April 7, 2014

Oh, Fuck That

In the wake of the whole Kenny Klein shitstorm, it came out that the Florida Pagan Gathering was giving workshop space to Gavin and Yvonne Frost of the Church and School of Wicca, who, in their book The Good Witch's Bible (which used to be just The Witch's Bible, but was changed because the Farrars also had a book by that name), advocated sex with minors as an initiatory practice way the fuck back in the 1975. They eventually added a disclaimer about not actually initiating anyone under 18, but they never retracted their endorsement of sex with children.

Now, I remember hearing about the Frosts in the mid-90s, when I started studying Wicca, and thinking they were weird and creepy then, and that their tradition had no apparent relationship to anything else called Wicca. I'd thought that they'd dropped off the map since then, because I hadn't heard much about them lately, but apparently they've still been making the rounds teaching their tradition. I'm kind of baffled that they're still around to this extent.

So a whole bunch of people in the FPG community and elsewhere objected, loudly and firmly, to the Frosts being given any platform at the Gathering. The board brushed them off with weasel words and bullshit. The board deleted all comments criticizing the Frosts from their Facebook page. The division coordinator, who had promised last year to reign if the Frosts came back as presenters, did in fact resign. The board continued to support the Frosts and whine about how they'd never been arrested for anything, so there was nothing they could do, and people were being mean, and yeah, some people were refusing to come, but really, everybody who was really meant to attend was going to, and anybody who objected didn't really belong, or some such bullshit. (Yeah, I may be exaggerating a little. But this is how it came across.)

Somebody, fed up with the board of a large and influential pagan festival fucking supporting people who advocate sex with children and ignoring and belittling victims of child abuse and sexual assault who expressed concerned, anonymously contacted the campground where the Gathering is held every year. The campground, understandably, got upset. The FPG board was forced to ban the Frosts. Good. This is what should have happened, years ago really, anybody who'd read of heard about the book had known for decades about this, but certainly from the point at which people started protesting and organizing this year. It's a crying shame that they were ever allowed space at any gathering or festival. It's a shame not only on the board of the FPG, but on the entire pagan community, that they were allowed to hold on to this slot once people started objecting. This damaged us all.

But, astoundingly to me, the group Pagans for Change, a facebook-organized network of people who came together specifically to protest the Frosts' inclusion and have them removed, immediately announced that it wasn't one of them who called the campground, they would never do that, and that the person who had done so had endangered everyone. I. What?

No. The person who contacted the campground did a moral and brave thing. (And, actually, given the way some local SF/F cons have had trouble with permitting known rapists and harassers, I'm going to be remembering that tactic, and possibly hauling it out of the bag in the future.) Did it threaten the ability of the FPG to hold its event at that campground? Yes, yes it did. The FPG was aiding and abetting evil, and if it had continued, then it would have fully deserved being shut down, much less just forced to find a new location. Yes, even though that would mean an event that was important to a lot of people would have gone away or changed. It was already unsafe for a lot of people to whom it was important. It was hurting people. Why the fuck are they less important in this calculation?

Once again, it is the people who do bad things, and the people who support them, the people who give them a platform, the people who defend them, that harm this community and make it look bad, not the people who speak out against it, who take action against it.

Now people on both sides are already talking about "healing" the community. No. First the conversation about ethics and morality and acceptable behavior must progress. Then apologies and amends must be made, at a minimum on the part of the FPG board (the Frosts are never going to apologize, and in fact keep defending this shit). People who have been harmed (in this case, the victims of child abuse and sexual assault who were made unsafe by the past presense of the Frosts) must be cared for before the "community" can be healed, or they will simply be ignored and silenced and left behind again. Rushing to "heal" and insisting that healing must take place, that those who perpetrated harm must be brought back into the fold, repeats harm.

Fuck a whole bunch of this bullshit.