You know, I understand the call for some degree of compassion, but at the same time, it’s not the community’s responsibility to fix people who are broken in that way –and the notion that they even can be fixed is something that doesn’t seem at all promising. There are some things more important than inclusivity –including people regardless of sexuality, ethnic background, gender, ability, and so on, are perfectly commendable, but sometimes a line has to be drawn in the sand. If some-one comes up in a background check as a sex offender, ask “why?” Yeah, in some states, sex offender registration is broken and you end up with people who are on there for public urination or (as is the case with one of my high school classmates) cos an 18-year-old high school senior knocked up his fifteen-year-old sophmore girlfriend –but it’s easy to see on at least some of those lists who’s a rapist, who’s a child molestor, and so on, and especially who’s a repeat offender. And yeah, sometimes the evidence and testimonials are sketchy or coming from sketchy people –but even then, I still wouldn’t have let my hypothetical child go to the Neverland Ranch without me, cos why take that risk?
Mental illnesses don’t absolve people of the responsibility to address them and seek help for them. If Klein is mentally ill, he should have recognised that and taken care of it –and if his illness is just bad enough that he can’t realise he’s ill and needing help, then why is that not a sign to some people that it’s not worth the risk? If you wouldn’t let your kids go to the house of someone who you knew to have bubonic plague that isn’t being treated, why should the pagan community be any more compassionate to a shitty folk singer who wrote some books, just because his hypothetical illness is mental and he doesn’t even realise he needs help?
If we want to play the mental illness card, why not treat it like we treat physical illnesses? Healing energies are great and all, but when that’s not all that’s needed, then what? You take a cough drop, or you take your medicines, or you remove yourself from others until you’re well. Paedophiles can’t be fixed with a cough drop, and chemical castration is not only not always an option, it doesn’t really work on everyone (one of my best friends has a “horrors of Craig’s List” story about that –she thought she was meeting a nice, normal trans woman for coffee, but when she got there, she met someone who admitted [hey at least they admitted it] to being a registered serial rapist who was put on chem-cast, started growing depo-breasts, and decided it was a huge turn-on –thankfully she high-tailed it out of there). If physically ill people sometimes need to quarantine themselves off for the safety of others, then yeah, sometimes mentally ill people need to be separated off for the safety of others. Why think of it as “evil ostracism” when we can instead think of it as “quarantine”?
I also contend that not only are those who still keep crying out “Let’s stop calling Klein a pagan — think of how this must make us look to the EEEEBIL XTIANS!!!!” are not only enablers of abuse, but are worthy of ostracism on the grounds of caring more about appearance than about basic right and wrong. After all, for the last thirty-some years, people in the pagan community have cared about the public perception of paganism more than the potential victims accusing potential abusers of abuse –and look where it got us.
Yeah, I’m not saying that every accusation is always true –in one of the small towns near where I went to high school, a pair of 11yo girls got six months of probation after falsely accusing a junior high principal who was also a math teacher of inappropriate touch, and only after he committed suicide (don’t ask why they only got that, or why it went that far –I’ve since lost a lot of the details), and one of the people on my step-mother’s caseload as a social worker was mentally handicapped woman who was also a schozophrenic who accused a worker at her group home of rape, even though the security cameras absolved him of any guilt– but when it gets to a point where several people are now accusing Klein independently, and timelines can be verified that he was at least in those cities at those times, and spans several years, then that’s enough smoke to think “housefire” rather than “cigarette”.
That said, I think it should be clear that there is a difference between the kinds of accusations that run around the pagan community about certain prominent people. I have not seen anyone actually claim “Raven Kaldera did this to me…” or “I saw Christian Day do more than that video of the binding ritual against Charlie Sheen” and even the ONLY person who made such a claim against Galina Krasskova is known to a small number of people to have both a financial incentive to do so, and a dubious grip on reality. That’s not what’s going on with Klein –his ex-wife has made several statements, in public and private, though apparently restricted by a gag order that, until more recent years, violation of could have removed custody of her son and placed him back with Klein (during which was presumably the time she asked friends not to say anything). His own son has come forth to speak of abuse his family endured. Other potential victims, independent of each other and with apparently nothing to gain, have come forward with similar stories of Klein behaving inappropriately, at best, and pulling most known ploys of child molesters (some so basic, like persistent unwanted touch and giving alcohol to the underaged, that it’s been on “very special episodes” of sitcoms since at least Diff’rent Strokes), short of going into graphic detail of molestation and rape. These people are all saying “Klein did this to me” not, “I heard from someone I don’t remember that Klein did X to someone I’ve never heard of.” You’d think that much would be obvious to people, but still people, mainly (to my witness) Peg Aloi and Christian Day, are making tacky comparisons to the SRA hoaxes, vaguely accusing people of false accusation or even outright lying, and “backing kt up” with the dubious claim of “well-known facts of false testimonies” in the face of statistical evidence that less than 1.6% of sexual abuse allegations being false, and peer-reviewed estimates that between 40% and 60% of sexual abuse goes unreported, likely due to social stigmas and the idea, often proved fact, that people, especially loved ones and trusted authorities, won’t believe the accusors.
And some people have the nerve to say that rape culture doesn’t exist.
On one hand, I get what Aloi’s said about being careful about what we say and repeat from others, but she’s saying this in the face of several people saying things that point to immensely inappropriate behaviour on Klein’s part, at the very least. I can also be somewhat sympathetic to those who are concerned about how this might look to outsiders, but at the same time, wouldn’t it look worse if we knowingly swept child abusers and rapists under the rug for the sake of appearances?
I have also seen a clear difference network the way that the “general Neopagams” are handling this, and the way the polytheist community is handling this. With few exceptions, the Neopagams are stressing forgiveness of the abuser, “Klein wasn’t a REAL pagan if he really did this”, “but what if he DIDN’T! “, “how is this going to make us look to Christians?”, worthless Change.org petitions so pagans can pledge they will never, ever, ever rape children and or have sex with minors below the age of consent (apparently unaware of the fact that Change.org is supposed to be for issues of potential Presidential concern) and so on. Very little regard for the victims. The defacto polytheist leaders have all come forward stating outright “I’m concerned for the victims and potential victims, the accusations and evidence against Klein is damning and his abuses have been a blight on the pagan community, and I am taking a stand”. Anyone worth their salts would find that rather telling.
I just noticed someone in the comments on Sannion’s blog note a striking similarity between the way certain people are reacting to this and the way certain other people in the Neopagan community react to the topics of privilege (from Wiccanate to White, from cisgender to male –and don’t tell me, in the face of people who STILL are willing to dismiss Tzipora Katz as Kenny Klein’s “psycho ex making baseless accusations”, in the face of enforced rape culture for the sake of appearances, and other examples that this Klein scandal is spotlighting, that women are at a privilege over men in the pagan community, as many seem to contend): “are you sure? Maybe you misunderstood ?” “Think about what you’re saying and how it makes people look.” “Why can’t you see it this way? Why do you have to stir up trouble?” “Stop causing drama, this is just how things are and it doesn’t mean anything.”
I’m not saying that everyone with privilege over another is an abuser, but that the dynamics of unchecked privilege are practically the same as the dynamics of those who enable abusers –though the statistics of abusers who are in a privileged position over their abusers is certainly telling of these dynamic similarities, as well.