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Cult leader with 23 wives finally arrested

 
 
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 12:22 pm



Goel Ratzon, 60, was arrested last month.

Authorities charge that he lived in a compound with the 23 wives, having convinced them that he was omnipotent.

All the wives tattooed Ratzon's name and picture on their arms and the children's names are all derivatives of his name, according to the court papers.

Ratzon married his first wife in 1972, added a second wife in the early 1980s, and from 1991 added another 21 wives, according to the indictment.

He persuaded the women that he had the power to heal and curse, through which he gained "complete control of their lives, desires, thoughts, emotions and actions," the court papers say.

more here:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/02/14/israel.polygamy.charges/index.html?eref=igoogle_cnn
 
Region Philbis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 12:32 pm
@Merry Andrew,

(well, he does seem to have a way with the ladies, so he can't be all bad...)
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 12:33 pm
@Region Philbis,
D'ja notice he looks a lot like me, RP?
Region Philbis
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 12:34 pm
@Merry Andrew,

no, i was too busy noticing the similarity between
Goel Ratzon
and
Gustav Ratzenhofer...
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 12:36 pm
@Region Philbis,
Say, yeah. Even the names... You don't suppose...? Nah. Must be coincidence.



But where the heck IS Gus? Haven't seen him around lately.
Region Philbis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 12:38 pm
@Merry Andrew,

Follow him, maybe that'll draw him away from the swamp for a few...
0 Replies
 
BlaiseDaley
 
  3  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 01:12 pm
I don't know about the whole omnipotent thing but with 59 kids there's some kind of potency going on.

0 Replies
 
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 01:18 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Dumb question, but was the guy doing all this with his own money or was this costing the state anything?
Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 01:27 pm
@gungasnake,
gungasnake wrote:

Dumb question, but was the guy doing all this with his own money or was this costing the state anything?


Last two paragraphs in the story read:

Quote:
Beyond the mental and physical control Ratzon had over his wives, he effectively controlled all of their finances, the indictment says. The women deposited major chunks of their social security payments and salaries into the family's account, paid for all of his living expenses and bought him all his property and anything he demanded, authorities charge.

Ratzon's cult has been known to the authorities for about 10 years, they said, but it was only about six months ago they succeeded in convincing one of the women to file a complaint. That brought about his arrest last month.


So it sounds like it didn't cost the state anything more than the state was already paying out to the women, but Ratzon pocketed the money.
0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 01:57 pm
The comments underneath the story are pretty funny too!
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 02:42 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Poor bloody kids.
What ATTRACTS people to this crap?
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 02:47 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:
What ATTRACTS people to this crap?


This months National Geographic has a pretty good piece from a reporter who was allowed into the FLDS cult for a bit. It helps to explain the attraction.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 04:11 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
What ATTRACTS people to this crap?


The charismatic founder is a staple in cults. You don't often find cults without a strong central leader who is charismatic to the followers. So the easiest way to answer that is: the founder/leader. They are usually very good manipulators and set out to attract followers. You don't find a Life of Brian type who becomes an accidental cult leader very often, they seek it out and find weak people to manipulate.

But you probably know that, and are wondering what attracts those people to these leaders and for that I can only say it takes all sorts and that they prey on all sorts of needs and weaknesses ranging from a needing sense of purpose to just being dumb as rocks to get their followings.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 04:25 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I thought a lot of cult followers were actually bright?

I guess that's what I don't get.

If you are born into such a thing, they get to brainwash you and that's obviously way hard to break.

But willingly following such a figure?

I mean, I get that we like charismatic leaders and such, and we are all capable of consistent dumbness, but following such a creep out into the boonies, and subjecting your KIDS to them?


Is there any good research on what makes the difference between ordinary human looniness and doing that?

msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 05:01 pm
@Merry Andrew,
Sounds rather like an episode of Big Love to me!
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 05:10 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
I thought a lot of cult followers were actually bright?


Some are dumb some aren't, what I was trying to say is that it's a range that encompasses a lot of reasons.

Quote:
I mean, I get that we like charismatic leaders and such, and we are all capable of consistent dumbness, but following such a creep out into the boonies, and subjecting your KIDS to them?


I think it creeps up little by little while using lots of censorship, control and manipulation along the way to eliminate dissent and foster a sterile environment of approved thought with heavy peer pressure.

The reasons they may join may be completely separate from the reasons they tolerate such a thing in other words. For example, my dad joined a cult because he was in the middle of a counter-culture movement. He was a bare-footed surfer hippy and they appealed to his desire to be part of something and to "drop out" of popular culture. These kinds of desires I see expressed by normal people all the time, who just sometimes want to "drop off the grid" and to whom a notion like "stop the world, I want to get off" might deeply resonate.

