Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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The Mess in Texas

So: a hate group in Texas mounts an art show featuring cartoons of the Muslim prophet.

At the urging of a local imam, the local Muslim community decides to respond with silence. No one pickets, blogs, editorializes, or writes about it in the press. No one does anything whatsoever to give the show any publicity.

An expatriate American who has gone to Syria to fight for the So-Called So-Called spreads word of the show on the web, urging retaliation.

Two Muslim converts from another state drive to Texas, wound a security guard, and are themselves killed. “Allah, accept your mujahideen,” one tweets.

The So-Called So-Called claims responsibility.

As one who strives to live in accordance with the thews (virtues) of the ancestors, I ask myself:

Who here has truly acted with honor? With courage? With wisdom?


Who here has acted well?


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Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Thursday, 07 May 2015

    Interesting that the groups sponsoring an art contest is called "hate group," but the group that sent assassins out to murder people is not. Interesting perspective.

  • Ged
    Ged Thursday, 07 May 2015

    Don't be naive greybeard, the "art" event was a deliberate goading of Muslims in an attempt to get exactly the response they got. For which they were prepared, heavily armed and ready to kill. The forces of hate and bigotry were out on both sides and they both got what they wanted.

  • Renet
    Renet Friday, 08 May 2015

    You should dig a little deeper and know of the fundraising at that same location not long before by muslims. The Art show, which is freedom of speech by the way, was held after said event. This same freedom of speech allows you to have your "hate speech" against one group alone. Cartoonists are not the attempted murderers in the name of religion which by the way is absolutely insane and against their own muslim beliefs.

    Just because one group does something to aggrivate another doesn't make them or their actions "hateful" or worthy of murder. Both parties are lacking in judgement but one group in particular is hateful and bent on murder the second you do ANYTHING that slightly offends them. If they don't like freedom of speech then they can move back to their county and enjoy the lack of free speech there. Don't kill those exercising what my father nearly died protecting. I may not like half of what people say in this country but I will give them a piece of my mind over it not a piece of my .45!

    Personally I find your little tirade very hateful. This could have been a huge loss of life! I am so very thankful for the off duty police officer that was on site and took them down before it became a massacre.

    I am a Texan Witch first and an American second with a strong sense patriotism and long standing military family history protecting it.

  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis Friday, 08 May 2015

    Hate speech is a form of violence though a lesser form than violent assault and murder. I think it's fair to describe both groups as hateful.

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Friday, 08 May 2015

    [This comment has been removed by Aryós Héngwis]

  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis Friday, 08 May 2015

    Your comments are trending remarkably close to Islamophobia. While the actions of the Islamic State / ISIL are deplorable, there's absolutely no reason to tar all members of the Muslim faith with their actions. We do not tolerate slurs against any religious or ethnic group on this website.

    This is a warning.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 09 May 2015

    The FBI defines a hate group as one whose "primary purpose is to promote animosity, hostility, and malice against persons belonging to a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin which differs from that of the members of the organization.” This seems to me a fair description of the group that sponsored the “Draw Muhammad” contest. They can drape themselves in a free speech flag if they like, but their track record makes it clear (to me, at least) that their primary orientation is anti-Muslim.

    Of course we are all free to hate as we like. Individuals, however, cannot (by definition) be groups. And to call IS a “hate group” seems to me to be like calling Pol Pot a jerk: understatement of absurdist proportions.

    The situation I've described in this post is rife with hate-filled people doing hateful things. That seems to me unquestionable. But of their actions, as well as of our own, and indeed everyone's, it is fair to ask: is this action virtuously done?

    In general, I try to let my stories speak for themselves, but let me say it explicitly: in this whole sad saga, it seems to me that the only ones acting wisely and well are the local imam and his community. So much for a monolithic Islam. The monotheisms are no more unified than we are.

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