate-on for, word wouldn’t get out to those he attacks.

At best, his shock is disingenuous; he claims, “It isn’t a joke. And, for a lot of people it’s definitely not a joke…our own missteps are part of the critique…if you think we’re being mean, just ask us something and we’ll talk to you about it,” yet, “Baba” is more than willing to dismiss the response, because they don’t get the joke/satire/point…which isn’t actually a joke.

“Baba’s” objections to the sins of “yoga culture” are also smothered in hypocrisy.

He claims to not be critiquing yoga (which he says will always be just fine) but yoga culture, reminding us of something he hasn’t said: “Remember, to us commercial yoga culture isn’t yoga practice.”

That is, he is not critiquing people who do yoga—but people he has decided are only saying they do yoga. But to what yoga practice is or should be, he has to fall silent, not only because any practice he practices will be “false,” and up for discernment…but also to protect his anonymity. (As he says, “You should have some sort of working definition of what [..yoga..] is and it shouldn’t just be asana.”)

To what he thinks it is, he hedges, saying he is, “not necessarily the person to answer that.” What of that noble hate?

“Baba’s” final words in the interview begin with a full flowering of his hypocrisy, speaking about how advertising and teaching yoga is  just ways to get people in the door, “…the ends justify the means—is just so disingenuous.” Yet, “Our own missteps are part of the critique and this is how it should be.”

Does he also think all his talk of noble hate and intention is disingenuous—or is this just another sleight of logic on the path of noble hate? Of course, I don’t know…but it would seem so.

I may agree with some of “Baba’s” ideas but I have no idea how to tell when he is just messing with me and when he is being genuine.

Perhaps, there are places he is able to articulate his opinions without being nasty, although even in his latest piece on marijuana decriminalization, he can’t seem to help overstating the position of whom he argues against for effect.*

The interview ends with “Baba” speaking vaguely about “caves,” by which I think he is trying to talk about having a consciousness that is inward looking. This is quite a feat for those who can get it going—but it is not something most people are willing to spend the time developing.

So, I hope to have shown that “Baba” (the constructed identity-thing we have to believe in) is knowingly and intentionally hateful, a hypocrite and wanting some sort of yogic purity he cannot describe or explain—and the he has taken several dishonorable ways to avoid responsibility for all of these; all the while, trying to make some sort of cultural shift.

I do not think anything I say here will influence “Baba” in any meaningful way (especially as it justifies his end-means, critique-as-the-message, hypocrisy and hate) but I hope some understanding was given regarding to how satire works, the diligence it takes to be truthful and honest…and the quality of having a clear and straightforward approach to being.

Or even better, that on seeing hate’s shallow waters, rather than wading through them, you choose to skip past them, to a place that is more productive and joyous.

 

*I agree that decriminalization is better than legalization—but I will be voting yes on I-502, as Washington State has no state income tax, a tradition of state-funded social services and I am a non-smoker, who keeps purism for “the cave.”

 

Paul Morris likes language, logic, cartoons, mantras, triangles, love and bicycles. He can be reached at paul@priyar.org.

 

 

~
Editor: Bryonie Wise

Like elephant I’m not ‘Spiritual’. I just practice being a good person on Facebook.

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44 Responses to “The Shallowness of Hate: A Response to The Babarazzi. ~ Paul Morris”

  1. Amphibiyogini says:

    I have the exact same problem that you have with Babarazzi, but with another (though as of yet,NON-ANONYMOUS site–not to say they won't go anonymous in the future), Recovering Yogi …

    They are VERY eloquent, yet they are – underneath it all – apologists for commercialized yoga …

    • paul says:

      Is it because you object to commercialized yoga, or to their being hypocritical in their support? I understand the latter, but to the former, I wonder what you find so problematic.

      • Amphibiyogini says:

        Both. … in addition, not that it's any of my business, they tiptoed around John Friend when the scandal broke, as well; they never addressed the scandal at all since … sometimes it's a question of having the cojones … it left the field wide open for the Babarazzi, with whom I find nearly nothing to criticize – they could have gone a little harder on YAMA Talent … but I think they do draw the line and not step on Ava Taylor's toes, not step on a few toes with those they agree more with (Dharma Mittra and Tara Stiles come to mind) … people have their biases …

  2. Anonymousyogi says:

    Oh, I understand Graduate B-School Barbie does come with all the accoutrements of regular Graduate School Barbie, but added to that–a pencil stuck behind her ear, a teensy BlackBerry and a tiny Bloomberg Machine … and SHE says, "Nothing gets accomplished in my project group …", and "That will be another 50 Grand student loan before I graduate …"

