Let’s Talk About: Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd has always been one of those people who I felt like, maybe I should like him more than I actually do.  He and I are far closer on the political spectrum than Galina Krasskova and myself, but in the last year or so, I have discovered problem, after problem, after problem with him.

Until a couple years ago, especially noticeable before the launch of Gods & Radicals, he wrote a lot of more mystical stuff, bardic, poetic,…  It wasn’t really my thing, for the most part, but it was inspired and original and -most importantly- interesting.  Then, whatever the hell happened, his calling got upended and he’s since been rehashing Marxism For Dummies and a Cliff’s Notes of Starhawk, and it’s been trite and boring.  If you find this “inspiring,” I highly recommend that you actually read The Communist Manifesto and Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, and pretty much any of Starhawk’s works, because they’ve both actually addressed all of the issues Rhyd’s been talking for the last couple years in a concise manner, and better-written, and they actually come closer to offering viable solutions than anything Rhyd’s said…

…but then, when someone actually tells him that he’s all theory and no solution, he just hand-waves about being a philosopher, as if that actually addresses the fairly justified critiques.  I mean, hell, can’t he just Cliff’s Notes Marx’s solutions, or Guevara’s, or Starhawk’s, and so on — or would that just make it all the more obvious that he hasn’t had an original thought in his head for the last two years?

Yeah, probably….

Then there’s his social justice problems.

Yes, he’s been regarded as “SJW” for a few years, now, but here’s the thing (aside from the fact that the term has become as meaningless as “politically correct” has been since the 1990s):  He’s about as terrible as Tumblr thinks many male film stars are, when it comes to intersectional issues.

He’s got an established record of sexism and misogyny.  I’ve been told several accounts -both first-hand and eye-witness (or at least the Internet equivalent of)- and seen many of the “receipts” of his tendencies to just outright dismiss the concerns of women so he can tell them that they should care more about how the real problem is Capitalism, as if ending Capitalism is just suddenly supposed to end sexism with Anarchist Magic — I don’t know what gender studies histories he’s read, but sexism long pre-dates Capitalism, ergo, ending Capitalism won’t end sexism, no matter what Rhyd seems to want his readers think.  (As a quick example off the top of my head:  The Cyrenaics and Cynics were regarded as fucking oddball schools of philosophy, as women were held in just as much regard as the men in those schools — and that’s just the Hellenic world.  There are countless examples of how sexism reigned long before the institution of Capitalism, and how fucking revolutionary proto-feminism has always been.)  That pretty much is just Marx verbatim, when he pulls that shit — it might make sense in print, but it betrays a gross ignorance of the history of misogyny, and since Marx was talking from a position of male privilege, it obviously didn’t occur to him that ending Capitalism won’t magically make sexism disappear.

Stemming from his misogyny is his implicit femphobia.  If you think he hasn’t committed this, I ask that you consider:

  • The fact that he has, on several occasion, gone on and on and fucking on about how he’s gone out of his way to craft a burly, especially masculine/butch physique and image.  Shit, I’ve seen him go on about his own stench with more zeal than most trans guys marvel at their own after only several months on HRT — at least with trans guys, there’s the excuse that they’re basically going through puberty again, only a biologically “male” one, this time around, and they find the difference interesting and fascinating.  With Rhyd, it’s like he’s inviting us all to read some autoerotic fetish, cos he’s older than me, and the only other guys I see go on like that as in spank-chats.  This alone isn’t necessarily damning, but he frequently takes a tone implying this is far favourable to effeminacy — this is especially clear when he goes on about the folly of “identity politics” and his rejection of a “gay” identity in the fact of his clear homosexual inclinations.
  • Oh, yeah, and he’s also made a point to remind practically everyone that he’s only interested in guys as burly and smelly as himself.  These have been public Facebook posts that, like I said, read like the text profiles of dudes looking for cybersex and hook-ups.  This is mirrored in countless “No fats, no fems” Grindr profiles and Craigslist “casual encounters” listings.  Again, in and of itself, this isn’t necessarily bad, but our preferences don’t develop in a vacuum, meaning his rejection of effeminacy and the effeminate comes from somewhere.
  • Oh, yeah, and he basically admits that “faggot,” a word that is consistently used as a slur against specifically effeminate men, and especially against gay-identified effeminate men (and remember, he rejects the idea that his homosexual inclinations necessarily make him “gay”) and we see this language of “faggot” reinforced in LGBT+ spaces, in mixed spaces, and especially in any heteronormative spaces — shit, we see this in the 1984 film Purple Rain, as Morris Day calls Prince’s The Kid character, who is as effete as Prince, himself, a “long-haired faggot,” in spite of the character being heterosexual.  This is not a word that has been used against him — but he’s going to appropriate it, anyway, cos that’s just what white cis men do, is appropriate experiences that are not theirs to reclaim.  Guess that’s what unexamined privilege does to a person.

