An Ethics Statement: How to Start

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  April 20, 2010 — 36 Comments

I’m going to stray a bit from my normal routine, and propose an actual initiative for our community to undertake. Considering recent cases within our community concerning the sexual abuse of children, and the larger context of news-making abuse cases within non-Pagan faith intuitions, I feel that a voluntary statement of ethics put forward and enforced by Pagan leaders, groups, event organizers, media outlets, and organizations could go a long way towards fostering an atmosphere that would support victims, discourage would-be abusers, and potentially avert some cases of abuse. I understand that any undertaking that attempts to gain the support of any sizable percentage of the larger Pagan community can be fraught with drama, dissent, and backlash, but I feel this is something worth the effort, and the process will have The Wild Hunt’s support at every stage.

Every stage of this process, so long as I am a part of it, will be opt-in and voluntary. No group, individual, or legal entity will be strong-armed into participating, or demonized if they feel they can’t sign on to the finished product. Coalitions that bring lasting change aren’t built by guilt or coercion, but by bridge-building and compromise. We will gladly stand by and partner with those who opt to develop alternate faith or group-specific ethics platforms, so long as they are created in the same spirit of protecting the innocent. Further, the finished statement will exist as its own entity beholding to no single faith, group or individual, and anyone will be able to “sign” or “opt-in” to it at any time so long as they support its tenets.

Stage One: Crafting a draft statement. We will start with a relatively small group working together, with ongoing input from the larger community, to create a first draft of the ethics statement. Pagan author and professor of philosophy Brendan Myers has volunteered to host and help guide this stage of the process. If you are interested in being a part of this process, please join his message board, and take part. I urge folks from various faiths, traditions, professions, and walks of life, to participate. I thank Brendan for stepping forward to shepherd this initial step.

Stage Two: Feedback on draft. Once a rough draft of the statement is complete, it will be posted here, and at other Pagan media outlets, for feedback. All constructive input will be listened to, and responsive changes and revisions will be made accordingly.

Stage Three: Posting of draft, and creation of ethics statement web site. Once complete, the final ethics statement will be posted at its own web site, and all who wish may then sign on to the statement. All participating organizations and events will be prominently listed, web badges and printable materials will be made available, and an outreach committee will be formed to encourage wide adoption of the statement. The site will remain politically neutral, and will not advocate for or against any tradition, group, or individual in a conflict.

That is my suggestion for moving forward. If you want to discuss this, and get on board with this process, please visit Brendan Myers’ site to get things started. I hope this will be the start of a productive and proactive step to address this issue within our interlocking communities.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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