Friday, June 17, 2011

One More Time!

Here's an interesting article about a great effort to get Australian Pagans to list themselves as "Pagan" on their census. That's a very worthwhile goal and I hope that Mr. Hepworth is successful.

I'd like to use the article to, once again, illustrate a few points about Pagans dealing with the media. The very first quote:
A lot of other faiths see us as the people that got too much into Harry Potter and decided to call themselves a [W]itch instead of an actual group of people who do have a serious spirituality, [Mr. Hempworth] says.

shows why I regularly beg Pagans to practice what they're going to say and consider whether and how what they say can be used against them.

Yes, "got too much into Harry Potter" is a big step up from "eat babies," but it still reinforces a negative frame about Pagans. And, it seems badly calculated to make anyone want to self-identify as a Pagan. If your objective is to get more people to say that they are "Pagan" on the census, what about starting off with a brief discussion of what's good about Paganism:
Paganism is a growing religion in Australia because it satisfies a need that many feel for a deeper connection with the Earth, for a relationship with the Divine Feminine, and for an opportunity to worship our ancestors.

If asked about misunderstandings or discrimination, you can say:
It's getting much better, but some people do still fail to understand modern Paganism. Or they smear us to further their own "conversion" efforts. However, here in Australia, Pagans are involved in [reforestation efforts, pet rescue efforts, rituals to heal our relationship with the ancient spirits of this land, collecting funds for Aboriginal People, etc.] One reason for urging people to identify as "Pagan" on the census is so that we can achieve parity with other religions in areas such as . . . .

The article makes the same mistake about "Paganism" as an "umbrella term" as do many articles. Although the author would certainly capitalize other "umbrella terms" such as "Christianity" (Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, etc.), "Judaism" (Reform, Orthodox, Hassidic, etc.), or "Islam" (Shia, Shite, Sufi, etc.), she fails to capitalize "Paganism," although she does capitalize individual Pagan religions such as Gardnerian, Greek Reconstructionist, Druidism, Shamanism and "Lesbian Feminist Goddess Worship [because apparently only lesbians would worship the Goddess?]" This is another area where those being interviewed can help their interviewers, even if only by handing out an information sheet that uses proper capitalization.

Finally, I'll note the title: "No More Mooning About." Shoot me, but I think it's cute and not really offensive.

Pagans. Please. Know why you're talking to the press. Understand that they are not your friend. Practice ahead of time what you're going to say. Don't be afraid to say, "Let me get back to you on that" if you get a question that throws you and then be sure to get back to the media person within 2 or 3 hours.

Picture found here.


David Salisbury said...

THANK YOU! So very important to tell people. The media is NOT your friend (unless its me..Im pretty friendly, but Im Pagan Media). Biggest tips from me:

1- Dont waste time saying what we're NOT. Saying that we dont worship Satan, eat babies, etc..reinforces that we DO do those things. That is the only thing we remember. Even if they ask you something absurd like "do you cast evil spells?" dont say "no we dont do evil spells". Divert the question saying "We perform spells to focus our minds and improve our condition to..etc etc". The media rarely states their own question, they will usually only post your answer.

2- Please look and sound normal when possible. Yes, funky clothes might be part of our culture, but when the press is involved, it is better for the good of all Paganism to look clean-cut and use sentence structure.

3- Sound bites! Hecate says it best, practice ahead of time. If you dont know the answer to something, dont BS it. Let them know you do not know. You have the right to not answer a question.
Have short blurbs of what you want to get across ahead of time and say it as much as possible.

Im teaching a lecture in Salem in September on how area Pagans can handle media for the coming Halloween season. Should be interesting. :)
Thanks again for posting this!

ZenMouser said...

because apparently only lesbians would worship the Goddess?

meh. Sez who? One just wouldn't expect, say, a Dianic who has posted about the plight of her African Sisters, to get in bed with the the pray the gay away set, is all. That can't be parsed, no matter how hard you might try.

Kathryn said...

There is going to be a reality show filmed by (I think that's the url) in October called The Young Witches of Salem - Salem, MA, of course. It's going to be based out of the World of Witches Museum.

Thought you might find this interesting.

Delilah @ DIY Invitations said...

Yes I agree, Harry Potter references are actually coming a looong way. When I was a teenager there were rumors that I drowned cats in the local lake regularly. Lol!

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