Hex Wrench

Carole Smith

I am not a witch.

I just wanted to get that out of the way right up front, lest I be accused of lacking objectivity when I talk about Carole A. Smith, who is indeed a witch and has suffered quite grievously as a result. The entire story of Carole Smith’s firing as a TSA security screener is too long and complex to summarize here, so I urge you to read the article and form your own opinion.

I suppose reasonable people can reasonably disagree whether Carole Smith’s employment problems and subsequent firing related to on-the-job persecution because of her Wiccan religion, a personality conflict with a training supervisor, her own clumsy handling of ensuing difficulties on the job, or a combination of all three. But it does seem obvious that her complaint of discrimination based on religion has at least some merit. After all, she was called in to speak with management about a fellow worker’s claim that Smith had “put a hex on her car”something that should never even have been discussed in such a setting.

And Smith was justifiably indignant upon being asked by management to “sit down and explain her religion” to the aggrieved fellow worker. “I’m like, ‘No.’ I refused to do that. It’s not up to me to teach her my religion. I mean, would I have to go down and sit with her if I was Jewish?”

That’s a very sensible question.

When I read stories like this I tend to feel more than a bit of despair. It’s as if we’ve learned nothing since the Middle Ages when anybody with a grudge could ruin any woman’s life by accusing her of practising witchcraft. Here we are in the days of space travel, burgeoning scientific knowledge and global connectedness, and Carole Smith is called into a supervisor’s office to answer a question about whether she “put a hex” on a co-worker’s car.

Simply unbelievable.

But what makes me despair even more is this: the story of Carole Smith should never have happened in America. Nor should the presidential primary candidacy of Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, who has mounted a serious campaign for the Republican nomination and is doing impressively well in early straw polls.

Herman Cain

At the “Conservative Principles Conference” recently held in Des Moines, Iowa, Cain told an online journalist that if elected to the presidency he would not hire a Muslim in his administration, and went on to explain why. His declaration was met with warm approval from the “values voters” at the conference who are strongly supporting the Georgia businessman’s bid for the nomination.

KEYES: “You came under a bit of controversy this week for some of the comments made about Muslims in general. Would you be comfortable appointing a Muslim, either in your cabinet or as a federal judge?”

CAIN: “No, I would not. And here’s why. There is this creeping attempt, there is this attempt to gradually ease Sharia law and the Muslim faith into our government. It does not belong in our government. This is what happened in Europe. And little by little, to try and be politically correct, they made this little change, they made this little change. And now they’ve got a social problem that they don’t know what to do with hardly.”

One could well assume a serious presidential candidate should probably be aware of Article 6 of the Constitution which says: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

But even apart from that, these stories about Carole Smith and Herman Cain are the antithesis of everything America was supposed to be about. America was explored, settled and colonized by people seeking religious freedom and lack of oppression for themselves and everyone else who came to their shores. Later, the Founding Fathers did their best to ensure that America’s politics would forever remain secular. Yet now it appears there are people who want to import the religious wars of the Middle East, politicize them and transplant them to Middle America. I strongly suspect this is all happening because a certain political party decided, some decades ago, to exploit the deep strain of religious fervency and extremism that resides within the heart of man, and mine it for political gain.

Since I’m pretty sure which party it was that made such cynical and dangerous decision, I am now considering hiring a witch to cast a hex on them and make all their Blackberries turn into Beanie Babies.

Perhaps I could contact Carole Smith to do this for me. I understand she’s unemployed at the moment.

About filistro

Filistro is a Canadian writer and prairie dog who maintains burrows on both sides of the 49th parallel. Like all prairie dogs, she is keenly interested in politics and language. (Prairie dogs have been known to build organized towns the size of Maryland, and are the only furry mammal with a documented language.)
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26 Responses to Hex Wrench

  1. filistro says:

    So the GOP presidential primary debate scheduled for May at the Reagan library has been cancelled due to lack of interest. They’ve moved it to September, obviously hoping they’ll have some actual candidates by then. (By this time last cycle, 17 people had already declared.)

    That leaves Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump driving around in the clown car. I’m sure the public is deeply impressed.

  2. Monotreme says:

    Just wait until Putin rears his head and Alaska imposes Sharia law or something like that.

    You won’t be laughing then, missy.

  3. mclever says:

    Deciding to represent herself was a very bad idea.

