Proposed Bill possible threat to Pagan news

In a proposed amendment to a media shield law being considered by the Senate,  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and  Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il)  appear to define journalists in a way which excludes non-traditional journalists including most Pagan media and journalists. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment, which was written in coordination with traditional news organizations, by a 13-5 vote. It was then sent to the Senate floor where it is expected to pass. It’s fate in the House is less certain.

The Bill, S. 987: Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, seeks to provide reporters with a limited right to refuse to testify on information gathered or to be forced to reveal sources. The House Bill defines a journalist as someone who “for financial gain or livelihood, is engaged in journalism” while originally the Senate version had a looser definition.  The proposed amendment by Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Durbin requires journalists to meet at least one of these three additional criteria:

  1. working as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information;”
  2. either (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period within the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author, editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity . . . within two years prior to the relevant date;” or
  3. working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic publication at an institution of higher education.”

Requiring that an individual is “salaried”or under a financial contract is problematic for Pagan news organizations as most reporters and contributors are volunteers or are not employed in journalism as their primary source of income. All PNC-News reporters, editors, and contributors are not paid. The Wild Hunt pays its contributors, but it’s a modest amount that could not be considered earning a “livelihood.”

The second criteria is also a difficult hurdle for Pagan journalists.  The amendment is vague on what comprises an “entity” that reporters need to send their work in to and what a “significant number of articles” within a two year time table means. It’s not clear if Pagan news outlets would be considered an “entity” under this amendment.

PNC-Minnesota Webmaster and Researcher Heather Biedermann said, “Even if we paid our staff, who in the government decides what is an approved media outlet? To me, this seems like a thinly-veiled attempt to put in place a “government-friendly” group of approved news reporters who are handpicked by some unknown agency to spread their own spin on the news. It also is a backhanded way of discrediting the growing grass-roots news media that we are seeing all around the world. Not only does it discredit, but it also endangers news sites like PNC. Who is to say that this isn’t the beginning of finding ways to limit free speech in general?”

The effects of the proposed Bill could strip away protections independent news organizations have been slowly gaining on the state level. In November of 2010, PNC-Minnesota published an article relating a rape survivors experience while undergoing an enhanced search by TSA agents.  The article quickly went viral and was republished or linked to by traditional news sources. PNC-Minnesota received a request from the TSA to reveal our source for the article. We refused, citing Minnesota’s shield law and the traditional protections afforded members of the press and backed by the First Amendment of the United States. There was no response from the TSA.

Supporters of the Bill say it is a good compromise between protecting national security against leaks and protecting the rights of a free press, “I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” said  Sen. Feinstein.

Bloggers, alternative media, and civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have criticized the Bill as creating two classes of reporters, the traditional media licensed by the government, and everyone else.  In an article on the proposed Bill, Morgan Weiland of EFF wrote, “The requirement of doing journalism for money and on a consistent basis, coupled with the suggestion that such activities happen within a larger journalistic organization, paints a picture of a New York Times correspondent—and arguably excludes bloggers, freelancers, and other non-salaried individuals who practice the craft of journalism and need the most protection.”

PNC-News Editor in Chief and Founder and Editor of the Wild Hunt Jason Pitzl-Waters had this to say about the legislation, “Author and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis has said that ‘there are no journalists, there is only the service of journalism,’ a sentiment that I would broadly agree with. There are those who make their living reporting and investigating the news, but our history is full of individuals who, in key moments, rose up to document important events, to give voices to voiceless communities, or to expose hidden wrongs. Any protections for journalists that do no protect grass-roots manifestations of the service of journalism are not only flawed, but chilling. Would Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker be covered under these provisions? Would Gandhi’s newsletters advocating for an independent India? The farther down the road we travel into creating hurdles to legal protections, the more we damage the service, in essence dictating who is a ‘real’ journalist. The heart of journalism is a radical heart, because it creates an informed community, these guidelines can only hinder journalism’s purpose.”

