I want to begin this by clearly stating that I do not possess the authority to apologize on behalf of the news organization that I work for, but I’m going to do it anyway. I am an opinion columnist for The Wild Hunt (and a new one at that) so I am so far down on the hierarchical totem pole that what I say or do will likely have little effect on the powers that be. Having stated that, however, I find that I can’t in good conscience remain silent on an issue that has so many real-world repercussions for a marginalized people who are struggling every day for visibility, safety, and acceptance. (You know, the very same things that we ALL want.)
On Wednesday, August 22, TWH published an article about the formation of a new church, “The Pussy Church of Modern Witchcraft,” which purports to be an organization for women and girls. One only needs to barely scratch the surface before one finds that the core of their church centers on a series of beliefs that specifically invalidate the lives and experiences of trans people, a group that is dangerously marginalized and attacked on a daily basis. Not only are the “values” of the church in question abominable, but the way in which it was handled by TWH merely compounded the offense. While this is certainly a news-worthy topic to discuss on a Pagan news platform, the way in which it was handled was, in my opinion, unprofessional, incomplete, and failed to adhere to journalistic standards. Referring to trans activists as “detractors” of the church, repeating “dog-whistling” language (the article reports that church membership is “restricted to those who have been a woman since birth,” which merely takes the bigoted language of the church and then validates it), the promotion of bigoted books with no other books with opposing views offered, and even the photos chosen for the piece were simply adverts taken from the church website. Additionally, it would have been an obvious choice to draw comparison between this church and other groups who routinely deny membership to those based on gender or race, but this is strikingly absent. At best, it was bad journalism, and at worst it was a public relations goldmine for a Pagan hate group. Either way it is our responsibility to do better.
As a result of interior talks and the outpouring of our readers, the editorial staff of The Wild Hunt took the absolutely appropriate step to remove the article and issue a public apology. Additionally, the author of the article resigned his editorial and news writing positions, effective immediately. The Wild Hunt is also working on internal changes to ensure that journalistic standards are more consistently maintained and has said that they will report back on that aspect sometime next week.
Though I am not a news writer, I am pleased that The Wild Hunt took thoughtful and appropriate steps to help regain the public’s trust in our ability to provide fair, accurate, and responsible reporting. I am optimistic as to what the future may bring.