Nothing Funny Here: Tragic Story of Magic Trick

We try to find humor in everything we read. 

If we can’t find some aspect of the story sufficiently fit for our
cheap  exploitation, we just abandon the story or make something up

We have no pride. 

(In fact, our lack of integrity in  the face of a good joke or funny
twist of a phrase is something noted by one of our readers in an email
we received  this morning.  We’re not able to say “his” or “her” email
because the first name was one of those ambiguous  monikers that could
be either.  “Is theren’t anything you will not make fun of?” we were
asked. 

We thought about the question as we walked the short trip to our
late-sleeping neighbor’s mobile home to pick-up a  copy of The Ahmedabad News.  (We  stopped our subscription last year after they dropped the Funnies). 

There, on the third page, just beside the story about that other
thing with the shop they are going to either shut-down  or move or
something, we read a horrible story about a magician being sentenced to
hard-time for using magic tricks  to kill a 14-year-old.

[Note: an August 2001 report in the Times of  India
said the boy was 16-years-old, the method used was different and that
the boy fell-unconscious.  We do  not doubt the court considering the
case had all of the proper facts when it made its sentencing order
yesterday].

Gopal Mali is a “tantrik” or magician (presumably “black magic”)
from the Dasama temple near the slums of Nagarwada. The young victim
was the son of Laxman Maiji Solanki and brought to the magician to help
relieve the boy of fever.

The magician “Mali used black magic tricks by hitting the head of
the boy with wall and branding hot iron rod on his buttocks. [The]
dazed [victim] succumbed to grievous injuries four days later.”

Why should this be in a magic journal or newsletter?  This
isn’t the type of magic about which we obsess, is it?   

Well, here’s the part most bothersome and perhaps it will serve as an object lesson for us all.   

In the course of the court proceedings, the parents became convinced
the magician had not done anything untoward or harmful to their child.
They still accepted the magician’s claims he had the power to help.

In the midst of the trial, they attempted to retract their complaint
and became “hostile witnesses” to the government’s case against the
magician.

The wise judge refused to accept the retraction and convicted the
magician for “culpable homicide.” This resulted in a fine as well as
five-years of “rigorous imprisonment.” Hard-time in a remote prison in
India cannot be seen as anything but a very harsh sentence.

The prosecutor said the parents were not penalized for recanting.
The judge took mercy on them “keeping in mind their illiteracy and
poverty.”

We walk a fine line when we allow lay-people to believe we have
supernatural powers. Sadly, even if we do no harm – no physical harm –
we run the risk of so convincing the naive that even in the face…

We try to find humor in everything we read. 

If we can’t find some aspect of the story sufficiently fit for our
cheap  exploitation, we just abandon the story or make something up

We have no pride. 

(In fact, our lack of integrity in  the face of a good joke or funny
twist of a phrase is something noted by one of our readers in an email
we received  this morning.  We’re not able to say “his” or “her” email
because the first name was one of those ambiguous  monikers that could
be either.  “Is theren’t anything you will not make fun of?” we were
asked. 

We thought about the question as we walked the short trip to our
late-sleeping neighbor’s mobile home to pick-up a  copy of The Ahmedabad News.  (We  stopped our subscription last year after they dropped the Funnies). 

There, on the third page, just beside the story about that other
thing with the shop they are going to either shut-down  or move or
something, we read a horrible story about a magician being sentenced to
hard-time for using magic tricks  to kill a 14-year-old.

[Note: an August 2001 report in the Times of  India
said the boy was 16-years-old, the method used was different and that
the boy fell-unconscious.  We do  not doubt the court considering the
case had all of the proper facts when it made its sentencing order
yesterday].

Gopal Mali is a “tantrik” or magician (presumably “black magic”)
from the Dasama temple near the slums of Nagarwada. The young victim
was the son of Laxman Maiji Solanki and brought to the magician to help
relieve the boy of fever.

The magician “Mali used black magic tricks by hitting the head of
the boy with wall and branding hot iron rod on his buttocks. [The]
dazed [victim] succumbed to grievous injuries four days later.”

Why should this be in a magic journal or newsletter?  This
isn’t the type of magic about which we obsess, is it?   

Well, here’s the part most bothersome and perhaps it will serve as an object lesson for us all.   

In the course of the court proceedings, the parents became convinced
the magician had not done anything untoward or harmful to their child.
They still accepted the magician’s claims he had the power to help.

In the midst of the trial, they attempted to retract their complaint
and became “hostile witnesses” to the government’s case against the
magician.

The wise judge refused to accept the retraction and convicted the
magician for “culpable homicide.” This resulted in a fine as well as
five-years of “rigorous imprisonment.” Hard-time in a remote prison in
India cannot be seen as anything but a very harsh sentence.

The prosecutor said the parents were not penalized for recanting.
The judge took mercy on them “keeping in mind their illiteracy and
poverty.”

We walk a fine line when we allow lay-people to believe we have
supernatural powers. Sadly, even if we do no harm – no physical harm –
we run the risk of so convincing the naive that even in the face of
harsh reality, they will not let go of their hope and belief.

The story filled us with the same type of rage we imagine Houdini
felt when he watched charlatans use parlor tricks to convince naif to give up their savings. 

The crooks that learn our secrets use magic to offer the trusting
public a choice keeping their savings or perhaps contacting a deceased
loved-one or healing their child.

When we take our power over lay-audiences seriously, we recall that
power of persuasion carries a serious obligation to use our talents
properly.

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