No wand for you!
August 15, 2016 10:05 AM   Subscribe

Richard Carter hand-makes magic wands for sale at Mystical Moments in Slaithwaite, England. And these are not toys for Harry Potter fans, he will have you know.

The uproar led Carter to clarify his statements, saying that he doesn't ban all Potterheads, just the ones who haven't "been inspired to start their own spiritual journey."

J.K. Rowling is not convinced.
posted by Etrigan (154 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Of course not.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:05 AM on August 15, 2016


Expelliarmus!
posted by Artw at 10:07 AM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


A) Does he sell brooms?
B) Do they vibrate?
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:08 AM on August 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


J.K. Rowling is not convinced.

Not another bloody chapter on the fine points of wand-lore.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not even a tempest in a teapot.
posted by GuyZero at 10:10 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not even a tempest in a teapot.

That would be a Weasley's Wizard Wheezes item.
posted by Artw at 10:12 AM on August 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


This wand maker is spewing nonsense. Making your wand yourself is a requirement for a real magician. Everybody who buys a wand from him is a poseur. He just hates on Harry Potter and does not have a valid justification for it.

(The hating on Harry Potter has a million valid justifications, just not the one he is claiming.)
posted by bukvich at 10:27 AM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


the purple glitter dragon header image on their facebook page does not make me feel confident that these wands are goetically compliant and manufactured according to sound thaumaturgical principles
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:32 AM on August 15, 2016 [50 favorites]


Whatever he's done, he's successfully achieved more free advertising than he could afford in a hundred years.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:33 AM on August 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


Does he want to open a branch in America -- maybe in the Midwest? Because I know some wonderful people that would be perfectly suited as his customers....
posted by wenestvedt at 10:36 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


His beliefs and faith are as valid (or invalid, depending on your point of view) as any other persons' and should be treated as such.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 10:44 AM on August 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


Making your wand yourself is a requirement for a real magician.

The worst thing that happened was when the wizarding world got obsessed with the arts and crafts movements. They also sneer at you if you don't letterpress your own grimoire.
posted by maxsparber at 10:49 AM on August 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


now that you mention it, there's this etsy i know...
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:53 AM on August 15, 2016


. They also sneer at you if you don't letterpress your own grimoire.

holy shit i want to see a wizarding etsy store
posted by Kitteh at 10:53 AM on August 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


It is kind of brilliant as a marketing tactic. Maybe he's been consulting with some real promotional wizards.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:54 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


"it is like McDonald’s refusing to sell happy meals to sad people."

I suspect anyone who buys such a thing is a sad person -- but he's not maximizing his access to the full demographic of saddoes, it's true.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:57 AM on August 15, 2016


holy shit i want to see a wizarding etsy store

That's pretty much 30 percent of Etsy right now.
posted by maxsparber at 10:58 AM on August 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


They also sneer at you if you don't letterpress your own grimoire.

At least it means us muggles can hold our own and be all "You call that documentation?! Don't give up your wizarding dayjob!" :)

(But secretly: I am also bad at documentation)
posted by -harlequin- at 11:01 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


So, a grown man who makes and sells magic sticks for spell casting has strong opinions about deluded losers?

Okay, sure. Why not.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:05 AM on August 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


So, a grown man who makes and sells magic sticks for spell casting has strong opinions about deluded losers?

It becomes much more important to have people you can point to as "below" you when you're perilously close to being at the bottom otherwise.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:10 AM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Making your wand yourself is a requirement for a real magician.

Are you sure you aren't thinking of light sabers and Jedi?
posted by MrGuilt at 11:11 AM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


My magic wand is a clear plastic rod, in which glitter is suspended in some liquid. Presumably water. I paid like ten bucks for it at a toy store. It fits my absurdist breed of chaos majgickgxh.*

I'm pretty sure a beautiful hand-made wooden wand invested with pussiance by someone as Serious as this guy would just explode if I tried to use it.

But I will defend his right to not sell his art to someone he doesn't think will use it properly. I mean, hell, you wouldn't want a gunsmith selling real guns to kids either, would you?

* more consonants == more powerful, right?
posted by egypturnash at 11:12 AM on August 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Are you sure you aren't thinking of light sabers and Jedi?

I'll have to wait til later to check my sources, but I'm pretty sure most of the old magical how-to guides were pretty clear that you had to DIY your own ritual objects or they wouldn't work right, or at the very least, have some virgins do it for you
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:15 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's hard out there for minority religions.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:15 AM on August 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


Honestly, the light saber is a magic wand. It's just one that has one very specific spell.
posted by maxsparber at 11:18 AM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Given the vast lines of crap Potter merch Rowling is profiting off of, she would do well to leave this guy alone.
posted by IndigoJones at 11:21 AM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


The Ministry of Magic admires Mr. Carter's desire to be discreet so that his clientele does not feel overly scrutinized, but if he were to come out and say that his shop is specifically for squibs looking to bring forth any dormant magical abilities, he and the community he serves would be better for it.

The Ministry is committed to furthering the standard of care and support for non-magical individuals born to wizarding families and will be administering additional licenses to anyone interested in practicing magic from home under the supervision of a trained witch or wizard later this year. If you feel you have been prevented from pursuing magical instruction of this kind by virtue of your non-magical status, please report all discriminatory incidents to your local Ministry representative.

The Ministry also wishes to take this time to encourage Mr. Carter and other merchants like him to work closely with the Department for Magical Regulations and Registries to ensure that all semi-magical merchandise is up to code. Should memory modification become necessary, a team of aurors will be available to administer charms to any Muggles and fans of the wizarding hero Harry Potter attempting to circumvent the Decree of Magical Secrecy in advance before it is lifted this time next year.

Yours sincerely,
Hermione Granger, Minister for Magic
Chief Warlock and Primary Advocate for Individuals from Non-Magical Populations
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:24 AM on August 15, 2016 [54 favorites]


But I will defend his right to not sell his art to someone he doesn't think will use it properly. I mean, hell, you wouldn't want a gunsmith selling real guns to kids either, would you?

I don't know how it is in England, from a legal perspective. But personally, I would be disinclined to defend someone in an open marketplace being allowed to permit or decline customers on the basis of his perception of that customer's religious practices.
posted by kafziel at 11:26 AM on August 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


I understand this is easy to snark at, especially given the phrasing, but this amount of snark is disappointing (yes, I flagged the dern post). This guys spends time and energy making objects for religious* purposes, and has a problem with people treating them like toys. That's not really unreasonable. *But it's not your religion, so it's silly, right?

But maybe it's just me, since I'm one of those Millennials. And, as the media likes to point out, my generation is just full of neo-pagan softies. Or it's that I associate with a lot of young, queer, feminist Jews who have reclaimed jewish mysticism. So when I hear about someone casting protective spells, it's not physically painful to take it at face value and snark-free.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:26 AM on August 15, 2016 [40 favorites]


"I know it's unorthodox, but the point is, windfall wood can be very nice, and you don't have to hurt the tree to get it. My second choice would have been Lake Michigan driftwood..."
posted by clavdivs at 11:27 AM on August 15, 2016


Like most things Harry Potter related, this is dramatically improved by replacing the word "wand" with "wang."
posted by mhoye at 11:28 AM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I understand this is easy to snark at, especially given the phrasing, but this amount of snark is disappointing (yes, I flagged the dern post). This guys spends time and energy making objects for religious* purposes, and has a problem with people treating them like toys. That's not really unreasonable. *But it's not your religion, so it's silly, right?