And these cults aren't pure evil, they often have certain values that they offer their members that they can't get elsewhere. For example, as pernicious as the cult I grew up in was, they are legitimately much nicer people than the outside (to those inside) world. They share everything and they are just much much nicer than average. Things like physical confrontations were practically unheard of compared to the rough and tumble real world and a member could fly across the world to a commune of people they had never met and would legitimately feel at home. Not "feel at home" in the meaning of they felt treated with hospitality but legitimately feel at home. They called themselves a "family" because they acted like one.

So it should be clear that this kind of emotional support has legitimate human allure but it's wholly separate from what makes them able to tolerate the excesses of their cults. And here are some thoughts on that. First of all, these groups tend to heavily engage in censorship, they shun people who do not drink the cool aid and avoid "doubters" and "temptations". They demonize their apostates (e.g. in the cult I grew up in they were called "backsliders") and use peer pressure to make people conform ("you aren't being revolutionary enough"). So in the cult I am referencing , for example, those who expressed doubt were punished or ostracized (ultimately excommunicated, which is why I was kicked out for example). Sometimes a doubter was submitted to public ridicule (and I mean public as in writing a book about them and publishing it) and groupthink is just very heavily fostered.

Want a great example? In this particular cult's early days they had a rule that you had to go "two by two", as in never be alone. Several justifications were given for this centered around safety and protection but one of the stated reasons for this was to avoid situations of individual "weakness" and "doubt". Or put differently not a moment to think for yourself and incessant peer pressure.

And the cult wasn't doing their freaky **** like prostitution, child abuse and all back then. In fact they had strict rules against sex initially. That kind of stuff tends to gradually build up as the leader's control over the followers does. So in the cult I grew up in there were multiple inflection points where the cult dramatically changed, and at some of those points they really did lose members and "purge" the dissent.

And at some point, it's legitimately hard to leave. My dad joined right out of high school in the 60's, he has no trade and hasn't ever had a real job. I don't think he could actually survive outside the cult very well right now. That goes a long way towards keeping people in. I wasn't allowed to go to school, I wasn't allowed to read books or watch unscreened movies. This was an attempt to prevent me from hearing contrary points of view and developing independence from the cult.


The tl;dr (too long; didn't read) version is:

People are attracted to cults for a variety of reasons, mostly centered around a sense of belonging and emotional support. But these people usually put up with craziness because of how cults operate which is to create perfect microcosms of peer pressure.

Some are attracted for the perks but don't swallow the crazy, others slowly warm up to the crazy and drink the cool aid.

Quote:
Is there any good research on what makes the difference between ordinary human looniness and doing that?


Not that I know of. The body of research about cults is something I find very underwhelming and too dominated by a few self-proclaimed cult experts and "deprogrammers" that the media keeps going to for quotes.

And quite frankly, I think very little separates them other than circumstance, I think situational factors far overwhelm any dispositional ones. My uncle was a barefoot hippy who was tempted just like my dad was. He didn't join, though he was tempted, and their paths took very different routes and I don't think it had too much to do with how different they both inherently are so much as situational happenstance.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 05:28 pm
@gungasnake,
Sheesh gunga--what a wet blanket you are. Money, money, money.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 06:05 pm
@dlowan,
I came very close to being recruited into one, and so while I WASN'T, I can see how it happens for some.

For this one, I had just moved someplace new and didn't know anyone except for my husband, who was very busy with his own work (which had its own workplace culture that wasn't very social, especially outside of work, so it didn't extend to me really at all). The cult found a couple that were a good match for us -- from the Midwest, she was fluent in ASL (an interpreter), both hearing (so could engage with E.G. as well), and they tried their damndest to reel us in. They did manage to get us interested enough to go to dinner, and the attention and praise they heaped on us was nice for about half an hour, then started to creep us out. They really tried to close the sale at the end of dinner -- time and place for next meeting -- but E.G. and I were sending each other "no way in hell" glances and successfully demurred. Then they called and left about 45 (unanswered) messages before they got the picture (that we weren't interested in seeing them again).

If we had been just a little less ornery or a little more needy, they would've totally scored. And I know a lot of people they were successful with, including bright ones -- social isolation was the main thing they targeted.
Ionus
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 07:17 pm
Does anyone know of a woman talking a lot of men into being her husbands ?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 07:29 pm
@Ionus,
Polyandry is certainly much more rare than polygyny, but Tibetan fraternal polyandry comes to mind as an example.
 

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