He’s also cissplained to me on several occasions (at least one of which is in the comments on this blog), as if I’m supposed to take this seriously, because he’s the big burly manly cis Man homosexual man, and I’m just the effete trans fag (though vaguely bi-, If I’m being totally honest — like a K5) with more skirts than Eddie Izzard.  Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to eventually learn, some day in the hypothetical future, that he doesn’t actually take my male gender identity seriously for the simple fact that I embrace effeminacy while “real” trans men look like Buck Angel and Jameson Green and Chaz Bono and other masculine manly MAN men, and not like Boy George or Rozz Williams or Marc Bolan — transgressing cisnormativity is fine for cis men, but trans men gotta be Manly MAN Men, y’know?  I suspect he’d go there because I’ve heard this shit from literally every butch cis homosexual I’ve encountered, and a lot of the trans ones, for sure….  Sure, this specific thought is speculative, but it sure as hell wouldn’t surprise me, if it were true.

Now let’s get more personal for a mo’….

So, I’m not going to out this person publicly (they can do that, themself, if they wish to), but Rhyd has told at least one person, knowing full well they were going through a depressive period at the time, that you know, maybe they should just kill themself, cos there really isn’t anything else he can offer as advice.  Thankfully, this person didn’t take Rhyd’s advice, but there are just some lines a decent person never crosses, and I think that’s one of them.

The same person I also trust enough when they told me that Rhyd did, in fact, go out of his way to start shit with Galina and Sannion &co (which is probably, I suspect, what drove Galina into a knee-jerk reaction toward the AltRight — to be fair, her politics have always been fairly far to the right by anyone’s standards, but she’d been considerably more tempered in expressing this, and far less willing to turn a blind eye to some things before this last year and change) to boost hits toward the then-barely-past-inaugural Gods & Radicals e-zine.  This has been corborrated by two other people who were close-enough to the situation, at the time it was happening.  See, prior that, Rhyd was practically Galina’s golden boy, and even though she didn’t agree with his politics, she thought very highly of his work and of him personally, and often cited his mystical posts on his old blog, though I think Sannion referred to Rhyd’s blog from his own, far more often.

Now, as I said the other day, I made the choice to quietly distance myself from Galina &co over political reasons.  Though there was some misunderstanding last year when I mentioned something about it on someone else’s Facebook comments, I’ve really not gone out of my way to be a jackass about it; even my post from the other day, I spent a significant portion of the piece listing everything I still admire about Galina, even though I ultimately concluded that it’s better for myself to maintain some distance.  I never went out of my way to mischaracterize her snarky comments as an “endorsement” of Neonazi groups like the AFA and Stormfront (she and I were never all that close, but I’d certainly read her blog long enough to be able to tell when she’s being snarky and when she’s being serious).  I never decided to pick fights in public and through private emails, and then proclaim it was a “crusade against me.”

