You get them everywhere and pagans are just as prone to it as anyone else. Take a moment to consider what you think of as lesser. There will be something. People who (insert observation) are not as good as me. If your insert went something like ‘club baby seals to death for fun’ or ‘demoralise and bully children’ then fair enough, no argument there. There are things which call for an ethical stance, but there are a lot of other things that don’t.
Let me offer you some unrelated stories. A girl I saw a few days ago. The sort of girl most people wouldn’t look at twice, nothing remarkable about her, head hung down a bit, dressed in a way that suggested being both low income and into pop culture. Not someone I’d expect to have much in common with (being low income and, well… almost oblivious to pop culture.) She talked at first like she didn’t know much, didn’t think much. But I was listening, and she grew more confident, until the words flowed more smoothly and her head came up. There was light in her eyes when she talked about her child, and there was as much goddess in her as I have ever seen in any woman. If I’d held the prejudice of a first impression, I never would have seen that. Some people have hidden depths, others have hidden shallows but until you get below the surface, you never find out.
I write in the two least reputable genres there are – comics and erotica. Short of being a tabloid journalist, I couldn’t be more open to derision. People make assumptions about both forms – that they are inherently crass, tacky, badly written, worthless trash. Some people will go so far as to point this out to me. I also write ebooks, and for many people those aren’t proper books. Good writers get paper publishers, anyone electronic is obviously inferior and couldn’t get a real publisher. And again I’d say the same. There are dreadful books in every genre, and there are amazing ones. There are even good superhero comics (Watchmen for example) and I don’t love the superhero genre. But then, for the people who never bother to find out, comics are superheroes, just as erotica is porn. They might be shocked by the literary quality and subversion existent in both forms, by the political nature of writers in both fields, and the power of some of the stories expressed. Badly written tack? Not all of it. I have a degree in English literature. I know academics who write erotica.
And there are others again for whom pagan means fluffy tree hugger with no grip on reality. It means no morals – we have no book so how can we have values? How many times have any of us been asked about naked dancing and virgin sacrifices? We pagans cop it continually when it comes to prejudice, and there’s also a kind of snobbery around the idea that, as younger religions (even if our roots are in some very old soil) we’re not as good as things that have been round for a thousand years or more. We don’t have hierarchies and buildings, we don’t have the trappings of ‘proper’ religions.
None of us likes being on the wrong end of someone else’s prejudice or assumption. It’s especially irksome when you know it’s founded in total lack of understanding and insight – and let’s face it, it usually is. But at the same time we all of us, and I know this includes me, cart around assumption, prejudice, ill founded belief. We think we know, and based on that, we judge. But ye Gods people, we hate it when folk do it to us. Isn’t there something about do unto others? I know that comes from one of ‘the other lot’ but it’s not a bad piece of advice. Even if you feel it, you can take a moment before opening your mouth and insulting someone because you don’t know any better. That way, you can save yourself a lot of embarassment and avoid irritating the hell out of people as well. And sometimes, we learn we were wrong, and see the gods gazing at us through the least likely eyes.