WI Townships Contend with Frac Sand Regulation – Editorial

*Editor’s note:  “THE PRICE OF SAND” – an advance preview of a locally produced frac sand documentary,  is tomorrow Thursday, March 28 at 7 PM – Grandview Theater, 1830 Grand Ave., St. Paul, MN.

film trailer at:
For more information, and advance ticket sales, visit or on Facebook

Rural Western Wisconsin is known for its hospitable nature, and its “live at let live” method of getting along. Many families have lived in homesteads for several generations, but many “new” (less than fifty year residents) folks have sought out the rolling hills, valleys, and small rivers that call to those in touch with the land. The tradition is that you may not have much, but if you have land, you have standing. The rights of landowners are held sacrosanct, and what you do there is mostly your business. Many who have arrived bring a different ethic, that land is also a collective resource, whose environmental protection is a must. It is the stage for conflict when the frac sand mines come to town.

Vance Creek is a non zoned township. You need a dog license, county permits for building and related activities but other than that, do what you will. The residents near the “four corners” area of SW Barron County watched for mining to arrive. It has spread West from HWY 53, the New Auburn area, and erupted just across the line in Arland Township (TWP). The railroad line along Hwy 8 through Taylors Falls had been improved and ready for shipping sand. The perfect place for mining is in the corner of the county where few pay any notice. The first mining site in Vance Creek Township was targeted adjacent to a large tract of Barron County Forest land, on which the county had denied mining permits. What caused Vance Creek to erupt in concern was the township wide realization that  *** one of three town board members was having exploratory assessment for frac sand mining done on his land.

Area of mining exploration and existing mines in SW Barron County, Wi.

Area of mining exploration and existing mines in SW Barron County, Wi.

The strategy of concerned residents across Wisconsin is to avoid zoning, we don’t care for it here, thank you. Townships in the this area have been either passing “moratorium ordinances” on mining operations for anywhere from 6 months to two years, or they have been passing a township non-metallic mining ordinance that requires a permit for the operation of non-metallic mines and sets forth the application process. As soon as the mining exploration rumor was verified in the township a group of town residents started meeting, and asked the town secretary to put consideration of a draft moratorium ordinance on the agenda of the next town board meeting Jan. 8th 2013. Shit hit the fan. Continue reading

Pagans gather at SCOTUS to pray, advocate for same sex marriage

On Tuesday, March 26 and Wednesday, March 27, the Supreme Court hears more than 3 hours of arguments in the challenges to the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry) and the Defense of Marriage Act (Windsor v. United States).  On Tuesday morning Circle Sanctuary’s Rev. Selena Fox takes part in a multi-faith prayer service in Washington DC promoting “love & Justice.  Starting tonight, Pagan author and GLBT activist David Salisbury, who is also a guest at this year’s Sacred Harvest Festival, is camping out on the steps of the Supreme Court .

Proposition 8, which centers around a challenge to California’s voter-approved gay marriage ban, is argued on Tuesday at 10am  ET.  SCOTUS is to decide is it violates the 14th Amendment, which prevents states from denying people equal protection under the law.  The case could hinge on a technicality since there’s a question about whether gay marriage opponents have a right to defend the ban in court, since the state of California has declined to do so.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), falls under the Fifth Amendment and is argued Wednesday at 10am ET.  The case challenges the 1996 law that bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages which prevents those couples from getting tax breaks and other benefits for married couples.  Similar to Prop 8, the Obama administration has decided not to defend the law, so this raises the question if SCOTUS has the jurisdiction to rule on the case.


 Depending on how the SCOTUS rules, both of these trials could have major nation-wide effects that would change the course of our movement forever. People from all over the country will be arriving here in the District to rally at the trial on Tuesday. A crew of people (including me) will be sleeping outside on the sidewalk of the Supreme Court on Monday night before the rally on Tuesday. That night I will facilitate a ritual calling upon the guardian Goddess of DC and of the United States, Columbia. We will ask Columbia to bring the sword of victory to our work, leading us in the march to freedom and justice. Before the Tuesday rally, I’ll attend an interfaith service with some of my of my coreligionists and people of other faiths. – David Salisbury, Witches & Pagans magazine


David Salisbury

Salisbury will be live tweeting starting tonight and you can follow him on twitter.

