I had a discussion recently with a colleague. She was talking about the requirements by many historical sites and inns that ghosts hunters and paranormal investigators must sign documentation promising that they will not choose to cleanse, attempt to cross over, or to assist ghosts in any form in leaving the premises. Being a minister who does her best to assist any living or dead human who asks for help, I found that problematic and rather unethical.
I can understand the sites' points of view though. Many locations are businesses and exist to make money. If they have no ghosts, the paranormal teams and individuals will stop getting evidence. Many people will stop coming to their locations. A historical site often depends on the number of visitors and publicity to literally exist. Many locations get new visitors based solely on the possibility of seeing or making a contact with a ghost or a spirit. If the ghosts leave, the historical site suffers. If the site loses one of its biggest tourist attractions, it may have to close down. These sites may be attempting to preserve history by preserving their historical ghosts.
But are these sites actually violating the 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States with this requirement?
This anti-slavery and involuntary service amendment states the following: "Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
I know that some people are rolling their eyes or chuckling at this point, but I would invite you to actually think about this. By denying the ghosts assistance and the opportunity to transition in whatever form that works for them, are these sites not in fact enslaving certain ghosts? (We will get into the freedom of religion debate at another time even though it mirrors this same argument.) In the very least, are these sites not forcing certain ghosts to remain perpetually as their servants? I recognize this as a mote point with residual haunts. A residual haunt is more like a time loop.
No interaction or awareness seems possible or that we can detect and perceive at this time. Just a repeated and perpetual motion of action or event occurs. If the ghost involved has total free will, this also is a mote point in the slavery and involuntary servitude argument.
Some people believe that many ghosts and spirits can travel where they wish. They can follow investigators home. They can hitch rides in cars. These ghosts are free to go wherever they want and do what they choose within their individual abilities and limitations. This could include the possibility of the ghost finding someone on his or her own to help him or her to transition if he or she needed assistance.
But what of the ghosts who appear to be aware and interactive, but are unable to go where they want? These ghosts may be considered to be mentally or metaphysically challenged. They might be considered to be suffering from an unknown and not understood phobia that may be similar in ways to agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces, crowds or uncontrolled social conditions). What of the ghosts who seem to be attached to places or to objects almost in an obsessive/compulsive fashion? These ghosts may want to leave but they cannot or believe that they cannot. Do these ghosts have any rights? Should these ghosts be protected under the 13th Amendment?
Before you judge, consider this example: An African-American slave dies, but remains attached to a historical house for an unknown reason. She is aware of what is going on around her and even attempts to interact. She is so sad and visitors often get EVPs of a female crying out, "Help me!Ó" She would love to be freed to move on to a better destination but she simply does not know how. Because of the historical site's requirements of refusing to allow anyone to assist her, she is forced to do the current master of the property's bidding, which is to remain. She is being forced against her will to haunt the site for years to come and perhaps for all eternity without the possibility of ever gaining her freedom because she is denied the opportunity to be offered assistance. In essence, she remains a slave despite the 13th Amendment. If you were her great-great granddaughter, would you be OK with that?
Should anyone have a right to deny any human, living or dead, the right to be helped or to be freed, especially when it is requested?
Now, consider this: You find yourself in this exact same condition when you die. Do you think that you should have the right to transition? What if you cannot figure out how to do that on your own? Do you think that anyone should have the right to refuse to allow you to be assisted if you wanted and needed help? (Sigh.) Ah, but if this situation were merely that complicatedly simple!
Not everyone feels, believes or thinks the same about ghosts. Some people do not care about the dead or even believe in the existence of ghosts. Other people hold various levels of respect for ghosts and spirits. Certain individuals claim all spirits are actually demons and should be exorcised. A person may feel that he or she does not know enough about ghosts to make any informed decision. For yet others, it must remain only about the bottom line in order to preserve the site or business for future generations. Since those who are mediums, those who conduct cleanings, and/or those who act as exorcists vary so widely in their methods and in what they believe happens to the ghosts during their rituals, many owners or directors of sites might be confused as to what should be allowed to be done in permitting the ghosts to be assisted. Thus the answer apparently has become for many locations that it is simpler just to refuse to allow any assistance at all to be allowed to take place. But again, is that a violation of the 13th Amendment? So many additional questions flash into speculative focus when considering this topic. Should anyone have the right to attempt to force a ghost to leave against his or her wills? Is that not as bad as forcing them to stay? In some cases, the owners of the properties may actually be protecting the ghosts. Would some individuals who would try to cleans or exorcize the property actually be enslaving or harming the ghosts by acting against the ghosts' will to stay? In addition, should the owners or directors be forced to allow a ritual on their property for which they might not approve or believe in? What of the property owners' rights? I do not want to be one of those people who brings up a complicated issue just to muddy the waters.
Thus I will propose one possible solution. At least once a year, historical sites and haunted businesses should allow an Assistance Service for any ghosts on the premises. The owner or director of the site evaluates the methods to be used during the service to make sure the rights of the ghosts will be respected and that any ghost has the invitation to transition but no one will be forcing him or her to leave. Leaders of the Assistance Service should rotate yearly between various clergy and spiritual leaders to allow the possibility of whatever faith system the ghost or spirit may resonate with to be presented. In this way, at least once a year, any ghost present has the possible possibility of transitioning to a better place. This Assistance Service could be a very positive and even profitable compromise.
The historical site or business can get free advertising by publicizing the event as a type of memorial/transition service and inviting the public to attend. Perhaps past owners of the property or their descendents could be invited to attend to offer freedom to whoever may be there. Out of the respect for the dead, the site also might option to make it a private service. Then the site could put out a press release about it, after or before the fact, as positive publicity about how the site respects the dead. In addition, the reality is that even with the service, nothing may change. (Well, except for the perception of the site by people who actually care about the ethical treatment of ghosts and who do not view them as just casual entertainment and venues for profitable slavery.) Again, this Assistance Service should not affect residual haunts. And again, some ghosts may choose to stay. What is important is that those ghosts who desire it will have an opportunity to experience their freedom and to move on, if they so desire. These sites need to recognize this as a healthy thing because hurting ghosts can turn into angry ghosts who can attempt to harm people and potentially get the sites sued. The other thing is that when a ghost vacates a site, the speculation is that other ghosts may move in. These new ghosts may be even more active than the previous spirits, which could prove to be a moneymaker for the site. The expectation would be that an Assistance Service and the recognition of the 13th Amendment by paranormal locations would be a win-win situation for both the living and the dead.
So are ghosts actually protected under the 13th Amendment? I have no idea. That is a playful debate for lawyers. What I do know is that as this new science of Paranormalogy (a term that I have coined to describe the study of all aspects of the paranormal. This includes not only its scientific and metaphysical components, but the study of the paranormal's sociological, ethical, and cultural impact) emerges that more ethical, religious and legal considerations will continue to arise.