  3. Frances Harjeet athayoganusasanam says:

    The Babarazzi is a collective, so no, the "royal we" is not employed, but rather a legit "we".
    Also, Aghori Babarazzi was actually referring to caves, you know, wet dank dark cold caves in the Himalayas, and not about "inward looking". No need to read so much into all this. His point was pretty clear there. Modern "yogis" constantly spout this line "You don't have to go to a cave to do yoga". Babarazzi's point was along the lines of….Maybe a cave would do you some good, because seriously, most people can't sit down at the dinner table for more than 30 minutes without grabbing their iphone obsessively, so how can they claim they don't need the solitude and austerity of a cave to experience nirodha. Caves are scary. Pretty om shanti yoga studios are not. It's much easier to simply avoid dealing with yourself and your baggage when you are in a pleasant, easy, sense-gratifying environment.

    • paul says:

      There is no reason to believe he is a collective other than his word, which as I show in the article is intentionally misleading, and so one from which there can be no expectation of honesty. If he is an it, a collective and not just a way to present one person as multiple people, how could I possibly tell? On facebook aghoribabarazzi is female, but male in the interviews- even the presentation he makes of an individual is inconsistent. So, I have to take Thaddeus’ evaluation on my evaluation of Thaddeus, and perhaps you will agree that my own discernment is less than reliable.

      I clearly gave him too much credit if he was referring to actual caves; we wouldn’t be hearing about these practitioners in the first place! Perhaps he is excited to publish already prepared complaints about the cave tourism market? Yes, that last sentence was sarcastic, but still.

      The “householder” tradition is not new, but few people are willing let alone able to put in the efforts, which are excruciating in the beginning (as too getting back having “fallen”), especially as one’s “progress” is seen in proportion to one’s effort. People have kids, family, work, friends, desires etc they are are not going to drop, and those who do are highly unlikely to suddenly be conscious enough to fast rather than starve.

      If the complaint is about an abuse of the term “yoga” or “yogin” I agree that it has come to mean something very different than how I understand it, but too I am at a loss as to how to correct this except at an individual level, and certainly not by instilling hate in someone. I do not think positive/holistic change happens by insults, but rather by example, exchange, understanding, etc. Though I have never seen it perhaps such things might work, outside of a person-to-person basis I have real doubts such a things is more power-play than helping people with their baggage.

      ps. thank you for reading, and your response :)

      • Nick says:

        Dear Paul
        I believe a through reading of 6 randomly selected articles would make it pretty clear that they're either co-written by a collective, or written by someone with a serious multiple personality disorder.
        I suppose it could be just one person pretending to be several people of more than two genders involved in a poly-amorous relationship … but why would anybody pretend this? What reason have they given you to doubt their word?
        I think their writing is brilliant.
        I find it amusing that their are so many personal attack directed at them, which those who make them seem to feel are justified because they make personal attacks against others.
        All the best.

    • Vic DiCara says:

      i just want to chime in that this is a very high-quality comment. I strongly support it.

  4. Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

    I would like to begin by pointing out that I am in no way serving as a spokesperson for either Aghori Babarazzi, who was kind of enough to give me an interview, nor The Babarazzi in general. The thoughts that follow are solely my own.

    I must confess, this piece confuses me. Mr. Morris admits the article is "a bit of a ramble," and so I am challenged to find a coherent thread of argument beyond, his general view that Babarazzi are hypocrites, possibly manipulative and harbingers of hate. I am also curious about "the comment which got out of control" which precipitated this piece. However, given my confusion, I would like to speak to several points.

    I admit that at the outset I was suspicious as to whether The Babarazzi was a collective or a single individual writing as such. Since my interview, I am convinced that they are in fact a collective and that Aghori Babarazzi serves as their public contact. So, I think they really are a "we" and not royally so.

    I believe that Mr. Morris has confused several pieces I wrote for elephant journal on humility <a href="http://(http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/08/r-i-p-humility-a-eulogy-thaddeus-haas/)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/08/r-i-p-humility-a-eulogy-thaddeus-haas/) and the value of association <a href="http://(http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/08/when-youre-a-jet-youre-a-jet-all-the-way/)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/08/when-youre-a-jet-youre-a-jet-all-the-way/) for the one I actually did write for The Babarazzi on the ability of the yoga community to support one of it's own members independent of overt corporate involvement. <a href="http://(http://thebabarazzi.com/2012/08/03/the-friday-good-community-spirit-without-corporate-sponsorship-a-victory-for-the-little-guy-well-really-all-of-us/)” target=”_blank”>(http://thebabarazzi.com/2012/08/03/the-friday-good-community-spirit-without-corporate-sponsorship-a-victory-for-the-little-guy-well-really-all-of-us/) This was a piece which applauded the good in our communities and I think one would be hard pressed to find that it relies on "harmful language."

