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Wren Wrants A-Z ...

A Letter To My Daughter

A PumkinHead in the White House

A Real Bad Day For Witchcraft

A Real Reason To Vote

A Time for War, a Time for Peace and a Time to Browse the Bookstore

A Wonderful Piece of News

The Aftermath of Columbine High School

Beating A Not-So-Hasty Retreat

Behind Enemy Lines

Breakfast Will Be Served In Fifteen Minutes...

Building a Circle of Trust

But What Will People Think?

By Their Furniture, Ye Shall Know Them

Caution: Restricted Area

Cleaning Out The Junk Drawer

Community Power Who Holds it?

Community Thoughts on Tempest Smith

Compelling without the Yelling

Confessions of a News Junkie

The Consistancy of Change...

Control-F

Coping with Grief

Cramming It Down Our Throats...

Damned if you do and Damned if you don't

Declaring Your Personal Independence Day

Did Your World Change Too?

Dreaming in The Dark...

There is No Zuul

There's a Rabbit In The Moon...

Excavating the Dinosaur Altar

Fair Use, Copyright and the Pagan Net

Feeding Our Young

The First Day

Gather 'Round The Fire

Getting Back To Nature

Getting Back To Normal

Getting Rid of What Bugs You

Gifts That Keep On Giving...

The Giving Circle

Gods In A China Shop...

Good And Evil: In The Shadow Of Littleton And The Garden Of The Gods.

Good Will Toward Men

The Great Hamster Myth

Happy Beltaine!

Happy Brigid's Day Everyone!

The Heart of A Mechanic

Helping Hands

Helping Our Own

Hidden Hatred Haunts Pagans

Home is Where the Spirit Is

Homosexuality and Public Policy

The Household of Priests and Priestesses

If The Hissy Fits

In A Mirror Darkly...

In Your Dreams

The Internet Reaches beyond Washington

It All Happens Locally

It Is Your Destiny

It's Maypole Week 'Round the World

It's Tribal Time!

January Arrives Wearing A White Coat

Judging Amy -- Wren's Thoughts

Killed a Goat Today

Knot Charming

Learning How To Fly

Life With Mikey

Listening To The Story

Listening To The Woods

Living In A Banana Republic

Living Through A Drought

Logging On and Speaking Out!

The Long and Short Of It

The Love of Ordinary Things

Mabon... a Man for all Seasons

Magick's Arrow

Mamas, Don't let your Babies...

The Media Story Is Often Not The True One

Mercury Has Left the Building

Minding Your News P's and Q's

Mixed Blessings


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Article Specs

Article ID: 2553

VoxAcct: 1

Section: wrenwalker

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 5,488

Times Read: 11,897

Judging Amy -- Wren's Thoughts

Author: Wren
Posted: October 24th. 1999
Times Viewed: 11,897

Here Come the Judges
Some thoughts on the recent 'Judging Amy' episode
by Wren Walker

(also see community comments Page #1 - Page #2 - The Witchvox Review)

The child custody or legal aspects depicted on the show are -quite upsettingly so- realistic concerns for many people. While some child custody battles in which religious differences are brought forward-and it is not just pagan religions that are disputed as being "unfit" environments for children by the contesting parties-have the religious aspects ruled as irrelevant, the main focus of a judge's ruling is going to be the 'best welfare of the child." There have been cases where the religion of one party or the other has been allowed as 'evidence' in a case. (See- Kendall v Kendall) )

The Witches'Voice Child Custody and The Modern Pagan looks at some of the legal and practical aspects to consider in such cases.

Now as far as the depiction of a pagan anti-discrimination group's unwillingness to handle certain cases, it is also a realistic concern that has indeed been a part of most groups' considerations. Many groups-including mainstream organizations like the ACLU-screen clients and have certain internal guidelines that they consider. Most of the pagan groups that we know of-including TWV- do not handle child custody cases where there are records of child abuse, hard drug abuse or other types of documented illegal activities. Unfortunately, some cases are not simply just straightforward religious discrimination cases, but also involved some other mitigating factors.

Lacking from the courtroom scenes were the real reasons behind the fictitious pagan "anti-defamation league's" refusal to help Ms. Featherstone. Realistically, in most cases, should a representative of a pagan organization be called in to testify, it is usually in the manner of 'expert testimony', in effect, to explain and clarify the beliefs and practices of the pagan religion under scrutiny and not to pass judgment on someone's level of spirituality.

That still does not clear up the matter, of course, and Judge Amy herself dismissed it as a political cop-out. And it may well have been meant to be that in the script. The fact remains that not all real-life cases involving pagans have been popular and there have been cases where even though the person was decidedly pagan, the charges against him/her were of such a nature that few in the pagan community were comfortable lending unqualified and unquestioning support.

That leaves us with the varied real-life pagan organizations looking at such situations on a case-by-case basis and obtaining as much documentation and reporting from various outside agencies as possible before making a decision. We have no idea about the process that the depicted fictionalized "pagan organization" went through to make their decision.

All this speculation about the role of the representative of the pagan anti-defamation group aside, I think the main focus of the show and the extremes to which the fears of the community escalated during the 'witch trial' actually helped to effectively portray just how difficult is the situation of many pagan parents, employees and neighbors. The fear of just such a thing happening to them is a major factor in the continued need for a "broom closet".

So before we fault Ms. Featherstone for her flight from the fight, we perhaps should stop and think about the climate in which she-and many others who are not character actors in a television drama series-indeed find themselves. By bringing forth the sense of isolation that this character felt and the lack of support that she received, the show's portrayal thrust home the idea of the extreme damage-the evil even-that hatreds which are founded on irrational fear, speculation and religious bigotry can wreak in a person's life. It is not only pagans that can feel the brunt of such poisons, but anyone anywhere who is deemed "different."

Was Ms. Featherstone a fit parent? Should the pagan anti-defamation league have represented her? Was she fired for being a bad waitress or because she was a Wiccan? We'll never know. The court, the judge, the lawyers, the townspeople and the audience never could move beyond the religion issue to find out. And maybe that is the lesson we can take from this program.

Because of her religion, Ms. Featherstone was discriminated against. Because of her religion and the controversy surrounding it, the characters in the story-line never saw her as a human being-but only as a 'Witch'. If there was anything good in Ms. Featherstone's soul, they would never get past the 'W' word and so be able to see it.

Yet as pagans sitting in the audience, we do not know anything about Ms. Featherstone either. Her religion also stands before our eyes and blocks the view into who she was as a person, a mother, or as an employee. If there was anything not so nice in Ms. Featherstone's soul, because of her religion, we can't get beyond the "W" word to see that as well.

A label is a label is a label and stereotyping can work both ways. Religious preference can tell a lot about a person perhaps, but when that is all that you see, there is the danger of deciding that a person is this thing or that thing without any real experience or evidence of the person her/himself.

Discrimination and defense in this case rests solely upon what they-and we-believe about a religious label. We all know that she was a Witch. But if everyone has drawn a conclusion about what sort person she was simply because of the "W" word, both sides of the issue have fallen into the snare of stereotyping and neither side can claim any virtuous high ground for their position.

Looking at the larger picture, focussing not simply on "pagan rights' but widening our viewpoint to include that of "human rights', the tragedy that befell Ms. Featherstone could, does and will continue to be a real-life drama for many people all over the world.

That is, until we all really learn to look beyond the labels that we give to others -and to ourselves-and get to know each other simply as fellow human beings-as diverse and unique as we may be- who are sharing one very small planet.


October 25th., 1999
The Witches' Voice
Clearwater, Florida

(also see community comments Page #1 - Page #2 - The Witchvox Review)





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