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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Why do I do it? Internet debates, emails, and online Pagan groups

This is a page from the third version of Technopagan Yearnings. There are some formatting differences. Originally published at www.neowayland.com/C65989237/E20100218113503

Why do I do it? Internet debates, emails, and online Pagan groups

I am what I am - updated

Let's face it, getting involved in these prolonged internet debates isn't exactly the healthiest behavior out there. When it comes to relieving frustration, not only to I have perfectly reasonable poly-resin skull to talk to, I have bed companions who are more than willing to let me indulge my odd tastes. Perhaps not as much as I would like, but certainly more than occasionally.

I wrote about it some in Almost the last advocate at Pagan Vigil.

Live and let live works mostly. When that doesn't work, KYFHO comes through. But usually there is no one else willing to make a stand. Unpopular religions? I'll defend them to the end until they impose on someone else. Same with political groups. Or rights groups.

The one thing I insist on is that free choice is a cornerstone. Including the rights of the members to walk away if they choose. As long as they do that and don't force themselves on any others, I believe that they are free to do what they want.

ARE, not should be.

Because that is the right I expect for myself, and it's not a right unless everyone else has it too. Otherwise it's a privilege taken at someone else's expense.

Even though it means that I end up defending ideas and practices that I find questionable at best, I can't do anything else and stay true to myself.

I won't kid you, there's a part of me that grooves on taking someone down a notch or two using nothing more than logic and their own arguments. I've also been known to go searching, well, not exactly for fights but for places where someone is likely to trip over their own words and pretensions and fights will break out. It's sick, unhealthy, and I try to find other ways to handle frustrations these days.

I also know that it's unhealthy to use kinky sex as a substitute, but them's the breaks.

But when it comes to Pagans and small "L" libertarians, I take it personally. Particularly if I care about the group. If anyone should know about the dangers of scapegoating, it's Pagans. We know that Pagans aren't crouching naked in the bushes, waiting to rape your kids or sacrifice your cat under the next full moon. Or maybe it is the other way around.

But we also know that there are more than enough people who believe that Pagans are there to do exactly that. And it doesn't help that some of us are casual about nudity and sex to begin with.

I don't believe that modern Pagans can let ourselves become that which we might fear. Just because someone calling themselves a Christian did something horrible 1739 years ago doesn't mean we can afford to label someone else a monster today.

The thing is, if we insist that someone is innocent until proven guilty, that's a sword that cuts both ways. It means that we can't allow ourselves the luxury of scapegoats, even in the secret places where they will never know we did it. We'll know, and that will be enough to undo our goals.

I've given up internet debates these days unless it is in a REALLY Good Cause. It's not that I don't want to, the gods know that I want it bad. And I am very very good. My own weird sense of ethics and responsibility insists that I tell my opponents I am good. Or maybe it is just my Coyote-warped sense of humor. Let me share something I wrote in a private email.

By insisting that everyone be judged by their actions, I'm also invoking civilized behavior. If I show fair play and they don't play nice, I'm under no obligation to respect their rules as I deal with them. Civilized means that no one can threaten force or try to intimidate someone. Depending on how mischievous I'm feeling, I might even insist on no insults. If they can't compete under those conditions, that doesn't say much for their opinions or their cause.

I just stacked the odds heavily in my favor. I already know I can probably argue most people under the table and three times on Sunday, and that is at even odds.

If someone doesn't "play nice," they just ceded moral authority and I am justified in my actions. No one watching could say otherwise. After all, I dealt with them fairly at first.

Even then, I probably wouldn't "defeat" them or "destroy" them. I wouldn't want to create martyrs. Instead I would defuse them, defang them, render them harmless.

It's hard to scare someone if they are busy chuckling

I know, it doesn't say much for my character and desires that I indulge in these confrontations, even if it's only occasionally.

But wouldn't you rather me do it in support of honor than wily-nily? It's a tradeoff.

I am what I am
And the man that I am
Demands what I dream
I am what I am

Yes, that is one of mine. Great for last stands or True Beliefs. For maximum effect, plant your feet, flex your knees, and face things head on. Say it out loud.

When all your choices are bad, sometimes the only choice is to listen to your heart and embrace your dream.
_____
Update - Yes, the Otherkin thing is an example of how I didn't follow these principles. It's also a mild example of what happens when things go wrong. Lesson learned.

Posted: Thu - February 18, 2010 at 11:35 AM

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