    In general, my sense is that this piece was put together in a rather speedy fashion and perhaps not all of the i's and t's received their due. It is difficult to follow Mr. Harris' points when the quotes are not sourced to allow for an examination of the complete context of the statements.

    I take issue with the linking of a piece I wrote concerning the role of humility in yoga practice "to being an asshole," but I'm sure this was an editorial decision and not the author's.

    I am confused by Mr. Morris' understanding of ad hominems and reductio ad absurdums. Ad hominems are informal logical fallacies which seek to undermine the value of an argument by attacking the arguer rather than addressing the issue at hand. Reductio ad absurdums seek to argue for a claim by showing the absurdity of a contrary proposition. I'm not exactly sure what they say about someone who chooses to use them.

    Who exactly is Mr. Morris referring to with "Baba?"

    Beyond this, I honestly wish that I had more to offer, but sadly, I cannot say that I understand Mr. Morris' points well enough to speak to them.

    • paul says:

      Hello Thaddeus, thank you for reading and your response, I will try and clarify myself, beginning with my regret and apologies that you were misrepresented at the beginning of my article; my original and accurate but convoluted and misinterpretable wording has been revised, as have the several spelling errors; the editor I think did a great job otherwise clearing me up (though perhaps I’m beyond help)
      (ej’s editors are I think too unseen; it would be delightful to see one of you editors describe what it is you actually do as a volunteer)

      I did, as you surmise, write and send it off quickly. I read your interview and finding my response at some 700 words but wanting to flesh it out even more and direct it at larger issues on how we present ourselves and others, and how negativity and hatred is being excused as positive and loving (so only partly on the interview itself), I put it together that morning, and sent it off.

      Really, it could be several articles, on the uses and possibilities of anonymity, understood sarcasm vs. honesty and non-violent communication, the forces that pull definitions forward and wayward, the “what’s coming to them” and “get ‘em” mentality, the “versus” mentality, underlying intent, and more! Not to mention the many other ways I could phrase myself, so I decided it was enough to devote only that morning on a site coats itself with a veneer of seriousness and genuineness to cover its hate.

      (And I do get lost in my revisions- where in this reply can I example the effect of the snide slight, “Perhaps you should ask Mr. Harris who I am referring to with ‘Baba’,” particularly as I’m not sure if anything was meant by either; the “Baba” I refer to is the site your interview was about, athayoganushasanam it seems has understood, so given my inability to be clear I suggest you ask her for clarity on this.)

      The link to the earlier interview is http://yogacitynyc.com/yoga_week.php/#538 but I did not, and will not link to the articles I mention because it is intentional shaming, slander, and hateful, as discussed in my article. I would much rather my own reputation (whatever horror it is :) ) and argument be suspect than send people to intentionally hurtful and shaming attack pieces. (The curious should have no problem finding them, as they are not going to be taken down (according to your interview).)

      Reputation is what this is all about- who do you trust? who gets to be the authority? Are my points suspect because I confused your articles? Did I confuse your articles? What about my spelling? What about that Mr. Harris? ;) Should ad absurdum keep to formal waters to be valid? How much weight do we give to these things in the first place?

      My article discusses several reasons the site, and the strategies it uses, should not be trusted. I will endeavor to refer to the site as an it from now on, as whoever it was you interviewed convinced you as such, though he seems also to have convinced you that encouraging hate is useful, so too I find your credibility on this suspect, as I would anyone who supports this sort of negativity. Regardless of it being one or several writers, it is presented as a unified entity; whatever it says, it says- there is no way to tell the “aghori” from the rest. And if it expects its readers to take any sentence as something standing as a unique statement to be evaluated uniquely, the site is not an identity at all, but a collection of statements that may or may not be connected to each other, or to the person(s) that may or may not have composed it.. and yet I’m supposed to take what they are doing as serious, let alone from a “real” yoga practitioner?

