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My wife and I have made profound changes in our lives through green Paganism and simple, ecological living, which have resulted in unforeseen, yet very positive opportunities for peace, joy, laughter, and success. In fact, these opportunities have been so powerful, that I was stirred to share them with others, and not keep all these amazing discoveries to ourselves. We 'unplugged from the matrix' that is the cause of so much distraction and busyness in our lives and created a magickal Pagan homestead. I will share some of these discoveries of how, as a Pagan, you can simplify your life, while living more in sync with your purpose, nature and open up an incredible world of opportunity and possibility.

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It's Not What You Think

I'm sure many of you have heard or read something about at least one Facebook page with a title which many witches are finding offensive. I'm not going to give you access to them from this blog nor will I mention them directly.  The quick fervor whipped up around the name of this page, led me to all kinds of questions, and a few extremely important answers...and some perspective. I'd like to share what I've learned, hopefully it can move all of us forward on this issue.

Facebook doesn't get to decide what hate speech is, the law does.

When I reported the page for 'hate speech', as so many others had done, I was also told in a very fast reply, by an automated system on Facebook, that the page wasn't 'hate speech', and so it wouldn't be removed. How could that be? The title sure looked hateful to me!

Who is Facebook?

Since I felt that Facebook was being negligent, I figured the next step was to report Facebook to someone, but who? A state attorney's general office? The USDOJ? I needed to do some more book work to know. As it turns out, Facebook was originally incorporated in Florida, but that was later moved to Delaware, a popular state for incorporation because of favorable tax laws.

After a little more research, I decided Delaware's Attorney's General office was not the proper place for a global corporation's misdeeds, and settled on the US Department of Justice.

There's an app(lication) for that.

As with everything related to our government, you have to fill out enough forms to choke a horse. I was not deterred, but some of the links on the site got me reading a lot about hate, and hate crimes, and all the laws passed in the last 50 years to curb it. As it turns out, there is a test which the legal system uses to decide if something is actually hate speech, or just speech in really, really poor taste.

The test of imminent danger

As it turns out, free speech errs on the side of letting people be offended by speech they find deplorable, mean, disgusting, offensive, and even hateful. Imagine, as a witch, you're trapped in your home because 100 angry people are outside with torches. They're pounding on your door and walls, and one of them is yelling something like, "burn the witch!" to the others. I would personally surmise that my life was in imminent danger, even if the walls were brick, and the door made of steel. Speech which will lead to, or incites, imminent unlawful action, with a credible certainty, is hate speech. Short of that, it's just disgusting.

After reading several stories of hate crimes on the USDOJ website, for things like beating/killing people because they're gay or black, it really put into perspective how over-blown my first reaction was to the Facebook page in question. The page title is offensive, but also lame. There are people who are really still being burned because they're suspected of being witches, but I don't get the impression that this page was trying to make that happen to me. If anything, what it should do is cause us witches to rise up, be the most awesome example of what we really are, and fight to stop the burning where it is happening.

Facebook can be a tool of love and compassion, and it's up to us to prove it by example

I found the title, and the premise of the page in question to be uncouth, disgusting, offensive, mean-spirited, and hateful. I don't feel as though anyone is in any real danger as a result of this page existing. I've always been a big fan of Gandhi's philosophy of being the change I want in the world. So I'm calling for everyone to start your own page on Facebook to promote love, compassion, and understanding, and to network with each others pages. Share stories, images, and anecdotes of peace, joy, and happiness. Fill your world with these things, and the others simply get squeezed out. (I've just created mine, "Peace, Joy, and Laughter" right here.)

When we come across pages that offend, but that don't pass the 'imminent danger' test, report them, block their owners, and then never mention it to anyone. Pages and admins like those are known as "trolls", and you end a troll by starving it of attention. Campaigns against such trolls feed it.

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Peter is an American of British and German ancestry who lives in Missouri with his wife Mary, where he is (re)discovering his connections with nature and the Gods. When he's not tending to their homestead, which feeds his family and provides an expression of gratitude and work in veneration to the Gods, he writes for several blogs, and works as a freelance artist/graphic designer. Having many years of experience in various forms of occult systems, including Asatru, Celtic, and Dragon Hollow Wicca, and Witchcraft, Peter finally found what he had been looking for all his life in a blend of Traditional Witchcraft (the nameless art), Heathenry and personal gnosis/exploration (vision/mystic).


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Thursday, 22 August 2013

    Cogent, dispassionate, comprehensive. I couldn't have said this better myself. Hear, hear!

  • Celestine Angel
    Celestine Angel Thursday, 22 August 2013

    I disagree that your first reaction was over-blown. See, the thing is, with that page being based, as much as anyone could discern, in South Africa, there actually was a reasonable amount of actual violence that could be expected as a response to their hate speech. Maybe not in the U.S., but in many places all over the world where people really are being accused of witchcraft and murdered. And as Facebook may be based in the U.S., it has users from all over the world. It was not outside the realm of possibility that the page could have incited some very real violence.

  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Friday, 23 August 2013

    I tend to err on the side of giving idiots enough rope to hang themselves with, particularly given the free-speech tenets here in the US. So, I laugh along with tasteless jokes, and ignore lame insults.

    I did not feel personally threatened -- I'm not a witch and don't live in a particularly hostile community -- but in the case of a page that promotes violence against a group of living beings, even in jest, I think exercising free speech to crush those attitudes is worthwhile. Yes, trolls feed on attention, but so does Facebook, only Facebook cannot abide the negative attention which feeds trolls.

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