Othala is Othala

So on-line Heathens and Asatruars have recently found themselves defending Othala as a symbol of hate groups.  Let’s make something clear…I am not going to talk about the Othala controversy.

Because there is none.  It’s made up.  Oh sure, Facebook banned some account for a few hours based on the fact that their administration is run by gerbils, but their actions didn’t create a controversy.  Or, rather, they created one that no one seems to be focusing on.  The contravesy is not whether the Futhark rune of Othala is or is not a racist symbol.  No one is seriously or credibly suggesting that it is.  Not the racists.  Not the folkish.  Not the Rokkatru.  Not, for the record, the butchers, the bakers, or the candlestick makers.  No one is saying this.

Except Facebook.  A complaint was issued (for some reason), and Facebook decided it was a problem because such was the will of their Cephaloid masters.  That decision has a life expectancy of roughly seven seconds in terms of precedent, and you rest assured it was made without research or fact checking.  People are acting like Othala is on trial when no one is honestly blaming it for a damn thing.  On the other side of the coin, few seem to be focusing their attention to the fact that the book that Zuckerberg built has no idea what it is doing and is essentially taking care of things completely at random.

Serriously; no one credible is actually saying that it’s a hate symbol, and this represents the one issue that racists and non-racists have agreed upon in years.  We’re taking away from the actual problem, which is that Facebook has no consistent standards on what it deems as acceptable content.  I’ve seen groups that advocate murder based on a person’s religion get a pass, while statements mocking racists are considered bigoted and is willing to ban religious symbols at the drop of a hat.  No oversight.  No accountability.  They will just do it, and we let them.

If you’re angry, stop posting pictures on the very service that is causing the problem; all you are doing is giving them web traffic, which turns into advertising dollars.  If you actually want to do something meaningful, than create a Google Plus account, move all your pictures there, and delete your Facebook after sending in a ticket on the issue.  I am dead serious.  Facebook won’t change anything until there is a finial incentive to do so.

Facebook makes money on you; that’s why it’s free.  It makes money on you via advertising, research based on your demographics, and by having continual access to your every waking thought.  It doesn’t create consistent standards on acceptable content because it doesn’t have to; no one is pushing the issue.  When it messes up, we end up blaming each other and giving it free advertising bucks in the process.  So if you have an issue with the Othala issue?  Don’t blame Heathens Against Hate, the American Asatru Association, Women of Asatru, the Racists, or any other group of people of Facebook.  Don’t blame this side or that, and don’t bring up talking point.

Blame Facebook.  Hold them responsible.  They created this problem, and it’s high time they answered for it.

11 thoughts on “Othala is Othala

  1. Håkon Haraldsson says:

    “…Oh sure, Facebook banned some account for a few hours based on the fact that their administration is run by gerbils,… ”

    “Gerbils!!”…. Your arrogance exceeds Facebook’s. Do you know the people running the page in question? If you did you wouldn’t speak so demeaningly.
    “… The controvesy is not whether the Futhark rune of Othala is or is not a racist symbol. No one is seriously or credibly suggesting that it is. Not the racists. Not the folkish. Not the Rokkatru. Not, for the record, the butchers, the bakers, or the candlestick makers. No one is saying this…”
    Oh ? No one? How about this:
    Hate Symbols – ADL Home – Anti-Defamation League

    Bottom line; , I find your sweeping generalizations and discourtesy appalling, especially for someone so full of himself as to assume the tile of Kvasir… which defines :
    “In Norse mythology, Kvasir was a being born of the saliva of the Æsir and the Vanir, two groups of gods. Extremely wise, Kvasir traveled far and wide, teaching and spreading knowledge.”

    You sir, have a LONG distance to cover
    before you should even consider such a title.

  2. valkyriejane@gmail.com says:

    Made up? No. Gerbils? No. Let’s you and I get one thing very clear. I, and only “I”, am the “gerbil” of which you point the finger at. My name, so that you are clear and can put it with any further contexts that you bring up to spew forth your unknowing opinion, is Heather O’Brien. You can find me easily on Facebook. Did you attempt to message me and inquire about this matter? No. And I will make sure that others know that. Was my page banned for a simple picture of the Othala rune? Yes. THOSE are facts. If you’re so concerned about presenting factual information, then take the time to find it. Grow up. You have a blog and therefore are, I’m assuming, free to pervert anything you wish to your liking. Continue to defame me and see how far that gets you. You did not bother to source your information. You never once sent me a message. You do not know me. You obviously were not even aware that I, myself, make the posts on Women of Asatru.No one else. Me. I am the founding Director. You have spoken a lie here and likely won’t bother to present this to your readers. But you will read it. Know that I am aware of what you’ve stated here and that a copy has been made of it.