    • paul says:

      I understand that anyone would be confused by the site, as the twisted rationals are intermingled and confused themselves. Here is some rewriting I hope will help you to better understand my article:

      -there is a blog claiming to critique “yoga culture” and it uses multiple strategies to put itself outside blame while placing itself as an authority
      strategies used:
      1. Foremost is the idea the blog is based on: by inducing hate, it will help people overcome their ego; they are going to cause you to hate and there is spiritual benefit to this.
      Hypocrisy: It claims that being cruel is “not what we’re about” yet cruelty and hate are synonymous
      2. The site claims to be more informed about yoga than those it judges
      Hypocrisy: It does not say what informs it, nor can it for the sake of protecting it’s anonymity
      3. The blog claims it must be anonymous to protect family, friends and teachers
      Hypocrisy: This is predicated on their hate; if they weren’t hateful, if they didn’t claim the right and need to be nasty, the protection of anonymity would be unnecessary. Anonymity also allows their assertion that they are more informed about yoga than those it judges to remain uncheckable
      4. The blog claims it’s about the intention; if the intention is good, then what has been done is good, or noble; the site has a noble intention, therefore
      Hypocrisy: This applies only to the site, not those it judges.
      5. The blog claims it’s not about yoga but about critique of image
      Hypocrisy: If what they say is wrong or horrible, that is “ok” because that wrongness is now known; even if something is published that crosses a line it has said it would not cross, that’s “ok” because “the critique is valid”. This also invalidates any need for claims of authority about “real” yoga, or any sort of yoga, let alone their notion of the positive value of hate.
      6. The blog uses sarcasm, irony, satire extensively, alongside “straight talk”
      -you never know if they’re being sincere; see #1-5 above

      • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

        Thanks paul for this synopsis and for clarifying the language at the beginning of the article. Although, I would still take issue with idea that by providing access to The Babarazzi through an interview that I am somehow "ignorant" and supportive of their "hateful" ways. In addition, I promise not to lose any sleep over your feelings about my creditability.

        As to your above points. Needless to say, I don't agree with many of them, but as I wrote in my first comment. I don't speak for The Babarazzi, nor do I have any desire to be a spokesperson for them. I conducted and wrote the interview because I think they are a crucial and necessary addition to the dialogue surrounding the increasing commercialization and marketing of a many thousands year old science of the self and I think people should be informed about them and then make up their own minds.

        However, I am sure that if you wanted The Babarazzi to address these issues you could write to them and they would respond. This is something they encouraged in the interview. And I would venture would be far more productive than offering up a rant on the pages of elephant. I appreciate a good rant as much as the next "guy," but this will only get us so far in the end.

        This is also why I took the time to speak to Aghori, because it's just too easy to sit back and throw up your arms. Better to sit down and hash it out, I say.

        From my reading, your biggest issue seems to revolve around their "hate." As Mike points out below, you don't have access to their thoughts or states of mind. And even supposing for the sake of argument that they are hateful, the validity and value of the critique stands independent of whether or not it's nice or it offends our sensibilities. For instance, racism isn't invalid because it's mean. It's invalid because it rests on faulty premises.

        I see their critique as a valuable addition to the dialogue. Sure, it's irreverent and perhaps that doesn't bother me because I too tend to irreverence. But, in the end, you're going to need to offer up more than they are hateful and confusing. I think the best way to do this would be to dialogue with them directly. Let them answer your questions.

        • paul says:

          I do question that the “increasing commercialization and marketing” is not just something proportional to the popularity and accessibility, and so not from the corporate sphere specifically, but something that has been in “yoga culture” for at least a hundred years, but that is another topic. My article is about justifications for hate, not whatever those justifications are trying to assert.

          You are right that I did not write this for the site, but rather for those who might mistake a veneer of seriousness for substance and a potential for positive change. If it is true that people are deeply influenced by the company they keep, that by supporting and participating in a group the person will obtain the qualities of the group members, then too those who participate in the justifications for hate and unaccountability the site stands for will take on those qualities.

          The site has no interest in dialog, as shown by the hate and attacks and shaming, so why trying to engage it would be productive makes no sense to me. It has answered my questions in its interviews and justifications, which show it is not just confusing and purposefully hateful, but intentionally misleading, and further that it uses several ways it tries makes itself unaccountable while imposing accountability on the people it attacks. It claims its own good intent is enough to excuse its hate (and that it wants people to hate is not my invention but its own words, as shown in both interviews), giving itself the luxury of saying whatever it wants without accountability, including its reading of others intent.

          I am not addressing what it is trying to say, but showing that it is out to hate, and attack, be mean generally, in the name of some “real” yoga it can explain only as “not just asana” and ego-crushing. If the points cannot be made without being hateful and cruel, I do not see why they should be made at all.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            I appreciate the seriousness of your views, however, I cannot help but begin to feel that your analysis is running the risk of becoming myopic and shortsighted thereby reducing its overall potential efficacy.

            The point you clearly wish to push revolves around what you claim is The Babarazzi's "hate." However, to the best of my knowledge what you have chosen to do is to take a statement regarding how the traditional Aghori function in addressing the ego and totalized the entire site on the basis of this.

