–or why do we still care what Fox News Network thinks?
Alright, unless you have been living completely under a rock, or perhaps aren’t in the United States, you know that this happened. I know about it. I can’t not know about it because every American pagan seems to have his or her panties in a frenzied twist over the matter. And I have one major question for all of them: why?
Fox News has always been the breeding ground for big-mouthed, closed-minded, conservative blow-hards. They don’t even try to be anything but that. What about their programming makes any sane person think that they are gearing themselves to the actual everyday man? Nothing. So I can’t fathom why everyone is so up in arms about some previously aforementioned conservative blow-hard spouting their mouth off about things they don’t understand and quite frankly, don’t want to understand.
The argument has been made to me when I point out that I just don’t actually care what was said on Fox News that we, as pagans, need to take a stand. Take a stand for what exactly? We can’t rally behind a single leader, refuse to agree on even the simplest of damn things, and look to most of the outside world like a bunch of disorganized hippies who have disassociation issues (seeing faeries and claiming publicly to have a pet dragon that no one else can see but it is not an imaginary friend and you are by the way 40 years old). If you claim to not care what other pagans think of your choices, after all we are supposed to just accept differences of opinion as valid among pagans, or care what Christians or the average Joe thinks of you and your out-there beliefs to the regular person … why does what someone says on Fox News… which is just their opinion… matter?
Honestly, it doesn’t. If there is one thing I have learned in 21 years of paganism it is that pagans like to have a cause to rally behind as long as that cause doesn’t actually require them to do any work. Prove me wrong on a grand scale. I dare you. This is an open challenge, I want links, facts and figures. If I’m wrong, prove it.
In fact, the only intelligent thing that has been done at all was Circle Sanctuary’s Lady Liberty League making an open official statement about the issue.
I can understand taking a stand when that stand involves doing something that actually has the chance of being heard. But all I’m hearing and seeing are pagans complaining to other pagans and very few are actually doing anything noteworthy. The statement by the Lady Liberty League, that has more clout than a link on Facebook to an app that collects virtual signatures that go no where. There are some ways that petitions work in the real world. Not a one of them exists on a social media network.
As the former President and still Founder of the Northeast Wisconsin Pagan Network, I am not unaccustomed to standing up for pagan rights and beliefs. We had quite a nightmare about six years ago surrounding a Christmas display on government property and the subsequent pentacle wreath that also got added when Green Bay’s mayor opened it to all faiths. I deflected a great deal of garbage from pagans and non pagans (or pagan friendly for that matter) alike. Phone calls, emails, hourly phone calls during business hours with Selena Fox to try to fix things. There were numerous other things behind the scenes that non-board members never saw. If you’ve never had to deflect media looking for a sensationalist story, you have no idea what it means to actually be in the thick of it. You learn to pick your battles.
So what should we do? That’s simple. Start local. Have a, and this is important, public pagan organization in your area that doesn’t hide from those who want to know more. Educate yourself on many different things and learn to speak eloquently and intelligently so that when the close-minded or the ignorant or god-help-you the media come to you with questions or accusations, you can intelligently make a proper stand. We do nothing for our community when we constantly hide in the shadows and keep a great deal of our practices secret. When someone already doesn’t understand a subculture, secrets make it seem like something untoward or illegal is happening.
That’s step one, stop being so closeted and secretive. NEWPaN was rather public. We weren’t on television and we didn’t take out ads in the paper, but we certainly were not cloistered away in a shroud of secrecy. The local university regularly sends their cultural and religious studies students to our organization for interviews on our ways and beliefs. We’ve held open, public education days where topics were presented. We met in public and regularly so people knew where to find us. Does the greater Green Bay area accept us for what we are? Not everyone. But we have a good collection of non-pagan businesses, educators, a couple Christian chruches and public service workers that have and will back us up when push comes to shove.
It’s all about starting local. If your local community (not pagan, just human) doesn’t support you, then you have no footing on a large regional, national or even global scale. Starting at a local level has far more impact than taking on a big corporation such as Fox News (that is geared toward closed-minded conservatives) ever will. One does not become President of the United States by coming out of complete obscurity as a Joe on the Street and running for national office. No, you get somewhere by starting small and using those building blocks to fortify your stance and reputation before taking on bigger fish. It’s basic politics and this, unfortunately, is a matter of politics.
In the same vein, I think what people are forgetting with this petition they are rallying behind to try to somehow force Fox News to apologize, is that Fox News is a corporation. It is a business. There are certain federal laws they must abide by and not a single of them regulates the opinions of their staff. You are petitioning a business that makes more money in a month than the collective average pagans in the US make in a year. They don’t care what we think. And since when is ignorance and a big mouth legitimately punishable by shaming or bullying? I certainly didn’t demand an apology from the air-head pagan that stood up in the Green Bay City Council meeting I was at to defend the pentacle wreath, who claimed she was speaking on behalf of all pagans in the greater Green Bay area. And perhaps I should have, considering NEWPaN was a far more public face of paganism locally than this woman no one in our entire organization recognized.
I’ve spoken time and again about the pagan persecution complex and how it is a scourge on paganism. I’m not restating it in detail again. But just as that random woman at the council meeting wasn’t speaking for every pagan in Brown County, you all and your Facebook petitions do not speak for all of paganism either and most of the educated among us are just sitting back going, “Is this new bit of drama over yet?”
How can we ever expect to have a conglomerate such as Fox News take us seriously when we get into pissy little arguments over whether or not it is spelled ‘Magic’ or ‘Magick’ and how ancient Wicca is and how no pagan can ever speak on behalf of all pagans? Guys, I, as a pagan of 21 years, have great difficultly taking us seriously sometimes. Step out of your bubble for a second and try to view your behavior by the outside world.
And regardless, there is the matter that you cannot force anyone to see your opinion. If someone doesn’t want to see something for the way it is rather than their skewed idea of it, nothing you can possibly say is going to change their mind. Trust me, my father is part of the Wisconsin Tea Party and he disowned and refused to speak to me for nearly four months because Obama got reelected and somehow that was all my fault. He didn’t even listen to the fact that I never voted for Obama myself. It was his opinion and he was clinging to it, dammit.
Rather, why don’t we all do what we preach and I don’t know… kill them with kindness. Be the best damn human being you can be. If you want to support a cause, rally behind a group with some actual clout -as an example: Circle Sanctuary, and ask them how you can help. Educate yourself. Learn to speak intelligently. Do something. If you want to take a stand, take a stand. But do something other than just put your virtual signature on a site offshoot of Facebook. Actions speak infinitely louder than words.
I say it on my podcast time and again, “Don’t be a douche.” So, go forth, pagans, and be pagan. But be good people too. Every bit of religious dogma out there has some version of the Golden Rule. Live that, don’t just preach it.