Pagans in the Media
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Judging Amy: Custody Battle or Witch Hunt?|
Click HERE for The WitchVox Review
Air Date: October 19th, 1999
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Something needs to be done about their blatant derrogatory portrayal of WADL. I have had people SEVERAL times see WADL and refer to it at Witches' Anti-Defamation League. This is a reasonable point of confusion for people. What "Judging Amy" did, plain and simple, can be considered libel. The took a recognized organization, whether they changed one word in the name of it or not, and made accusations that any person could reasonably assume we are capable of.
I'm not saying a lawsuit should be filed... at least not until everything is discussed. I'm saying that there needs to be some serious discussion between WADL and the people who develop this show to rectify this situation before it gets out of hand.
I'm a bit upset seeing people who wish to do nothing about this. This is an organization I have a paid membership to and I am very proud of my affiliation with WADL. I, for one, do not want to sit by and watch that name and that stellar reputation get dragged through the mud. Changing one word in the name of an organization and then using it just doesn't cut it. They could have at LEAST put a disclaimer that it was a fictional organization or something in the credits or the beginning of the show. We do not judge who is a "good witch" or "bad witch" and we help them all to the best of our abilities. This episode, while otherwise relatively decent, is truly a slap in the face to us, along with all religious rights groups, and detrimental to everything we do.
Selena Ivy FireSinger
Dear Fritz and Wren, We have our regular coven meeting on Tuesday nights, so all of us sat and watched the episode. I can't say how the others felt, but for me it was a very difficult episode to watch. I went through a similar custody battle when I was about 7 years old. Not because my mother was a witch, but because she was a lesbian. As a result I was separated from her for two years. In any case, while the show was realistic, it was also dissapointing. I was sorry to see that the mother ran. At the very least, she should have packed up the kid and run with him, not left him to the creepy dad who didn't give a whit about him. I can see that she was worried about him, but...well, it's not what I would have done. The other thing that bothered me was the lady from the Wiccan Anti-Defamation League. Yes, she and her organization may not have wanted to defend this lady. That's fine. But why not just refuse to come to court in the first place, rather than get on the stand and slander this woman? I didn't understand the motives behind that move. On the whole, it was a good episode. I was glad to see that Judge Amy was at least an open-minded person who was actually going to reward custody of the child to the mother. Although, as a judge in this day and age, she should have known there's an anti-defamation league for every group under the sun, just about. I just hope that this kind of thing doesn't go on forever; that people do become enlightened. Since I know that lesbians and gay men are still regularly dragged into court for custody battles, I'll keep hoping, and keep doing my share.
Mixed feelings, anyone? Most of the show seemed intelligent and intriguing -- the idea of the secular celebrations of Halloween being about facing personal fears was a nice touch. But the main story about the custody battle was amazingly fragmented in comparison. As Peg Aoli pointed out, we're not told why the Wiccan mom was considered a "bad witch" by the Anti-Defamation League, and why they would refuse her representation. The only reason I can think of is this unexplained plot device allows the mom to wind up absolutely vulnerable, and this allows Amy to shine heroically as the only character to come to her defense. It also allows the story to be wrapped up in one tidy episode.
Seems to me trying to handle several subplots in 45 minutes is a bit much (Amy's courtroom, Amy at the PTA, Amy's daughter's ghost, Amy's mom's child abuse work, Hunky guy writer stuff that didn't really relate to anything -- enough already.) All in all, I give them a B+ for the effort. Tending toward exploitative, but not mean-spirited.
After watching Judging Amy tonight I am left in a odd place of emotions. This is a show I have been enjoying this year and find refreshing.
It is clear that they took what might be the normal scenario in some courtrooms. I am concerned at how they portrayed Wiccan anti-defamation organizations; how the one they portrayed had an exact acronym of a current organization; how they took the liberty to say that Wicca was not an officially recognized religion of the state the show is set in (Hartford, CT); how the judge sold out on upholding the constitution; and so much more. It seemed another half hearted attempt to make a point that could half been rich with information.
For me the best part was the end when she said the only reason the child was losing its mother was because of hatred and intolerance. Maybe that was all I should have expected. Below is the information for writing to CBS. I know I probably will after I figure out what my emotions are saying.
I think it is time to create some joint media kits or something.