    • You are mistaken. I am on the road so allow me to post a correction.

      I am talking about the admins on Facebook for facebook. I’m talking about people who actually decide what is acceptable and what is not acceptable for facebook. I am NOT talking about any of the administrators of any group on Facebook.

      • Håkon Haraldsson says:

        I see. I hope then, that you will attempt to be clearer in future diatribes, and refrain from trivializing as you
        carry your, not unjustified, dislike for Facebook, to your readers.

      • valkyriejane@gmail.com says:

        It looks as if you are directing the “gerbil” remark at me. I apologize if I misread that. I am happy to answer any questions that you have regarding the ban. I poured hours of work into the page and have lost all of the posts that were scheduled (they get deleted when you are banned). I don’t write them for my just my enjoyment. Heathens are dear people to me, close to my heart and I cherish them – even the ones who disagree with me, because I see them standing for something they believe in. To me, for someone to step forward and work hard, is to be commended even on the very basic of levels. You need to come directly to me for facts surrounding what happened. It’s the only way that you can be sure to get it right from the source. But this isn’t about me, I just happened to get caught in the crossfire. My concern over it is that people across the globe have the right to access symbols that are sacred to them. Not with hate, but with respect for their faith. Facebook has the right to set their terms and conditions, but they aren’t consistent. I have learned recently that it is mostly due to the use of an automated system that receives complaints and reports and that very rarely are any of them seen with human eyes. This is disheartening, but given their traffic, understandable I suppose. I filed an appeal, as was my only recourse, and I do hope that they will reverse the decision. Please, be careful that you don’t advocate not standing because with proper action it’s a good stand from good people. Heathens coming together, from all traditions, and even other faiths that are very different from ours are coming together under this. It’s not about Women of Asatru being banned anymore, it’s about standing together in fairness, consistency, and open faith – which let’s agree this world needs.

    • Sorry for the earlier response being so short; I was on the road with my wife, and trying to type heartfelt messages via a touch screen is not exactly easy…

      Don’t worry; she was driving. 😉

      First, let me reiterate what I said earlier; I was, in no way, trying to malign anyone who does admin work for any private group that uses Facebook as a forum. No ifs, ands, or buts. My annoyance is reserved for Facebook itself; an entity of such massive profits and dividends that there is no excuse that I could find acceptable for this heavy handed, short sighted, ridiculous behavior.

      Heather, I didn’t approach you (or anyone else) for the direct story about what happened because I’ve seen this story happen a lot. While groups like yours fall under the ban hammer without a single substantive reason, other groups are allowed to remain in spite of vicious and criminal hate speech. My favorite example is a group named “Witches Must Die By Fire” (or something similar), which FB told me wasn’t an issue. The next week, they banned someone for posting a meme that made fun of Neo-nazis…because that, apparently, is hate speech.

      A group that advocates religiously prompted murder was given the green light, while a joke no better or worse that what was put into a script for Hogan’s Heroes was seen as dangerous and subversive.
      What happened to your site was a new telling of an all too familiar story, and I found myself disgusted with the company that put those engines into place.

      I am extremely saddened to hear that you lost personal crafted material out of this; I can honestly say that the idea of loosing work, written personally and with great care, nauseated me. If there is anything you need in term of assistance in writing content, please let me know.

      Hakon, allow me to clear somethings up. First of all, I do not consider myself someone who has the right to put the name “Kvasir” on my work. I write under the name Harrison K. Hall, and always have done so as far as this blog is concerned. The name of this blog is a reference to some of my own UPG, a reverential nod to Kvasir himself, and it also serves as a reference to some of my own philosophical musings. Nothing more, and certainly nothing so egotistical as comparing myself to a God!

      As for the hate symbols, I was mainly talking about groups of Heathens arguing with other Heathens; Liberal, Conservative, and Moderate Heathens all seemed to be in agreement that Othala was not and is not inherently racist. So why are there so many arguments? I found the amount of contention that everyone exhibited to be baffling, especially when I saw an entity more deserving of the community’s scorn…

      Also, keep in mind I said that no one is putting forth a credible argument…and I will stand by that statement. With all due respect to the ADL, the fact that racists have used Othala does not itself make a good argument for describing it as an inherently hateful symbol. That would be like a government declaring the letter “A” inherently a symbol of terrorism simply because a group of terrorists described themselves as anarchists, or declaring the Christian Crucifix a hate symbol due to the actions of the KKK and the WBC. Those arguments don’t hold water with me, but your mileage may vary in this regard.

