I like Galina, I really do, but let’s be frank for a sec: I’m clearly not the only one who’s noticed that American culture has a toxic relationship with being honest with people you like.
It seems that speaking your mind to individuals is a major taboo. You can’t tell a friend straight when he has f—– up, nobody will ever tell you that you look like you could stand to lose a few pounds, and there’s way too much euphemism to avoid the hard truth. […] Being insulting for the sake of it is needless aggression. But constructive criticism is what friends are for.
Even those who pride themselves on how anti-sensitive they are really just want to be jackasses to others, and can’t take criticism on an individual level, but I digress.
Again, on a personal level, I like Galina. She has a lot of admirable traits: She can be very kind and generous, she’s whip-smart, and she is probably one of the most loyal people I’ve known, albeit to a fault.
There are times I’ve admired her fierce loyalty to those she considers friends and who she’s taken on as Family — but I have a gut reaction against dog-piling on people, as I’ve been on the receiving end of that as a bullying tactic, and I have legit PTSD from that shit. While I certainly understand her reasoning behind at least some instances I’ve seen as such, even seen them as just (again, at times), I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable with this being a go-to reaction of hers when she has a disagreement with someone.
Now, there are other talks of abuses at her hands -both online and off- and frankly, I guess I’m just far enough out of the loop in those instances that I’m not even going to attempt to detail them for the simple fact that I just don’t know. Now, in talking to others (a lot of people talk to me – I guess I just have that kind of face), I’ve concluded that a not-insignificant amount of the rumour mill about Galina can be traced to Nornoriel — or whatever goofy name they want to go by, and/or identity they want to appropriate for their own abusive purposes, this month: Nornoriel has a fricken despicable track record with abusing others, themself, and pretty much nothing they say can be assumed true (and no, I’m not going to respect whatever pronouns they’re currently using, as I’ve learned from at least three people who’ve dealt with Nornoriel in meat-space, that they’ve learned from N themself that they’re only really appropriating a trans identity to deflect criticism by calling it “transphobia” or whatever). Like my younger sister (who my friends know to be a fucking case-and-a-half), if Nornoriel tells you that the sky is blue and the grass is green (at the times they are, of course), assume it’s something they’re telling you that’s just true enough so they can gain your trust. Ding-danged PPOs have been taken out against Nornoriel by several people all over both coasts, and for the love of all that is holy, if you can trace anything to them, assume it’s either a lie, or just enough truth to con you into the lie.
Now, there are other stories that can’t be traced to Nornoriel, and a lot of them have some consistencies that I can’t just dismiss outright. I can’t defend it, I can’t make excuses for it, and most of it I can’t even rationalise, and I almost wish so much of it wasn’t said in explicit or implicit confidence so that I could say what matches and what doesn’t. All I can say to this is: Sometimes people we like and care about do horrible things, and there’s literally nothing you can do about it but assess your ethics and decide how much is too much.
I’ve defended her at times for the simple fact that she does seem to get a disproportionate amount of vitriol, when compared to her male contemporaries who hold similar, the same, or even outright repugnant views on politics, social issues, and the gods, and so I’ve concluded that there is a fair amount of sexism at play, here — and combine that with her strong Internet presence, and she’s an easy target for people to talk trash about. Even women too-often carry a lot of excess, unexamined sexist baggage in Western society, and fall in lock-step with acting on it for a subconscious sense of approval from a sexist society. Now, pointing out that others are worse is really not a fair justification for bad behavior — sure, homophobes who don’t want to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding aren’t as bad as those who murdered Matt Shepard, but that doesn’t mean they suddenly aren’t homophobes simply because they didn’t take a life when they acted on theirs; this is very basic ethics — the impact of their actions are both bad, and should be reacted to justly, in proportion to the impact.
Now, in terms of practice and theology, I certainly agree with Galina more than I disagree: We’re hard polytheists who honour and recognise a multitude of deities, spirits, and esteemed dead, and these Divine entities are not merely archetypes and egregores that are a reflection on our society that are malleable to the will of humans. I feel religion is best approached when integrated into one’s life, and yes, this can measure a person’s devotion, and charitable acts, or activities like gardening can be acted from a place of devotion, but cannot replace daily ritual and regular votive offerings. Though I have not been a part of blood sacrifice of animals in ritual, myself, I agree with continuing it, as long as we can keep as close as possible to maintaining the sacrifice animal’s quality of life as is in line with ancient traditions — you can’t just go to a kill-your-own-chicken farm and pick the best one, it has to be raised for these purposes, and its death given just reverence. Speaking of tradition, I prefer to default to what is ancient, and build from there.
Where I differ from her is when it comes to other people. I can’t control other people. I may make snide comments here and there about what another person shares of their beliefs and practices, but at the end of the day, more often than not, their life really has nothing to do with mine after I step away from the computer, and they can just keep doing it wrong all they like, I don’t care. If we’re going to talk about beliefs, especially if you’re going to put yours in the same category as mine while clearly believing something completely different [*cough!*JohnHalstead*cough!*], oh, I will explain every way you are NOT in the same camp as myself, but at the end of the day, you can just go right ahead and keep practising wrong, and thinking things about yourself that just aren’t true, I know I’m ultimately explaining it for everyone else to learn from, and then I’m going to go back to tending to my household shrines and prayers, ‘mmkay?
Now, I’ve also distanced myself over the last year because, as much as I’m in general agreement with her on practice and theology, I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable with certain alliances she has formed since Rhyd Wildermuth decided to start shit in order to drum up publicity for G&R (and yes, I’ve gotten word from a very reliable source that this was absolutely what he did and intended to do, and I’ve got a LTA post about that one coming), and I’ve seen at a recent check-in to her blog that these alliances have done a number on her fairly conservative stance. I also can’t stand her continued loyalty to de-transitioned TERF, Kenaz Filan — thus my assessment that she can be loyal to a fault.
I admire loyalty, and can be very loyal to those I feel a connection with — there are a handful of people who can tell me to go fuck myself, and come back ten years later, and I’ll still be there, and be their friend, because what I feel for them is important enough to me to be that loyal. I do this with full knowledge of this one fact: The company we keep says more about up than we’d like it to.
The Tolerance Paradox tells us that by tolerating the intolerant, we thus foster intolerance and are implicitly at risk of becoming intolerant, ourselves. If you want to consider that a guilt-by-association fallacy, you’re ignoring the fact that studies show that we can all be easily influenced by those we keep close — this is most persuasively shown in studies about the affect of one’s social circles on weight management. While two people may disagree on what the more tolerant may consider to be very important things, the longer and more closely they associate, the more likely they are to influence each-other, whether they believe it to be happening or not, and as the aforementioned Paradox shows, tolerance can be taken to a fault. When one tolerates intolerance in others, one is necessarily giving permission to be intolerant.
When she’s willing to break alliance with some fairly despicable people, I’ll still be here, even when I can’t rationalize what she does. That’s where I’ve made my line in the sand, and it’s been crossed, so I’ve chosen to keep my distance. I like her, but I need to disassociate for my own sanity, because there are some principles I consider more important than loyalty.