For a video and partial transcript of Fox News’ broadcast about the University of Missouri allowing Wiccan and Pagan holidays, click this link: http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/02/17/fox-news-attacks-wiccans/192713
There is also a text article on the same subject, but which does not feature any quotes by the news anchors who broadcast the subject on Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/02/17/university-missouri-guide-asks-professors-to-accommodate-wiccan-pagan-holidays/
What follows is the letter I sent in to the show. I don’t know if it will have any effect, but I figure it is better to speak up and not be heard than to not speak up at all.
UPDATE: The original link seems to no longer work. You can find a new posting of the video here: http://wiccanink.tumblr.com/post/43397679203/apparently-the-link-i-posted-up-earlier-doesnt
UPDATE 2/19: Well, Tucker Carlson sort of apologized. Emphasize the “sort of”. https://twitter.com/TuckerCarlson/status/303998789834903552
Dear Fox News,
I have a few comments in response to the story about the University of Missouri including Wiccan and Pagan holidays in the school’s holiday list that aired on February 17, 2013:
From the very beginning of the segment, it is clear that the subject is only brought up in order to 1) boost ratings and viewership and 2) degrade and belittle a minority group. The only one of the three anchors to treat the subject with a bare sliver of dignity is Clayton Morris, while Tucker Carlson and Anna Kooiman immediately begin cracking jokes and belittling the beliefs and traditions of a subset of the American people. However, I say that with a grain of salt, as Morris also later treated the subject with as little respect or seriousness as the other two.
There are a number of inaccuracies and falsehoods in your telecast. What follows is a list of what was incorrect and why.
1.) “Wiccanism” is not a word.
2.) The “bad side of Wiccanism is, obviously, that it’s a form of witchcraft.” This is incorrect. Wicca is a religion. Witchcraft, sometimes known as magic among Pagans and Wiccans, is not a part of the religion unless the practitioner wishes to practice magic. Witchcraft can be practiced by any number of people, including, but not limited to, Wiccans, Asatru, atheists, Christians, and Jews. Wicca is the belief system while witchcraft (i.e., magic) is a practice or set of actions, such as casting spells.
3.) “But the upside is, you get a ton of holidays, 20% of all school holidays … are Wiccan holidays.” So the anchor is saying the only upside to Wicca is the holidays, yes? Not only is he incorrect in stating that 20% of the holidays are Wiccan holidays, but he is incorrect in stating that the holidays are the only upside. Is the only upside to Christianity the holidays, which the federal government gives preferential treatment? To my knowledge, every other religious group must take personal time off in order to take a religious holiday, unless they are lucky enough to live in a county that allows for those days. Are you saying then that Christians are the only group to whom holidays off should be given?
4.) Morris states that Wiccans get 20 holidays because we have 20 holidays. This is very incorrect. Wiccans do not have twenty holidays, but a mere 8: the solstices, the equinoxes, and what are called the cross-quarter holidays of Imbolc, Beltane, Lughnasadh, and Samhain. And some holidays are more important than others, just as some holy days are more important to Christians, Jews, and Muslims than other holy days. It should also be noted that these eight holidays are not exclusive to Wicca, but to many other Pagan groups as well. You see, Wicca is a subset of Paganism. Not all Pagans are Wiccans. So, based on this, there could be more people than just Wiccans who may require these days off for their religious practices.
5.) “If you’re going to pick one, go with the one with the most holidays.” Technically speaking, if a person is choosing a religion based on number of holidays (or holy days), then they should go with some version of orthodoxy, as orthodox faiths tend to keep more holy days than others. This sentence also ignores the fact that people who follow Wicca and other Pagan paths have genuine religious feeling for their practices. To say that we only belong to this religion because the perks are better than what other religions offer is ignorant and depreciating.
6.) The most sacred holiday is not Halloween. Halloween is a secular holiday that grew out of the traditions of many religions that celebrate a holiday around this time, including the traditions of Day of the Dead, All Saints’ Day, and All Soul’s Day, as well as the Pagan holiday of Samhain.
7.) A Wiccan or Pagan certainly has the capacity to name all eight holidays.
8.) Tammy Bruce is incorrect as well, as there are schools in the United Kingdom that have allowed for Wiccan and Pagan holidays.
9.) And, finally, the final statement that puts the icing on the cake: “Every Wiccan I’ve ever known is either a compulsive Dungeons & Dragons player or is a middle-aged, twice-divorced older woman living in a rural area who works as a midwife. And likes a lot of incense.” Clearly, these people have met very few Pagans and Wiccans. We come in all shapes and sizes, just like in any other religious path. If you want a better idea of what an average Wiccan is, I’ll list myself as an example. I am an average Wiccan, although I better identify as just Pagan. I graduated from high school with honors and among the top of my class. I was active in my school’s orchestra, SADD club, Natural Helpers, and Key club, I rode horses for years, and was a Girl Scout for ten years. I also earned my Girl Scout Silver Award. I have never played Dungeons and Dragons, although I do play video games sometimes. I graduated from the University of Maryland with two degrees and now work as an editor and project manager for a respected institution—you’ll understand, I’m sure, if I decline to name where I work. I am in my mid-twenties, have never been married, and live in an urban area. I have never worked as a midwife. In fact, I wouldn’t know the first thing about that respected job. I burn candles, but usually not incense because of my allergies. I wear jeans and t-shirts most of the time, or business casual when at work. I drive a truck. I do have a cat, but she’s not black. I am an average Pagan and an average Wiccan. The only time I might dress up in what is now considered stereotypical dress for a Pagan is if I were attending a festival, or if I wanted to. But it’s certainly not how I dress every day, or even frequently, as it’s entirely impractical.
I hope this clears up the gross factual inaccuracies and misrepresentations of your broadcast. I also hope the anchors will take the time to read this response to their highly bigoted and prejudicial remarks.
It would also behoove the station to issue an apology. A sincere apology. This “news report”, in my mind, was clearly aired in order to stir up a segment of the population and to incite outrage, which it certainly has. However, this is not news at its finest, nor would I even call it news, and all persons involved should be ashamed of mocking peoples’ beliefs in order to boost their ratings. It is despicable behavior not suited for any true journalist or news outlet.