That’s another thing that seems to give away, no matter how much he plays around in Europe, how pitifully American Rhyd is:  Literally even the most constructive critiques of his words and deeds suddenly becomes, in Rhyd’s own words, a “crusade against [him],” which is painting any disagreement as an outright Holy War.  He and others may snarkily call Galina &co “the Piety Posse,” but Galina has a tendency to paint these disagreements as actions of disrespect against the gods, spirits, and revered dead — not against her person.  When someone calls out Rhyd for bad behavior, it’s not just a personal attack, it’s an all-out Crusade against him!  Even if you 100% believe that Galina’s talk about how everyone is disrespecting the gods to the point of practical atheism is all “performative” and she’s just ego-tripping, fine, but she at least has the decency to frame it as a defense of something other than herself she’s concerned about (my personal opinion?  Unlike some, I’ve met Galina, and I have witnessed the clear passion she has for her religion, which has literally brought her to tears — it’s humbling to see someone that devoted, and while I don’t like how fervently she goes after every perceived slight she sees against the Gods, I don’t for a second doubt her passionate devotion being anything less than 100% sincere.)  Rhyd makes no such pretentions — he wants you to know that any criticism will be taken as literally a “crusade against him.”

Now let’s go back to my comment about how he’s playing around Europe:  I really can’t take any of his talk about “revolution” seriously after he went expat.  At least when James Baldwin and Josephine Baker took off for France, they did so to escape the outright crippling homophobia and racism that held back their vocations.  Rhyd has a stable income through several avenues, so his ability to do what he loves has not been impeded; hell, even without taking his book money and other sources into account, he’s making enough on Patreon so as to exceed my SSDI cheque, alone, before the added Social Security Survivor’s Benefits that allow me to live on my own, and this income is, as best as I can tell, just for being Rhyd Wildermuth.

…but I digress:  He’s made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that he’s written off the States as a “sinking ship,” and that’s why he’s left the country — what this translates as, to me, is “I’m privileged enough to bail after I got mine, and I know the current administration is going to literally kill people, but oh well, I got bored with my old job as a social worker, where I could have at least tried.  I’d rather get paid to buy the hype about myself and climb up Druid Mountains and then make callous remarks about how the disabled just, well, have to die, cos I’m not afraid to die, and if you got paid hundreds of dollars a month to gallivant about Europe, you too can have these spiritual epiphanies and be fine!  Ah well….  Good luck, and thanks for all the fish!”

His most recent bullshit catching him hell from a steadily increasing number of people on Facebook really reminds me of every bourgie uni student who goes on a spiritual tourism of South America or parts of Asia or Africa, and then bores you to death with stories of their exploitative “spiritual awakenings” — you know, the kinds of people he likes to snark on cos of their unexamined Colonialism, and while he doesn’t really seem to express that specific characteristic in his recent rodomontades, his arrogance and pretentions are about on-par with those kids back-packing across the slums of Southeast Asia on Daddy’s dime.

Again, he and I are mostly on the same page, politically, but I just never really liked the guy, and the more I learn about him, the more justified I feel in this.  He’s like the anti-Galina, in this sense — I never really liked him all that much, even though we’re generally in agreement on politics, while I like her on a person-to-person level, but I just ran out of spoons to deal with her politics and the toxic alliances she’s formed since this falling-out with Rhyd (which, as I’ve assessed from those who were close-enough to the situation to know more, was completely of Rhyd’s design and intent to create).  In simplest terms, to call Rhyd “a real asshole” is one of the nicer things I could say about him, and generally speaking, the more I think about him, the angrier I get — makes me glad I’m not Bruce Banner, I have too many nice clothes and irreplaceable concert t-shirts.

[This post had some typos corrected and a few relatively minor revisions for clarity on 2017-06-30 @02.07]

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Let’s Talk About: Galina Krasskova

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.

Does anyone actually know?

I’m trying to figure out who actually coined the term “devotional polytheism” as it’s been used in polytheist and pagan circles this last five years. In response to Cora Post’s entry he-ah, I have the current comment awaiting moderation:

(such as the one who coined the phrase Devotional Polytheism and those that contributed to the comments on Sannion’s blog post in question).

You’ve found who coined that phrase? Cos it wasn’t who I thought it was, and at least one of the people you implied to have done so (or so I’ve gathered, since you did not actually name a person or people) has clearly stated that he did not do so.

I’m genuinely curious as to who coined the term “devotional polytheism” as it’s used in polytheist & pagan circles, cos I can’t find the culprit.

This is like when people allege that I invented the term “Wiccanate Neopaganism”, in spite of the numerous times that I myself, and others, icluding folks like John Halstead have said, “No, Johnny Rapture did, see?” I picked up the term from (guh) Star Foster, and clearly I had a hand in popularising that term, but I did not invent it.

