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Author: The Rational Heathen

Pop Culture Heathens

Pop Culture Heathens

Quick, without Googling, name five Heathen gods or goddesses other than Odin, Thor, Freyja, Loki, or Hel.  Now, assuming you didn’t cheat, can you tell me whether they’re Aesir, Vanir, Alfar, or Jotunn? (Again without Googling.)

If the names came easily to you, chances are you’ve been in Heathenry awhile.  If you’ve equivocated on some of the races of the gods, chances are you’ve been in Heathenry for years.

However, if you really can’t name five, let alone understand why anyone would equivocate on what race some of the gods were, then you’re probably new at this.  You may have come to Heathenry through pop culture, either from watching one of the Thor movies or watching Vikings.  And that’s okay.

Neophyte Heathens and Asa-popes

The other day, I was talking to an agnostic on Facebook (yeah, you know who you are) who quizzed me about being a real Heathen.  I wasn’t really bothered by it, but it got me to thinking about the Neo-Heathens who have joined Heathenry from watching pop culture movies and TV shows about Vikings and the gods.  (Marvel springs to mind.)  I also started thinking about the tendency for certain people in our religion to declare themselves gatekeepers or Asa-popes.  Inevitably, there’s a clash between the Asa-popes and the neo-Heathens, because the Asa-popes and Gatekeepers are annoyed with the neophytes. They are annoyed that someone would show interest in our religion because of some pop culture reference.

Loki wives.  Not historical. Neo-pagans.  Neo-Heathens.  None of this is particularly new.  So, the Asa-popes discourage the newbies, and the newbies think all Heathens are asshats.

That’s Fine, Except…

That would all be well and good, except Heathens are pretty much a drop in the overall pagan pool.  We don’t have the numbers to turn anyone legitimately seeking knowledge away. (Except the neo Nazis, whom we really don’t want.)  Heathenry and all its forms (with the exception of the white supremacists) might equal 250,000 in the world.  If that.

The Good Old Days of Heathenry

Back in the good old days when Heathenry flourished and people were lucky to live to 50 years old, there weren’t any Asa-popes telling people what to believe.  Sure, there were gythias and gothis, but they weren’t connected by some universal Church. Some gods and goddesses were worshiped over others; some stories were told in some parts that weren’t told in others. When the Vikings went to new lands, they’d add gods and goddesses from those pantheons.  Or maybe they figured that the names of those gods matched the Heathen gods.  We have some artifacts that show the Christian god being worshiped alongside Thor for a time.

My point is that people back then didn’t have a single view of the gods.  Like now, they chose their own traditions and their own gods to believe in.  The concept of organized religion occurred with the growth of cities and with priesthoods looking to grab power and keep themselves within the power structure. Sure, you had shamans and whatnot doing the power thing if you were in a tribe, but I suspect most Heathens revered ancestors and tutelary spirits, with an occasional major god or goddess thrown in for good measure.

So, How Does This Work for Today?

Heathens weren’t a particular picky bunch when it came to revering gods and goddesses.  How you came to what kind of gods you worshiped was probably your own business and really not worried about, as long as you weren’t a dickhead about it.  You were pretty much considered a Heathen if you believed in the Heathen gods–as far as we know, you didn’t get singled out because you believed that Thor was better than Odin, or you worshiped Perun or Frau Holle.  Hel, our ancestors probably gave you a pass if you revered Loki as long as you were part of the kindred.  When you started identifying with Christian ideals that were aimed at destroying Heathenism, that’s when they got a bit tetchy about it.

So, when I look at where new Heathens are coming from, I shrug and think that they have to come from somewhere.  If not from pop culture, then where?  See, I think a lot of Heathens, especially recons, don’t give our gods enough credit.  Who is to say that Bragi didn’t inspire the original writers at Marvel to dip into Nordic mythology and bring Thor to life on comic book pages?  Who says that Odin couldn’t have given the mead of poetry to the writer of Vikings?  And who can say that the interest in our gods in pop culture isn’t fueled by the gods, themselves?

But It’s Not Right!

