In the midst of the scandal about Kenny Klein, a few panicked arguments for silence came up. The first, that his activity would make Wicca look bad and the press would jump on it (or go back to jump on it) and the second, that this would ruin Blue Star. Neither is going to happen. Years of granting interviews at Halloween and objecting to this or that movie (though taking on Hollywood without being in Hollywood and being a producer yourself is an exercise in futility) has started to accumulate. Most people in mainstream America sort of know what Wicca is – the dumb questions I get these days are more of the "you can leave the house during the full moon?" ((Yes. The moon is full all day, not just when you can see it in the sky. Since I work from home I perform my rituals during the day.)) variety rather than the "do you worship the devil?" stuff that nearly every book on Wicca has a passage about.
1)He’s going to make Paganism look bad, the mainstream press is going to be all over this!
Well, no. There are bigger stories and more significant distractions out there. The way CNN tells it, only three things have happened since January:
- somebody lost a plane
- some old racist dude that owns the Clippers said some racist stuff
- Solange Knowles beat up Jay Z
Breaking up a ring of pedophiles is barely a blip on modern journalism’s radar.
The reality is that what and how Klein’s arrest happened is the best way this thing could have happened. (Can you really call a pedophile being removed from the community a BAD thing?)
If Klein had been arrested in the UK or possibly one of the other Deep South or Bible Belt states, you can bet your ass the press would be all over it. In the UK you can get sued for libel over hurting someone’s feelings but you can’t for writing they kill and eat babies. So good for us that the Mirror didn’t break the story.
There are some reasons beyond the dying and lost-in-dementia fourth estate’s condition this won’t be a slam Wicca fiasco:
1)Klein was arrested in New Orleans. Out of all the cities in the United States that are
a)not going to give a damn if you’re a witch and b)are going to have way too much crime to spend time looking for hooks on old stories… New Orleans is the one.
2)He was arrested with 14 OTHER MEN. The feds and the larger news media are looking at the story as a package deal. One Pagan out of 14 is … about the national average, whether or not pedophilia is involved. He’s not a standout and clearly Paganism was not the value that these men shared.
3)The press has zeroed in on their Disturbia posterboy: Jonathon Johnson. That’s the 27 year old man who was the ringleader – and his acts were so grotesque and disturbing that the whole Pagan thing just pales under the weight of that section of horror.
4)The release of Damien Echols has caused a lot of sensationalist reporters to backpedal on the way they report on minority religions that allow for magical practices.
We all need to recalibrate what protecting the Pagan image is. Now it’s more about whether we’re the type of people that deal with the abusers and criminals in our community or if we’re just like certain other religions, opting to sweep that under the rug and avoid the drama. The only people left pushing the "all Pagans are really Satanists" crap are churches that want people too scared to leave. So, in the rare cases you still hear that dusty accusation just look for the agenda sitting next to the styrafom cups and vat of stale coffee. Mothers who worry about how things look to their Bible study group will think might care. They’ll say they’re worried for your immortal soul but really it’s because that Betty will get the best seats and all the invites instead of her because her kid is a doctor.
2)This will kill Blue Star!
The tradition itself demonstrated the most notable freakout about this – and how could they not? One of their own elders betrayed them on a level near-impossible to grasp. But the scrambling for damage control that I’ve witnessed firsthand isn’t necessary. If anything, this is the time for members outside the tradition to offer their support – what happened with Klein is not endemic of some disease inside the tradition.
No one publicly has associated Blue Star with Klein’s crimes or suggested that Blue Star uses surprise sex with minors as an initiation. No one savvy accounts to blog comments – or reads them – and from what few I have looked at, Blue Star is not blamed in any way. In fact, the first thing out of a friend’s mouth about the fiasco was "Well, yeah, Blue Star, but he hasn’t worked with them in years."
Minneapolis is a Blue Star heavy city and I’ve met a lot of practitioners. Good folks; the few hinky ones seemed to drift out fast or perhaps their internal system arranges a drift.
It may well be time to start that series of internal audits, looking at behavior and thinking deep, but it’s very unlikely that Blue Star will be penalized in greater Pagandom. The actions of one man has the power to erase all the good he does. But the actions of one man has no power to erase the good someone else does who does only good- even if that person is associated with the evil man or woman.