      To you both, I must express apologies for the confusion. Totally unintentional.

      • Just taking a second to stick up for this blog author. When I read this, I did not think he appeared to be calling the page admins gerbils, but the admins of FB itself.

        @ Hakon, I felt that it was clear and the mistaken interpretation was on your part.

        @ valryiejane, if I were you I’d be really pissed off at FB first and annoyed that this blog tells people to stop posting the Othala in support and standing up to make a lot of noise over this. I completely disagree with the author’s take on this situation. But, I really did not read it as him attacking you or your page. He’s criticizing FB itself, it’s policies, inconsistency in moderating, etc.

        @ Harrison, yes FB sucks monkey balls, but G+ sucks more, and rating the flaws of the social network doesn’t address the issue in my opinion. However, I do think it was clear to whom you were addressing with the gerbils remark. Maybe we should start a petition telling FB to fire their gerbils. Hamsters would clearly do a better job. If only they can refrain from doing their hamster dance long enough to work! Damn hamsters and their hamster dance!

        Emotions are running high on this issue because we feel that our religion, heritage, and identity is being attacked. We should continue to stick together as many of us have been doing and not let this denigrate into squabbling amongst ourselves. The only way to change the perception of our symbols and earn respect for our religion as a legitimate indigenous faith is to be vocal, stick together, and be loud and proud but with respect toward each other and others as well.

        ~ Aelfie ~

  3. You said nobody is actually calling the Othala rune racist…actually the ADL has it in their “visual database” of hate symbols. – http://archive.adl.org/hate_symbols/pagan_graphics.html#.UvjKrbK9KK0
    They also label innocuous Norse symbols like the Mjölnir, valknut, and other runes.

    Furthermore, I take issue with your solution to this problem: Google Plus sucks and nobody wants to use it!

    Yes, FB makes money off of us, just like Google does. We already knew that and don’t care. But I completely disagree with your take on it. I think we should make a lot of noise on this issue because many of us are sick and tired of being told to be Germanic is automatically to be racist.

    And let me just emphasize that google plus sucks, lol. 🙂

    ~ Aelfie ~

    • As I said to Hakon in the comments, I meant it more in the context of the argument within the community; there is a lot of finger pointing as to who would have made such a report…but no group is actually saying anything other than “this is BS”. So why all the arguments? It is very counter productive to argue about someone when everyone seems to be in agreement.

      Plus…I said no one was making a reasonable argument for it; the ADL is entitled to it’s opinion, but I haven’t seen a good case laid out for anyone to accept that opinion as anything substantive.

      I just think that people leaving FB is the best way to MAKE noise; people complain to FB all the time, and nothing of substance usually comes from it. Very few people or organizations actually take their infrastructure and just leave. Typically, they complain for a few weeks and than lump it. That hasn’t yielded results….so I’m trying to think outside the box for something that might.

      I’m not a fan of G+….but the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Google is pushing hard to make G+ relevant, and a large chunk of certain communities moving at once to their service might make an impression on FB, Google, or both.

      Your mileage may vary, of course. 🙂

  4. Doug Freyburger says:

    Folks get confused easily if they thought the gerbil comment was about anything but Facebook. I read the replies and was amazed that could happen.

    As to ADF – Whatever. They claim all sorts of crap. They have a bias that is strong and clear and we don’t have to care about them at all.

    • I’m not opposed to the idea that ADL (or any other group) could have a cogent argument in regards to this matter. I’m not sure it would change my opinion, but it’s at least possible that an argument could exist that I could understand. Until I actually hear or see it? Eh, no dice; at this point the ADL’s images are just an appeal to it’s own authority, and that doesn’t fly with me.

      I honestly think that what happened was people got in a bit of an uproar due to all the contention going on and jumped to conclusions. That being said, I was incredibly baffled at it.

      I mean, I specifically called out “Women of Asatru” as being a group that no one should put blame upon. If someone read the entire article, why would they come away with the presumption that I was blaming them? Or anyone who isn’t Facebook? I’m still scratching my head at that one.

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