            While this is a clever rhetorical parlour trick to push your point, it fails to address the many counter-examples. For instance, Aghori Babarazzi's response in my interview where he states regarding people thinking they're mean, "Ask us questions. If you think we’re being mean, just ask us something and we’ll talk to you about it. We’re very open with the exception of this [points to face covering]. But, we always respond, or at least make every effort to respond, literally to every email, usually within the day. Keep reading the site. Find the places of humor. Find your own point of entry.
            People often think we’re a dark site, but there are entry points of light with the humor and things like that. I think if people would engage us a little more, they would find that we’re not at all trying to be mean. I don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I get it, I’m playing pretty close, but there’s no intention to harm the person. These people have parents, they have friends. This is someone’s daughter or son. Being cruel isn’t what we’re about."

            In addition, it neglects to address the multiple pieces on the site which show a much more positive side. My article for them would be an example. And finally, I can cite at least one example where a commentator called them out on their language and The Babarazzi addressed the issue in dialogue with them quite extensively to the point where The Babarazzi reconsidered their original position.

            All of these serve as strong counter-examples to your fixed opinion that they are "hateful." And again, I would push you on the issue that to make a claim regarding one's hate, presupposes an access to their mindset and attitude for which you lack.

            Furthermore, I'm confused by why you seem willing to take them at their word regarding their purported "hate," but completely unwilling to take them at their word regarding their willingness to dialogue. This seems inconsistent at best. You say by "Their own admission the site is hateful." While this is debatable, what is equally apparent is that by their admission, they are open to dialogue.

            You're unwillingness to acknowledge this raises the question as to whether or not you are guilty of coming from a place of "hate" yourself?

          • paul says:

            My argument is a collection of myopias that reference the whole, in addition to addressing the whole itself. :)

            It is not just that the site claims as its spiritual authority the goodness of hate, and making it a “heavy” part of its warrant, but that it is seen in the "they deserve it" mentality that drives and justifies its attack pieces (cf “So, if you want to be a celebrity, you are going to get treated like one.” in its about me), along with the ego-crushing the claims about good hate requires as a method. It is easy to see this in its pieces.

            That the site is actually committed to dialog is not easy to see, and must be done squinting, and through a rosy lens, as it is not easy to see dialog in, "I pricked you, now, how did that make you feel?" that is not disingenuous, or that it will not do more "pricking" because, "there is value in the critique." If you are referring to its use of "retarded" to describe taking a helicopter to do yoga, it took some longish comments just to get it to cross out the word "retarded," which still appears elsewhere in an earlier article and title, thank you google.

            It is passive-aggressive to write a response pointed at an article indirectly, as the site did with the "heli-yoga" piece it did. It addresses the website throughout, beginning with the opening lines, “No offense, Yoganonymous, but are you, like, currently on a shit-ton of fad-drugs and highly caffeinated energy drinks? I mean, ‘Heli-Yoga?’ Are you really shilling for this?”

            My article is passive-aggressive insofar as it is addressed the the very small yoga-blog world, but otherwise, I do not think so, as I do not address the site directly, nor do I expect it to impact the site (and given that I am addressing the nature of the site, and systemic way it is expressed, I would have to be asking the site to shut down, which would be fine with me if it did :) but I think the need we have to express ourselves is important, even when that means allowing purposefully hurtful words). If people continue reading the site more aware that what they are reading is just shenanigans, then I have made my intended impact, so to address the site on its grounds, when it does not (and cannot, given its unnecessary means) meet others on its own, both gives credence to

            When Nardini attempted to address them, she got more of the same snark and "asking for it" jibes, rather than dialog. When the article was published here on ej (which violated ej's no-anonymous authors policy, and so was removed, though even in one of its more recent pieces the site claimed it was due to censorship, saying that it was “kicked off” because it “made people angry”), its single response to the several comments addressed few (if any) of the specifics raised in the comments, but instead stuck to generalities and an insistence it does "love you" (just not those parts it deems unlovable!). To Kaminoff’s response, which as I recall was a bit sloppy and emotional (ie. a human response), was also met with snark and derision (calling it a ‘non-response’ amongst other things), including the complaint (or mention if you prefer), repeated in both interviews his having called the site "mother fuckers"- yet name-calling is part of the site’s “style” (excusable by the twisted logic, so allowing them to escape incurring a double-standard). Even the reference to the paparazzi in its name shows it is in no way open to dialog, so despite its insistence that it is, I cannot accept this as but another misdirect and shenanigan of logic; what someone says and what someone produces are the hallmarks that determine hypocrisy.