At this point, I can hear the recons screaming: It’s NOT right!  The stories are screwed up! You know, you’re right.  The stories aren’t the legend and myths, and they don’t portray the gods exactly according to our beliefs.  Doesn’t matter.  They have piqued an interest in our gods and the Heathen ways that cannot be denied.  Sure, some will become interested in the context of the movies, the shows, or the graphic novels and that’s all.  Some may blend the pop culture and the legends together.  But some will dig deeper and explore what it is like to be Heathen.  Those are the ones we need to foster.

What About Pop Culture Heathens?

So, what should we do about pop culture Heathens?  Nothing.  Let them have their fun.  Do you actually think that all Heathens were serious followers of our gods?  If they were, then why was it so damn easy for Christianity to take hold?  Christianity took hold because the powers that be declared it their religion.  The masses joined up because that’s what kept them in good graces.

So, that’s my take on the neo-Heathens from pop culture.  As usual, your mileage may vary.

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Where Other Pagans Have it Wrong

Where Other Pagans Have it Wrong

Today I’m throwing mud at another pagan religion, which probably will put me on their curse list.  So be it.  I don’t believe in that shit anyway, so cursing me won’t work.

I’m a full-on Heathen, regardless of the names the recons love to sling at me.  Although I do think that most pagan gods are simply other manifestations of our gods, there are some gods that Wiccans and other pagans flirt with that I think are just not a good idea.  I look at their veneration and maybe even worship of these gods and wonder how they could put a positive spin on what is considered demons and devils in Christianity.

Are You Really Pagan, or Are You Just Taking Crap from Judaeo-Christian Lore?

I’ve been reading about different pagan beliefs, especially Wiccan, and if I’m reading things right, a lot of current foundation of Wicca is from Gardner, who was heavily influenced by the book, Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches.   The tl;dr version of Aradia is about the female messiah who is the daughter of Diana and Lucifer. All of which are supposedly wonderful and nice.

Does anyone see a problem with this?  One writer on Patheos talks about who exactly the daughter of Cain is in this book.  There are a number of issues with Aradia, the least of which is the racism and antisemitism in the book, itself.  I’m willing to pass on it only because the book was written in 1899 and antisemitism and racism was strong then.  I’m not, however, giving those modern day witches a pass on using this book, but that isn’t my point at the moment.  My point is that Aradia is taking Judaeo-Christian beliefs and fitting them into its own narrative. It is treating the Bible and Christian lore as being factual or real.

Why this is a Big Deal

Okay, so why do I have my panties in a wad over this?  Well, it’s derivative, for one thing.  And it’s derivative not from pagan belief, but from a monotheistic belief.  The exact monotheistic belief pagans are purportedly not believing in.  It’s like saying, “I don’t believe in your god, but hey, we’re going to take the trappings and lore from your religion and use it however the hell it suits us.”

And you wonder why the Christians burned these people at the stake?  Seriously?

Now again, burning people at the stake not something I’m even advocating, but when you start taking villains of a religion and make them your heroes, you’re bound to get some push back by the dominant religion.  Yeah, you might say that your version came first, but really?  Really?  From where I’m sitting, I’m not seeing it.  It looks like an offshoot of Christianity and even smacks of satanism.  (Not the atheist satanism, but the image satanism conjures up for most Christians.)  Aradia was published some 1899 years after the supposed birth of Christ.  Claim all you want to that it comes from older texts, but there’s no proof in that.  You just have one author/translator who is spouting some ugly antisemitic words that was pretty much the attitude at that time.

You Either Believe in it, or You Don’t

I don’t believe in the Jewish and Christian god.  I think it is a construct that came from one sect of the Canaanites that eventually became Jewish.  They put their patron god Yahweh above all the other gods and came up with monotheism.

Given that other religions have come up with monotheism seems to indicate that the idea isn’t that new.  It’s just a way to say that your tribe and your god is better than anyone else’s to the point where you discount other people’s gods.

If you’re taking pieces from the Judaeo-Christian religions and putting them together in ways that are insulting to those who actually believe the stuff, you’re really just perpetuating the myth that all pagans are Satan worshipers and evil.  Come to think about it, you’re perpetuating the belief that witches worship Satan.

