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  Wiccan Slur?
Community Posted by Xnoubis on Sunday August 13, @02:34PM
from the eclipse-of-the-moon dept.

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article on the Bishop murders on Friday, August 11, "Victim's Mystery Bank Account," which included a passage that some Witches found objectionable.


Investigators are also examining whether occult worship played a role in the slayings of the Stinemans and Bishop. Authorities said yesterday that teeth and organs were removed from some of the victims, possibly indicating a ritualized killing.

A friend of the suspects said that Godman {a woman who is one of the suspects} was steadily losing touch with her Mormon faith and was experimenting with the pagan religion, Wicca. While Wicca is usually focused on a celebration of nature, Godman was drawn to its darker elements.

Godman performed sacrifices with the blood of a bat at her apartment in Martinez, the friend said, and carried a large dagger.

Phyllis Curott, author of Book of Shadows, distributed an email alert the following day about this "Wiccan slur," and spoke out against it on KCBS Radio in San Francisco. By the next day, at least, all reference to Wicca was removed from the online version of the story.

On one hand, this looks like a good job of spin control on the part of the Witches that indirectly benefits occultists of all stripes. But (and I know I'm speaking blasphemy here) I'm partly wondering whether this is a case of excessive sensitivity. The original article does say that Wicca is ordinarily positive. Is it wrong to refer to a "darker side" of Wicca?

It seems to me that there are sociopaths that claim to practice most every tradition, and that they form a part of what could be called the traditions' darker sides, whether the tradition is Wicca, Christianity, or Satanism. Was this really a "slur"?



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    Re: Wiccan Slur?
    by Violet on Sunday August 13, @10:40PM
    Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.

    A very interesting point made. About the possibility of sociopaths claiming to practice a particular tradition, that is... and the following distortion of facts related to the behavior of that person in particular, versus the practices which might be specific to the "tradition" they claim heirship to.

    How does one resolve this question, really?

    When to call oneself a "Wiccan, Moslem, Thelemite, Catholic" or whatever, is one particular designation, but then if that _person_ behaves erratically or commits some crime -- is the erratic nature or criminal tendency imbedded within the religion, or specific to that person?

    What of when a religion, itself, behaves erratically or commits some crime?

    I mean... both of the above situations have similar examples. Of erratic behavior, we could cite countless visionary experiences, both individual and mass, and of criminal behavior, lots of documentation exists of the "lone wolf" killing in the name of his or her god, as well as an entire army of religious folks sent out to attack nations under the auspicious of some religious edict.

    None of this is new "news" as I think you've expressed by your questioning of this veiwpoint. Nonetheless, when something appears in a mainstream newspaper where the majority of readers could possibly be more greatly unsympathetic to alternative or subcultural views than a periodical dedicated to that specific cultural minority... we should be double-alarmed for their potential/political consequences. "In context" as the old saying goes.

    It's no "news" that political activist groups have been acting up on all kinds of reporting in the media which they feel leads to further prejudice rather than expanding social awareness and interest in their issue as a human/civil rights issue. Common place to this type of proactivism is the range of cultural-specific groups protesting poor/misrepresentative images created by media big-wigs in mainstream cinema, as an example.

    The point raised with regards to this article in the newspaper is that there seemed to be a religious/political slant created by the author in terms of a hypothetical link between the erratic/criminal behavior of this particular individual and their "claimed" religion.

    I don't remember any such relevations of intimacy concerning the personal religious practices of Jeffrey Dalmer or any number of other psychos out there who've been caught for gruesome crimes. I hate to say it, but I think rumors of Satanism and bestiality and all that hoohaah sell newspapers, that's all. It appeals to the macabre of the superficially straightlaced but otherwise seriously repressed mainstream. Why else do we have "Emergency Room" for prime-time t.v. and the like?

    I fear I haven't "said" much of real rhetorical value here, other than to say that I agree that this is a sensitive topic, that newspapers and media in general are powerful and a powerful influence upon social prejudices and social mileu and in a democratic environment, this influence should never be underestimated when considering the possible motives in the "slant" of a given publication or presentation.


    Love is the law, love under will.

    Violet

    Re: Wiccan Slur?
    by Marfiza on Monday August 14, @02:57PM
    Not a 'slur' in the strictest sense of the word, but certainly an unnecessary mention and one whose inclusion was calculated for sensationalist purposes. See, if the suspect had NOT been Wiccan, but had been falling away from Mormonism into, say, Wesleyan Methodism, they wouldn't have mentioned it at all.

    It's when a suspected criminal is into "something weird" -- a non-het non-vanilla sexuality, a fringe religion, or even stuff like motorcycling -- that the press sees fit to mention it. Oh so casually, of course, but the deliberate marginalization of the particular weird-but-not-criminal activity along with the criminal seems pretty clear to me.

    And that's the irritating thing. A Presbyterian criminal is not news; why should a Wiccan criminal be? Why should the media feel it necessary to give their Muggle readership a chance to nod sage heads and say "ah, you see, I always knew there was something fishy about those [whatevers]" and feel all warm'n'fuzzy about being the safe, vanilla, mainstream, law-abiding sheep they are?

    It's almost enough to turn one into a conspiracy theorist...

         - M

    • Re: Wiccan Slur?
      by Mordecai Shapiro on Monday August 14, @04:20PM
      If the religion is a motivating factor it will get mentioned. If someone carries out a ritual human sacrifice their religion will get mentioned. But David Koresh was not Wiccan, Jim Jones not a Satanist, Bin Laden, Khomeini, and Qaddafi are certainly not Thelemites, and their religions are mentioned even though most of their Christian and Muslim coreligionists are no more responsible for them than I am for Richard Ramirez.

      What's totally unfair is when the story uses the religion of suspects without any evidence of it actually being a factor in their motivations. Unfortunately that appears to be what is happening in this case.



     
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