“…There are also those who inadvertently grant power to another man’s words by continuously trying to spite him. If a man gets to the point where he can simply say, ‘The sky is blue,’ and people indignantly rush up trying to refute him saying, ‘No, the sky is light blue,’ then, whether they realize it or not, he has become an authority figure even to such adversaries.” Criss Jami
A recent public letter written by South African academic (and neo-Pagan) Dale Wallace has been circulated widely amongst neo-Pagan covens, groups and individuals in an attempt to incite active opposition against positions of principle taken by the South African Pagan Rights Alliance on a number of advocacy issues currently on SAPRA’s agenda, including advocacy against witch-hunts and Satanic Panic.
The letter constitutes the latest ad hominem slander on my person as director of SAPRA and against executive members of SAPRA in what has, since April 2013, been an orchestrated series of both private and public challenges to SAPRA’s perceived authority and representation.
The SAPRA stands accused, publicly and privately, of harming / bringing harm to the South African neo-Pagan community and to specific individuals within this community, as a result of the Alliance’s numerous public statements against scapegoating, prejudice and discrimination with regard to S.A.’s latest media driven Satanic Panic.
SAPRA’s opponents are demanding that the Executive first consult with neo-Pagans who are not formal members of the Alliance before issuing press releases or contacting the media and that the Executive cease advocating on issues concerning Satanism, Satanic Panic and witch-hunts in South Africa.
Wallace’s public letter, in which she quotes selected snippets of private conversation between her and myself, objects to SAPRA’s alleged suppression of dissenting opinion generally, and specifically, of SAPRA’s refusal to allow her to express her own dissenting “academic” opinion on the Alliance’s forum, and on my personal Facebook profile.
In their attempts to undermine SAPRA’s influence and effectiveness, known individuals have resorted to active campaigning against the Alliance and executive members by contacting neo-Pagan leaders and groups across the country, and by approaching commissions and organizations with whom SAPRA is currently engaged in advocacy.
In several unsuccessful attempts to marginalize the Alliance’s Board of Directors, Executive and formal members of the Alliance have been encouraged to either oppose the executive mandate or leave the Alliance.
No substantive arguments have ever been presented by any of these known agitators to demonstrate exactly how SAPRA’s advocacy and activism has in any way harmed neo-Pagans in South Africa, whether specifically or generally.
The fact is, it has not done so!
The South African Pagan Rights Alliance, members of its Executive and Board of Directors, remain intact and focussed on its stated advocacy mandates. The Executive shall continue to pursue these stated objectives, precisely because they are considered, ethical and based on demonstrable human rights principles.
Authority and Representation
The South African Pagan Rights Alliance is and will remain an independent human rights advocacy organization.
The SAPRA’s Executive is and will remain accountable only to formal members of the Alliance.
The Executive will not be obligated to seek wider community consensus prior to issuing commentary or formal press releases on any issues with which the Alliance is engaged.
The Alliance shall not be obligated to provide a public platform for non-member groups and individuals to disagree with or argue against our stated policies and advocacy positions.
This Alliance will not be marginalized by those who seek to silence or subvert its ongoing human rights advocacy programmes.
Any and all attempts to sabotage or undermine the Alliance’s current and ongoing negotiations with stakeholders, including several government Ministries, Chapter 9 Commissions and non-governmental organizations, shall be regarded by this Alliance as deliberate hostile interference in the execution of this Alliance’s mandate.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” Friedrich Nietzsche