On Tuesday morning, in Washington DC, Rev. Selena Fox is taking part in a multi-faith equality prayer service at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation starting at 7:15am.  The prayer service is followed by a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court.  Twenty different clergy members representing 15 different faiths are leading the prayer service.  Rev. Fox is also attending the ritual hosted by David Salisbury to call upon the patron Goddess of the United States, Columbia, to bless our nation and guide the Supreme Court towards  justice, truth, and equality.

Rev. Selena Fox

Rev. Selena Fox

local rally in support of same sex marriage takes place in St. Paul at 7pm tonight.  Interested persons are meeting at the Federal Courthouse Plaza in Minneapolis.  The organizer for the event, Jacob Reita, says there will be no speeches and no anger, ”   I am inviting you to come and stand with me to give witness to the nation and the world how important that week will be for LGBT American obtaining freedom and equality.  If the spirit moves you come on down to the Federal Courthouse in Minneapolis with your candle, your determination for fully equality and spend an hour with me.”

If you live outside the Twin Cities area, you can find rally in your state on this google map.

Freedom to Marry rally seeks clergy involvement

FreedomtoMarryDayMinnesotans United For All Families hosts a rally at the Minnesota State Capitol building to support legislation allowing same sex couples the ability to marry.  The rally is titled the Freedom To Marry Day and is scheduled for February 14th.  Organizers are also seeking interested clergy to take a greater role in the rally.

Minnesotans United says this event is, “a key first step in working with state legislators to ensure that in 2013, Minnesota state law is changed to reflect our shared belief that loving and committed same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry.”

Organizers wish to show that support for enacting laws to legalize gay marriage is broad-based and diverse so attendees are encouraged to display religious, political, or group affiliation while at the rally.  PNC readers can find more information, to RSVP, or for Pagan clergy to contact Minnesotans United, here.

Eye of Horus joins

On Wednesday, September 26, the Eye of Horus Metaphysical shop announced through its Facebook page:

“Eye of Horus, as an organization, has officially joined the coalition of Minnesotans United for All Families. Owned by life-partners Thraicie Hawkner and Jane Hansen, they felt the Eye should take a stand for the spirituality and freedom of all.”

Jane shares her thoughts

We know there may be some of you who disagree or who think we shouldn’t “get involved with politics,” but we don’t think of this as a political issue. It is about human rights. At Eye of Horus, we have sought, since our inception, to create a safe place for people of alternative religious views or spiritual paths. It’s our welcoming “vibe” that people like so much.

We consider ourselves privileged and blessed to live in a state and in a city which allows us to support alternative beliefs, create rituals, and sacred spaces like our labyrinth to honor the earth and spirits of this land without hindrance. We don’t tell people what to believe, but we do hold the space which allows for the full expression of Spirit.

In fact, Thraicie and I held our hand-fasting/marriage ceremony in the 2nd floor gallery of the old Eye of Horus location over seven years ago. Our union was blessed by a Priest and Priestess of our faith, and witnessed and celebrated by our birth-families. Although we still don’t have access to the same rights as a legally married couple, it was not unconstitutional, and we can continue to hope that the laws will expand to provide us with the full rights and responsibilities of other couples.

In this time of year, so close to Samhain, I think of the ancestors who have lived here before, whose bones rest in Minnesota, including the Native Two-spirit people and my 2nd generation Norwegian father who gave his blessing to my marriage with Thraicie. It is an affront to them and to the land they have become a part of to insult them by changing the state constitution.

I’m voting NO on the Constitutional Amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples. By doing so, I hold the space known as Minnesota as sacred space for ALL peoples and their families.

~Jane Hansen

CEO/Creative Director

Eye of Horus, Inc.

We’ve joined over 650 coalition partners


Nels Linde