Back in November the Telegraph’s blog editor and alleged religion reporter Damian Thompson kicked off a tempest-in-a-teapot over whether the BBC was “sucking up” to Pagans during the Halloween/Samhain season. This is apparently part of the perennial British media sport of BBC bashing, but UK Pagans were unamused at Thompson’s undisguised ignorant venom and made complaints to the aptly named Press Complaints Commission. Thompson, a conservative Catholic, was apparently wounded deeply at Pagans daring to complain about anything he writes, and has lashed out in the only way he knows how; in a spiteful anti-Pagan editorial masquerading as review of Elizabeth Dodd’s “Wicca and Witchcraft: Understanding the Dangers”.
“I should make it clear that Wicca & Witchcraft: Understanding the dangers by Elizabeth Dodd doesn’t make any silly cracks about broomsticks. But I can’t resist. There’s no eco-bore like a Wiccan eco-bore. I’ve met a few and, believe me, you need to be under a spell to sit through a three-hour whinge about Mother Gaia from a practitioner of white magick. It makes one long for the days when witches restricted themselves to a quick cackle before riding off into the night. (Just kidding, witches and pagans! Seriously, last time I had a go at them they reported me to the Press Complaints Commission, which proved resistant to their magick.) [...] she’s not buying any of its [Wicca's] bullshit about being descended from prehistoric totemic and animist religion…”
He also posts a picture of an ugly witch from the film “The Witches” with the caption “Peace be with you!” because that joke never gets old! Seriously! Never! A huge laugh every time. I can’t imagine how proud The Telegraph is of this blog post.
It’s very clear what’s going on here, Damian Thomspon had his feeling hurt. You may not know this, but religion reporters are a deeply sensitive lot, especially if they are also expected to blog on a regular basis. He had no idea that blithely branding Pagans as feminist Satanic racist Nazis when making a point about the BBC’s coverage would actually offend us. That the invites to tea would stop, that he’d no longer get friendly invites to fire circles, throwing his social calendar into ruins. This is clearly a cry for help. Positively reviewing shoddy re-hashed anti-Pagan books is one of the sure signs. So let’s put a stop to this madness now. Damian, if you’re reading this, all you have to do is say you’re sorry for acting like an spoilt ignorant child, and we’ll all work together to put this behind us.