            The “friday good” pieces are just a handful, and are not what the site is about. It is a stretch to say they are published just to add credence to the “nobility” of their hate, but who knows.. And of course, that these need be qualified as “good” to show these articles to be direct-speech, shows the many pieces which do support the site’s goals, are intended to be misleading at best, if not dishonest. I do not doubt the site has something to say, which I may agree with. But, like Nazis supporting animal rights, you can have a faulty premise, faulty means, and a “true” conclusion, at least one I’d agree with. NOTE: I am not saying the site are Nazis, but given your reading of my piece, I want to make that clear. (Though I do think it is an interesting paradox that that isn’t unparallell to the site’s own jumbled justifications.)

            All these words about such juvenalia! The various issues irk me on their own, regardless of the site, but it does embody and delight in them, and are so twisted by the site as to be incredibly confusing and misleading, hence my many words. I do hope that having taken the time to point towards my own inconsistencies, you will continue with such (very weak requirements for strong) standards, despite you agreeing with the conclusion.

          • paul says:

            YogaDork just published Feuerstein’s Ethical Guidelines for Yoga Teachers
            http://www.yogadork.com/news/ethical-guidelines-f
            I think these can be apply more generally to any yoga aspirant, and even as ethical guidelines generally. I know I fall short (though I’m not a yoga teacher), but I think anyone would agree that in several categories the site falls very short, with non-harming and truthfulness foremost.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            I think in the end that we each will probably see exactly what we want to see out of this.

            However, I would ask, what do you think is the best way to deal with those who hate? I'm assuming that you are sincere in your positions and not advocating them simply for the sake of hearing yourself speak. So, if you really do believe that The Babarazzi are founded on principles of hate, then wouldn't the better course of action be to approach them through a demonstration of the opposite? It's obvious in your comments that you have quite the axe to grind, and I say this having ground more than one of my own to the hilt.

            Beyond this, I feel as though our dialogue has reached the point where we may simply have to agree to disagree. Thank you for the dialogue.

          • paul says:

            I do not know how to deal with those who are enthusiastic about hating except by making clear their position and its potential consequences. So too for confusion, clarity, and sorting out what the pieces are that make that confusion. But there is only so much a person can say, or is capable of saying; I've clearly fallen short. When people decide on a position, a particular way of seeing something, there is little that can change their mind (including facts), which is part of the reason I see addressing the site directly as futile (as they are by their own words and expressions imposers of ego-crushing and inciting hate), while addressing its audience as not just talking to a wall. By pointing out that something is hateful, I run the risk of being called hateful and unmovably biased myself; even in giving details it can be said I have "an axe to grind." There is really no way to "win," nor any prize, except peace.

            Peace to you! :)

          • Nick says:

            It sounds like you really hate the Babarazzi.
            It's tough to deal with emotions we feel like we shouldn't have.
            "When people decide on a position, a particular way of seeing something, there is little that can change their mind (including facts)"
            Well said sir.
            I've heard it put like this. "Those who believe absurdities commit atrocities."

      • @derek7272 says:

        This is in some ways a better critique than your article! Particularly point number 3. In general I agree with you Paul.

  5. Thanks for this Paul. I think critique is a necessary part of every society, and even the microcosms of societies, like the yoga community. I would agree that judgment is important at times, and useful. It's useful to say "this type of practice is unhealthy or dangerous." It's useful to look at commercialization of yoga and ask ourselves if it's what we want to align ourselves with or not. It's useful to point out differences between asana practice and yoga as spiritual practice that affects all areas of our lives. I don't find the vulgar, satirical way of doing it useful—but I get that some people love it. For me personally, critique feels more powerful and useful when it's done respectfully. This doesn't mean "don't judge." It means don't stoop to name calling and being obnoxious to do so.

    • paul says:

      Thank you Kate, I agree. I also think it is much more difficult to address things directly. TV raised me on sarcasm and misdirection and other ways to avoiding actually being honest, while at the same time making people laugh. Too my language and the language of my friends is couched in ironies and slights, so not only are they convenient, they are natural.

  6. __MikeG__ says:

    I'm with Thaddeus on this. And to get T and myself to agree takes some doing. After reading this article I am more impressed with the the commentary of the Barbarazzi, not less.

    The common theme of Barbarazzi articles is be aware of what you are supporting. So for example if you align yourself with the weight loss and fitness industry also be aware that you also are aligning yourself with the idealization of the female body as promoted by the weight loss and fitness industry.

