Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Apparently protests are going on at PantheaCon. T. Thorn Coyle has posted this on her FB page:

Gender queers & trans allies at Pantheacon: I will sit in silent meditation outside San Martin/San Simeon at 8:45pm Sunday as counterpoint to “genetic women only” activity starting there at 9pm. All bodies=sacred. Pass it on.

There are PNC members on the ground following the story and when they catch their breath they will be reporting the facts. It’s a hectic conference and hard to find time to breathe.

And until then, I will remain silent.

I will not jump to conclusions.

I will not demonize anyone before I have the whole story.

I will not speak of the events happening at PantheaCon as if I am there, because I am not.

I’m not present to see for myself, and I will remember this.

I will not spread misinformation.

I will not launch into a diatribe based on rumor.

I will wait to hear from reliable sources what is actually happening this weekend before writing about it.

I recently discovered that I didn’t have the full story of what transpired last year.

I’m angry about that.

I feel betrayed.

I feel used.

So this year I will be silent.

Just as T. Thorn Coyle is protesting in silence, so I will hold silence on the subject here on Pantheon.

I pledge not to write about the events currently happening in San Jose until I can make a thorough inquiry via multiple reliable sources who have been actually present and witnessed the events happen.

I’m not going to go off half-cocked and incite a wildfire in the blogosphere.

I hope you join me in this pledge.

My Hopes For The Future of Paganism
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About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • kenneth

        I ‘m certainly willing to hear the facts and to revise my judgment if they warrant such a move. That said, there is nothing I’ve seen so far to make me think I was way off base either. It is true none of us here apparently know the facts on the ground at this year’s event. Nevertheless, if that statement by the workshop organizers you posted on your last article was authentic, we have a pretty good idea. The upshot of that statement was that “we’re still gonna discriminate, but we don’t intend to come off mean-spirited and we’ll try to be more up-front about it this year.”
         IF that statement was not a fake, I’m not terribly impressed. If in fact they did hold a ritual for “genetic women”, there is no explanation forthcoming that will set that right in my eyes. If it all was a mistaken rumor or misunderstanding and there was no discrimination of this sort that went on in any ritual there, then I’m happy to retract what I said and to credit the organizers for doing the right thing. If, however, the explanation requires lots of “nuance” to explain what went down, I ain’t buying it. No amount of lipstick is going to fix a pig like that. 
         I also don’t think the burden should fall on the wider pagan community to “keep silent” while the people in question get their story together.  They had 364 days to anticipate this controversy and to get out ahead of the story. No serious organization can profess ignorance about how public relations works in this day and age.  They could easily have sorted all this out with a press release or better still, an interview, with you or Jason or someone. We are not lacking for news outlets in the pagan community, and any organization taking on public works knows full well who they are, or ought to. 
        Failing all that, I don’t think it is even too much to expect to have had one of the event organizers respond to someone during the event itself. Yes, I know it’s a busy time, but I was in the news business a long time. (Almost) nobody is as busy or important as they like to project.  When a controversy is about to explode that can take down your organization’s reputation, you don’t find time. You MAKE time to engage it, or spend 100 times as much time effort and money on damage control after the fact.  Let’s be honest. 
        One of the classic tactics used by sources who didn’t understand the value of transparency and good PR was this: Stonewall and dissemble and don’t come clean about what’s going on until the press of events forces you. THEN, blame the media and everyone else for “rushing to judgement” and not letting you get your side out. 

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

     I agree with your last paragraph. The problem is both sides aren’t clean. There’s more info to come.

  • zendodeb

    This kind of thing happens at lesbian festivals (and at mixed lesbian and gay festivals) all the time.

    Some women don’t believe trans-women are women. Doesn’t matter if they have had surgery or not. Of course no one is doing genetic tests, so it is only the trans-women who can’t pass that have trouble. (And of few of my lesbian friends who are – shall we say – on the butch side, have also had problems. )

    It is stupid insecurity. More appropriate for a Republican meeting than anything else.

    My feeling here mimics how I have always  felt. If you aren’t willing to do things in a public and open fashion, including everyone, stay home. You can be as insane and closed-minded behind closed doors as you want to be, and there won’t be blog posts about you.

    But if the purpose of places like cons and festivals are to show the world a united front, they have failed miserably. They have shown the wold that Pagans can be just just a petty and closed-minded as Christians.

  • http://vermillionrush.wordpress.com/ Vermillion

     “They have shown the wold that Pagans can be just just a petty and closed-minded as Christians.”

    Of course we can. We should strive to be better people not because we’re Pagans but because it’s the decent thing to do. I really dislike this notion that we have to be on our best behavior to show Christians that we’re not what they think we are. We should be on our best behavior because it’s the RIGHT way to act, religion be damned.

    Re: Pantheacon shenanigans I’m going to wait till folks get home to see what the new brouhaha is about.

  • Anna Korn

    I’m at P’con, and here people were enjoying the joke that immediately following Z Budapest’s workshop –Sacred Body of Woman– in the same room- was Gender bending ritual!

    A lot more presenters took the option of using the exclusion symbol, but sometimes that only meant something was intended for a specialized audience, like teens.

    I was not present for T Thorn’s protest- I was taking part in a Gardnerian Elders meeting in a private room. By definition that is exclusive, too…

  • LezlieKinyon

    Those story has gotten completely out of hand.  How many time does Rabbit have to *apologize*?  We Pagans have traditionally had women only, men only, trans-only, gay men- women only, parent only, grandparent only, singly only, partnered only, even newsletter publishers only…  and, every other “only” you can name and a few more. Give it up, folks, beating up on Rabbit is getting really old.

  • LezlieKinyon

     BTW _ I attended a thespians only event in Berkeley yesterday. Somebody want to protest that?  Seriously feeling left out.

  • http://hellenicpolytheist.wordpress.com/ Pythia Theocritos

    First World Problems.

  • http://elf.dreamwidth.org/ elf

    The ritual in question, as described in the program book (PDF):

    The Sacred Body of Woman (Self-Blessing)
    Z Budapest
    This skyclad rite honors the body of each and every woman
    present, the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of
    her infinite variety. Allow yourself to be embraced by the glorious
    love of your sisters, with voices raised in sacred song in this central
    ritual of the Dianic Tradition. Genetic women only.

    (I didn’t attend and wasn’t anywhere near that part of the convention. I can at least provide the actual text of the entry, so people discussing it don’t have to deal with accusations of phrasing taken out of context.)

  • http://www.melaniemarquis.com/ Melanie Marquis

    I was honored to lead the Gender-Bending ritual that followed the exclusive Dianic ritual, and anyone who was there would understand by the pain and the love felt in that room why it’s important to do away with discrimination and prejudice in all its many forms…Here’s to more inclusive and open events at pantheacon and to greater compassion in the world at large! I do understand that people of course have the right to pursue whatever magickal practices they like, whether those practices exclude others or not. Personally, however, I feel that exclusion has no place at a public event designed to celebrate unity and diversity. The closed, genetic-women-only event could have been held in one of the guest suites without offending anyone or hurting anyone’s feelings.