Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dangers Real and Imagined, or, Still More Penicillin for Ye Burning Times

In my earlier post, I mentioned a Witch School member who complained about the dangerous Dominionists in her area.  Not long after this, the ever-vigilant Jack Faust pointed me in the direction of this quote from Witch School founder Ed Hubbard on the Evangelical/Fundamentalist threat:
At phase 3 it will be to thoroughly challenge Wicca and Paganism. It is at this phase I believe we are currently in. . . Phase 4 is the real pisser. They will find a way to make a Wiccan, a Pagan, a Witch a criminal class. Not unlike the Hippies of the 60's, The Blacks of the 70's and continues, Gays in the 80's and so forth. . . . But Wiccans will be a special case, it won't be enough to marginalize them and create ghettos for them. The authorities with the urging a growing evangelical movement and media war progress, they will seek the high ground. Wiccans will become traitors, treason, terrorists, and worse. All of these will be executable offenses and long term imprisonment. After all, The evangelicals don't want us to survive, and we are the object lesson that they need renewed. Be a Witch and you will die.
To quote gynecologist and spirit guide Marc Levinson, M.D. (deceased), this is a steaming pile of happy horseshit.  The prose is execrable: if the English language were Ed Hubbard's dog, he'd be sharing a prison cell with Michael Vick.  Like Glenn Beck and similar demagogues Hubbard appeals to fears, throwing about buzzwords and ill-defined threats so that people will circle their wagons about his cause.  It's an approach which polarizes audiences, drawing people apart rather than bringing them together.  And as with Beckorrhea, it can be used for nefarious purposes by people with ill intent.

In my experience to date (well over 20 years of same), every Pagan fraudster and exploitation-artist I have encountered has used "Christian persecution" as a shield.  In one case, a High Priest staying at a coven member's house molested her 12-year old daughter.  Said coven then asked mother and daughter to refrain from attending ceremonies because they made the Priest uncomfortable.  (He was apparently upset that they turned him in to the police).  When questioned on this, one coven representative intimated they were "fundamentalist plants" who had made the whole thing up to smear the organization.  Similar arguments were advanced by a New York Pagan who came under scrutiny for his "Great Rite" initiations:  those damn Christians just don't understand when you initiate a 13-year old goddess.  Another woman who took $7,000 to cure a woman's diabetes and who later served time for fraud explained that the only jury qualified to judge her would consist of initiated Third Degree HPs and HPSs: no Cowan and certainly no Christian could ever judge a real Witch. 

(I should add here that when a Correllian priest was charged with sex crimes the Correllians suspended and later expelled him.  I disagree with Hubbard's rhetoric and think it can easily be abused. I do not think he, or other Correllian leaders, have so abused it: in fact, the available evidence suggests their behavior in the face of a crisis was exemplary.  I've been calling on others to be temperate in their rhetoric and specific in their criticism, and it behooves me to follow my own advice).

More immediately dangerous is the silliness factor.  It's easy enough to dismiss this sort of thing as simple-minded hysteria: easy enough, in fact, to get in the habit of dismissal.  The Dominionists (and other right-wing Christian groups who might reject that label but share many of its goals) are notorious for gaining control of local institutions in a patchwork fashion.   One wild-eyed social worker seeking to save children from Satanic Indoctrination can ruin a Pagan family's life -- and it's easy for those incidents to get lost amidst the Endless River of Butthurt which flows through so much modern Pagan discourse.  It's equally easy to chide someone for choosing to remain in the Broom Closet by contrasting their justified trepidations with your own bravery in the face of imaginary threats.

There are real dangers out there which need to be taken seriously.  (And I'd note that the Dominionists are being taken seriously:  the Texas Observer, New Yorker and Daily Beast are hardly fringe publications).  In addressing those dangers, we need to combine forces with like-minded people who have as much or more to lose than we do.  Not all Christians are Dominionists.  If they were I wouldn't be posting this message, you wouldn't be reading it, and High Priest Sebaceous Smegma wouldn't be wandering around Wal-Mart amusing people.  Instead of complaining about the Holocaust to Come, why not join forces with those people - regardless of their theological persuasion - who support toleration and freedom of choice?