    And for the record, I did get the satire when the Barbarazzi pointed out that Ms. Nardini's breasts and bottom were not the ideals as promoted by the industry she has aligned herself with. And I did get that pointing out the previous was not a personal attack on Ms. Nardini even though her body was used to make the point.

    BTW, I do not like what Ms. Nardini is doing with her yoga career but I have been impressed by her commentary outside of the yoga industry. She appears to be a genuinely nice person from the online interactions I have had with her and that she has had with others.

    I do think that the Barbarazzi should guard against descending into the same pointless snark as is found on Recovering Yogi.

    The biggest failure of logic of this article is to claim that the Barbarazzi commentary comes from a "place of darkeness" and because of that the commentary in invalid. Ignoring the obvious that the author of this article has no idea what is going on inside the head of anyone else on this planet, that argument still is invalid. An argument is not valid or invalid because it either comes from a "place of darkness" or comes from a place of kittens, puppies and kites flying in a blue sky. An argument is valid or invalid in whole or in part based only on the merits of the argument.

    • paul says:

      Thank you for your comment MikeG. I agree that no argument can be valued on the merits (or lack thereof) of the person making them, just as I'm sure you agree that just because you and Thaddeus agree on something, that too does not effect the validity (or lack thereof) of something. I may agree with what that site has to say, but as I have tried to explain in my article, it is difficult for me to know what they are saying; the grounds on which they find validity, and claim validity from, are structurally jiggered to be valid (or invalid) at their say so, a system that makes any position arbitrary.

      • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

        I think your last statement here is quite interesting. It's much different to say that you don't know where The Babarazzi is coming from, but then to turn around and say they are "hateful." These two seem to be slightly in conflict.

        • paul says:

          The site is by its own admission hateful. Because of the very shaky ground it bases its justification in, none of its judgments can be trusted. This is to say nothing of the conclusion in and of itself, but that because the means are unsound, the conclusion may as well have had no means to support it, let alone a hateful one.

      • __MikeG__ says:

        Yep, I too agree that because Thaddeus and I are on the same page does not effect the validity of anything.

        When I put forth my arguments about your article I did not rely on that aforementioned agreement.

        And I can understand your confusion about the Barbarazzi because their barbs are sharp. No argument there. But for me that confusion does not exist because I agree with many ( not all) of the points they have made in their posts.

        I still think the Barbarazzi commentary is spot on 90 percent of the time. But what do I know?

        All this agreement is getting to me. I'm leaving now to search for my inner contrarian.

    • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

      I like it when we agree. I think you and I are kind of like Batman and Cat Woman in the old Batman series. I'm not going to say which of us is which because I think it changes, but we're like "frenemies" working to fight bad from different sides of aisle most often, apparently at conflict, but every now and then, we unite forces. It makes me smile.

  7. bobcat says:

    I love the Babarazzi! At the surface the commentaries seem hateful. But they address the deeply twisted way people view and teach yoga. And yes, I realize that I am judging here but aren't we all? I find that beyond the crudeness and profanity which are crazy funny the Babarazzi is thoughtful, eloquent and insightful. If you don't get the message you can go to other sources. There is enough freedom for all kinds of perspectives to exist. The real hater is the one refusing the other perspective. So, we are all haters aren't we?

    • erica says:

      Perfectly said bobcat. The Babarazzi is brilliant- I am so sick and tired of the "don't be judgmental" mafia like in some way if there is critical writing/verbalizing that it is in some way "un-spiritual" (whatever that is or "mean spirited" or "hateful". Seriously there are plenty of people on the rainbow and unicorn/ "it's all good" brigade and I guess that's what has led to the idea that dancing to eye of the tiger while practicing asana or helicoptering to sites to practice or wearing certain sandals in lieu of someone's ability to "make it to there mat" seem to have become the norm. I am thrilled there is something like the Babarazzi asking us to think critically about this and other "yoga bleaching"

      • paul says:

        Hi erica, I agree that criticism shouldn't be disallowed, though from my perspective various "novelties" have been around for decades or centuries, but I disagree that addressing these hatefully is somehow a clever perspective, and not just more shaming in the name of "thoughtful" cruelty.

    • paul says:

      Thank you bobcat, though I disagree. The intent of the blog is to be hateful, not just at the surface, which is why its spokesperson claims aghori-ism as a spiritual warrant. Why should a person have to suffer through nastiness to find thoughtfulness, eloquence and insight? The perspective, the point they are trying to get across, needn't be done hatefully. I enjoy Colbert, but it is not lost on me that his being satiric doesn't mean he is wrong or right, but that he is trying to give those who agree a jolt of self-aggrandizement, while shaming those he attacks, as all satire does. Satire is passive-aggressive at its core, and if this is the only means by which a point can be made, it is a failure of eloquence, an inability to be understood except by those who are "in" on the joke.
      Could you expand on why it is ok to hate, even if we're all haters?