Judging Amy Audience Services 524 West 57th St. New York, NY 10019 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I really thought we were getting somewhere when I saw a preview for "Judging Amy, " but I came away feeling disappointed. But then again this was CBS, home of "Touched By an Angel, and probably the most conservative of all the major networks. I was particularly annoyed with the representative of the WADL; without any evidence or provocation, she labels the woman as a "bad witch." There was absolutely no evidence to support that claim. Also, the portrayal of the woman was one of a loser that probably left viewers who know little or nothing about Wiccan believing we are all loser. This was, after all, a woman who could not even hold down a waitressing job. There was no mention of the fact that Wiccans are among the most successful and highly educated people in this country. Then, out of the blue, the woman decides to abandon the child she has raised, to a father who doesn't even know him and rarely pay child support. Although I've seen reviews and comments by others who seem to think that the show gave a good portrayal of a Wiccan, and credit CBS with brining this problem out in to the light, I cannot agree. This was a portrayal of a Wiccan as a second-class citizen who, it seems, was abandoned by her coven, her friends, and even the WADL, which is supposed to be there to support her, not judge her. Again, there was absolutely no evidence that this woman's religion had any adverse effects on her child or herself. On the upside, at least no evidence of animal or human sacrifice was unearthed on the show, and the WADL Representative clarified that Wiccans do not worship Satan. I still want to know what the woman did to tick off the gas station attendant. On another matter, I am still wondering why Amy was treated so poorly at the PTA meeting. You would think that a judge would garner more respect and influence that was shown, and that Amy would have been more adamant about standing up for her rights. Maybe that was another message from CBS that liberal do-gooders shouldn't be messing in the affairs of the "moral majority, " that they should just sit there quietly and go along with the crowd, or leave without a fuss. But then again, isn't that exactly the same thing that the Wiccan woman did -- wimp out and run when things got tough. The more I think about this show, the louder and clearer message gets. Just some food for thought Jim Kennedy
I did watch the episode the other night with my husband. Although I'm just starting out and have MUCH to learn, I had a true wave of anger come over me during the show. The "ex-husband" brought home just how my parents would react if they knew my beliefs, and I felt very defensive. The question I have is, why did the woman who portrayed the spokesperson for the paganism association say they had judged the defendant as a "bad witch"? This was so lightly skimmed over, I was left wanting to know. I've gotten those same raised eyebrows and looks of disbelief at work whenever a close friend of mine jokingly mentions my following of the Way, and I respond to any criticism with the response of "don't berate what you don't understand"
The show did give a fairly realistic job of depicting what might happen in such a custody battle, and it looks like the writers did some research for this episode, but they needed to do more. When Amy says this religion isn't recognized by this state, there's a big problem. Wicca IS recognized by the federal government as a legitimate religion and the army chaplains' handbook includes it so chaplains can be supportive. It is not for any state to not recognize a right recognized by the Federal Government. When the Civil Rights Act was passed individual states were not allowed to reject it. As a judge Amy Gray would know that a state cannot be more restrictive than the Federal Govt. As a good judge she would have done some independent research.
As it was at least she didn't give in to the hate. She couldn't prevent the Mom's leaving to protect her son, ALA Solomon, but she could make the point that the child was denied his mother due to prejudice and hatred. On that level the show did well.
I was amazed at the normalcy, the accuracy of this episode up until the WADL representative showed. I realize the dramatic intent; I know it was the easiest way to show that witches & pagans don't always support each other, etc. However, with lawyers in the family, & being a Social Services employee myself, it upset me because it was not accurate. If that woman (or WADL) had decided not to support this young mother, they would simply have told the defense lawyer over the phone, & never have showed up in court. In effect that basically supports the prosecution (or plaintiff in this type of case).
However, the message was excellent overall - the idea that witchcraft is a religion & that religious beliefs should not effect custody issues; also the reality of misinformation & fear surrounding pagans & witchcraft.
I did have one question - in the trial portion of the show someone (either Judge Amy or one of the lawyers) states that "in this state, Wicca is not a recognized religion" meaning, I assume, Connecticutt. Now, Wicca in recognized on the Federal level (Department of Defense & the IRA) as a religion. Doesn't that cover all the states by definition? I hope to see more shows treating paganism in this realistic light. By the way, it also deals with Social Services pretty accurately, as well. Cheri Kovak
Greetings, I watched this show in it's entirety.I don't think the show itself was too bad.At least they tried .The person that came off worst was the father I think.Even though he gained custody of the child he has to live with what he has done to his former partner and possibly repercussions from his son.He didn't look very happy towards the end of the show.Not jubilant as one would expect.Mayhap he has a conscience?
Hi! I think it is sad that some people think so little of their children at to deprive them of the fun of Halloween. Yes, these day you have to be careful of those people who wish to harm children, but a wise parent will talk to their children about it, not ban it out right.
Bright Blessings to All!!! Rebecca
P.S. My son is going as a Dragon. His choice. We found the costume at a garage sale.
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