I made a post yesterday which, I want to be clear, I stand by entirely. There have been a variety of responses to it so far and I expect there will be more, but what I regard as the official response from White Marsh Theod has been offered on r/asatru. I would like to give answer to it openly and publicly (EDIT: Due to concerns about shifting narratives from respondents and an accusation that my earlier post is “dangerously close to libel” in its citing of a public record of the State of Texas, I am posting a screenshot of the above post where Forvrin confirms that “No question of these facts are in dispute” for posterity in the event of its removal or editing.)
Forvrin leads off with laments of the fact that it “really sucks” to be met with unmitigated hatred. In this, I believe he is seeking sympathy, but I also believe it bears repeating that both White Marsh and Oethelland revel in frequent and public ridicule of every heathen-affiliated group imaginable over slights both real and perceived.
I also want to provide some context on something he brings up, the idea that this began with the statement that “Frith is a lie.” What I believe he is referring to is an incident on Facebook last week, wherein a post from my personal wall (set to public, as all my posts were at the time) concerning personal family drama was shared in the group American Heathenry, to be mocked by members of both theods. This isn’t the first harassment I’ve dealt with from them, and neither is it a one-way street. I have engaged in numerous arguments with them regarding matters of practice and theology over the past year or two, and increasingly the tone has become one of simple hostile mockery and dismissal, with frequent accusations of me being a “worthless, tribeless wretch.”
The post in question never had anything to do with theodism prior to its sharing in the American Heathenry group, which then led to further harassment by a member of White Marsh named James Davey on my own wall, wherein he attempted to present himself as a reasonable person seeking discussion even while continuing to mock the situation on the group’s public post.
At the end of the day, that was just another matter in a long string of various disputes. It was not some kind of singular impetus for yesterday’s post, which is the results of months of work, and which has existed in various draft forms for quite some time, particularly in the months since it was brought to my attention that the members of White Marsh were engaging in the promotion and encouragement of transphobic behavior. When it came to my attention that these groups are also assisting a sex offender in concealing his identity online– to prevent “witch hunts,” as Forvrin says– it became what I considered a moral imperative to move forward with the article.
While Forvrin admits to the veracity of the information that was provided, fake Facebook accounts are being created and attempting to dissemble the information on the public record, claiming that the Texas Department of Public Safety’s records are falsely presenting the age of street’s victim. It is my view that one delivering such assertions behind a blatantly fake account that does not seem to have existed 12 hours prior to the time I was typing this does not supersede a legal public record. Moreover, it is my view that for one member of the groups involved to be providing a long and seemingly reasonable response while another associate is creating sock puppet accounts to attempt to contradict the information that Forvrin admits is factual, the principle of owning one’s words and any notion of a reputation based culture is effectively dead in theodism.
This is not the first instance of them hiding behind false names to slander people. The account which shared my personal post on American Heathenry and continued to attack me and another local heathen I know with gay and trans jokes and accusations and the like never attached any kind of name to themselves. I do not know precisely who is (or was) the admin of the American Heathenry page, but former theodsmen and associates have suggested that James Davey and Gary Golden are the ones who operate the page. Davey is the White Marsh member who took the harassment to my wall directly, while Golden is apparently a solitary heathen allegedly associated with White Marsh, though I do not know him directly and have not spoken to him unless it was from behind another account.
Which brings me into another point that Forvrin raised regarding journalistic integrity. While it is sometimes customary to provide sources, I made a particular point of focusing on issues that I could independently verify. I was pointed toward most of these matters by other individuals who have themselves been the target of severe harassment from White Marsh Theod and their associates, and accordingly, I did not reveal any names in my post because it would have been unprofessional of me to do so.
Likewise, while often an organization is reached out to for comment, my attempts to engage with White Marsh have never been received particularly well. Forvrin himself has for over a year now responded to me only with “K.” I think that it’s more than a little disingenuous for a man who will brook no contact with me to lament that I did not reach out for comment. Meanwhile, every attempt to approach Brian Smith for any purpose has been met with marked indifference.
For what it’s worth, I have never commented directly on the wall posts of any member of White Marsh Theod to my knowledge outside of Forvrin’s, before such a time as he ceased communication with me. Any engagements have been through other groups, either public or private, and I consider any conversation I have had to be public record. I, for one, do not have anything to hide.
The idea that I should have reached out to White Marsh for their side of the story is to me, at this point, somewhat absurd. They have displayed no particular integrity at any point in my investigating their history. Likewise, while Forvrin defends Swain, I did not attack him. Rather, I personally admire his willingness to embody the ideals that Forvrin talks about and own his actions. What I take exception to is the general unwillingness of members of these groups to acknowledge them when they are presented until such a point as they are presented very publicly. What I take exception to is the clear moves to cover these issues up.
I also want to make clear the fact that this is a personal blog, not a “journalistic enterprise.” I am not seeking any publication with this. I am focusing on nothing that cannot be verified. Heathenry presents itself constantly as a tradition in which reputation is paramount. I do not believe those rules should apply only when they are convenient.
Despite the fact that this is not a journalistic enterprise, as such, I have always maintained that I will own up to anything that I have said or done. I am willing to admit that I made one misstep, in quoting one conversation between myself and another individual without notifying them that I intended to do so. Procedurally, that is the only untoward action I have taken here, as far as I’m concerned. Morally, I still believe that it is defensible, because I frankly do not believe that a passive apathy is an appropriate response to the information that has been presented.
So, to Thorin Ruriksson, I apologize for not informing you that the discussion we had would be made public in part. At the same time, I will not apologize for actually following through on it, because I believe it highlights an essential component of the broader issue as I perceive it.