Try Something Different

I get that the Wiccans may take some of their beliefs from other Middle Eastern religions like Zoroastrian, but honestly, aren’t you being a little narrow in your world views?  I’ve heard that there were somewhere around 5000 different religions.  Instead, you’re mixing Christianity, Zoroastrian, and Roman religions to come up with something you like?

Yeah, I’m a Heathen and I follow the Northern pantheon. But I don’t say Lucifer and Diana bore Odin, or some such nonsense.  No, I have a celestial cow who licks the rime off a god who has children that slay a frost giant and build the world from his body. Totally logical.

Okay, maybe not.

But many Heathens, myself included, get that the stories we read are just stories.  They may be metaphors for the actual universe coming into being, or they just might be good stories people told.  Those who follow the tenets in Aradia may believe that as well, I don’t know.

My point is that of all the religions it could take from, it took from Christianity. And not even the good parts.  Cain and Lucifer and Lilith?  Seriously?  Certainly there are other religions with better beliefs and magic systems.  While I, myself, don’t believe in magic, I can appreciate wanting to learn something like magic.  Heathen magic is pretty minimal in comparison to Wicca and other systems, so I don’t recommend it for those who want to learn magic.  But there are somewhere close to 5000 other belief systems to explore for that.

Just some thoughts.

A special thanks to my patron  James Sean Cudd for his amazing $20 patronage!  You too can be a patron to this blog for just $1.  Check it out.

When the Other Gods Call to You

When the Other Gods Call to You

You’ve been in a religion for some time.  Or perhaps you’ve not been in a religion at all.  Maybe it is Christianity; maybe it is another pagan religion.  Perhaps you’ve been agnostic or even atheist.  Or maybe you’re a Heathen like I am.  Regardless, now you’re looking at a calling and…it’s not a god or goddess you follow.  What do you do?

Getting Beyond the Shock

If you’re a Christian or someone who have been in the Abrahamic religions, this is often a complete shock.  Same goes for atheists, who are more likely to think they’ve gone crazy hearing from a god or goddess.  Depending on your religious upbringing, you may think the deity is some form of demon coming to tempt you away from the “One True God.”  If you fall for the Yahweh argument, you’ll never get anywhere with this.  Instead, you’ll turn down a potential positive and more personal relationship with the gods than you ever had with the god of the monotheistic cults.

If you’re a pagan, chances are you’re probably open to it.  But there are pantheons and there are pantheons.  For example, if you’re Heathen like I am, and you’re called by someone like the Morrigan, you’ll be arguing with yourself over whether you’ve just become “Wiccatru” and not on the straight and narrow path of Asatru.  Well, maybe, maybe not.

Who is Doing the Calling?

The first step is to understand who is contacting you.  Most of the time, as I understand it, the calls are pretty subtle.  Mine was sudden and intense.  If it’s a Heathen calling, it could be a god or goddess, it could be an ancestor of yours, or it could be a spirit of the land.  If you think it’s another god or spirit from a different pantheon, it could be one of the many manifestations of a Heathen god or spirit.  You see, many of the pagan religions came from a singular Indo-European source and the Heathen gods are often their gods, but just different names and manifestations.

Some gods and goddesses are specific to a religion, in which case, I recommend talking to someone more knowledgeable in that religion to understand what is happening.  It might be their deity or it might be something else. Without having a clear knowledge of who is calling, you just might not be speaking with the deity you think you’re speaking with.

Do You Really Want to Deal with this God or Goddess?

Once you establish who you’re dealing with, it’s up to you to decide if the god or goddess is someone you want to talk to.  Some deities have some pretty nasty reputations and they can be nothing but trouble, even if they’re from the Norse pantheon.  Then  again, depending on the god, you may or may not have a good relationship with them.

If it becomes obvious that the god you’re speaking with isn’t the god you think it is, it’s up to you to decide if you really want to deal with them. Some gods and goddesses aren’t trustworthy, and just because you’ve heard of them doesn’t mean they’re the right deity for you.  Pagan deities are like people–they have their positives and negatives.  Even my own god, Tyr, has pitfalls, although I tend to downplay those negatives because of all the positives.

