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Why do Pagans think any Pagan needs to ask Permission to be in the Media? June 8, 2011

Posted by witchschool in Pagan Leadership.
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I have come across a new phenomenon in the Pagan community in their perpetual quest for identity. It is a double standard that I find glaring. Here it is: Pagans as individuals and groups want to self-identify and have full control over their own explanations, yet demand that others in the community conform to an orthodoxy presented by our Pagan Media representatives.

I do not really get this. I consistently see that Pagans as groups and as individuals demand freedom of speech and religion in their practices, yet demand conformity and consensus in all other Pagan groups which use any form of public media platforms. It is as if it is okay to be individuals in and among ourselves, but we must form a solid wall of uniformity when dealing with the media. In fact, it is considered better to spurn, ridicule, and denigrate the media rather than allow them into the Pagan World. It seems it is actually something of a sin to work with media, if Pagans had sins.

In the case of media, every Pagan has a right to their own views. Each and every one of us, under the UN Human Rights Declaration, as well as national laws in some countries, have the right to present ourselves to the public, as long as we are willing to stand up for what we believe in. Everyone has a right to their opinion, their art, and their image as individuals, and collectively as chosen representatives of a specific group.

So I am shocked when any Pagan or Pagan group cuts through media noise, gets a big story, and then is immediately attacked by other Pagans, saying that this person or group does not represent us all, and therefore is illegitimate in all cases. These critics feel that the perpetrator of the story should be punished for speaking out; that if anyone speaks up for themselves, that they should have community consensus.

So I see a double standard has been created in which we each speak for ourselves individually, but we must gain some sort of consensus and approval of the community to address the mainstream media. How delightfully contradictory and such a wonderful source of drama and energy in our community this is.

So why do Pagans think media personalities should get permission from anyone in the community, as long as they are not mentioning anyone outside of their own groups. After all, we represent ourselves in our personal and spiritual lives, so why should we set aside our individuality in our public lives.

Since 1990, I have firmly believed that we needed our own press to tell our story. In the time since then, WSI Media has had many successful projects and in 2011, we developed an embryonic media network on a global level. We never asked permission to publish, to broadcast, or to be interviewed, when using our own materials. Simply put, that would be ridiculous because then we would be claiming we are speaking for everyone. But when we speak, we speak for ourselves.

I have believed in the concept that each Pagan or group represents themselves, and no one else. I would not and do not censor other groups or their message, or representatives. In fact, I consistently seek ways to get as many Pagans as possible to tell their own stories. From magazines, to radio shows, to videos, and events, each of these was always designed to allow individuals or groups to represent themselves in their own way.

Trying to keep the communication going, against all odds, has proven to be a difficult path. Yet it has been very rewarding as well. We have done hundreds of interviews and over a thousand radio broadcasts, always giving voice to as many Pagans as we had the resources for. This process continues to this day. At the core of all the media we do is the belief that Pagans can represent themselves and are always their own best spokespersons.

So I am perplexed by a community that recoils at the idea of a Pagan Reality Show, thinking that it somehow represents the entire community; that it could somehow damage them and their groups on a personal level. And because of that they seek to deny permission to producers of the show. They would never tolerate, even for a moment, such a restriction on themselves if imposed by the Pagan community. Yet they demand conformity of image, of message, and the words of our public media personalities. It is a striking double standard, and one that tears at our community.

I do understand that we all have a lot invested in our image and how we present ourselves to the public. Yet to show a sanitized community image against the hurly-burly diversity of the Pagan community is a lie that is hard to accept. So it always has been my belief that you are in control of your own press, and that you don’t need permission from anyone else. In return, no one needs yours to represent themselves. That is what makes Paganism a great faith, a faith that honors personal freedom and responsibility.

In closing, recognize that you have the right to represent your story as you choose, and respect that everyone has the same right. After all, there is no official Pagan news service, nor is there any way for us to find a consensus of our image. And we would not accept one if there was. So please, when demanding others not to represent you, remember they do have a right to represent themselves.