one girl’s perspective on life, neopaganism, veganism, politics, books, films, and… stuff.

Posts tagged ‘media’

NeoPagans in the (Australian) Media

As I was reading the response of Ms. Demarco to Jason’s critique of ‘The One’, I thought to myself: ‘why is it that almost all the visible NeoPagans (i.e. those who interact with the media) come across as poorly educated, self-conscious and generally rather petty?’ I have nothing against these people personally, I just resent that the people who shove themselves into the media spotlight generally make the world regard NeoPagans, on the whole, as ill-informed, irrational beings.

I mean, in Australia we have Fiona Horne (who doesn’t really seem to grasp that Wicca is a polytheistic religion) and, apparently almost as bad, Stacey DeMarco (who thinks that “There were more people killed in the inquisitions than the holocaust” – for a good rebuttal, see The Wild Hunt Blog). I’m sure they’re lovely people. But personally, I would rather be represented by someone who has at least a basic understanding of either the theology/orthodoxy/orthopraxy (all 3 would be nice) of the religion they claim to represent, or any understanding of historic fact. Both would be fantastic, but I think that’s naught but a pipe dream, at present.

So, these two are prominent ‘representatives’ in the Australian media; the situation in the U.S. is muchthe same (with the like of Grimmassi, Ravenwolf, et all). Basically, all over the world, NeoPagans are being accounted for, in the popular media, by people we (or, at least, those of us with any idea what we’re doing) would really rather not be our spokespeople. From these reflections, I came up with these possible reasons/conclusions:

1) This is quite possibly actually representative of the NeoPagan community (or, at least, the majority of them). Spend enough time online, and you soon come to realise that the ‘revolution of DIY religion and eclecticism’ has had significant impact, in that few NeoPagans now seem to bother learning anything about their religion, their history, or even what the term they use to ‘define’ themselves actually means. This is the frightening conclusion.

2) Those people who could accurately – and intelligently – represent NeoPaganism are the ones who don’t feel the need to throw themselves into the media spotlight; the ones who don’t care for fame and glory, they care only for their lives and their beliefs. I have to admit, I fall into this category (minus being an intelligent representative) – I resent that I’m being characterised in the public mind as another idiot, but at the same time, if I really want to change this, I should step forth and represent myself. Which I do, but only on a personal scale.

3) Therefore, it will be a self-perpetuating problem that those NeoPagans who are willing and eager to thrust themselves into the public view will naturally be the ones who are perhaps less… intense? serious? educated? about their religion. Unless we, as a community, decide amongst ourselves that we should select our own spokespeople, based on their knowledge and actual dedication, the attention-seeking will always volunteer themselves. Though even a community-promoted spokesperson is still likely to be the one with the greatest ego.

Representing ourselves – and thus, our religion – as intelligent human beings on an individual level is a grand achievement in and of itself. But it would still be nice if we could also achieve this on the macrocosmic scale. I’m not saying everyone has to be an academic, not at all. But having some idea of the basic tenets and history of your, you know, religion might be nice if you insist on promoting yourself to the world. Just something to consider.

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In The News: “Mother Calls Self ‘White Nationalist’.”

Disclaimer: This post is largely a critique of the circumstantial nature of the “evidence” presented in this article, representative of the media’s general attack on non-maintstream beliefs and religious practices. If the woman is a Neo-Nazi (which is entirely possible), or inciting racial violence or hatred, I completely disagree with her principles. However, the clear flaws in the article show that we need to consider that we are not being given the full picture.

So, while browsing around on Witchvox, I noticed an interesting sounding article in the news sidebar: “Mother Calls Self ‘White Nationalist’.” I clicked, I read the original article, and I have a few issues I’d like to take up with the reporting.

1. The mother calls herself a “white nationalist”, but the news article infers that this means she is a Neo-Nazi, and is propogating hatred towards other races. In fact, the term “white nationalist” just refers to someone who believes that the human races (Caucasoid, Negroid, Mongoloid, etc) are distinct, and should remain as separate nations. There are frequently connotations of “white supremacy” attached to it (and, indeed, the beliefs frequently go hand in hand), but a white nationalist does not necessarily promote Neo-Nazism or racial violence, as the article suggests. The woman in question states that “I am tolerant of all people”, and then goes on to denounce her (ex?)husband as a bigot.

2. The interesting, and highly significant, mention of Odinism in the article is somewhat defamatory. The woman’s statement that “I’m just proud of who I am. My heritage comes from Northern Europe. I believe in evolution and science… I should never be ashamed of who I am and what I am” is a common theme in traditional/reconstructionist Pagan religions. However, the article seems to be simultaneously, and quite possibly erroneously, try to link racial pride with Neo-Nazism, and Odinism with Neo-Nazism.

3. The contentious issue of the swastika. Ok, well the article basically makes out that the swastika is only ever used in a Nazi context. Wrong. Commonly used in Hinduism, Buddhism, and… oh, yes. Odinism/Scandinavian traditional religions.

So, when you take into account that: a) this woman claims that she is merely proud of her racial heritage, b) in some respects explores this pride through her religion, Odinism, and c) her child was ‘wearing’ a symbol commonly found in the above religion… it seems entirely likely that this article is based on misunderstandings and fears of what should be personal (and private) beliefs. In this respect, I agree with the woman’s statement that “I think if this was a Star of David drawn on her arm, this wouldn’t be an issue. Or a cross…” And I think it’s a little depressing that the American Department of Child Protective Services is chasing down empty cases like this, where there is no non-circumstantial evidence (well, there’s not really any evidence), than dealing with the real issues out there.

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