    I know from experience that proving discrimination in the courts requires a very careful and detailed account of specific incidents of harassment or other behaviors that are undeniably linked to a protected class. She certainly appears to have sufficient evidence based on the MSNBC article, but categorizing it and presenting it in a way that actually gets the court’s attention is where it takes a lawyer. The (presumably decent) lawyer will make sure that the actual bullets of the law that was violated are clearly and explicitly demonstrated as such in language that the judge understands. That’s very hard for a layperson to do, because most of us don’t speak legalese.

    Yes, the anti-discrimination laws are on the books. As this case demonstrates, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to prove even the most overt cases of discrimination to the court’s satisfaction. During the course of harassment, he victim’s work will likely suffer, which the employer can use as “cause” for termination to mask the discrimination. Unless the victim has documented–with date and time–the specific incidents, it can be very hard to prove that the harassment started before the alleged decline in work. (And, there’s an unfair assumption that the victim must behave PERFECTLY or their claim is invalidated.) To the court, it seems just as likely that the victim began doing poorly at work and is now using the discrimination claim as a retro excuse. That’s why documentation of incidents is so important.

    I feel for Carole Smith, and I wish her luck with her appeal.

  4. mclever says:

    With regard to Mr. Cain, I am continually astounded that people who claim to profess such love for our Constitution continually seem to disregard major portions of it. It causes me to doubt if they’ve ever read it. Or, if they did, if they understood what they read.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked anymore.

    People seem to think the rights and privileges enshrined in our Constitution only apply to people “like us.”

  5. Mark says:

    I’m a liberal dem and Cain is a pompus fake who cares nothing for truth. His idiotic support of the giant Farce Fairtax proves that.

    Still — even pathological liars can be correct sometimes. Robert E Lee tortured slave girls and sold white (yes white) babies — but he also ate vegtables. Does that mean we can’t eat cabbage?

    Islamic culture is inherently violent and cruel. So was Christianity ( remember, slavery was a “Gift from God” said Jefferson Davis.) We have tamed the lunatic fringe on Christianity — but there doesn’t seem any way to tame Islamic insanity. It’s different because it totally subjugates women, so women can not withhold or give their attention based on their own feelings. Men get power, prestige, and passion by their ability to dominate and control women.

    It is a deadly and dangerous culture. Don’t let that culture in here. It’s like a cancer. It will spread if it can, and die if it can not spread.

  6. filistro says:

    @Mark.. It is a deadly and dangerous culture. Don’t let that culture in here.

    I can understand how people might feel that way… especially from a macro view. On a micro, personal level, it’s actually quite different. I live much of the time in Canada where there is a large Muslim population and they are lovely people. Truly they are. Kind, generous, family oriented and very moral and upright. They are valuable party of the community. Probably a third of the doctors at the local hospital are Muslim. They coach baseball, play soccer, volunteer at the Food Bank and keep their kids active in the local arts scene. And their women (some of whom are my friends) don’t seem at all repressed or subjugated…. they seem just like the rest of my non-Muslim friends.

    But all that aside (since anyone is entitled to an opinion based on personal experience)… how do you “not let that culture in here” while still honoring the Constitution?

  7. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    Wanna guess how many Muslims were slaughtered like so many sheep during the Crusades takeover of the Holy Land?

    How many doctors have been murdered in the name of Christ here in the US in the past couple decades?

    How many Native Americans killed because they were “savage heathens” in the 19th century?

    How many witches were burned, hanged and otherwise tortured in the name of Christ over the past few centuries?

    No, sir, you don’t condemn the many for the sins of the few.

    Pardon me, but both your ignorance and hypocrisy is showing.

  8. Chris Rich says:

    I find ALL guy sky god religions to be deeply disgusting and inherently evil. The older ones have softened over time and have finally stopped burning witches and endorsing slavery. Oh and they learned to shut up about ‘heathens’ .

    But Islam is the new kid on the guy sky god block with poor control over its imams so a 14 year old girl in Bangla Desh gets whipped to death after getting raped by her cousin because some crazy coot with a bad beard concluded she was guilty of adultery.

    They still have ‘honor killings’ like the idiot who beheaded his wife in NY or the immigrant coots who slaughter a daughter in the new land because she kissed a boy or something.

    It seems that the greatest menace to Islam as it now variously behaves is simple life improvement in its lands. As conditions improve it softens.

    The guy sky god myths were an ancient scam to subjugate women from their former central roles in our early, pre sky god forms of social organization.

