Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Are The Powers Of Darkness Appropriating "Neo-Pagan"?

Ed at Dispatches speculates that "neo-pagan" is the newest incarnation of "commie" or "secular humanist". He rightly notes that "neopagan"/"neopaganism" most specifically refers to a lump of non-traditional, (usually) nature-based religion. But he also says
This is just plain weird... It appears that he's just randomly choosing this term for everyone he disagrees with, as well as lumping them in together for no apparent reason.
Its not necessarily as weird as it looks; it might be part of an attempt to appropriate and subvert the word. Its like what happened to the term "atheist"; if you successfully associate a term with pedophilia and cannibalism* then you've gained an edge over people who self-identify using that term. Like atheists in the recent past, neo-pagans are still largely marginal in terms of their visibility in the public discourse, so people don't have a good, concrete understanding of the term. What understanding they do have is probably colored by inaccurate popular representations, making the term particularly susceptible to subversion. The lack of any sort of substantial representation for neo-pagans on the national stage means that no one is going to complain when the term is abused.
* Hyperbole alert... but not by much.

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