Similarly, Cora Post implied (she implied all over the place) that Sannion or at least some-one else in these comments “coined the phrase Devotional Polytheism”, when I first remember seeing it from Dver years ago on the Neokoroi elist (and note her absence from that thread allegedly containing people who “coined the phrase”), and she has even said she got it from some-one else. As it’s unlikely that PSVL or Rhyd or TPWard are the person or persons she’s referring to (just based on the favt that people tend to get offended by those two chaps and that Bearer of the Fabulosa Fez considerably less), and I find it at least a tad improbable that the phrase originated with Ganila Krasskova (I think she’d’ve owned it, by now, if it had –she seems to do that sort of thing with frequency), it’s kind of bothering me that this misinformation is continuing, unchallenged and unretracted by those supporting it.

So does anyone actually know who first used it?


Hey, did you stumble upon this non-troversy somehow? Do you just want to stop seeing this thing in the footer? Please at least consider donating to my moving expenses, or my service animal and i will be out on the streets.

//funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf

16 July’s Wyrd Ways Radio

Once again, I missed the call-in but this time not because i was busy with other stuff, but because of “train lag”, and spending nearly twenty hours on a train, leading me to believe that yesterday was Tuesday.

[link]

Some of my favourite bits:

Even though there were people from all over the spectrum of formal education, from people with Doctorates to high-school drop-outs, there was a generally “egalitarian” air, where people were generally assumed to be intelligent.

I think it was Anomalous Thracian Julian Betowski, in speaking about a lack of tensions between people of different traditions “No-one came in there and expected the person they were talking to would be their identical twin [with regards to religion and practise],” which seems a big issue (certainly one I’ve noticed) at “pagan” gatherings.

“Sometimes Atheism is the religion of the One True Negative God.” (Lupus?)

Julian Betowski: “It’s the difference between actually believing in something and belonging to a chess club, and I think we see this in kind of mainstream paganism, as well, sometimes saying ‘Belief is a dirty word’, and i think that’s the atheist trend, ‘well, belief is a dirty word, cos that’s irrational, and we must be rational, at all costs.’ So you belong to your little chess club and you do your stuff, and I guess that gives some people comfort? It just seems sort of empty and hopeless.”
Tamara Suida: “Somewhere along the line, the culture lost the understanding that it’s perfectly possible to have a valid kind of experience that doesn’t necessarily require scientific proof. We forgot that divination(?) is good, we forgot that mystic experience is good, we forgot that ecstasy is good, and we just… If it can’t be measured with some sort of instrument, then it’s real.”
Edward Butler: Even if we’re not talking about religion, if we’re just talking about literature”
TS: “I think it’s true. I think it’s very pervasive in the culture. ‘Prove it.’ I mean, we have archaeology and we have religion, and people are trying to prove the Bible. What’s the point?”
JB: “How do you prove whether The BROTHERS KARAMOSOV is true? That’s kind of a proposition that lacks any coherence, but literature, art, flies in the face of any kind of scientism, but we have to face it every day of our lives, in every field of our lives.”

JB: There is a kind of truth that is different from scientific truth, and the fact that our culture has forgotten that there are various kinds of truth is incredibly dangerous.

On Kenny Klein

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.

ETA:

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.

Sometimes I think about Danny Thomas

Danny Thomas was a Lebanese-American comedian and musician, probably best known to Baby Boomers and every later generation (including mine) for The Danny Thomas Show/Make Room For Daddy, a sit-com loosely based on his home life that ran from 1953 to 1965, making it one of the longest-running half-hour television comedies ever; he’s also the father of actress Marlo Thomas, possibly best known for That Girl, and to people who were between the abes of five and ten any time between 1972 and 1986, she was the primary brain behind Free to Be You & Me, a spoken-word LP (and 1974 telly special) about how it’s OK for kids to reject gender stereotyping, and it’s OK for girls to get dirty and for boys to play with dolls, and all that. Danny Thomas was also a lifelong devout Catholic from Toledo, Ohio, who, when he was still struggling to keep the rent paid playing at whatever clubs would book him, he still made regular offerings to the saints, and cut a deal with St Jude, best known as the patron saint of Lost Causes and Impossible Hope. From that bargaining, he became a household name, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, world-famous for taking in children battling terminal illnesses and not charging families a dime (relying solely on philanthropy, the occasional grant, and regular donors).

