So, still reeling from the fact that John Beckett, well respected polytheists and champion of free speech, has called for the censorship of Stephen Abell, Steersman of the Troth. I’ll be honest, when I went over his article I hadn’t read it all the way through, just the start. The end was a surprise, to be sure.
So I went and I checked out what Abell had actually said.
And…it’s pretty fair. It’s honest. He’s met and interacted with both McNallen and Smith. He’s judged them both by his own standards, has his differences with them, but hasn’t made an enemy of McNallen.
It surprises some to learn that Steve and I talk now and then. It angers some to learn that these talks are not acrimonious. They are anything but. These are useful and civil conversations with someone with whom I disagree. That is an interesting experience, if you have never had it. As leaders of major Heathen organizations, if there is something we can do together that is constructive in common cause, we do. If there isn’t, we don’t. And if we need to talk again, we know we can. If you conclude that this makes our disagreements immaterial, you have not been paying attention.
This kind of relationship is, in anime at least, refered to as a Rivalry. Two guys, sometimes enemies, sometimes allies, but always there struggling, striving, growing, to be the strongest. Sometimes your rival can be your best friend in a way, if only because his existence and constant efforts make you put forth your own best efforts to grow and become the best you can be. It is a very unique relationship that you almost never see anymore.
To be honest, it’s a kind of relationship I’ve often wished I had. Frankly, I am glad Abell and McNallen have it. Men who disagree, but recognize a worthy foe, and one they can even put aside their disagreements on to accomplish something neither could alone.
I presume has tried the same with Smith, or at least to be no enemy to Smith as he is no enemy to McNallen (even if he is no friend). Given Smith’s nature, HUAR’s nature, and everything…not sure how well that’s worked.
Ryan Smith is different. Interactions with him and his HUAR associates, even reading what he writes, leave me feeling like the woman at the end of Body Snatchers. Ryan probably isn’t an alien, but he has some alienating characteristics: the Angry Young Man posturing; the cookie cutter writing style aping corny Marxist propaganda; the grandiose Us vs. Them essays; the witch hunts, show trials, and guilt-by-association tactics; the pompous self-righteousness and insistence on ostracizing anyone who doesn’t buy into whatever Ryan Smith says, lock, stock, and barrel. From personal experience, I can tell you that Ryan is eager to tell you about all the classes he has taken, all the books he has read, all with a subtext of letting you know how incredibly smart he is. What I hear him saying is that he is the only one with a brain that works, so you can just accept whatever he says and let that be the end of it.
I’ve dealt with enough people like Smith to know and understand what Abell is talking about. And I’ve read enough by Smith and HUAR to trust the accuracy of this statement by Abell. I will say though, that where Abell feels like the lady at the end of Body Snatchers, I at this point tend to feel more like Arthas facing the Scourge.
But the feeling is much the same. People like Smith have so been taken over by their ideology to the point where they…don’t even seem human anymore. Be they “pod people” or the “undead” they are so bent on converting everyone and everything to their ideology that there is only the ideology and there is no humanity.
So what was the final statement that got Beckett fired up enough to demand Abell be taken down from Patheos, be judged has horrible as McNallen when it comes to racism, and all that?
Ryan likes to tell us that Steve McNallen is the stain that will keep Heathenry from being taken seriously by respectable people. Yes, I sometimes worry about what Steve McNallen says, and how people perceive Heathenry as a result. I worry about similar things, and to a much greater degree, every time Ryan Smith opens his mouth. If there is a problem with modern Heathenry, it is not simply bipolar, for example: Ryan vs. Racism. If Ryan’s behavior is an example of what mature Heathenry is supposed to be, he is following an old model. Its name is the Inquisition. What are respectable people supposed to make of that?
Yeah. That’s it. Describing his interactions and impressions of Ryan Smith honestly, and pointing out a truth that Heathens have known since shortly after HUAR showed up. HUAR is the Inquisition, and they will use any means they can to try and “clean up” Heathenism of wrong think, racism, etc. In fact, HUAR recently split because HUAR wasn’t doing enough Inquisition (in terms of “homophobia” and “transphobia” on top of racism).
To the point where, while no one may expect the Spanish Inquisition, I think pretty much damn well every heathen expects the HUARian inquisition with belabored sighs. But this is the level of violent, bigoted, racist language needed to apparently get Beckett to demand you (and by extension your organization) be labeled a racist and kicked off of Patheos.
Which…frankly makes me boggle. I mean, when I wrote parts 1 & 2, I hadn’t read Abell’s thing, so I figured it had to be a fairly strident defense of McNallen from the way Beckett was talking, but this? This is more along the lines of “They can both be idiots, by Smith takes a bit more of the cake than McNallen in my opinion.”
So, yeah. Damn, Beckett. This is a racist screed tolerating racism and denouncing those trying to clean up heathenism?
I would suggest that Beckett actually bother to spend some time learing about HUAR, it’s history of interactions and everyone else who is, apparently, a racist heathen. Because what he might learn would likely surprise him.