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Posts tagged ‘paganism in the media’

Pagan News: Kathy Lee Gifford’s “Pagan Comment”

I found this interesting. In this video clip, Kathy Lee Gifford, a (minor? I’d never heard of her) American television show host/actress makes a comment about “The pagans, the nasty, bad, pagans…”

I have to say, the choice of language is a little… sad. As a NeoPagan, and a proud one at that, I’m agreeing with Jason Pitzl-Waters and saying that, personally, I’m really not offended, and not just because her manner of “insulting” us is by calling us “nasty” and “bad”. If I was, say, four, then yes, perhaps I would be offended. But as it stands, I have to say that I disagree with (and find a little sad) the reaction of the general NeoPagan community, who are stating that Gifford’s comment, clearly not thought out, amounts to “hate speech”.

Why are we offended by the remarks of a woman who is clearly of sub-par intellect? Are we really that desperate to “prove” our persecution by secular society that we find it necessary to voice (over)reactionary, knee-jerk responses? Why are we wasting time trying to protest this stupidity, when there are plenty of real cases of discrimination occurring every day?

I agree that all discriminatory comments, no matter how stupid they are, are unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I’m going to take to court the next idiot who tells me that my religion isn’t real/valid. There’s such a thing as choosing your battles (I can think of better ones, the case of legal and political discrimination in the UK for a start), and I really don’t think these calls to petition and letter-write in order to try and “make” Gifford apologise to NeoPagans are the best use of our time and effort. We’d be better off fighting the more pressing issues of legal, political or religious discrimination, like that mentioned above, or trying to better our image in the public eye by promoting ourselves as rational human beings, rather than reactionary extremists who fly off the handle at the first signs of criticism (as is true of all extremist factions of any religion). Ring talkback radio shows and point out that perhaps Gifford’s television coaches should provide her with a better vocabulary, since she’s clearly not going to bother learning anything about what she’s talking about.

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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