  8. Scott says:

    Never felt the a sense of hatred from the babarazzi blogs. More or less satire based how yoga has become excrutiatingly marketable.

    • paul says:

      To me, "marketable" is usually equivalent to "popular," and I think it is this popularity that is a larger part of some of the site's impetus, rather than the violations in advertizing the satire addresses, as in the call for "more caves" Haas' interview ends with.

  9. bobcat says:

    The Babarazzi in my opinion does not attack an individual but rather the commercial value that individual stands for and publicly promote for personal gain. Opinions attacking opinions can be viewed as hatred and can be brought to justictice by an opinion court through an opinion police who takes opinions seriously and personally. We laugh at jokes because deep down we identify with the messages. This identification can be viewed as self aggrandizement or humility depending on which side you are on. What shallow is the simplistic division between haters and non-haters. I am pretty sure that we are more similar than not. After all we are human going through the same human conditions even though we may express them differently.

    • paul says:

      Yes, their line is that because the person has put themselves out there as a teacher, they "deserve the star treatment," and further that because the public persona is not “real” anything can be said about it, that if a person advertises herself, this does not represent a real person, but are rather a conceptual identity requiring "the treatment." This reasoning is used to allow them to comment on the size (specifically the lack thereof) of a person's breasts, or a photo on facebook the people in it likely did not even put up themselves, saying it's all fair game because it is public. It is all premised on the idea that hate is good when the intent is noble, which is the site's own contention, not my opinion (and if hadn't been mentioned that the site is to get people to hate, I would have categorized it as "merely" mean-spirited and juvenile).

      I see what you mean though about us all being haters in some way; to whether I'm being descriptive or prescriptive (or worse!) I will have to wait for the opinion judge's letter, but when it arrives I'll let you know how I've fared :) And I definitely agree that making enemies and variations on otherness and us-vs-them, whether it is "real" vs "fake" or even "haters" vs a "me" (conceptual or otherwise), only causes more strife, and is an inherently abusive way to live.

      This is why I don't see the site as being productive or positive, let alone respecting a human condition we express differently, for while jokes and humor can bring introspection and humility I do not see that possible from the type of humor the site uses, namely name-calling, shaming, exaggeration, and being generally caustic if not outright nasty. I don't like Bill Mahr for the same reasons, despite being more often than not in agreement with his conclusions. His style of humor is to get people charged (in agreement or disagreement), not to “teach them to fish” or look at the commonality of our errors, but by the force of his logic crush whatever point he is arguing against. It is about anger and divisiveness, and by extension hateful (though as he doesn't claim any sort of “tradition” he is defending, I don't see a tight parallel between his style and the site's, nor have I heard him speak on the goodness of hate (though I wouldn't be surprised if he did)).

      Thank you again for sharing your thoughts, and for reading. :)

  10. Vision_Quest2 says:

    You can't say they don't pick up on everything and/or push your attack buttons. I am over much of all this. The political stuff they talk about went on 4 years ago, similar to now … it's just that both the yoga backlash and the heated American election caught up to us …
    http://thebabarazzi.com/2012/08/29/bringing-foot-

    There are plenty of comments on the article about the "Oasis" proper over at Huffington Post, itself; mostly negative/snarky/satirical …

    Could all this brouhaha just leave me to my non-commercial practice?

    Sell-outs exist in many spheres of commercialized practices …

    • paul says:

      Hello Vision Quest. Yes, I agree it is capable at being annoying. But it picks up only on what enters its island, which is why you haven't seen any "crituque" of a gaiam or mindbodygreen, whose influence are far stronger than a few teachers, let alone a handful of products. And it is definitely political, trying to push where the "power" is to be, as in any (sub-)culture, so what it is and how it attacks are to advance this agenda, and has nothing to do with any sort of practice.

      That the site is uses methods antithetical to the thing it is trying to promote/defend is part of why I wrote this article. "Sell-outs" presumes you know their ideals- and if you are concerned with avoiding those with hypocritical ideals, and the shenanigans they manufacture, just skip them (and so too their whatever false life you think they're leading), spend that time on your practice. :)

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  13. gphase says:

    I agree that they are indeed one dimensional, but so is Elephant with its suggestive Lululemon photostock and incessant self- or mutual promotion from certain teachers and activists. What I really miss is the middle; I don't think a balanced platform currently exist.

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