Friday, April 17, 2009


The best laundromat around here is in Cut Bank, thirty miles away. The owners are there all the time and their machines are relatively new. Also, it is close enough to Browning that I sometimes run into friends. The other two relatively close laundromats are in Shelby and in Conrad. Both are deteriorating. When I bought this house, it had a washing machine, but that broke down within weeks. The Valier laundromat was replaced by more junk food space for the gas station because “laundromats are just too much work.”

This situation is the result of economic pressure and the changing face of commerce. But the complication is that I can’t use the Cut Bank laundromat because of a stalker. He’s a “Christian” who insists he’s converting me. He knows that I’m an ordained minister, but that doesn’t stop him. At one time he was a teacher but now he wanders the community living off of social services and, I presume, what I’m told is a wealthy father. His mother is somehow missing. He’s close to fifty. I’ve ignored him, yelled at him, asked the management to forbid him (they think he’s funny), and finally just took my business elsewhere.

I know insanity when I see it. Here are official-type descriptions of this miserable disorder:

“Stalking is a crime of obsession, and is often associated with different types of psychopathology, often an axis II, Cluster B personality disorder [antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, and histrionic] (Mullen 1999).

“Depending on the stalker, behavior may range from overtly aggressive threats and actions, to repeated phone calls, letters or approaches. This behavior may go on for years, causing the victim to exist in a constant state of stress and fear. The violent aspects of stalking behavior often escalate over time, and in extreme cases can end in murder (Douglas 1998).”

This laundromat stalker watches for my pickup at the laundromat and if he sees it, grabs a handful of clean clothes to wash for an excuse. In other words, he’s trying to present a respectable front. I think he has a fantasy that he and I are somehow equals (because I taught here) and that confronting me all the time is a relationship.

In the last few days I made the mistake of taking another stalker seriously, this one also connected to religion. That seems to be part of the pattern. But this one is a little different. Here’s a formal description:

“The 2002 National Victim Association Academy defines an additional form of stalking: The Vengeance/Terrorist stalker. Both the Vengeance stalker and Terrorist stalker (the latter sometimes called the political stalker) do not, in contrast with some of the aforementioned types of stalkers, seek a personal relationship with their victims but rather force them to emit a certain response favourable to the stalker. While the vengeance stalker's motive is "to get even" with the other person whom he/she perceives has done some wrong to them (i.e, an employee who believes is fired without justification from their job by their superior), the political stalker intends to accomplish a political agenda, also using threats and intimidation to force his/her target to refrain and/or become involved in some particular activity, regardless of the victim’s consent.[9]

“Many stalkers fit categories with paranoia disorders. Intimacy-seeking stalkers often have delusional disorders involving erotomanic delusions. With rejected stalkers, the continual clinging to a relationship of an inadequate or dependent person couples with the entitlement of the narcissistic personality, and the persistent jealousy of the paranoid personality. In contrast, resentful stalkers demonstrate an almost “pure culture of persecution,” with delusional disorders of the paranoid type, paranoid personalities, and paranoid schizophrenia.[8]”

The internet has much expanded the capacity of delusional people to make nuisances of themselves while keeping their identities secret. In this way James Mackay was able to burrow into the Native American literature community enough to present papers that established him to the casual eye as someone who knew about the discipline, though he is not American and lives on Cyprus. With this as cover, he was able to dupe Wikipedia into letting him take charge of the category under the pseudonym of “VizJim.” (The subject of his paper was Gerald Vizenor, a major academic expert on NA lit. I’ve never contacted Vizenor.) Then he began to “research” and stigmatize NA writers, particularly ones with ties to the Gay community such as Tim Barrus and Greg Sarris and those without full-blood credentials. (Probably more than half the people considered NA writers.) He seems to feel that these characteristics justify his attacks and there are enough people -- mostly young urban female mixed bloods -- who respond to that to encourage him.

The Native American literature community was “hot” for a while in the Eighties and earlier, enough to justify the concept of an NA renaissance of writers. Sales never really took off in the way expected by the soup companies who owned the publishers and demanded ten percent returns on their investment. By now the genre has dwindled and transformed into local and theoretical works that don’t present such a prestigious status.

The irony of James Mackay’s stalking is that he’s not even American and though he’s getting a correspondence course degree from England, he’s misrepresenting his so-called work. Wikipedia is so unknown by most Indian scholars that it has not attracted the “citizen corrections” that is the cornerstone of its claim to accuracy. The whole thing is a hall of mirrors.

The worst side of these stalking obsessions is that they spread from one victim to others. Therefore, everyone who opposes the obsession with clergy misconduct becomes a new object of stalking. Even Barrus’ children and students become victims. Since the students are already struggling with HIV, his stalker finds easy targets.

Law enforcement is usually baffled by stalkers until they actually show up at a door waving a gun or, like Timothy McVeigh, set off a giant explosion. For many years they were unable to find the anthrax culprit or the Unabomber, though their stalking was deadly. In a time when we are being stalked by terrorists and pirates, we begin to be paranoid ourselves and overreact. Student shooters and mail room employees who go “postal” stir the pot. Publicity about such events may be prompting those on the edge to go into action. What we need is a cultural shift away from paranoia that thrives on suspicion about our politics, our religions and our sex-lives. I hope it comes soon.


Anonymous said...

I doubt very much that wikipedia is unknown by anyone...

prairie mary said...

This is an excellent example of how people think that everyone is "like them." There are PLENTY of people who have never operated a computer and who have only a dim idea of what an Internet might be. Wikipedia is only useful and preoccupying to a certain kind of keyboard freak and even then is likely to be seen inaccurately as equivalent to a vetted and disciplined traditional encyclopedia instead of the unreliable ego-massager it is.

Prairie Mary

Anonymous said...

actually, the comment is based on how many people (Native and non-Native) know and use Wikipedia, and offers no evaluation of Wikipedia's veracity. Wikipedia has little if any personal appeal for me, so I wouldn't say I'm equating myself to anyone else.

prairie mary said...

The veracity issue is what the post was about.

The "who knows wikipedia" issue is what your comment raises. I'd be surprised if 1% of the US population has ever heard of Wikipedia.

Prairie Mary