My point is that as someone who is being called, it’s up to you to decide whether you should answer it.

When Not to Work with a God or Goddess

You’ve gotten a call from a deity.  Before you get all starry-eyed, think about what you’re committing yourself to.  Is this god or goddess asking you to do something against your morals or against the law?  Are they looking at having you harm someone or yourself?  If the answer is yes, then say no and walk away.  Take the high road here.  Don’t be like Abraham who was asked to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering because apparently Yahweh gets his rocks off watching humans squirm, even though he is supposedly omniscient and omnipotent.  What was the purpose of THAT mindfuck?  Tell me that.  Don’t say to prove loyalty, because an omniscient and omnipotent god would already know the outcome.

Look, sometimes what a god wants and what you want isn’t in your best interest.  Don’t fall for the “god’s greater plan” bullshit.  If it’s a good plan, then there should be a quid pro quo.  Yeah, it’s a god, and you can still say no.  Can they fuck up your life for saying no?  Sure.  But then, they’ve shown you their true colors anyway.  Do you really want to work with a vindictive and dangerous god who is likely to harm you more than help you?

The Upshot of Dealing with Deities

Dealing with gods aren’t always sunshine and light.  If you get a call from a god or goddess, study the Hel out of them and get a good feeling for who they are.  Talk to priests or priestesses of that religion and get their take on your contact.  Be aware that you may not have been contacted by a god, but by an ancestor, a wight, or some other denizen looking to make contact.  When you do finally establish contact, find out what they want.  If what they want isn’t against your moral code or the law, then you have to decide if you want them in your life. (If it is against your moral code or the law, run like Hel.)  Above all, keep your head when this all occurs.  You may have to step gracefully out of the relationship.  Lastly, even if the god or goddess isn’t from your pantheon, you should still accept the contact if it is a favorable one.  After all, the deity thought enough about you to visit.

Using the Magic in Nature and the Seasons

Using the Magic in Nature and the Seasons

Oh my god!  I said the “M” word!  Does that mean I’m going to talk about…GULP…Magic?  Well, yes, and no.  I want to talk about changes in the seasons and how you can recognize them long before most people do.  Which means maybe not magic, but more observation and perhaps a bit of empathy.

Let me explain.

Recognizing the Rhythms of Your Land


Regardless of whether you live in the country or the city, in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere, or in the Americas or “across the pond,” the land you live in has its own rhythm, its own wights (and I use that term loosely), and its own timing.  Back when I lived further south in the Rocky Mountains, it took me forever to recognize this–mainly because I wasn’t a Heathen then and I had other concerns which took up a good deal of my attention.  Back when I was younger, the weather, the climate, and the land were simply distractions from day-to-day living.  Now, I realize that day-to-day living is a distraction from the weather, climate, and the land.

Look, you don’t need to become a tree hugger or run around naked in the forest to connect with nature.  (However, if that’s what you do to get your rocks off, that’s none of my business.)  It involves changing your viewpoint and paying more attention to the natural occurrences that surround you (even in the city.) Changing your viewpoint isn’t that hard, but it does require mindfulness.  This is why I often recommend mindfulness training to those who are getting started in Heathenry.

Mindfulness as Magic

If there’s a form of magic I do believe in, it has to do with mindfulness.  Seriously, it’s something everyone can do and it will help discipline your mind enough to deal with the stress of modern life.  I recommend a book called Mindfulness for Fidgety Skeptics if you’ve never done this before. I get a small stipend from Amazon if you buy it through the link. You support this website if you use the link, so I would appreciate it if you use it.  Even if I didn’t get some money through this, I’d still recommend the book.

What You’ll Discover Paying Attention to the Land

Being mindful and paying attention to the land opens a whole new world of experiences you never knew existed.  You start noticing not only the cooler temperatures of autumn setting in, but also the increase or decrease in humidity that follows the change.  Maybe you start seeing stratus clouds and high cirrus replace the fluffy cumulus.  Maybe you see a shift in the bird population, the increase or decrease of certain insects, or even the shift in the quality of light you get.  Instead of noticing the latest fall fashions creeping into people’s wardrobes, you notice how the squirrels are moving from tree to tree to gather food.  You may see different species of birds.  If you live in a place with deer, you may see a shift in their foraging.

