I’m going to be taking a break today, from talking about fun things like crafting and my home, because there’s a much more serious topic that I feel the need to weigh in on.
I saw news this week that pagan author Kenny Klein has been arrested on charges of possessing child pornography. I also noticed, upon seeing this story, that very few in the pagan community have said anything. Which may simply be a function of time, and people choosing to measure their responses carefully.
First of all, let me begin by saying that I don’t know Kenny Klein. I attended one of his workshops once, at PantheaCon, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. But I can’t say that I immediately found him setting of warning bells, nor can I say that I am totally shocked by this news. He was simply a person, not standing out in either direction.
What I have noticed, in the few responses I’ve seen, is this immediate sense of anger, of people who almost appear to want to push back and distance the community from him. But we can’t do that. The pagan community is not the first religious community to deal with these types of allegations, and we most certainly won’t be the last. Like it or not, shared faith does not ensure the virtue of all members and there will always be people who take advantage of the trust given in community.
The question, then, is how we deal with it. My hope is this: that we resist the urge to shove this under the rug and distance ourselves. To cry that Klein was not a “real” pagan or that he was never a major part of communities. I am not foolish enough to believe that Klein won’t have defenders — there will always be people who do not want to acknowledge painful incidents and breaches of trust.
Instead, I hope that as a community, we are able to find the grace to recognize what has happened. That these charges exist and, if proven,* that we deal with the aftermath in a responsible way that protects our community and gives justice to any who were harmed. That we do not castigate ourselves over what might have been missed, but that we take note of red flags and warning signs, to serve us in the future.
Most of all, I hope that we begin to see that a growing community can be based on love and trust while still allowing room for clear boundaries and the protection of all members.
*I am not saying this to dispute the charges or offer a defense of Klein, merely to recognize that our justice system recognizes that defendants are innocent until proven guilty. At the point of this writing, Klein has been arrested on 25 charges of child pornography, but has not been tried and found guilty.