This week, popular psychedelic website Chacruna.net decided it was time to open a frank and honest discussion about sexual misconduct in the psychedelic community.
Unfortunately, Chacruna felt that the best person to lead that discussion was known psychedelic abuser, Daniel Pinchbeck.
Pinchbeck’s abuses involved the use of substances as a “tool of seduction” (in his own words), and his victims include his own employees at Evolver.net.
It was Paul Austin of The Third Wave‘s refusal to cancel a event in which Pinchbeck was headlined as the sole guest, that catalysed a mass exodus of The Third Wave‘s team in protest.
It appears that the leaders of the psychedelic community are taking their sweet time to understand why people are consistently furious when abusers are handed a microphone while their victims are ignored.
Chacruna‘s interview with Pinchbeck was tame, at best. For an article with “Confronting” in the title, there was surprisingly little confrontation. Pinchbeck was given ample room to explain away his actions, and tell us why he should now be considered an authority on consent.
After voicing my concerns on Facebook, I was contacted by Bia Labate, the founder of Chacruna, who asked me to explain why I was personally attacking her. After making clear that there had been no such personal attack, and that I just wanted to understand why Pinchbeck was platformed, a lengthy discussion ensued.
I have promised not to share details of the conversation, but I will share that during the discussion I asked eight times for Bia to provide the reason Chacruna chose to platform Pinchbeck (rather than say, a non-abusive person), and got no answer. I asked Bia if Chacruna had contacted the victims of Pinchbeck’s abuse before publishing the interview, and I got no answer.
My questions were deflected by Bia directing me to Chacruna‘s series on Sex, Power and Psychedelics, and their newest resource “The Ayahuasca Community Guide for the Awareness of Sexual Abuse.” But that doesn’t explain why Chacruna are so keen to platform an abuser as part of their promotion of a pro-consent campaign.
Since my unsatisfactory discussion with Bia, I have asked publicly for Chacruna to answer these questions:
- Did you contact Pinchbeck’s victims before publishing this piece?
- Will you also interview someone who can provide a criticism of Pinchbeck within the same article?
- What was the justification for interviewing a known abuser rather than an expert on consent or sexuality?
This is the response I received, the following day:
So Chacruna did not even try to contact victims (and it’s not hard to find them). They are not interested in adding balance to their piece, only in publishing counter-pieces that they don’t have to spend time writing themselves. And again, they resist accountability by pointing to their other resources.
I don’t believe these are valid justifications for careless journalism.
There are certainly justifications for platforming abusers, and especially reformed abusers, in specific circumstances. If victims have agreed they are comfortable with it, it can be useful for reformed abusers to express themselves, show how they’ve changed, and give advice that may help prevent future abuses.
But it is not appropriate to give known abusers a pedestal on which to proselytise and promote themselves. It is not appropriate to leave them uncontested and held unaccountable. And it is not appropriate to present them as a trusted authority on consent, when they have shown a complete lack of understanding of it in the past.
This approach is disrespectful to victims of sexual abuse, and potentially empowers future abusers.
It seems that the first part of our discussion about sexual misconduct in the psychedelic community needs to be: “Why do we insist on repeatedly platforming sexual abusers?”