Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's BAAAACK: the Return of Z Budapest

After inserting herself into the fray over trans inclusion at Pantheacon and destroying decades of good will with a few ill-chosen words, you would think that Z Budapest would, like the common lab rat and flatworm, have learned to avoid negative stimuli. Alas, Ms. Budapest lacks even a planarium's instinct for self-preservation.

Her latest publicity stunt involves the chant "We All Come from the Goddess."  Z wrote the lyrics for this well-known Wiccan song, and wishes (quite rightly) to stop people from recording the song for profit without compensating her or without even asking her permission.   This is a reasonable request, and one which most Pagan authors and artists, yrs. truly included, would be happy to support.  There's definitely a sense of entitlement among many Pagans, an idea that "information wants to be free" -- by which they invariably mean someone else's information. No matter how anyone feels about Z's politics, Z's religion or Z's personality, she has the right to protect her copyrighted material.  Recording her work without getting her permission is bad form and I have no problem with Z calling out people who do it..

But it doesn't stop there:
I would like you to help me spread the words that Singing "We all come from the Goddess" should NOT BE rewritten. It is my intellectual property. it is NOt a folk song, which by the way is the fate of many composers whose songs are stolen. You steal my song from now will have consequences. You put men into the song, like God,a hex will be activated...  
"My heart belongs
to Goddess..."
Seriously? A hex? A HEX???? At this point Z has to be trying to destroy her reputation.  She took a completely reasonable request and managed to turn it into arm-waving pure comedy gold. I just keep waiting for threats to break our backs and make us humble old country way. It's like watching Bette Davis as Baby Jane Budapest keeping her transgendered sister prisoner in an upstairs bedroom. Or maybe Carol Burnett's version of Gloria Swanson's Norma Desmond after a week-long binge on bath salts and Listerine.   It's one part chilling, two parts amusing and fifty parts pathetic.

Releasing a creative work into the world is rather like sending off a child: it takes on a life of its own outside your control.  (Just ask J.K. Rowling). Kathy asked what I would do if I discovered people were doing rituals from my books at public festivals without my permission and without crediting me.  I would hope that the people involved approached the lwa with reverence and respect and that the attendees had a positive and productive spiritual experience.  I would also hope that someone would recognize the source and ask why the ritual organizers chose to plagiarize their material - especially when I would have happily encouraged them to use my book as a source and would be proud that my work was useful to sincere seekers.  But I also realize that there's very little I can do if that doesn't happen. And threatening to sic the lwa on people who will not respect mah authoritah just makes me look like a buffoon.

Z, if you're reading this I urge you to consider the wisdom of that great thinker Sassy Gay Friend. Look  at your life: look at your choices. Thanks largely to your ranting, there will be no more public "genetic women with bleeding uteri only" rituals on the Pantheacon calendar. Thanks to you, many Pagans have become aware of trans issues and of the anti-trans bigotry which infects so much second wave feminist thought. And thanks to you, "womyn-born-womyn" space is now increasingly being identified with bigotry and hate rather than safety. You may want to choose your battles more carefully before you come charging in with both guns blazing: at the very least, you may want to stop aiming at your feet.