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Saturday, October 08, 2005

Naming Demons

There's a theory in some ancient religions that if you knew the name of a deity or a demon, you could control it and get it to do your will. And, in the case of a demon, you could exorcise it. That same theory was the basis of psychoanalysis. If you could name your personal demons - or in popular psychoanalytical language, if you could recognize the root causes of your neuroses - you could overcome them.

In politics, there is a new demon that is threatening democracy, freedom of thought, and the freedom to buy the books that you want to read. It's time to name this very dangerous demon and start exposing it.

There is no greater danger to America's freedoms right now than the Christian Right. They have been emboldened by the Bush Administration. Because they now believe that one of their own is in power and that they are directly responsible for his victory, the gloves have come off.

From the growing scandal of Evangelicals' coercion of minority students at the Air Force Academy in Colorado to their constant attempts to censor books, this is a dangerous group that is growing bolder by the minute.

Here's an article from lawyer and practicing Wiccan, Phyllis Currott. It was originally posted on Witchvox (The Witch's Voice). And it describes the plight of authors who write about minority religions and whose books are losing shelf space in mainstream bookstores.

To a certain extent, this an economic issue. If a book does not sell, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and other major chains will stop carrying it. And Currott admits this. There's not much of an argument you can make to a business person about their choice of which merchandise to carry as long as that decision is based on market factors. After all, a bookstore, like any shop, is in business to make a profit. And if something genuinely isn't selling, a store owner has got to clear the shelf space for something that his customers will buy.

But a lot of times, businesses are just caving in to the pressure of a very determined and vocal minority and removing items from their shelves that might sell well if given the chance. This is not a business decision. This is buckling under pressure and submitting to mob rule. And that has no place in America.

The thing is, today it's Wiccan books that are being attacked and that are being removed from bookshelves. Whose minority religion book will it be tomorrow? Will it be the Koran? The Torah? Will it be books about Buddhism? And what else will be banned. Most of these Christianist religious fanatics also hate The Catcher In the Rye, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Huckleberry Finn to name just a few beloved classics that they have tried to ban from libraries, schools and bookstores.

So in the future, will Barnes and Noble have as much - or as little - literary selection as your local Wal-Mart?

In honor of National Banned Book Month, which just passed, please think about these things. And I'll have more to say in future posts about the religio-political movement that is behind this new and dangerous phenomenon. It's called Dominionism. And it even has many conservative Christians scared.

And you should be scared silly too. I know I am. I'm scared enough to exorcise that demon from American influence through the ballot box and by letting shopkeepers, advertisers, and the media know how I feel about them when they cave into pressure and deny me my right to buy, read and watch what I like.

Care to join me?

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