Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Daily Mail: A Parody of the News - The Wild Hunt

In the long history of this blog I have only completely written off one news outlet when it comes to stories concerning modern Pagans, the anti-Pagan conspiracy-loving WorldNetDaily (WND), but it looks like I’m about to add another.  The Daily Mail, a right-leaning British tabloid one perilous step above former Bat Boy spotters like the Weekly World News, has crossed the Rubicon into outright hostile distorted sensationalism regarding anything involving modern Pagans.
An illustration from The Daily Mail article.
“Hundreds of criminals are to be given four days a year off prison work – to celebrate pagan festivals. The festivals include Imbolc – The Festival of the Lactating Sheep – which falls on February 1 and is dedicated to the goddess Brighid. Another is the festival of Beltane, which falls in early May, devotees are urged to celebrate the Sun God with ‘unabashed sexuality and promiscuity’. The Yule festival involves pagans ‘casting spells’ and dressing up as ghosts.”
The bizarre distortions of Pagan holidays, and the turning of a fairly straightforward allowance of equal treatment for Pagan prisoners into some sort of pearls-clutching sign of society crumbling is sadly only the most recent in a string of anti-Pagan smears perpetrated by the paper this year. There was the “British schools teach Paganism” distortion, the “BBC is too Pagan friendly” pile-on, the “museums are changing their policies because they are afraid of Pagans” exaggeration, and the scathing anti-Pagan vitriol from Melanie Phillips when The Druid Network won charity status.
“Elevating them to the same status as Christianity is but the latest example of how the bedrock creed of this country is being undermined. More than that, it is an attack upon the very concept of religion itself. This is because Druidry is simply not a religion. Now, it’s true that religion is notoriously difficult to define. But true religions surely rest on an established structure of traditions, beliefs, literature and laws. Above all, they share a belief in a supernatural deity (or more than one) that governs the universe. By these standards, Druidry is surely not a religion but a cult…”
So that’s it. To quote a famous Bond villian: Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action. Five times in the span of three months? It’s a paranoid unhealthy obsession. They can’t seem to actually write something fair-minded about our faiths, as if the mention of Paganism, Druidry, or Wicca sparks some sort of Pavlovian urge to cast themselves as Sgt. Howie in The Wicker Man (sans the ending, of course). They are an unwitting parody of conservative thinking, a reactionary journalistic Chicken Little constantly warning of the sky falling, knowing that eventually something they scream about will be correct.
I’d call for a boycott, or angry letters, but that just feeds the beast. They thrive, crave, our attention. The outrage-baiting headlines, the choppy barely-rewritten-from-the-newswires prose interspersed with distortions and clumsily obscured personal opinion, it’s all an attention-generating machine. So it stops here. No more links. No more attention. Let’s stop pretending they are “news”, and deny them the page-views they so desperately desire. Don’t forward them, respond to them, Tweet them, or share them on Facebook. If you must comment on a story they do, find the kernel of a real story and report on that. Dig deeper. Don’t provide them with any more fuel. They are a parody of the news, but that joke isn’t funny anymore.

No comments:

Post a Comment