    Look honey, we found this powerful being and guess what.. it’s a guy. Nyah nyah.

    And HE only talks to us… In fact he told us you are just one of our left over ribs so grab your ankles, sister, your game is up.

  9. TakingAmes says:

    Violence and the subjugation of women have nothing at all to do with Islam. People tie these things to the religion because they don’t know Islam. These things are cultural leftovers and much older than the faith.

    And I’d hardly say we’ve tamed the lunatic fringe of Christianity. Just look at the folks who want to criminalize miscarriage, murder abortion doctors and firebomb synagogues. If you think these acts by so-called “Christians” have gone the way of the dodo, you’re insane.

  10. WA7th says:

    The MSNBC piece is a hatchet-job whether Smith has a good case or not, regardless of how badly the TSA handled her dispute. Whenever one side in a court case is eager to plead a case in the press while the other side is legally prevented from commenting at all, the resulting story is nearly always a hatchet-job.

    MSNBC had their own agenda here, and getting at the truth had nothing to do with it. Their goal was to sell a provocative headline for profit, and they achieved it.

    I think I will put my righteous indignation on hold until the rest of the story comes out, if it ever does.

  11. Todd Dugdale says:

    I’ve been a Wiccan my entire adult life, and I’ve also had these little “chats” with management and co-workers alike. They are not about ‘getting information’. Instead, they are employer-sanctioned ridicule, with no attempt whatsoever to suppress snickers and snide remarks. Those few who even are familiar with the word “Wicca” have made their minds up that it is really just Satanism by a different name. The rest just assume it is some kind of mind-control cult. These idiots, who ostensibly “just want to know more” will ask things like, “How many people are in this cult you’re in?” or “Who is the leader that gives you the orders?”. Others will ask what kind of animals are sacrificed or if I drink the blood of those animals – because they “just want to know more”.

    Once, after sitting through ten minutes of loaded questions dripping with sarcasm from a supervisor who “just wanted to know” about Wicca, I said:
    “I’m interested in your beliefs, too. You’re a Christian. You worship a convicted criminal who was executed for treason against the Roman Empire, right? And you believe that he rose from his grave, walked around for a while and then floated up into the sky. Is that right? And every week you get together and pretend to eat parts of his body and drink his blood. After that, some guy in a costume asks you all to give him money. Hey, that sounds pretty normal.”

    Unfortunately, this was considered disrespectful, though it was far more accurate than her depiction of Wicca. Now I have learned not to tell anyone I work with about my religious beliefs, because it only brings problems. It seems that Carole Smith just learned the same lesson that I did.

    I’ve worked with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, and atheists. They never have ridiculed my beliefs or raised any issue. It’s always the Christians, and they always have to involve the management, and they always present the matter as some kind of dangerous situation that must be explored thoroughly. And the “exploration” of this dangerous situation always provokes snickers, giggles, and smug grins – because it’s so dangerous. This case that filistro highlighted is not an isolated one.

    Personally, I don’t care what religious beliefs anyone holds. I try to be considerate of those beliefs, though. For example, I work with several Muslims, and I don’t wear gold or silk to work because that is offensive to them. Or I wouldn’t tell a Hindu about a great steak house I found. It’s just a matter of courtesy and respect, not imposition of values.

  12. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    As one who was handfasted with my 2nd wife, the priestess made just sufficient changes in the wording of the ceremony that my Southern Baptist (How’s THAT for differentiation, Mainer?) mother found no issues. her only comment was that it “seemed a bit different”.

    Although I never joined the coven and had to sit outside the Circle during the several ceremonies, it was quite important to her that I have knowledge of her religion.

    Once, when my younger son got into a bit of a spat with the law, Tami was able to visit with me (got past the one-at-a-time rule) as a “minister”. She wore her necklace and the guard, after giving us an extra several minutes, without a word, reached inside his shirt and pulled out HIS pentagram necklace for her to see. In South Carolina, not California!

    Small world. If only everybody would recognize that fact.

  13. filistro says:

    Speaking of importing religious wars… the nutjob “pastor” Terry Jones held his Koran burning.. and 20 UN workers died in Afghanistan as a result.

    Words fail me.

  14. Max aka Birdpilot says:


    Mine don’t

    One religious crazy’s actions make him just as culpable for those deaths as the religious crazies who actually pulled the triggers. He KNEW beforehand that his actions were inflammatory.