At night, you may see a change in the constellations–if the light pollution isn’t too bad. If you live in wildfire country like I do, you can actually see if there are new wildfire starts nearby just by the color of the moon, often before the news picks it up.

How This Makes You a Better Heathen

At this point, you may be wondering how this makes you a better Heathen.  Let’s think about this a bit: our gods and the landvaettir are nature entities.  Even Odin, who is our creator god, deals with natural forces.  (How much more natural is the creation of life?)  So, we’re looking at gods who reside over nature.  By paying attention to things not human made, we gain a deeper understanding in the world around us.  You become a better Heathen, and you even open yourself up to the wights and gods.  It may or may not be a type of magic, but I know it works.

How to Communicate with the Gods

That’s one thing about being a Heathen a lot of Heathens miss.  You see, you can get close to the gods without all the mumbo-jumbo.  In fact, I suspect it’s the best way to get in touch with the gods.  You don’t get a conversation with the gods from mumbling prayers or sacrificing goats usually.  You get that from opening yourself to them and seeing who pops up.  That requires paying attention to them and listening to what they have to say.

If you’re not receptive to the gods unless Thor takes a hammer to you and smacks you silly, you’re unlikely to hear them.  That does happen to the most dense of us and it is quite unpleasant.  Trust me when I say you will really get shaken out of your reality when the gods do that.  It will make you question your overall sanity, unless you’re already bat-shit crazy.  Now, it’s a lot easier to deal with because I’m more in tuned with them, but for a while it was fucking nuts.

I hope I’ve given you some things to think about.  Let me know what you think.

 

Shamans and Charlatans

Shamans and Charlatans

I ran across a person who is making money hand over fist with her “channeling” archangels.  Now, you might tell me that I’m just bitter because I don’t make tons of money like she does. Okay, you might be right there. But I think charging a lot of money for a “gift” from a supernatural entity smacks of charlatanism.  Here’s why I think that they might be a charlatan.

What are Angels?

Of all the Christian constructs, I’m more inclined to accept angels and archangels over other supernatural beings.  The concept of the angel, that is a messenger of the gods, goes back a fairly long ways in history. The concept isn’t linked just to the Abrahamic beliefs.  The word, “angel,” comes from the Greek word, angelos, meaning “messenger.”  The Sumerians were the first to have angels.  They even worshiped a type of personal angel, similar to our Fygia that were, in essence, guardian angels. The Babylonians continued with angels and demons, which no doubt influenced the Jewish belief system, and thereby Christianity.

A UPG warning ahead (so you know).  I believe that the so-called angels of Christianity are actually gods from earlier religions, and that our gods have occasionally taken their forms (as well as forms of the Christian god) to appear to people who eventually become Heathens.  This is my experience, and you can take that with a grain of salt.  I know, in my case, Tyr has done so, and I suspect Odin has as well.  I also suspect other spirits and supernatural entities have taken the guise of a Christian angel to get their message heard.

Charging for Communing

The concept of communing with angels and archangels doesn’t seem that farfetched to me, as I’ve noted.  But the concept of charging people a monthly fee for their insight sends off warning bells as being a charlatan.  They claim that people won’t believe their message if they don’t charge something, but getting rich off advice given by the minions of a poor Jewish carpenter seems a bit hypocritical.  Okay, a lot hypocritical.

I remember being in a panel at a SF convention and using runes on someone else, rather than myself.  I was stunned to find people all around me who charged for doing that sort of thing with their Tarot cards. Never mind that I ended up being more accurate than they were.  That’s really not a boast.  I felt so out of my league with those people, that I ended up being stunned at my own accuracy.