But maybe it's just me, since I'm one of those Millennials. And, as the media likes to point out, my generation is just full of neo-pagan softies. Or it's that I associate with a lot of young, queer, feminist Jews who have reclaimed jewish mysticism. So when I hear about someone casting protective spells, it's not physically painful to take it at face value and snark-free.


Okay, let's cast this in a Jewish light then. This guy is selling handcrafted paraphernalia for traditional Jewish practices - clothing, menorah, what have you. But he won't let you in his store unless he thinks you're Orthodox enough, because otherwise you're just some fannish pretender and aren't deserving of his products. Is this defensible?
posted by kafziel at 11:31 AM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


His beliefs and faith are as valid (or invalid, depending on your point of view) as any other persons' and should be treated as such.

Sorry, I can't just let this one sit here and go unchallenged.

Yes, people are entitled to their beliefs and faith, but that doesn't mean they're equally valid! Some people believe the earth is flat, some believe it's round. Some people are racial supremacists, that's not a particularly valid point of view.

Even faiths, which can't be proven and aren't necessarily a matter of morals either, there are some that are more valid than others! Scientology and the LDS church both have contemporary accounts of the founder being a fraud.

I'm not a religious person, but I can at least give credit to the history and rigorous thinking that's gone into some of the beliefs and dogma. Hundreds or thousands of years of scholarly debate. Or this guy, arguing how best to use a wand, and how Harry Potter fans' love of magic is less valid than his love of magic which came from other fictional sources.
posted by explosion at 11:33 AM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Harry Potter and the Charlatan of Slaithwaite
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:34 AM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


this came up in the last magical-items-for-sale thread. I think claiming exemption from criticism on religious grounds is a lot more defensible when you are not literally selling your sacred objects at retail prices
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:40 AM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


oh crap now I'm looking at Adafruit and thinking of making my own wand with a Feather and some of their new DotStar LEDs and an accelerometer. Wi-fi capable. Control the various Internet Of Things devices in my home by waving a wand. Yes. This is a potential rabbit hole that could consume months of time.

(Also, I would like to drop the analogy of "liberal musician pissed off that the GOP is using their song in their rallies" into the "should he be able to control who he sells his stuff to" debate.)
posted by egypturnash at 11:42 AM on August 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


This man snarked at people's beliefs in a way that made him subject to snark for his beliefs. I don't know how you could make an argument against this that didn't become a snake eating its own tail.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:43 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe if you had a parselmouth handy to sort it all out...
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Okay, let's cast this in a Jewish light then.

Let's not, because that's an utter cluster-fuck of a derail, and there's not much similarity between "religious object used as toy" and "vague line between un/Orthodox".
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:44 AM on August 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


Snakes that eat their own tails are not for sale outside the EU.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:45 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


thinking of making my own wand with a Feather and some of their new DotStar LEDs and an accelerometer. Wi-fi capable. Control the various Internet Of Things devices in my home by waving a wand. Yes. This is a potential rabbit hole that could consume months of time.

This would be... wondrous!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:47 AM on August 15, 2016


Also, please be sure to secure it with a complex, spoken pass phrase, in the form of a spell.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:50 AM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


This man snarked at people's beliefs..

Read TFA, and TFA that the original FA linked to, still failing to see a)where this man snarked or b)where the other side is a belief system.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:53 AM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Okay, let's cast this in a Jewish light then. This guy is selling handcrafted paraphernalia for traditional Jewish practices - clothing, menorah, what have you. But he won't let you in his store unless he thinks you're Orthodox enough, because otherwise you're just some fannish pretender and aren't deserving of his products. Is this defensible?

Continuing in this train though, you get the guy watching his handcrafted paraphernalia get giggled over by (mostly young) people who think that Judaism is such a fun lark (because Jewish powers were the focus of a mindblowingly popular series of books and movies) and wouldn't it be fun to have a menorah to hang up next to their lego pokeballs or get a yarmulke* that they can bedazzle for their cosplay or whatnot and expressing his offense at that by kicking the damn bums out. Which at least seems kinda sympathetic?

I mean, you're going to have to work very hard get get me to believe that this guy isn't a charlatan (who really hates the kids these days) preying on morons (or maybe just a moron himself), but if you want to try to analyze this through the lens of respect for religious beliefs the guy kind of has a point.

*I'm not familiar enough with Judaism to say whether these items are considered as sacred to most (any?) Jews as this guy's wands and crystals seem to be for him, but I wanted to stay with the Judaism analogy and not cross the streams by talking about a Christian who bakes Communion hosts getting het up because the kids these days just thought of them as bases for hor d'oeuvres, because treating the host like crackers is a thing that (some) Christians very much do no approve of.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:55 AM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Read TFA, and TFA that the original FA linked to, still failing to see a)where this man snarked or b)where the other side is a belief system.

Not faith, no, and not religion. But things that mattered to them, and made them happy. A person could belittle those feelings and call them ridiculous and insubstantial, but then that's the game you're against right?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:56 AM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm nonreligious myself, but I come from a neopagan household. Less of the wand and more of the cup and athame, but the same general principles apply, I think.

Most of the folks here have been fine, but there's maybe been a few people in this thread to whom I'd like to say: this is my family's religion that you're having a laugh about.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 11:57 AM on August 15, 2016 [17 favorites]


A person could belittle those feelings and call them ridiculous and insubstantial

That straw man sure has a lot of syllables.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:58 AM on August 15, 2016


Forget all of that, though, FirstMateKate. I was being half-flip there, admittedly. I do see what you're trying to say, I do.

But even given that people have an obligation to respect people's right to whichever beliefs they choose, I don't see that they have any obligation to respect the actual content of those beliefs.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:00 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


No one here is persecuting the man, just rolling their eyes.

I don't see any moral imperative to protect people from eye-rolling.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:02 PM on August 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


I side with this man's defenders. I think the "punch up" guideline applies in this case. Rich snobs complaining about the quality of their gelato? That's punching up, and I fully support the snark there. But a man asking for respect for his marginal religious/spiritual beliefs is not a man who deserves to be piled upon.

It makes us better people -- and our internet a better place -- when we can take a step back and ask ourselves whether a joke is too unkind. You can think that this man is wrong, ridiculous, and foolish, but you don't have to pass the story around and fan the "get a load of this loser" storm that the internet is so good at starting up. You don't have to respect the man -- but you should respect yourself and your internet community enough to give this type of story a pass.
posted by cubby at 12:02 PM on August 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


I'm not familiar enough with Judaism to say whether these items are considered as sacred to most (any?) Jews as this guy's wands and crystals seem to be for him,

I got a Qu’ran from a local Islamic center because I wanted a Qu’ran, and at the front there’s a nice note saying that this is a sacred book so please don’t go putting it in the bathroom, etc., and remember that a whole religion venerates this book as a sacred text. I think that’s a reasonable parallel.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


religious object used as toy

This is an important point, I think. It's not like people coming in and buying menorahs while being insufficiently Orthodox. It's more like if people were goaded by a popular book/film franchise to go out and buy menorahs to point at each other and make pew-pew noises and pretend they're firing laser beams. And probably complain to the people at the shop about the menorahs only having seven points because they've never seen a menorah that isn't a chanukiah.

