Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Friday, July 28, 2006

Asatru in Black and White

Now it's a very easy thing to rant. Easy to rave. Easy to take a stance or a position or to polish an opinion and toss it up in a blog. Unfortunately, we rant and rave most of the time about pre-ordanined greivances spoon-fed to us by the risen American Conservativism. We rant about the bias in media coverage. We rant about the Southern Poverty Law Center. We rant about liberal professors and whatever they may profess. Nowhere do we mention how we really feel.

I waited up last night for news confirming the execution of Michael Lenz by lethal injection for the murder of another prisoner over the control of his prison Asatru group, the Ironwood Kindred. I've been following this story for about a week now after first reading about it on Frost and Flame, where I found myself at a loss on how to really convey racial realities in the American South. I discovered Lenz's story posted over at The Wild Hunt, where people were pretty open with the opinions of the supposed press bias against Asatru, and closed mouthed over Lenz himself. After pointing this out in the comment section, I did get a thoughtful reply by MacRaven.

Under all the polish and spin, what are we really thinking about this? Do I want Lenz denounced for nothing more than political convienence? Because in truth the first thing I thought was at least he wasn't scheduled to be executed during Kaine's run for Govenor. Hard but true. I'm not a bleeding liberal against capital punishment on the grounds that my heart goes out to cold-blooded pre-meditated murderers who play warrior by stabbing to death an unarmed man on the grounds that he was a threat to one's popularity. (Even if he took the time to read the guy some nice poetry first.) Which turns out to be the underlying bedrock for Lenz's protestations of defending the Asatru faith.

Lenz's time of death was 9:07 EST. Although others held out hope that he might receive a last minute pardon from Kaine, and I join the Democratic Govenor in being personally against the death penalty, I cringed at the thought his execution might not take place. And my feelings are wholy about the desire to retain a Democrat as the executive head of a Southern State. I do feel mildly disturbed about my lack of desire to support clemency for another pagan, and on the other hand I do not think a cold-blooded killer should be able to make us an election issue. And I will be really sore if Lenz's poetry starts getting published and he gets a record company named after him. Rant off.

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At 10:29 PM, Blogger Frostbeard said...

The reason we don't talk about Lenz himself is that he's not really the issue. You'd be hard-pressed to find an Asatruer who didn't think he deserved the death penalty for what he did. Lenz is a non-story as far as we're concerned.

Dragging our beliefs through the muck in the name of sensationalism though? That tends to get our attention.

I don't live in a place that has the death penalty. Is it fairly common for executions to be used as political leverages in the states that have capital punishment?

At 12:51 AM, Blogger olive said...

Oh yes, the death penalty is used to make candidates look soft on crime if they are personally against it. The only thing that saved Kaine is that he's a Catholic, so he could say it was a religious thing. You would never survive in a red state if you were merely against it for personal reasons.

At 8:21 AM, Anonymous HofGythja Jane Ruck said...

As an Asatruar, I find it unacceptable that anyone would not keep frith in a sacred space. As an Asatru clergy person who volunteers in the system. It urks me that all inmates are being painted with the same brush. 90% of the ones I work with are dedicated to our beliefs and are not violent people following a "warrior" path.The small percentage who are hateful, the rest of us don't really consider to be true Asatru. Which is exactly what I told Ms. Galineau when she asked me for her article. Her editor butchered the piece and started the entire mess.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger olive said...

Welcome and thanks for commenting, hofgythja!!

As a non-Asatru reader of that particular peice, your point-of-view did come across clearly. Several positive things were indeed said about Asatru in that AP article, although most people seem to have selectively not seen them.

I do not think it is reasonable to expect that nothing negative ever be said about Asatru, or that those who hold negative views of Asatru should be censered by the media. Yes, obviously a few of those quoted in the article weren't sold on Asatru, but it would not have been a balanced peice if their views had been silenced or excluded from public debate.

I mean, I say negative things about Christianity all the time. And I like most Christians fine. It's just I have a beef with the institution and some of its doctrines, and about how they increase the suffering in this world. So I reserve the right to say negative things.


At 9:40 PM, Blogger Frostbeard said...

It's not that we don't want criticism, Olive. Most of us welcome it. For me personally, what bothered me about the article was that inaccurate and (willfully) ignorant views of Asatru were presented as factual accounts of the belief system. Throw-away comments about a "warrior faith" and crap like that hardly make for a well-researched article. Chosing McNallen out of all possible Asatru leaders seems questionable as well. I don't have a problem with the man myself, but the AFA is hardly a representative group.

At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

I'm just glad we don't have the death penalty in the UK anymore and haven't had it for decades. Life sentences should mean life, not ten or twenty years then out for good behaviour.

And so I don't think anyone ever deserves the death penalty dished out by the hand of man; if anyone's going to give out the death penalty, it's the hand of God, but then we don't know what lies beyond - nothingness, judgement, reincarnation - and so for all we know, while death seems kind of final it may be anything but and in that context may not be a penalty at all but either (a) a chance for the gods to dish up their own justice or (b) a chance to start a new life and not do the things you did before.

I can't help but think how awful it must be to see the threat of death and how politicians react to it being used to promote or denounce certain political viewpoints. We can argue over how to judge and how to punish but lives as footballs being kicked around kind of turns my stomach.

It hardly does justice to the victims when a man's life or death depends not on the crime but on the political machinations of a system so discredited, so abused, so biased as that in place in many US states.

And I'm not at all sorry to say that I find it deeply depressing that the world's most powerful nation still resorts to addressing barbarism with barbarism. How can anyone say murder is wrong and then go ahead and do it because the circumstances are seen to legitimise it? It's as alien to me sitting here in the UK as the US insistence that everyone can carry a gun and doing so means less gun crime when, patently, it means more.

Ah, that old adage... guns don't kill people, people kill people... Yes, but having a gun in your hand kind of helps you achieve that aim quicker than reaching for the nearest brick or spade... x


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