Occasionally I have charged for my rune draws, but it’s a nominal fee — like $5.  I am very cautious about it, because I really don’t know if it works well enough to change people’s lives.  And quite honestly, the gods are the gods.  The gods are not our bitches.  They don’t come running when we call to them, nor do they do things we ask of them, unless they think it’s a good idea.  I suspect angels–if they really do exist–have better things to do than counsel people on their day-to-day lives. Yeah, and if I recall archangels seem to have lots of things to do besides talk to our silly asses day-to-day.  The gods do, I know that.

Yes, the runes are the runes.  They may or may not tap into a god’s psyche.  And one could claim, I suppose, that you spent umpty umpty bucks becoming a channeler.  You know how much training I had with the runes? Zilch, other than books.  You know how much training I had contacting gods?  Yep, zilch, nada, none.  And yet, I’ve gotten some interesting contacts.

Communing with Angels

So, do I think the people actually commune with angels and archangels?  Probably not.  In most cases, as much as I hate to say it, they’re charlatans like those people who did toll-free Tarot readings and advise people of their love life.  Maybe a few of them were actually legit, but most were just trying to make a buck off of incredibly gullible people.

Of those who are actually legit, I don’t think they’re talking to whom they think they are talking to.  For one thing, I don’t believe in the Christian god, and if he does exist, he’s not the god the Christians think he is.  So, the angels and archangels could be damn near anyone or anything.  Hels bells, it might even be a malevolent spirit.  If I hazard a guess, I think they’re probably talking to a wight, if they’re talking to anything.

So, How Does this Relate to Heathenism?

For those getting into Heathenism, and for those who have been in Heathenism some time, it’s important to recognize when someone is blowing smoke up your ass.  (As an aside, this term actually comes from an attempted “cure” by blowing smoke up someone’s ass.  I know, TMI.)  Basically if someone is demanding lots of money for something that isn’t particularly well defined, such as prognostication, you may want to ask a lot of questions.  Questions include:

  • How do I know that you’re really talking to <name that entity or god> and not just ripping me off?
  • What do I get in return for my money?
  • Who made you the Asa-Pope and why should I believe you?

I know, I know.  I’m a wet blanket here.  Look, there are plenty of major religions out there begging for money who have amazingly gilded churches.  The Catholic Church is just one of them.

Where Does the Rational Heathen Fit in?

You HAD to expect a Doctor Who reference in here with angels. I’m just sayin…

At this point, if you haven’t read a lot by me, you’re probably wondering what the fuck am I doing and what am I selling?  Look, I know I’ve mentioned that I’ve had several conversations with our gods, but I give the information I think is pertinent freely.  Yeah, yeah, I do have a premium version of this site and a pay wall on some pieces, but I’m pretty up front when I’m telling you that what you’re paying for is to keep me writing about the stuff you like to hear about.

I’m not lying to you and saying that Tyr has a special message for you if you only pay me $29.99 a month.  (He doesn’t, by the way.)  I don’t tell you I’m taking the money and saving souls while lining my pockets with the cash. (You’re going to Hel, by the way, if a god doesn’t claim you or if you haven’t died in battle.) What I tell you is that I could use some help monetarily and if you like what you’re reading and want to support my endeavors, I’d appreciate if you could at least pitch in a buck or two to at least keep the blog and the Internet up.

Maybe I’m not thinking big enough on this whole archangel thing.  Maybe I need to channel those, charge people $25 a month, and have my own videos…

Nah.  I’d probably get Weeping Angels.  In which case, we’re all screwed.

When the Muse is a Bitch: Dealing with Doubt

When the Muse is a Bitch: Dealing with Doubt

I go through bouts of doubt and despair in my writing, largely because, well, I’m a writer, and we seem to be programmed for for such things. I swear, just about every job I’ve been in has, as one person so aptly put it, had the largest number of unmedicated personalities I’ve seen.

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Living in an Age of Censorship

Living in an Age of Censorship

Like many people on the Interwebs, I read the opinion piece in Forbes, Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.  (Thanks to the magic of the Internet and cached content, you can see what was supposedly “deleted.”) Now, before we get into the discussion whether or not I agree with the piece, let me state emphatically that I think it’s wrong on a multitude of levels.  That being said, I also think that Forbes should not have pulled the article in response to the shitstorm that ensued over it.  Yeah, it is a form of censorship.

