When the discussions about child molestation, exploration, and rape came up within Paganism due to the actions of a published author, I had my thoughts. I opted to hold them for a moment for a number of reasons. Foremost amongst those reasons was that my thoughts consisted almost exclusively of screaming at my monitor while cleaving my keyboard with a battle axe. After that, there was a self-imposed obligation to choose my words extremely carefully; due to some mild paranoia on the part of my parents, as well as simple luck, I managed to get through my childhood without being so manipulated or hurt. This makes it very easy to stick my foot in my mouth, because there are things that I’m just never going to understand when it comes to this sort of subject.
Cooler heads and the lack of readily available battle axes prevailed. I think I’ve got what I need to say in hand, so let us get down to business.
First, let’s stop talking about Kenny Klein. Seriously. We don’t have an issue with Kennys nor with Kleins; there is, to my knowledge, no statistically significant number of Kenneths nor Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms. Kleins going about raping and molesting little kids. I hate that it’s called the Kenny Klein issue, because he really isn’t the issue to my mind; that a predator can hunt, practically in plain sight, for over thirty years without getting caught prior to this is an issue. That we are drawing attention to the individual who committed the crime, rather than the crimes he committed and towards making sure the victims are properly cared for is also an issue. That there were warning signs and accounts that were missed due to his notoriety is a very considerable issue.
The man who committed these crimes is being dealt with. Kenny Klein will go to court. The evidence will be weighed. He will most likely be convicted of something pretty damn heinous*, he will be sentenced, and he will probably not survive to serve his full prison term due to the court of public opinion that is a standard feature in any high security prison’s general population. The matter, one way or another, will be resolved.
I’ve heard and read some of what others have to say on the matter, some of whom have more recognizable names**. The ones that I have agreed with have been pretty damn uncompromising. Normally, I’m the first to say that there is no black and white. and that all things need to have context and be viewed in the appropriate perspective/ Here is the exception that proves the rule, however, because this is an extremely simple matter as far as I’m concerned.
Assaulting a child is already a special kind of evil, and I don’t use that word lightly. The Loki debate has shown me, very clearly, how easily the word evil can be used as shorthand for “I don’t like this, and ad hominems are easier than actually thinking or reading books”. There is no other word for it, however; assaulting a child in any form is just putrid. That’s before we even add the word “sexual” to the equation, which is where I loose my ability to properly express myself and I have to start fighting the urge to just start headbutting the wall while screaming obscenities.
What boggles my mind the most, and what I feel needs the most attention drawn to it, is how there seems to have been a pattern here…one we’ve seen elsewhere. Klein was able to escape detection because so many people dismissed the concerns and accounts of those who he approached. The parallels between child abuse here and child abuse within organized religious communities are pretty direct, and I’ve met more than one Pagan, Polytheist, and Spiritualist who left the religion of their birth exactly due to the same thing happening to themselves or a loved one. Think about that, and realize that the exact same thing occurred within our own ranks. Worse than that; many times in other faiths, the perpetrator commands enough local power to silence his or her victims via fear of damnation and social persecution. Some of the victims, both potential and actual, spoke up long before Klein was brought to justice. Dozens of people didn’t stop him…because he played a violin in Pagan music circles and had written Pagan books.
Really think about that; those involved and in a position to stop this monster did worse than the religions we criticize for covering it up. We had given our young a stronger, louder voice that would not be punished based on moral boundaries…only to ignore it when it mattered the most. If that seems like a rude statement….good. There needs to be a lot of rude statements right now. There needs to be a lot of hard questions asked of some negligent people. There is a demand that we account for ourselves here, and that we do it without tip toeing around people’s feelings. Children have feelings you see, and when we abandon concerns about those feelings in order so we don’t have to ask ourselves hard questions? The buck stops there.
Or, to put it another way, I have two children. They are “Munchkin”, age 7 years, and Peanut, age 6 months. Anyone who suggests that their safety and innocence take a backseat to someone’s feelings can stick their athame where the sun doesn’t shine and rotate upon it. Full stop. End of Press Release. Hashtag, hashtag, hashtag.
Happily, there are some helpful dialogues being held about the matter. One of the most useful things being asked and talked is “how do we do better?”. For my own part, this is probably something I’m going to weigh in on more over at Witches and Pagan than I am here; this blog largely starts and ends with my take on the Heathen perspective, and the issue at hand isn’t something strictly Heathen. Two Way Bifrost is where I talk about interfaith community harmony and, I’m just spit balling here, I think finding ways to protect our children from sexual assault is a pretty harmonious fucking action.
This post is in a much harsher tone that I am fond of using. This isn’t just because I’m a father. This isn’t just because I’ve known dozens of people who have been sexually assaulted as minors, and I’ve been able to see the permanent damage on their soul that has resulted from it. It isn’t just because there is a realization that all of my philosophizing and rumination on ethics is useless if I can’t stand firmly against one of the most obviously evil and heinous things that I exists in this world. It’s more than that. More than the sum of it’s parts. More than Heathenry or Paganism. There are some things for which etiquette and soft words are not made for, and this is one of them. If me saying fuck two (er, three now…damnit) times and saying that child rape is bad, no questions asked, bothers you? It’s you who needs to adjust your perceptions and tone, because mine isn’t changing.
Not on this.
*I am of the understanding he already confessed to some or all of it.
**Hey, Other Pagans and Heathens? Look, I know some of you have some big bad issue with Cauldron Farms, House Sankova, Krasskova, Sannion, and probably a bunch of other people too. Whatever; I certainly don’t agree with everything they say either, but difference assist us in creating a better dialogue. I won’t pretend to understand why you disagree to the point where you feel murder and rape threats are acceptable…but that’s your value system to figure out***. It’s at this time I’d like to point out that when a crime happens involving things like rape or molestation, they’re amongst the first demanding advocacy, victim awareness, and proper community response. Perhaps those of you yelling and screaming about them really should get a priority check or, at the very least, focus on actual issues other than “someone said a thing I don’t like” or “someone challenged my ethics in a way I don’t appreciate.” Just food for thought.
***Oh yeah, and if you actually make a murder or rape threat in earnest? Or should you support and advocate them when they are made? You belong right there in prison next to that child rapist; it takes great mental sickness to wish those sort of crimes be committed against people over nothing more than a difference of opinion, and an even greater psychological pathology to hope to be able to participate in the same.