All I'm saying about that is I think it'd be defensible for the menorah sellers to be annoyed about it.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


You're still on with a straw man. Just...this is this guy's religion, and it's completely reasonable for him to say he doesn't want these religious objects used for non-religious purposes. Like, it's a really simple concept that's muddied by the "his religion is equally as silly as fiction" slant, but the concept still stands.
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:03 PM on August 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


wouldn't it be fun to have a menorah to hang up next to their lego pokeballs or get a yarmulke* that they can bedazzle for their cosplay

Probably closer to what you're looking for would be people wearing tefillin as fashion accessories. I suppose the little round kippah is pretty closely associated with Jews (and the Pope, for his own popely reasons), but Jewish hat wearing usually is just us wearing whatever hat was popular a few decades ago. It's the act of covering the head, not the hat, that is important.

The menorah is a little closer, but apparently the Irish have really taken to menorahs and this is also really just a candelabra, it's what you do with it that counts.

But tefillin is something really unique to Judiasm, is saturated with specifically Jewish meaning, and is specifically used by Jews for specific purpose, and I expect that if you seemed like you were using it as a joke or just for fashion there would be an outcry.

Apologies if any of my jokes seemed directed at neopagans, who I have nothing but respect for. I had not read the original article and the framing made this seem like a Harry Potter thing. Mea maxima culpa.
posted by maxsparber at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


This guy sure went from fussy profiteer to religious freedom fighter in a hurry.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


this is this guy's religion, and it's completely reasonable for him to say he doesn't want these religious objects used for non-religious purposes.

Like I said, "Okay, sure. Why not."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:06 PM on August 15, 2016


But a man asking for respect for his marginal religious/spiritual beliefs is not a man who deserves to be piled upon.

Agreed. The pointing and laughing is pretty gross. And it's not like "Harry Potter fan" is a protected class or anything, for fuck's sake.

The man makes religious items for sale to correligionists, or at least people showing a genuine interest in his religion. This is worth mocking, really?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:06 PM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


This guy sure went from fussy profiteer to religious freedom fighter in a hurry.

It’s not like he can’t be a fussy religious profiteer. The issue is whether he’s being mocked because he’s a profiteer or because he’s religious.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:07 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


They also sneer at you if you don't letterpress your own grimoire.

In my day, if your grimoire was not infused by the power of a thousand screaming spirits of your vanquished enemies, your teacher would make you retake Grimoire 101. Letterpress, ha!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:08 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm honestly pretty disappointed by the responses from people here. I'm as much of an Internet Atheist (I'm the athiest!) as it is possible to be and while I think Reiki and ear candling and crystal therapy is complete hokum, that's not the issue at hand - I also think transubstantiation is balogna.

Similarly as I wouldn't buy this man's wand to make pew pew noises with, I wouldn't attempt to buy a Host from the Catholic supply store to use for cheese and crackers. Also because they're pretty lousy crackers as such things go.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 12:09 PM on August 15, 2016 [16 favorites]


I love you, though, MetaFilter. I really do. Zero snark. 100% sincere. To try and find empathy for positively anyone and to share the righteous indignation of positively everyone... I can't always meet you there, but I love you for it. Good on ya and never stop.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:15 PM on August 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


Just...this is this guy's religion, and it's completely reasonable for him to say he doesn't want these religious objects used for non-religious purposes.

On the one hand, it is reasonable for him to say that. On the other hand, he's relishing the publicity that he's getting from making statements like that right when Harry Potter is becoming a Thing again.

On the gripping hand -- with all of the analogizing to more mainstream religions, is there an argument to be made that the Harry Potter series is culturally appropriative?
posted by sparklemotion at 12:16 PM on August 15, 2016


Also - I love the Harry Potter series and I've got a lot of respect for Rowling, but her response on this reminds me of that time she said Hogwarts accepts students of all faiths - except Wiccans.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


is there an argument to be made that the Harry Potter series is culturally appropriative?

Considering "witches and witchcraft" have been a popular cultural motif for literally hundreds of years, and neopaganisms are generally newer (Wicca being ca. 1954), if anything, these religions are appropriating culture, rather than vice-versa.

And it's all well and good if someone finds something so near and dear to their hearts that they want to incorporate it into their religion and belief structure. But this is just gate-keeping using "religion" as a shield against criticism.
posted by explosion at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Also - I love the Harry Potter series and I've got a lot of respect for Rowling, but her response on this reminds me of that time she said Hogwarts accepts students of all faiths - except Wiccans.

She said she imagined no Wiccans, not that they'd be unwelcome. Probably because Hogwarts Magic and Wicca are incompatible, or she just imagined it might be so.

If I were imagining a school of technology, I would expect students of all faiths, except perhaps Amish. That doesn't mean my imaginary school of technology is anti-Amish!
posted by explosion at 12:26 PM on August 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


From sparklemotion's link, which does not seem to me like relishing publicity but mostly like a man trying to clarify his reasonable position:

“What’s happened is very strange,” said Richard. “A freelance journalist rang me up to have a chat after the Examiner article and the conversation turned to Harry Potter. But he took some of what I said out of context. “I said that if Harry Potter fans wanted a wand they should go on eBay because what they’re basically after is a toy. But I have not banned them from the shop.

“I have nothing against Harry Potter and actually liked the films. The wands I make though, whether you believe it or not, are real and spiritual. If a Harry Potter fan came to the shop, whether they would be able to buy a wand would depend on why they want one. If for a toy, then no, but if they had watched Harry Potter and been inspired to start their own spiritual journey, then yes."

Mr Carter also responded to criticisms by Harry Potter fans printed in national newspapers, who accused him of being “snobby” for not wanting to cash in on the success of the Potter franchise.

“I was hoping that some Harry Potter fans would stage a demonstration outside. That would have been funny,” said Mr Carter. “I don’t understand how I’m being snobby. I hardly make any money from the wands but making money is not the point. I just want to pass them onto someone with an interest in spirituality. We’ve had enquiries now from places as far away as the USA and Jamaica. That’s good, as long as they want one for the right reasons.”

posted by cubby at 12:26 PM on August 15, 2016 [25 favorites]


"Hundreds or thousands of years of scholarly debate." Thanks to over a thousand years of death threats and wars to extinguish European pagan religion by force. I understand atheists laughing at all spiritual or religious people but I don't understand people who think an invisible man wants anyone who doesn't say Jesus's name before they die to burn for eternity and that's a-ok- or that we are going to magically go to another world after we die... and all that is normal, but belief in other forms of magic is silly.

This is thousand year old rhetoric against animists, polytheists and faiths that involve energetic principles; some of which like that physical contact can actually induce real healing (see kangaroo care) are in fact born out by science despite years of laughter.

See current research on tree communication and care for offspring. I don't have much to say over whether people who think magic is a joke wanting wands for kicks being something he should stop or not... but I'm going to say the desire to mock the folk healers, nature communicators and others who have been with us since before Christianity quite literally decided to execute all such people and then turn them into a laughing stock who could be described as mad and this erased as valid (while ironically leaving all their belief in the magic man in the sky in tact) is something I wish Europeans ( their descendants and colonialist immigrant populations however you want to describe that conglomerate often called "the west" etc) would examine in themselves ESPECIALLY those who seek to drink from the fountain of spiritual wisdom in India and China and Native Americans and others who don't view the spiritual realm as a joke.
posted by xarnop at 12:30 PM on August 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


Also on the "relishing publicity" front, someone with Rowling's fanbase can unintentionally (and I do believe it would be unintentional here, normally she seems lovely) whip up a frothy nerd mob who make the life of their target a living hell. A number of celebs on Twitter learned the hard way about the damage they can wreak doing this kind of thing. Add to that the fact that he has religious beliefs a large part of the population would automatically be inclined to point and laugh at, and his life can go straight to shit in a big damn hurry here.

If I were in his shoes, I would be doing everything in my power to clarify my point, do some damage control, hopefully raise up a little sympathy for my point of view, and maybe even raise awareness about people like me.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:32 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


She said she imagined no Wiccans, not that they'd be unwelcome. Probably because Hogwarts Magic and Wicca are incompatible, or she just imagined it might be so.

Either way, it's an argument that comes from a place of wanting to make a clever little comment without making any effort whatsoever to understand the people one is talking about.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:35 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Honestly, she's got enough of a powerhouse merchandising business going here that I'm stunned she didn't read the news and think, "Oh, I could make a bunch of money selling high-end Ollivander's wands? Maybe even open a boutique store in London that fans of means would probably pilgrimage to? Well then."
posted by middleclasstool at 12:35 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


The man is making religious objects for a religious purpose and doesn't want people to buy them for toys and props. This is a reasonable stance. What is going on in this thread?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:38 PM on August 15, 2016 [31 favorites]


What's going on is that the wands are not actually magical.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:41 PM on August 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


And the host , according to many, isn't actually the flesh of god. Using them for a cheese platter is still a dick move.

EDIT: and you know what? It's not woo, either, or if it is, it's not woo that it behooves anyone to get up in arms about. He's not saying "give me your life savings and I'll cure your cancer" or "for a princely fee paid every month I will communicate with your dead loved ones and tell you the future." He's saying "if you'd like a tool for your magical and spiritual practice but lack the skill to make one, I will make one for you, in the proper spirit, in exchange for money." There is nothing here that is harming anyone except Harry Potter fans, who are not an oppressed class and have many, many other avenues through which they can purchase wands and wandlike objects if their hearts desire. How is whether or not his faith is "real" relevant?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:44 PM on August 15, 2016 [26 favorites]


Yet, if someone with a boutique cracker shop happened to be a Catholic, we might say that there's something a little off about them having a retail cracker shop if they don't want the crackers used for cheese.
posted by explosion at 12:47 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Honestly, she’s got enough of a powerhouse merchandising business going here that I’m stunned she didn't read the news and think, “Oh, I could make a bunch of money selling high-end Ollivander’s wands? Maybe even open a boutique store in London that fans of means would probably pilgrimage to? Well then.”

There’s an Ollivander’s at the Wizard World of Harry Potter theme park; the rights might have already been distributed.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


They also sneer at you if you don't letterpress your own grimoire.

Speaking as someone who has pressed a grimoire or two in his day, I can totally understand why someone might not want to. The main reason being, if you're using a letterpress that means you're going for multiple copies of whatever it is you're pressing, so you'd be looking to distribute copies to other people. Why else go through all the hassle of carving or setting up a printing block?

I live in a town where I walk past two Harry Potter themed stores and twice that many Wiccan shops on the way to pick up my kid from afterschool care. On that same walk, if I wanted to, I could obtain a range of wands of all price points and qualities from free (stick on the ground) to cheap (plastic novelty) to licensed (Half off Luna Lovegood's wand today only!) to hand-carved by some dude in the park to lathed and gilded to crystal and metal and so on. At the same time, I walk by all sorts of people with varying levels of belief in the power those wands represent.

Given Salem's focus on tourism, if you open a shop here you need to have a think about how your customers will treat your products. At some point, you have to decide if you are okay with your wares being used for unintended purposes. That ceremonial headdress you worked hard on? That's a Halloween costume now. That kitschy wand you made? Part of someone's Practice. Your book of spells? Given as a gift and laughed at.

I get that this guy wants to control how his creations are used, but at some point, you just got to let that go. Or maybe he has? Maybe this is some new-wave marketing that can help absolve him from having the lawyers sicced on him. "Stop buying these wands even though they look just like Harry Potter's! They are not for Harry Potter fans no matter how well they are made and how affordable they are!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:49 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Honestly, she's got enough of a powerhouse merchandising business going here that I'm stunned she didn't read the news and think, "Oh, I could make a bunch of money selling high-end Ollivander's wands? Maybe even open a boutique store in London that fans of means would probably pilgrimage to? Well then."

I wouldn't say that she entirely dropped the (crystal?) ball on that one.
Visit Ollivanders™, Makers of Fine Wands since 382 B.C. Step into the small dusty shop and gaze up at countless wand boxes stacked to the ceiling. Here, in a unique interactive experience, you can see a wand choose a wizard. You can purchase your own Ollivanders wand, or choose from a selection including Harry Potter™ film character wand replicas, Collectible wand sets and more.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:49 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


>Yet, if someone with a boutique cracker shop happened to be a Catholic, we might say that there's something a little off about them having a retail cracker shop if they don't want the crackers used for cheese.

But said catholic wouldn't be selling crackers, they would be selling paraphernalia for use in the practice of the Catholic faith. Like this guy's store does.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2016 [8 favorites]


if someone with a boutique cracker shop happened to be a Catholic

, they would probably be selling fancy crackers and not sacramental bread? I'm not sure I understand the point you're trying to make here?
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yet, if someone with a boutique cracker shop happened to be a Catholic, we might say that there's something a little off about them having a retail cracker shop if they don't want the crackers used for cheese.

A boutique cracker shop is not the same as a shop selling hosts. (e.g.) And yeah, if you buy hosts for use with cheese, I’d give you the side-eye.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:51 PM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


My bad for thinking they were crackers and not bread. I knew them only from sight. I've never taken sacrament as I'm an atheist and it didn't seem respectful to reduce someone's belief to a snack at their wedding.
posted by explosion at 12:54 PM on August 15, 2016


What's going on is that the wands are not actually magical.

That was a shitty thing to say. Sorry.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:56 PM on August 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


A boutique cracker shop is not the same as a shop selling hosts. (e.g.) And yeah, if you buy hosts for use with cheese, I’d give you the side-eye.

you have to be a registered dealer to order these hosts, which I'd imagine screens out most people shopping for sacrilegious cheese plate lulz

anyway there is not a damn thing going on here other than some UK tabloids getting a new age shop owner to snark on Harry Potter fans
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:58 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


The point isn't whether they're "crackers" or "bread", the point is that sacramental bread is a specific thing that is defined by something other than "round and crisp and a Catholic owned it for a while".

I don't know for sure but I've heard that Catholic sacramental bread is actually pretty hard to get outside of the church, for more or less this exact reason.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:00 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I just re-read the whole thread and didn't find anywhere that anyone suggested he wasn't entitled to his beliefs, even if it means he won't sell wands to Potter fans. Maaaaaaaaybe one, sort of.

By and large though, respect for this person's right to his own beliefs, and even to how he chose to apply them, was uncontested here.

There's definitely an argument that treating him as a ridiculous person was unkind. But I am not confident I see one about religious freedom.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:05 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I didn't mean to sound like I was trying to dictate what anyone could or should be upset about.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:15 PM on August 15, 2016


The objection runs a little deeper than "it was unkind" for me. He has a legitimate grievance and it was really disappointing to see MeFi behaving in... basically exactly the same way the Harry Potter fans allegedly did. "I personally don't believe it's true, so I don't owe the problem he's having any respect."

It's not cool to go into someone's space and buy things they made with sacred intent in order to point said things at people and shout made-up latin. There's a reason my community theatre group always got any necessary religious props from Halloween shops. It's just rude to act like he's a figure of fun in this situation because his faith is less mainstream and has more charlatans than most - though I'd point out that Christianity, at least, gives the neopagans a run for their money with regard to scam artists.

You can respect someone's faith and behave with courtesy and honor regarding it without believing what they believe or allowing them to make laws that affect public life. It's not that hard, and is often enriching.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 1:15 PM on August 15, 2016 [26 favorites]


There's definitely an argument that treating him as a ridiculous person was unkind. But I am not confident I see one about religious freedom.

Uh. Okay? I'm not bringing up "it's a religion" to try and bring the First Amendment into a discussion of a shop in England. I mean, I dunno about anyone else here, but I brought it up to point out that mocking him for that religion is rude. It's rude not only to him, but to me and to others here on this site as well. It's basically lolxtians with a smaller, easier target.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:17 PM on August 15, 2016 [12 favorites]


I think this can all be boiled down to "don't be a dick."
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm a daily wand carrying atheist who practices magic. In my view, playing with wands and wielding wands are both valid uses of a wand. I believe in nothing, everything is sacred; I believe in everything, nothing is sacred.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2016


It's not cool to go into someone's space and buy things they made with sacred intent in order to point said things at people and shout made-up latin.

This didn't happen, though. FTA:

“What’s happened is very strange,” said Richard. “A freelance journalist rang me up to have a chat after the Examiner article and the conversation turned to Harry Potter. But he took some of what I said out of context.

“I said that if Harry Potter fans wanted a wand they should go on eBay because what they’re basically after is a toy. But I have not banned them from the shop.


There is nothing to this "story." This is 100% tabloid and internet heat.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:25 PM on August 15, 2016 [22 favorites]


>I'm a daily wand carrying atheist who practices magic. In my view, playing with wands and wielding wands are both valid uses of a wand. I believe in nothing, everything is sacred; I believe in everything, nothing is sacred.

In that case it isn't your beliefs we're talking about, is it?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 1:26 PM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


A boutique cracker shop is not the same as a shop selling hosts. (e.g.) And yeah, if you buy hosts for use with cheese, I’d give you the side-eye.

Give the side-eye all you want. Would you deny the purchase? Should you have the authority under the law to do so, because you don't think the use the customer has in mind is holy enough?
posted by kafziel at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2016


Not for nothing I threw out the phrase "protected class" above. Generally speaking, business proprietors are not obligated to sell to anybody they don't want to sell to. Denying a sale based on a person's membership in certain specific categories can, rightly, result in legal consequences for said proprietor.

But "Harry Potter fan" is not a fucking protected class.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:37 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


In case that's not clear enough, the answer is yes. Yes, if I were a Catholic owner of a shop that sold hosts, I would absolutely deny a sale to someone I suspected would eat them with cheese, and I'd be right to do so, and anybody who says I wouldn't be right to do so would be wrong and also a jerk.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:38 PM on August 15, 2016 [9 favorites]


So if you were a Christian baker of wedding cakes, would you deny a sale to someone you suspected would eat it to celebrate their gay wedding?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


I will say, as gently and respectfully as I can, that this may be a poor hill for folks to fight on. As prize bull octorok pointed out, the story is mostly manufactured tabloid junk. He never really banned Potter fans. And followup articles seem to show the shopkeeper finds this pretty ridiculous, too. Casual browsing of their Facebook page indicates that his store is less about supplying serious accessories for serious students of magic than it is a cheerful hodgepodge of nontraditional spiritual objects for sale. How serious he is about those wands when he also sells Buddha statues is anyone's guess. I do note no article I found seemed to feature him discussing religion or any beliefs more specific than that he thinks wands are real.

He seems like a nice old codger selling stuff many of us don't believe in and might even find a little funny. I don't think he's really the center of a big religious controversy. Given that he hasn't raised any big flags or had any raised against him, you might consider whether we could just note that there's "Hey, don't be dicks to people about their beliefs!" and another camp that thinks he's fair game for some toothless, D-grade snark and then just move on. It doesn't seem that important in this case that we solve that last one for all time.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 1:43 PM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


>So if you were a Christian baker of wedding cakes, would you deny a sale to someone you suspected would eat it to celebrate their gay wedding?

Wedding cakes aren't religious objects. They're served at the reception, which is no part of the sacrament. Try again.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2016 [14 favorites]


They're served at the reception, which is no part of the sacrament.

The reception that is held to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. Which makes some people believe that participating in the celebration (providing the cake) is the same as giving blessings to the marriage.

You may not think that that particular belief is valid, but the point is that some bigots do.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:48 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


>The reception that is held to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. Which makes some people believe that participating in the celebration (providing the cake) is the same as giving blessings to the marriage.

You may not think that that particular belief is valid, but the point is that some bigots do.

Explain, again, how Harry Potter fans are an oppressed class?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 1:57 PM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Which is, again, where the concept of a protected class comes in. It doesn't matter what my personal feeling on the matter is, because the law says I can't discriminate on that basis.

And we get back to the fact that "Harry Potter fan" is not actually a protected class.

But I don't want to ignore the fact that, indeed, cakes are not objects of religious devotion for Christians, whereas wands are for Mr. Carter. Most of the analogies presented in this thread completely fail because the topic at hand is not about refusing to do business with people you don't personally like so much as refusing to do business with people who won't use a sacred item for its intended purpose.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Just so everyone's clear: I guess we're defending a hypothetical shopowner at this point? 'Cause it looks like he was trying to say if you go to eBay or somewhere, you can probably find something cheaper that looks really cool and will take care of all your waving and Latin-shouting needs for you? He doesn't seem interested in chasing anyone off.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 2:03 PM on August 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


At this point we're having a scrum about who can buy what for what purposes when it comes to religious items, yes.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:06 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Personally, I'm more interested in attacking the fucked-up reactions people had to the original story than anything else. The original issue was trumped up tabloid nonsense, but the pointing-and-laughing and the CAPITALISM DICTATES EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE TO ALL COMERS AT ALL TIMES ideas floating in the comment thread are very real.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:07 PM on August 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I just remembered, I've overheard my parents talking about some objects that laypeople shouldn't have, for safety reasons. I can't remember what they were, but they seemed very worried about it.
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 2:13 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Horcrux, elder wand, super-strength time-turner...
posted by Artw at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2016


CAPITALISM DICTATES EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE TO ALL COMERS AT ALL TIMES

Capitalism also dictates that I can decide who I want to transact business with, without restriction. This isn’t about pure capitalism; it’s only about religion.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:15 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


And we get back to the fact that "Harry Potter fan" is not actually a protected class.

I would think it would have a fair chance of being protected, because "Harry Potter fan" in this context means "person who does not share my religion and who I therefore refuse service" ...if this was actually a real situation and not imaginary tabloid junk.
Not a hill I'd stake my (similarly imaginary) law career on though.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:30 PM on August 15, 2016


"Person who does not share my religion" is also not a protected class.
posted by maxsparber at 2:32 PM on August 15, 2016 [5 favorites]




>I would think it would have a fair chance of being protected, because "Harry Potter fan" in this context means "person who does not share my religion and who I therefore refuse service" ...if this was actually a real situation and not tabloid junk.

"A person who does not share my religion and who I therefore refuse to sell religious objects to because I believe they will not use them appropriately or respectfully."

No one is entitle to purchase someone's sacred objects. The fundamental issue here seems to be that many people don't consider neopagan paraphernalia to be sacred objects that "count," or don't consider sacred objects something that people outside a faith should respect at all. Which is, I cannot stress this enough, an incredibly shitty, regressive, attitude, and in some contexts verging on imperialist/colonial.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 2:39 PM on August 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


More than anything I'm reminded of the scene in Unbreakable where Elijah Price kicks a guy out of his gallery for trying to buy a rare and valuable piece of comic book concept art for his 4 year old kid's bedroom.
posted by usonian at 2:46 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


Slaithwaite is pronounced Slowat.

FYI
posted by asok at 3:00 PM on August 15, 2016


No one is entitle to purchase someone's sacred objects.

When you open up a shop selling, among other things, your sacred objects? Then yes, people suddenly are.
posted by kafziel at 3:01 PM on August 15, 2016


The fundamental issue here seems to be that many people don't consider neopagan paraphernalia to be sacred objects that "count,"

I think that's a shitty interpretation of what the issue might be. Speaking for myself, this is no different from Christian paraphernalia; a private seller is entitled to choose their buyer, a public seller much less so. In tabloid-alternate-reality it sounded like the scenario was a person running a public store.

Personally, I think his advice sounds more well-meant and excellent - the helpful store-owner saying "Well I can sell you this if you really want it, but you'll get more out of this different type, which you can get from Bob down the street".
posted by -harlequin- at 3:02 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


When you open up a shop selling, among other things, your sacred objects? Then yes, people suddenly are.

How do you figure? There are all sorts of places that sell to select clientele.
posted by maxsparber at 3:10 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


“Person who does not share my religion” is also not a protected class.

Not sure what you mean. ‘protected characteristics’... It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of... religion, belief or lack of religion/belief... as a consumer

So perhaps the point here is that while “person who does not share my religion” isn’t a protected class, “Christian”, “Atheist”, and “Muslim” are protected classes. On the other hand, “jerk who wants to use my wand to play quidditch” isn’t a protected class, so now I think we’re getting down into the weeds and need a real lawyer to explain what’s what.
posted by Going To Maine at 3:13 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


>So perhaps the point here is that while “person who does not share my religion” isn’t a protected class, “Christian”, “Atheist”, and “Muslim” are protected classes. On the other hand, “jerk who wants to use my wand to play quidditch” isn’t a protected class, so now I think we’re getting down into the weeds and need a real lawyer to explain what’s what.

Not a real lawyer but I have a JD. IIRC, in the US, the standard for "what counts" as religion for protection purposes is "a sincerely held belief." The test for whether the belief in question qualifies involves such factors as length of time the belief has been held (did this pop up just after the issue, conveniently?) and consistency in practice (do they practice regularly or did they only start caring when it could benefit them?

Past that, it's all caselaw, precedent, the occasional regional legislation, and what you can convince the court of; for obvious reasons the subject doesn't lend itself it black-letter law.
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 3:22 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


So perhaps the point here is that while “person who does not share my religion” isn’t a protected class, “Christian”, “Atheist”, and “Muslim” are protected classes. On the other hand, “jerk who wants to use my wand to play quidditch” isn’t a protected class, so now I think we’re getting down into the weeds and need a real lawyer to explain what’s what.

Okay. Hi. I am not a UK lawyer, but I am a US lawyer. The gov.uk page as linked by -harlequin-, assuming it is an accurate paraphrase of UK statute/case law, seems quite clear - "It is against the law to discriminate against anyone because of: ... religion, belief or lack of religion/belief". Further, you are protected from discrimination "as a consumer". So if you're holding up his beliefs as being religious, then he can't discriminate against customers on the basis of whether or not they have the same beliefs. "Jerk who wants to use my wand to play quidditch" isn't a protected class, which is a largely defined list that is a term specific to US Constitutional jurisprudence, but whether or not someone is a wizard, or any other religion, is a protected characteristic, which appears to be a UK-specific term.

If you do not hold up his beliefs as being religious, on the other hand, then he is discriminating against customers for no reason whatsoever. I don't know if he would agree that his beliefs are entirely frivolous and non-spiritual, and I don't know whether that would fly in a UK court. It doesn't seem entirely relevant.
posted by kafziel at 3:23 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


I feel compelled to mention that for a while you could gets Host Snacks in Quebec.
posted by warriorqueen at 3:28 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's a conversation to be had about where you draw the line on religious sacramental goods being sold to nonbelievers. There's something to talk about when it comes to news sites writing wafer-thin stories vaguely related to the new installment in a hugely successful franchise in order to score easy pageviews.

But man, oh man, am I tired of lolwizards comments, and comments/jokes/"questions" about why it's OK to make fun of other people, even after people have said "hey, this affects me personally." If this is going to be a story about religious freedom, or capitalism, or whatever, it doesn't need to support itself by dismissing people's honest religious beliefs.
posted by teponaztli at 3:56 PM on August 15, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am pagan and am disgusted by this thread.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2016 [11 favorites]


But does he keep a very small Prophet?
posted by dannyboybell at 4:47 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Having made note of the comment that appeared as I was writing my comment, I did not mean to offend people's religious beliefs, but simply wanted to note that the connection between magic and capitalism extends back to Gilbert and Sullivan if not before.
posted by dannyboybell at 4:57 PM on August 15, 2016


and not cross the streams by talking about a Christian who bakes Communion hosts getting het up because the kids these days just thought of them as bases for hor d'oeuvres, because treating the host like crackers is a thing that (some) Christians very much do no approve of.

With apologies for derailing the derail. This is a thing in some Catholic countries. In Ecuador for the feast of Corpus Christi (the feast that celebrates the transubstantiated host) people make all sorts of sweets including sweets that are basically two Communion hosts with dulce de leche sandwiched in between. They use real Communion hosts purchased from the same nuns who bake them for use in the mass. Bakeries sell them and of course people with the connections to purchase hosts from convents make them at home. This is in no way viewed as blasphemous or sacrilegious . The wikipedia article is about the transubstantiated hosts -- thise that have already been used in mass. You can't buy those so it wouldn't be possible to buy them and misuse them. Before it's transubstantiated in mass, it's just a dry flavourless piece of bread and there's nothing wrong with doing anything with it.

That said, if these things are holy to this guy I think he should be able to sell them to whomever he likes based on what they will do with it and not sell it to whomever he likes.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:12 PM on August 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yes, if I were a Catholic owner of a shop that sold hosts, I would absolutely deny a sale to someone I suspected would eat them with cheese, and I'd be right to do so, and anybody who says I wouldn't be right to do so would be wrong and also a jerk.

It's a little strange to suggest that the people who think you would be wrong to do this (I. E. The Catholic Church, the nuns who bake and sell the hosts, and just about any Catholic) are jerks for not sharing your view of what Catholics should and shouldn't do. Eating hosts with cheese is a perfectly ok thing to do and one that many people, mostly Catholics, do in some places.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:25 PM on August 15, 2016


MeTa
posted by zarq at 6:44 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments deleted; please check the thread to see if your "hey this is like that other religion and merchant case"/protected class point has been made.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:31 PM on August 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


If I wave my (unauthorized) wand, can I hey presto this post and make it happier?
posted by BlueHorse at 10:12 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Capitalism also dictates that I can decide who I want to transact business with, without restriction.

As an aside, this isn't true at all. For example even hundreds of years ago, with the Watt steam engine, closely controlling the activities of those you transact business with via an intellectual property regime was already a thing. And capitalists themselves usually want there to be forceful state control of the ways in which workers can coordinate the sale of their labor, i.e. unions and other collective action.
posted by XMLicious at 10:42 PM on August 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love you, though, MetaFilter. I really do. Zero snark. 100% sincere. To try and find empathy for positively anyone and to share the righteous indignation of positively everyone... I can't always meet you there, but I love you for it. Good on ya and never stop.

Yes! This place is ridiculously unique in that regard. The level of discourse is consistently very high and without exception I find myself better educated on any given topic after going through a thread (it's amazing what happens when you can keep the discourse "pure", hey). And I think it's actually helped me grow as a person. (+happiness)

About the topic at hand though - I think it kinda helps humans relate to each other when they explicitly recognize that it's possible to hold a worldview which assigns impossibility to part of - or all of - another worldview, but also the corollary - that it's possible to hold a worldview where parts or the whole of it are assigned impossibility by someone else. That's called living together.
posted by iffthen at 10:45 PM on August 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


This seems like such a manufactured uproar. The shopkeeper didn't make it a point to be all, HARUMPH, I WOULD NEVAAR SELL TO HARRY POTTER FANS UGH PTOOEY, and in fact, it seems like that is not the case, per this comment on his Facebook page:

"I think you are fab my daughter came into the shop for a magic wand for my disabled grandson who is Harry Potter mad and you have made his own magic healing wand for himself he is delighted with it thank you"

So, extrapolating from this, I would guess that the guy was sympathetic and kind, and felt like a personally custom-made wand for this child (who happens to be a Harry Potter fan) might, one way or another, provide some comfort and healing.

It wasn't *his* idea to make the interview about Harry Potter: that was the interviewer seeking to get something more clickbaity out of it, and delighted to find the faintest sliver of opportunity to manufacture Outrage. I hope the shopkeeper isn't getting a ton of abuse, but feel pessimistic on that front.
posted by taz at 12:10 AM on August 16, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm left genuinely curious how it is permitted for the hosts to only be sold to licensed priests if all sellers must sell to everyone.

How are restaurants allowed to have signs that say "no shirt no shoes no service" if the law requires the sell to everyone? Are those signs illegal?
posted by xarnop at 5:22 AM on August 16, 2016


Is it legal for some restaurants or clubs to have dress codes?
posted by xarnop at 5:23 AM on August 16, 2016


Xarnop, there's a difference between a store open to the public (public accommodation) and a bakery selling hosts to priests exclusively. If it were a bakery with a storefront and hosts on display, and then they refused to sell them, they could land themselves in trouble.

Dress codes, including "wear clothes and shoes," say nothing about the prospective customer. On the other hand, asking customers to remove all headcovers could be considered discriminatory.
posted by explosion at 6:32 AM on August 16, 2016


It's also limiting the requirements to how you must be dressed while on their premises, and does not concern itself with what you do with your purchase after you've left.
posted by RobotHero at 6:36 AM on August 16, 2016


This reminds me of a situation I was in about three or four years ago, and I swear it's 100% non-religious.

I went to an medical supply store to buy a set of scrubs for a Halloween costume. I looked through the racks, tried on a set or two, found a set that fit.

The owner of the store gave me a 25% discount. I don't remember exactly what he said, but it was something to the effect of "if you were just buying these for a costume, I wouldn't have given you the discount."

I guess because I wasn't giggling and tee-heeing and OMG LOOK AT THIS SET OF SCRUBS and I was in my late 30's and had my nine year old son with me, I gave off a "medical employee" vibe.

The costume was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
posted by Lucinda at 7:52 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Moving this over from the MeTa:

I don't think refusing to sell to people using wands as a Harry Potter accessory is discriminating on the basis of religious belief. I get that that kind of discrimination is illegal and it should be, but that's not what's happening. I think it's discriminating on what the person is going to do with their purchase, which is a different thing and legal.

If I went into that shop with the exact same spiritual beliefs as a Harry Potter fans (whatever those happen to be) and said "I'm not a pagan or wiccan, but I like to decorate my home office with various sorts of spiritually-significant objects. I feel like it just creates a calming, reflective mood in the room. I'm going to buy this wand and put it in a pretty shadow box and hang it on my wall. Here's a picture of my office, with similarly displayed mandalas and dreamcatchers and a beautiful antique monstrance on book shelf the shelf." I strongly suspect this guy would sell me a wand happily and with pride, despite my not sharing his spiritual beliefs.

Also, seriously, anyone can buy communion hosts. There's nothing holy about communion hosts. They really are just not-very-tasty bread.

I think those no shirt, no shoes, no service, are actually health code requirements, not the shops personal preference. Dress codes are not, but dress codes do not typically match up with prohibitted grounds of discrimination, where they do they're going to cause a hubub. e.g. Many years ago in Canada, the legions in Alberta, which require men to not wear hats indoors, tried to tell Sikh men that they could not wear their turbans. A dress code is legal, but one that requires people to remove hijabs or turbans would not be. That's the issue people are pointing to -- yes, you can refuse service to people if you want to, but in most Western countries that are a few limited grounds on which you cannot refuse service (religion, race, etc.)

I don't think this guy, even if he were refusing service, was doing it on the basis of religion, but on the basis of whether they will treat his objects with basic respect, so to me that's totally ok.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:06 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I certainly have gone into a place in Minneapolis that, on the way out, I noticed a posted sign with a very... odd dress code that the only thing I can come up with is that it seemed designed to discriminate against what the owner probably thought "urban" youth might wear. It skeeved my the hell out and I regret giving that place my business.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:40 AM on August 16, 2016


Yeah, Communion hosts was probably a bad example, especially as accusations of misuse of the host has a troubling history. I know we're fishing around for something comparable, but it is complicated, in part because most of us are not lawyers, in part because this is the British Isles and they have different laws regarding the right to refuse service, and in part because this is running smack against two sets of assumptions: first, that religion is silly, and, second, that in a capitalist system, how dare someone refuse a sale.

Here is a site that I found that lays out British law. If I am reading correctly, there is a longstanding presumption that sellers can refuse service -- or even entry -- for any reason whatsoever, modified rather recently, the case of pubs, by a licensing act that I presume is similar to laws regarding businesses in general. Here are exceptions to the sellers right to refuse service:

Sex, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

There is nothing in it about absence of belief, which is to say that if you do not think something is sacred, that absence of belief does not put you into a protected category. I suppose one could attempt to make the case that you have a sincere belief that a wand is a toy, but, seeing as these laws were put into effect to protect categories of people who are frequently discriminated against, I think you would be hard-pressed to make the case that your belief that something should be played with does not trump a minority religion's belief that it is sacred.