Living in a Land of Confusion

Forbes caved to pressure from the masses, pure and simple.  Whether the piece was well-researched or not, was completely immaterial.  Why do I say that?  Because it is a fucking opinion piece, folks.  That article is the opinion of the writer, who may or may not have the same opinions as the Forbes magazine.  It may not be a popular opinion; it may not even be a valid opinion.  But it is an opinion, nonetheless.  It doesn’t mean that the person is right or intelligent.

The opinion piece brought up something unpopular.  Oh well.  Does that mean that magazines and news outlets should cave when someone objects to something they wrote?  Does this mean that they should censor their opinions for fear someone or something is going to call them on it or make such a fuss that they look bad?

The “C” Word

Yeah, I just used the “C” word: censor.  Granted, it’s not the government cracking down on free speech, but it might as well could be.  You see, just because an idea is unpopular doesn’t mean it should never be talked about.  I mean, if this guy wants to talk about shutting down libraries in lieu of coffee shops and Amazon bookstores, who the fuck am I to prevent him from talking about it?  It’s his idea and if Forbes thought it was good enough to print, they should just stick with it and take their lumps.  They’re not inciting violence, nor are they talking about doing something illegal.  The author just put his unpopular opinion out there.

Whether you think Forbes should not have published something like that is immaterial.  Forbes published it.  They needed to put on their big boy (or girl) pants and deal with the fallout.  Because not everything everyone publishes is going to be popular with people.

Where the Line Needs to be Drawn

At this point, you’re probably wondering what I think about other more controversial views, such as racism, Nazism, slavery, or child pornography.  Obviously, I’m against those things that exploit innocents, and I am sure as shit against things like slavery, racism, Nazis, and child pornography.  That being said, there is a lot of gray when it comes to freedom of speech.  Writing a racist blog is one thing; inciting people to riot or to kill other ethnicities because you don’t like the look of that person is another.

I have to draw the line at harm and things that exploit other people.  If it causes harm, or intends to cause harm, I have to be against it.  If it is just a bunch of trash talk, then while I don’t like it, I certainly tolerate it, because not everyone is going to agree with my point of view.

Destroying Freedom of Speech Destroys Your Right

One thing I have never understood is why people are so quick to give up their freedoms when their own group is in charge as if it will never affect them.  In America, at least, nobody’s party is in charge forever.  When you deny freedoms for the other groups, you’re denying yourself freedom when the other groups get in charge (which inevitably happens).  It’s like you think the good times are going to keep on rolling forever, and you can’t see beyond the next week, let alone four years from now.  One thing is for certain: you give up a right, even if you aren’t using it now, and you will regret it.

So the morons who goosestep in their mom’s basement want to march?  Okay, let them.  If they get out of line and break the law, throw their asses in jail.  If you don’t let them march, then when you want to march to promote Heathen awareness or something like that, the Christians may decide you are too controversial to march.  After all, you offend them with your pagan gods.

Censorship Doesn’t Make the Ideas Go Away

One of the big problems with censorship is that ideas that are censored simply go underground.  In the face of overwhelming opposition, people don’t change their minds, they look  for other people to validate their beliefs.  When Christianity came into power, the pagans went underground. Eventually, many of them converted just to avoid the consequences, but paganism never went away 100 percent.  Many people simply adopted the appearance of being Christian while still keeping with their pagan traditions.  We can see that even today.

Being Tolerant of Other’s Ideas

You’re not going to agree with everyone.  Some people are going to say things that in your mind are positively stupid and unenlightened.  Get over it.  Let them say their piece and present a rational argument against them.  Don’t turn it into a shouting match, because you’ve lost the argument and the discussion.  Why do you think I frown mightily on ad hominem attacks?  It’s not because my feelings are hurt — it’s because it is a form of bullying that turns people off to the conversation.  When you start attacking the person rather than discussing the idea, it becomes obvious you don’t want a conversation.  You just want to shout me down.

That doesn’t work.  Never has.

I hope I’ve given you something to think about.  Maybe something actually clever.  Let me know what you think.