Don’t Judge. No, Really, Don’t.

I was not going to write about this – after all, there’s enough garbage out there.  But as you probably have heard, Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga, has been sued by a former student, Sarah Baughn, alleging sexual harassment.  The key word there is “alleging”.   Nothing has been proved – or disproved.

But then in my email, I got this post from a blog I follow.  Go ahead and read it – you’ll notice that many of the comments are mine.  I hate that to make my point, more people are going to read this wrongheaded post from someone whose writing and thoughts I normally admire.  Still, there is a point to be made.

Anyone who lives in the United States, or knows the basics of our justice system, knows that it relies upon the precept that you are innocent until proved guilty.   As said best by Maimonides:  “It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death.”  And just because the accuser is female, and I am female, does not mean that her accusations are not subject to the same rules.  If you believe that, you are no better than those who would give a man’s opinion more weight simply because he is a man.

So, folks, let’s wait and see.  lady-justice Justice may be blindfolded, but she is also female, armed with a sword as well as her scales.  As flawed as the system is, I prefer to  make my decision on the issue after it’s been tried, rather than based on one lawsuit, various rumors, and press coverage.  Wouldn’t you want that to be true for you?

As far as my personal Bikram practice goes, as my friend A.R.P.  says:   “Whatever happens, you practice for the practice, not the guru.”  See you in class!

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kerryalina
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 17:32:12

    Once again, I’d like to make clear that I don’t believe we substantially disagree on anything except our personal opinion of Bikram Choudhury’s personality. Not once – in my post or in my replies to your comments – did I say he was guilty of the acts described in this lawsuit. I am not advocating a witchhunt against him. I used the lawsuit as a launching pad for a discussion that I believe is important – namely, acknowledging the fact that many women do not find Teacher Training to be a safe environment, and that many people find his language to be offensive and disrespectful to women. I am very aware that you found nothing untoward in his behaviour during your time at Teacher Training, and I am happy for that. But as I mentioned already, your experience is not everyone’s experience.

    Luckily, neither of us is associated with the justice system and so we are free to form our own opinions. You may have used your own experiences to form the assumption that he is an exemplary human being. I, however, have drawn on my own knowledge to conclude that his behaviour needs to change. This is the only point in this matter upon which we differ, and I believe we can do so from a standpoint of mutual respect.


    • travelswithslippers
      Mar 24, 2013 @ 17:37:36

      Yes, I hear you. My last comment was a response to Paula, btw. Still, I am not clear if your feelings about Bikram are based on meeting him or what you have heard. If the latter, we do disagree, as I don’t think that is the best way to make a judgement.
      P.S. I never said he was “exemplary”, simply that my experiences with him have been positive.


      • kerryalina
        Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:31:46

        I believe that Bikram Choudhury’s attitude towards women is evident in interviews that he’s freely given, as well as publically available examples of the language used in class. I don’t think that anyone disputes that he uses this language – where we differ is in the weight we attribute to it, and our assumptions of the mindset behind it. While others may see it as all in good fun, I personally don’t believe that anyone acting and speaking in this way can genuinely respect women.

        However, that the environment at Teacher Training can range from completely positive to uncomfortable/casual sexism to horrific harassment has been mentioned many times during conversations I’ve had with attendees whom I know and trust – both in person and online. This is not personal opinion. This is from first-hand experiences of those who have attended.

        I have not met him in person, but I don’t believe that doing so would prove anything. Even if, like you, my experiences were overwhelmingly positive, this would not prove that other people’s experiences were therefore also positive. I don’t deny that he can be charming and charismatic when he wants to be 🙂

      • travelswithslippers
        Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:40:14

        Fair enough. But this lawsuit is specifically about Ms. Baughn’s allegations, and I will not make any assumptions about those until we have more information. Also, though I am not a lawyer, I think much of what you cite will not be given weight in her case. Should it? No. If other women have had chargeable experiences, in their opinion, they have every right to pursue them. And if he is proved guilty, he deserves the full consequences.

      • kerryalina
        Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:54:10

        Again – the lawsuit was only tangentially related to my original post. I am not trying to support Ms Baugh’s case since, like you, I am not a lawyer. I have not mentioned the lawsuit at all in these comments, and I apologise if my point has not been made clear.

        I am not interested in legal recourses, appropriate punishments, or just consequences. All I want is a Bikram Yoga HQ where all students and trainees feel safe. This is not something we currently have. I believe this needs to change. That is the only point I am trying to make.

      • travelswithslippers
        Mar 24, 2013 @ 18:56:14

        Well, and really, the only point I have been making is that you are making assumptions that don’t come from your personal experience. I am trying not to do that, though of course personal experiences color everything we do.

    • travelswithslippers
      Mar 24, 2013 @ 17:39:05

      PPS – I never said I went to TT. I have not.


  2. purpleyoga
    May 18, 2013 @ 14:18:35

    He has another two lawsuits against him. Don’t you get it!


    • travelswithslippers
      May 18, 2013 @ 14:35:38

      Yes, I get it. You don’t.

      It is still as I said. He has suits against him. If they are upheld, he should be subject to the full consequences of the law. Until the cases are heard, who are you or I to judge?


  3. Trackback: Why I Will Still Practice Bikram Yoga | Travels With Slippers, or The Life of A Single Woman Who Prefers It That Way

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: