Old Teen Essays
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Article ID: 3353
Age Group: Adult
Posted: March 17th. 2001
There can be only one explanation: A spell has been cast upon the United States.
Thanks in part to the popularity of the Harry Potter books and to television shows such as 'Charmed' and 'Sabrina, The Teenage Witch'; everyone in America knows what a spell is. Spells are something cast by Witches. Maybe even by a whole coven of those Witches. Witches and spells are linked forever in the American psyche-sort of like ballots and chads.
Only the million or more Witches, Wiccans and Pagans that reside within this country didn't cast this one.
Take a bubbling cauldron of mainstream religious arrogance, toss in a pinch of two-thousand-year-old stereotyping, add a dash of governmental indifference and top it all off with a measured dose of bland media platitudes and what have we brewed up?
If two young people dress in black, they are teased and taunted at their school and presumed to be 'Goths' and interested in Witchcraft. (They weren't.)
And if these same two young people then one day decide to go to that school with some guns and kill several of their Christian classmates (and themselves), the media just can't get enough of it.
Every written and spoken word takes on new meaning. Every aspect of their home life and school interactions are scrutinized. Every pundit on every talk show and every editorial writer from the New York Times to the Rocky Mountain News has a theory, a commentary or a soaring inspirational piece about the tragedy. And in the end, a new Christian martyr, Cassie Bernall, is the subject of a book and the name 'Columbine' is forever branded into American history.
And we learn that guns don't kill people; people kill people.
If a young girl dresses in black, she is teased and taunted at her school and presumed to be a Goth and interested in Witchcraft. (She was.) And if she resolves not to go to school one day with a gun, but decides instead that she will simply end her pain by taking her own life, well-- that doesn't make her book material really; it makes her just another teen suicide.
What may make this case different from the first is that twelve-year-old Tempest Smith's tormenters ARE the Christians. And their weapons of choice were not guns, but "Christian hymns".
Will the notebooks and computers of Tempest's classmates' be seized and searched now? Will their CDs be examined for subversive anti-Pagan lyrics? Or will their parents be questioned about their family's prayer life at the local police station? Will they be sued for not exerting proper parental control over their vocalizing offspring?
"The last thing we want to do is make our students feel guilty, " said Lincoln Park Middle School Principal Robert Redden. "But, maybe there is a lesson to be learned here: that we should strive to treat each other with more kindness."
No, it doesn't look like Tempest is going to be elevated to Cassie Bernall status anytime soon. But, "maybe" she will make an interesting lesson plan.
"Gunman targeted Christian girl because of her beliefs." BIG story there! And why not?
"Christians targeted girl because of her beliefs". No big story there. And why not?
And we learn that Christian hymns don't kill people; children of another religion who can no longer endure being mocked with Christian hymns day after day kill themselves.
And Pagan shop owners like Jamie Cain of Walker, Louisiana, aren't driven out of towns by Christians marching into her place of business and shouting bible passages, such as "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live", either. Christians don't actually perpetuate hate crimes against Pagans; they just don't want 'that kind' in their town of pretty white churches.
And we learn that one person's death threat is just another person's scripture passage.
No big story there either. No CNN Crossfire. No Larry Ling Live. No "Breaking News Story' on MSNBC or Fox.
America must be under a spell.
What other reason could there be for the lack of incensed Democratic congressmen and women showing up on every television talk program decrying the rising tide of intolerance directed toward their Pagan-American constituents?
Why else would the great liberal editorial voices of the New York Times and The Washington Post not be lifted up in outrage?
What else would prevent President George W. Bush from calling for an official investigation-- or at least calling Tempest's grieving mother to offer some sort of comfort?
And what else can possibly account for the eerie silence of the American people-a people who swear to uphold the rights of liberty, freedom and justice for all-when confronted by the hidden hatred that haunts Pagans-- and hunts gays-- and eliminates the names of black voters from the rolls.
America must really be under a spell.
And it is a spell that only real Americans can break.
In Your Service,
The Witches' Voice Inc.
Year 2001 - March 12th.
The staff and friends of the Witches' Voice extend our heartfelt condolences to Denessa Smith, mother of Tempest Smith upon the untimely passing of her daughter. As pagans, we believe that life goes on albeit in another form. reunited with our loved ones- both in the otherworld and in future lives- we will live again, laugh again and love again.
Sources: TEASING AND TAUNTING LED GIRL TO END HER LIFE; George Hunter, The Detroit News (3/7/01)-http://www.detroitnews.com - WITCHES PROTEST WALKER RECEPTION; Bob Anderson, The Advocate (3/8/01)
What you can do: If you are a Pagan parent and your child has experienced harassment, taunting or excessive teasing at school because he/she is Pagan: Write a brief description of the incidents, what the school (include school info and contact names)has/has not done about the situation. Send your letter (and/or email) along with a copy of this editorial to your state and national government representatives. Include your legal name, address and phone number; write that you are a voting constituent; most importantly, tell them exactly what you expect them to do about it. This is a serious issue that demands serious action.
|Contact Info added Wednesday, March 14, 2001|
Update: Wren spoke with Denessa Smith today and she is very touched to hear how the Pagan community has embraced both Tempest and her story. Denessa is a very open and spiritual woman and she is doing as well as can be expected. She is proud of her daughter and hopes that Tempest's story will help in some way to change the situations that all too many of our youth face in the schools today.
She would very much like to receive cards and letters from the Pagan community. You may send your condolences, letters or personal notes on how the story affected you and what you may be planning to do to help promote tolerance to:
Her address is: Denessa Smith - 1573 LeBlanc St., Lincoln Park, MI 48146
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