If We Don’t Stop This Sort of Thing Now, We Won’t Be Able To Later On
Hail Loki, Truth-Teller.
I imagine a lot of you have been waiting for me to weigh in on what’s been going on with Many Gods West over the last couple days. (For those who might be out of the loop, check out my colleague Dver’s account here.
Yup. Niki Whiting threatened to call the FBI on my husband for posting a satire of the same kind of bullshit rhetoric I’ve been warning about and deconstructing over the last couple weeks. I’ve been doing this because it’s turning our communities toxic.
Needless to say, as a Heathen woman, I do not take threats to my loved ones and household lightly. But we’ll return to that later.
Instead, I want to make sure you fully understand what that means because this isn’t just a dispute between two feuding parties. This is something that could have serious ramifications and ripples throughout our communities. And you need to think about that really, really hard if you’re planning to attend Many Gods West in August.
Because of a joke, what was so obviously a modern-day version of a “Modest Proposal” which contained thoughts that didn’t line up with Niki and her friends’ agendas*, they threatened police action. (I won’t even point out the irony of a staunch left-winger threatening to wield a right-wing baton of oppression to squash dissent because this is way too serious a matter for divisive politics.)
We are minority religions. This type of overreaction is not funny. Who is going to be a target of it next? Who is going to say or think or write the wrong thing and end up with the police at their door because Niki and her friends have no sense of humor, and are so used to being cossetted by their own echo chamber every time a new or opposing point of view presents itself that they cannot abide being laughed at. Who are they going to attempt to silence and ban next? This is censorship pure and simple and it’s censorship with a hysterical edge to it that is very, very dangerous. Is this really the type of community you want to see? I’m disgusted with the whole lot of them.
The only people who made any real threat were those who pushed and tried to bully Niki into calling the authorities on someone for having a poor sense of humor. It’s ignorant, irrational, bigoted and viciously divisive.
And if you’ve wondered why I’ve been hitting the rhetoric issue so hard lately, this is why. Well, this is precisely where such nastiness leads: censorship and thought-policing and strong-arm enforcement … all under the pretense of radical liberality and “tolerance”.
It’s also why I stand in staunch solidarity with Hindu polytheists and call out stuff like the weasel worded video I had to watch recently as part of an online course. As I mentioned in my article:
This of course puts the onus for the problems and violence on Hindus, ignoring the fact that they are responding to having one of their own sacred sites co-opted, ignoring the fact that they are responding to monotheistic colonization of their spaces, ignoring the fact that they are reacting to incursion into their religious world, and ignoring the fact that they are in fact the religion originally native to the area. While it may be rooted now, monotheism of any stripe was a late comer, a foreign intruder in that land. Isn’t it amazing how “respecting all religions equally” always seems to mean allowing monotheistic incursion and the destruction of polytheistic sites? It never translates as leaving polytheistic religions in peace. Note also at the end where the narrator comments that this “all started with a tiny statue being placed in a mosque in the dead of night.” No, it didn’t. It started with a monotheistic religion laying claim to a Hindu holy space. Monotheisms have a history of destroying or claiming and repurposing polytheistic spaces. This is not an isolated incident as the briefest of explorations of fourth and fifth century Rome will show (not to mention Christian expansion north). With both Christianity and Islam (and even Biblical Judaism) it was standard operating procedure. Are the people whose religions spaces are being destroyed or polluted supposed to be grateful for it? I think not.
The aim of those who want to politicize polytheism is no different than that of the colonizing Muslims and Christians in India – indeed, they draw their dishonest rhetoric and “false flag” tactics from the same strategy book. It’s How to Make the Aggressor Seem Like the Victim 101.
Hail Lord Ganesh Who Removes Obstacles to Polytheist Devotion
This is not the polytheism that I want to see grow and take root. This is not the polytheism that I want to see nurtured. For all that we fight for our traditions, we do so knowing that there is space for us to fight: that our words are free to be heard by those who might be moved by them, that where we are free to counter and cross counter each other’s arguments, to be creative, fiery, humorous, devout.
And that’s how it should be.
Obviously Niki and I have a very different view of the type of community we would see restored. Mine actually includes freedom of speech and a respect for differences. We must fight for the rights of people like John Halstead to be wrong – and in an ideal world he would be that as far away from polytheist space as possible. I’m glad he’s found a home at Gods&Radicals. I’m sure he’ll fit in just perfectly with his friends.
* And you’d be able to read it, too, but Sannion, trying to take the reasonable and accommodating road in order to calm Niki down removed the offending content. Predictably, Niki is now misrepresenting what was said on Facebook and without the articles being accessible so folks can judge for themselves many are believing this woman’s lies and distortions. This, people, is why you NEVER give in to the demands of a bully and would-be tyrant, even if you have noble intentions. I love my husband, but I don’t always agree with his decisions.
Hail Hermes, Prankster and Defender of Free Speech