There is a thing about being constantly, uninterruptingly hated that really sucks. There is a part of you that sits there and wonders if perhaps the haters are correct. It is said, if you meet an asshole on the street, chances are, that person is an asshole; if everyone you meet is an asshole, perhaps it is you instead that is the asshole. There's a lot of truth to that statement, and recent events have the little whisper of doubt talking to me. Some terrible things have been said. My first inclination is to ignore them. The author of those terrible things thrives on conflict, and any attention is cause for him to revel in it. I am, on some level, ambivalent about giving him any attention.
This begins, of course, with a lie. And like all good lies, it is built with bricks of truth. And like all lies, all it takes is some time and reflection, and one realizes the enormity of the lie. The lie I am speaking of is the statement "Frith is a lie." That's how this piece begins. Because, everything written about us is built on that.
No question of these facts are in dispute. Oethelland's Eric Street is a registered sex offender, and Swain Wodening did strike his wife. But these facts are single statments that do not tell stories. Both of these facts happen to occur before those in question became involved with their current theods, but even if they didn't, the facts fail to account for Frith. Eric Street was involved in a romantic engagement that was added to a list of other charges, and his registration was a condition of his parole, long before he ever worthed to Theodish Belief. Swain was not outlawed for striking his wife, but rather outlawed from the Winland Rice, an entity that dissolved long before White Marsh even existed, for issues internal to the Rice. He was never charged with a crime relating to that incident, and, to the best of my knowledge, regrets it to this day. In both cases, the insinuation should be that we should somehow cut ties with these people, when in fact that was never the ideal to which we espouse. What is incredibly galling about this is the idea that the author can both deny the ideal, while faulting those who uphold that ideal for failing to hold to an even stricter standard. We are condemned here not for failing to live up to our own ideals, that frith is a truth by which we live, but rather for doing exactly that. The insinuation of hypocrisy here is a false one, an oily slander slid out of the side of a snake's mouth. For even if a Theodsman were to commit a crime, even a heinous crime, Frith demands our dooms entwine. For in frith the only answer is to demonstrate it.
What the author fails to understand, what, in truth, he refuses to understand, is that Theodsmen have never claimed to be without fault. We have never made some exclusive claim to being perfect, only better. And the things he claims make us dangerous are the things that make us better. Even the statement that we are dangerous, is itself a kind of truth. Our existence, our insistence in driving towards a way life whose standard of excellence is not simply "no atheists" but rather a standard of behavior that is dangerous to those who merely want to adopt religious identities like hats, who claim that our standards of tribe amount to, as one person put it, "cook out associations," yet for whom even that standard is out of reach.
People who simply cook out with each other don't take risks for each other. They do not spend blood and treasure to ensure their well being. They do not stay up to keep company with each other while loved ones are in the hospital. They do not grieve with each other when loved ones die, nor do they spend real money to make sure those loved ones' remains are treated with dignity and care and returned to their families. For if people who simply cook out with each other do that, they do not simply cook out with each other. But they do have cookouts.
But the thing that struck me most on this is not that these "facts" are thrown in our faces. That happens pretty much once a year or so, and each time, the person flinging the facts acts like this is some grand revelation instead of being a matter of public record. There is nothing new here, no grand revelation kept secret except from those who were either not around the last time this cycle started, or couldn't be bothered to pay attention. No, what gets me is the façade of journalistic integrity. When I was writing about TAC for Heathen Talk, I made sure to reach out to TAC prior to publication and request comment. When I was speaking to others about TAC, I always identified myself and stated that I was writing about TAC. I have no real journalism experience, but I know that ethical journalism requires providing context, identifying sources, and requesting comments. The author has journalism experience, yet he never reached out to the Theods he condemns, asking them for comment. The one person I do know he actually spoke to, Thorin Ruriksson, was never informed that the conversation was on the record or part of a journalistic enterprise. For someone painting others as ethically challenged it is even more important that they themselves show some integrity.
But what do I know, I'm a dangerous Theodsman.