  15. Todd Dugdale says:

    Yeah, we’re everywhere. Outside of work I don’t make any effort to conceal my beliefs, and I run into a lot of Wiccans (relative to their small numbers) that way.

    It really says a lot about our “freedom of religion” that I would have more protection from discrimination in a prison than I would in the workplace.

  16. The problem with the beliefs about “freedom of religion” is that it’s only Constitutionally protected within the sphere of government action. It’s also legally (though not Constitutionally [and certainly not unConstitutionally]) protected in terms of employment. But it’s not socially protected, nor should it be in my opinion.

    But we get so used to it being protected in those other ways that we come to merely assume that it should apply everywhere. It’s much the same as when people start talking about “First Amendment rights” in the context of speech being regulated outside of government. It’s a difference that few seem to fully comprehend.

  17. Todd Dugdale says:

    MW wrote:
    But we get so used to it being protected in those other ways that we come to merely assume that it should apply everywhere.

    A fair point, and one that I agree with.
    I was speaking more to the idea of tolerance and the American ideal, not specific governmental policies. “E Pluribus Unum”.
    The Right has always valued conformity very highly, though they give lip service to the idea of “liberty”. We are “free” to express ourselves any way that we wish, as long it is in agreement with the Right. At that point, such expression inevitably becomes “dangerous”. It is divisive, subversive, corrupting, “un-American” – and fair game for virtually any action. Such things must be “investigated”, and such investigation must enact a price. That price may be humiliation, ridicule, loss of credibility, or loss of employment.

    This is not a phenomenon limited to government. Government has clear restrictions placed upon it, as you note, to avoid the government from becoming the arbiter of conformity. Instead, it takes place on a social and cultural level.

    But it’s not socially protected, nor should it be in my opinion.
    Not by law. But if we want to get along as a society, there must be latitude given to those who are different from us, as long as there is no danger inherent in that difference. If you disagree with this, the only alternative is to create some kind of model and socially enforce it in a brutal way. That path failed miserably in 1950’s, in my opinion.

    The cultural battles drive the political battles, not the other way around.

  18. Todd,
    What I mean is that one shouldn’t be required to invite people who one finds repugnant over for dinner. One shouldn’t Constitutionally, legally, or socially. Even if the only thing one finds repugnant is the color of that person’s skin, or that person’s religion, or that person’s sexual preferences. Nor should one be required to play tennis with such people.

    These are social behaviors, not commercial, legal, or governmental. As far as I’m concerned, those social behaviors are a huge component of one’s individual makeup, and should be left to the individual to choose, in the same way as one should be able to choose one’s religion or mate.

  19. PoliticalJeff says:

    It’s been a while but I’m back. I used to be Jeff on this site but it dropped away back in October when I had the stroke. A few weeks before my early November celebration the the. Now I’m using Dragon speak.Which will explain some of the odd syntax you’ll see.

    Let the arguments resume!

  20. Jeff! Welcome back. It’s good to see you again. I hope you’ve been recovering well.

  21. filistro says:

    JEFF!!!!… see this?


    That’s me, beaming from ear to ear!

    Here it is again 🙂

    So glad to see your snowflake again.. and its’ still a lovely turquoise, even after all you’ve been through. Welcome back.

    Okay, one more smile before we get down to serious debate 🙂

    Now… Let The Mad Rumpus Begin!

  22. PoliticalJeff says:

    Recovery is slow and difficult; I keep working at it. 🙂

    Word of advice to everybody: the keep your blood pressure under control. Obama sent mine over-the-top with little help from Pelosi and Harry Reid.

  23. filistro says:

    @Jeff… Word of advice to everybody: the keep your blood pressure under control.

    That IS good advice. There are days when I think it would be a good idea to start avoiding the Freepers, and for the same reason.

    Today they’re all furious with General Petraeus for daring to suggest burning the Quran is not such a great idea for the safety of his troops.

    The Freepers are BIG fans of Quran burning.

  24. mclever says:

    Oh, Wow!!! Hey, everyone, Jeff is here!!!!!!

    Welcome back, buddy. You were most definiticiously missed. 🙂

    Oh, and 🙂 again.

  25. Monotreme says:

    Jeff, it’s great to see you. You have been sorely missed.

  26. Pingback: Herman Cain: First Amendment ‘Doesn’t Say People Can’t Have Religion In Government’ | Zera The Disestablishmentarian

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