Danny Thomas sounds like he was a great guy, eh? That’s cos he was. He was warm and caring and sensitive and his show was one of only a handful of its era that’s still funny (unlike maybe half of Burns & Allen’s sit-com, or Betty White’s short-lived Life With Elizabeth, both of which date poorly).He was a lifelong Democrat, but even Republican President Ronald Reagan gave him a medal for philanthropy, for St. Jude’s.

…but there are still people who dislike Danny Thomas. Maybe some don’t find him funny –that’s fair enough, after all, his sit-com was full of self-deprecating humour, especially directed at his Near Eastern features and ethnicity, and he had a lot of creative control on his show, so he was clearly OK with it, and that might upset some people. Maybe others disliked his political affiliation or his support of his daughter’s feminism.

One day maybe a year ago, I found a blog post for some fluffy entertainment rag, and there was a very short article about an interview Marlo Thomas gave on some telly show, and in that interview, her father came up. Naturally, some of the comments were about Danny Thomas. One of those comments really stood out at me: This was a comment from a woman who seemed to have an axe to grind against Danny Thomas.

The woman explained that when she was a teenager in the late Sixties, a family member of hers owned the house next door to the Thomases, in California. One day when she was visiting during the summer, she saw Danny in his own back yard from over the little wall that divided the properties. She asked him for his autograph. He, allegedly, suddenly looked very annoyed and went inside. This woman told her story under the guise of “exposing Danny Thomas’ true nature”.

Mmhm.

The first person to respond to her said “This does not surprise me in the slightest. Democrats have always been the most hateful of people”

I see.

I think one other person said something vaguely anti-Catholic, (I’m actually surprised at the lack of racist comments), but most of the comments responding to the woman’s “exposé” explained to her that she simply had no grounds for making such a harsh judgement of his character, much less holding such a ridiculous grudge for over forty years, because of reasons.

While I know that that this doesn’t make a perfect allegory in light of recent events, I can still use it to explain an important Cyrenaic truth: While we’re never wrong about what it is that we experience, we can never have complete knowledge about all elements that made that experience. This woman only knew that a beloved celebrity turned away her request with no explanation –she didn’t know anything about his day or week or any potential stresses that Thomas himself may have been experiencing. She apparently was unaware (for over forty years) that she breached general Los Angeles county etiquette, which says “when you live next door to a celebrity, do not bother them with your fandom”. She had no idea why no-one taught her this. She had no idea if maybe Thomas and this neighbour were feuding over something that made Thomas less likely to want to honour her request. All she knew was a cross look and a silent rejection of what she knew to be an innocent request –but for all Danny Thomas knew, this was a breach of etiquette from an unmannered and immature adolescent.

It’s easy to judge the actions and words of others, and this becomes an easier habit when we’re convinced that the evidence is in our favour, but what do we really know about what this person or another means with their words or actions? Do we really know their motivations, their characters, their hearts? Or do we simply know what we’ve seen, read, witnessed, and the ways we can fit it into our own personal catalogues of information we use to make snap judgments –a human trait which, itself, is not a bad thing, but can simply be used unwisely.

Maybe Galina Krasskova really is planning to become some polytheist Rainbow Family matriarch. Or maybe people are reading a line or two that they don’t like and jumping to a worst possible scenario that isn’t even, but which they believe to be perfectly rational.

All I know is that when I challenge these people to back up their allegations, they tend to give me nothing –at best, I might get something that, when I read it, sure doesn’t seem to say what they believe it does.

I also know that if a struggling Danny Thomas, from the same part of the world as myself, could still find a few pennies for his Saints to have a candle (remember, this was pennies in the 1930s and ’40s before American money was worthless green paper) while he was trying to pay the rent and feed three kids, I can certainly tear off the corner of some toast with peanut butter and honey and scoop a teaspoon of water from the top of my glass for my own gods, if only because being devout and building a relationship with one’s holy powers means actions as well as beliefs.