Monday, September 20, 2010

That Crazy Witchcraft

When a video surfaced of Delaware’s Republican senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell admitting that she “dabbled in witchcraft” as a teenager, the world shit a brick. The video was an excerpt from Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, which aired in 1999. In that clip, O’Donnell admits:

“I dabbled into witchcraft. I never joined a coven…I dabbled into witchcraft, I hung around people who were doing these things. I’m not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do…One of my first dates with a witch was on a Satanic altar and I didn’t know it. There’s a little blood there and stuff like that…We went to a movie and had a little picnic on a Satanic altar.”

Maher played the clip on his show Real Time on HBO over the weekend and threatened to play one clip per week unless O’Donnell appeared on his show again.

A few days following the airing of the clip, O’Donnell told a crowd of supporters in Delaware, “That witchcraft comment on Bill Maher, I was in high school. How many of you didn’t hang out with questionable folks in high school? There’s been no witchcraft since. If there was, Karl Rove would be a supporter now.”

Yet the witchcraft comment wasn’t the only instance where O’Donnell articulated something most would consider outlandish.

After O’Donnell’s primary win, a video surfaced of her talking about abstinence on MTV in 1996. She said in the video:

“The Bible says that lust in your heart is committing adultery, so you can’t masturbate without lust.”

While mentioning witchcraft (which was done in reference to celebrating Halloween) and that playing with your pee-pee parts is the road to eternal damnation are not issues one would associate with a political candidate, the media have missed the real story of O’Donnell’s past.

O’Donnell sued her former employer, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for gender discrimination after she was fired in 2004, and later dropped the suit. Reports that she defaulted on her mortgage, and that the IRS filed a lien stating O’Donnell owed $11,000 in back taxes and that she dipped into her campaign money to pay for personal expenses also surfaced.

Given all of the damaging information and accusations swirling around, wouldn’t the witchcraft charges be tame in comparison? Weigh them. Teen witch versus conspiracy to commit fraud. Which one would you want reporters asking you if you were Christine O’Donnell?

I have high hopes for O’Donnell, not because I support her bizarre-o fundamentalist religious stance or her outlandish claims that homosexuals have “an identity disorder” learned from “societal factors.”

I have high hopes because O’Donnell is the first Gen-X political wanna-be who’s come the farthest the fastest. Riding on a wave of discontent and voter anger, she’s poised to be the spokesperson of a generation, or at least a fraction of a generation, that wants Washington to do things differently.

So I give her big props for that, for opening the door and showing these skeptic Baby Boomers that voters are willing to try someone younger and more inexperienced.

Christine O’Donnell and I have a few things in common. She grew up in Moorestown, New Jersey while I grew up in nearby Cherry Hill. She graduated high school in 1987 while I graduated in 1988. We were practically neighbors. I wonder if I ever encountered her at high school football games or other teen events. I’m sure I’d remember her. She was probably that shy girl who wore all black and sacrificed a goat.

While I brought it up, another thing Christine O’Donnell and I have in common is that we’ve had an interest in occult somewhat. While I’ve never joined a coven, practiced magic or picnicked on a “Satanic altar,” I once owned a deck of Rider-Waite Tarot cards.

I guess that counts.

Oh, and I also fucked two witches.

Let me explain.

While in my 20s, I dated two women who were Wiccan. Interestingly enough, Wiccans don’t believe in Satan. They believe in the Horned God, which represents masculine energy and sexuality, and the Triple Goddess, which represents the three aspects of womanhood: virginity, fertility and wisdom. They also believe in the Rule of Three, whereby anything you do returns to you threefold. See, when you date someone with a different set of religious beliefs and practices, you want to understand them as people, so you ask questions about their religion, even if that religion is not in the mainstream.

The flap over Christine O’Donnell’s supposed witchcraft reveals a longstanding prejudice in America, namely anything pagan freaks the shit out of people. I don’t know if O’Donnell knows the intricacies of Wiccan rituals but somehow I can’t imagine her scattering sea salt around a casting circle while saying “merry meet.” I can, however, imagine her throwing bullshit to appeal to the Christian fundamentalists who burn Harry Potter books and who believe gays can be reformed through intense deprogramming.

In a country that prides itself on religious freedom and tolerance, we’re really not all that tolerant. While some will judge O’Donnell as a hypocrite who may have banged a warlock on an altar before accepting Jesus and becoming an uber-Christian, others will just view her witchcraft as “youthful indiscretion,” just like Bill Clinton when he smoked pot or George Bush when he snorted cocaine.

It’s not like we’re judging O’Donnell by putting her in a ducking stool or bringing her before the American Commission on Pagan Activities.

“Did you see Goody O’Donnell cavorting naked in the woods on Samhain under a harvest moon?”

Her critics accuse her of lying about her education or writing off her apartment as a campaign expense or using her eldritch powers to win an election. Such is politics in the early 21st century, a strange place where sound bites, resumes and past associations return to do candidates harm. Why can’t candidates just be regular people? We want everyone to be unblemished, spotless and boring. Somehow as voters that makes us feel better, that we’ve elected the perfect candidate, free of skeletons in their closet. Sure, we want the best and the brightest to lead us, but can’t they at least party once in a while?

I’m defending Christine O’Donnell, not because I agree with her insane social agenda, but because as one who was balls deep inside two witches, I think all nature-loving pagan women both former and practicing deserve some slack.

So what if Christine O’Donnell admitted to dabbling in witchcraft? So what if she’s a batshit crazy Christian who believes touching yourself in the shower means you’re hell-bound?

So what if O’Donnell is so financially strapped that you want to buy her a bowl of soup?

Hey, it’s not like she’s secretly a Muslim or anything.

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