Perhaps there is a barrister that can correct me, but it does not seem this seller is doing anything illegal. And I'd say if your feelings are that if someone has something for sale that he or she is obligated to sell to anyone, you might think about, as an example, if someone associated with a racist group wanted to buy your house, or you were selling art and discovered a buyer was reselling your stuff, at considerable markup, to people who liked to burn art.

Fortunately, you are under no obligation to sell to these people, as they are not part of a protected class. You do have the right to establish a set of ethics when selling, so long as you don't violate law that protects certain classes. It just happens this guy's ethics include the idea that a sacred object is not a toy.
posted by maxsparber at 8:44 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


There is nothing in it about absence of belief, which is to say that if you do not think something is sacred, that absence of belief does not put you into a protected category.

I am not a lawyer either, but I think this talk of "protected categories" is misplaced. Someone upthread said this is an American thing. I wouldn't assume it applies in the UK. In Canada there are no "protected categories" there are only "prohibited grounds for discrimination" which means you can't treat people differently based on religion. It's not "religious people are protected". It's "you can't treat religious people and non-religious people differently" or "you can't treat people of one religion differently from people of another religion."

The phrasing that you link to says "is not on grounds of sex, race, disability, gender, sexual orientation and religion or belief." which sounds more like prohibited grounds than protected categories to me. Of course that link is just an FAQ not that actual text of the law, but if that's the language they're using, I'm assuming that the UK doesn't use ''protected categories" either.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:09 AM on August 16, 2016


In other words, when the law is framed as "prohibited grounds" everyone is in a protected class. It's not ok to draw certain lines, and if you draw them, people on both (or any) sides of the line have legal recourse to complain.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:11 AM on August 16, 2016


you can't treat people differently based on religion.

Look, I am an atheist, and tend toward wanting to make sure my rights to disbelieve are respected. But there is a difference between me not wanting to be discriminated against when seeking to hold office and my believing that being an atheist entitles me to have the same access to religious objects as people who share the faith, especially when that desire is in no way linked to my atheism. I do not believe I inherently have the right to demand that a religious person sell a sacred object to me so that I can use it as a toy, and neither do I think I can make the case that there is something inherently atheistic about that belief that demands legal respect.

This is not belief vs unbelief here. It is "I think this is sacred" and "I think this is a toy," and I can't find any legal grounds anywhere to defend the latter in such a way to override a seller's right to refuse service.
posted by maxsparber at 9:20 AM on August 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maxsparder, I think I essentially agree with this:

"This is not belief vs unbelief here. It is "I think this is sacred" and "I think this is a toy," and I can't find any legal grounds anywhere to defend the latter in such a way to override a seller's right to refuse service."

And it was what I was trying to get at in distinguishing between discriminating on the basis of belief and on the basis of expected behaviour (the way the object will be treated once sold). I think if you, with atheistic beliefs, planned to treat the object respectfully, the guy would have no issue at all with that. But if you don't plan to treat the object respectfully, than I think it's well within his rights to not sell it to you, not because you're an atheist, but because you will desecrate something he (may, this isn't entirely clear) consider sacred.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:36 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sillyseasonium Tabloidosa!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:38 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


UK law is quite clear that customers may not be discriminated against because of an absence of a belief.
One roadmap that society has laid out because it helps avoid this kind of mess:

- If you are selling something sacred which should have an appropriate home, operating privately allows you to select buyers and organizations that meet very strict criteria.
- If you are running a public store, the stock should not include goods that are too sacred to be sold without illegal discrimination.
- If you are doing both and want to enjoy the advantages of both, then do both; don't mix everything up together.

Lots of people have both a store and a private collection, for example. Many have both on the same premises.

The discrimination in this (tabloid-imagined) case is not against potter fans; a devoted wiccan who also happens to be a potter fan would successfully pass the religious test. The discrimination is against people based on them not sharing the right beliefs. If you run a public store "we don't serve your kind here" is not acceptable and this is a good base standard that should not be watered down by needless exceptions.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:57 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


If you run a public store "we don't serve your kind here" is not acceptable and this is a good base standard that should not be watered down by needless exceptions.

This is actually the opposite of what I read as the law, which is that "we don't serve your kind here" is assumed to be the right of the seller with the exception of a few categories. And, again, "I think that's a toy" doesn't seem to fit those categories.
posted by maxsparber at 10:14 AM on August 16, 2016


Before the Harry Potter brouhaha, it looks like he was okay with people who weren't going to use them for magic purposes:

"You either believe in it or you don’t, it’s each to their own. But are they not just nice pieces of woodwork at least?"

(I wonder how many wands he's sold to people who want one just 'cause of Harry Potter simply because they weren't waving them around and shrieking EXPECTO PATRONUM at each other in the store. )
posted by Lucinda at 10:28 AM on August 16, 2016


From the article "Mr Carter, who says spirits guide him in using a lathe to create his special wands, would only sell people one if they had a “genuine interest” in spirituality."

As described (and/or imagined) there, that is a religious test and illegal, plain and simple.

As described (and/or imagined) elsewhere... the story shifts and can be whatever we want it to be, because it's manufactured tabloid pap. Hence like the version I pointed to, there is also a version that you can point to that you believe is legal. But I hope you can see that in a hypothetical situation that is as described above, it's not ok to discriminate.

When you are discriminated against, you are generally powerless (else someone else's discrimination would not be affecting you) and your recourse often depends on whether society has your back, or theirs, or doesn't care enough to get involved. When society is asked to intervene, the actual laws often take a backseat to the norms of the status quo and How Things Are Done Here. When it is widely accepted as ok for people to ignore discrimination laws in situations where the harm isn't obvious, this builds and reinforces norms that guide people in situations that are more fraught, and teaches authority to look the other way. People can point to other people and say "It was ok when he did it. Let it go."

I like society to maintain a nice bright clear standard that everyone follows, out of decency if not law, without complaint and without making excuses. When the line is eroded even for seemingly-benign reasons, shitty things start happening in the long run. It is best to keep the line shiny and clear.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:53 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


From the article "Mr Carter, who says spirits guide him in using a lathe to create his special wands, would only sell people one if they had a “genuine interest” in spirituality." As described (and/or imagined) there, that is a religious test and illegal, plain and simple.

An interest is not a belief. I have a deep interest in evangelical Christianity, though no belief at all in the same. Many scholars of religion might be interested in understanding these objects, showing them as examples in academic settings or for teaching, and yet have no belief in their power to cast spells. Lots of people are interested in belief systems they don't hold. I think he would prefer to sell to people who are "interested" and is less worried about whether they believe the thing they are interested in. He even says in one of hte articles linked above that he doesn't much care if you believe in it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:02 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


"An interest is not a belief."

This is the kind of wiggle wedge that people use to maintain and build their de-facto exclusionary status quo, so I'm hostile to it. How different would a test of "interest" necessarily be from a test of belief? Would the difference necessarily be apparent to the customer? Could another person use it as guise to create a test with hidden intent? Does society supporting tests make it harder for someone to be taken seriously about a test that looks like it is something that is acceptable?

Much better to Just Not Go There, imo.

Don't cross the bright line. Also don't scuff the line. Don't put one foot over then hop back. Don't leave the laundry basket accidentally obscuring the line. Don't casually have a toe resting on it. Follow the roadmap, which takes you nowhere near the line.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:28 AM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am tempted to go to the cabinet maker down the street and say that I want to buy a stool, the one in quilted maple. Then ask if oak burl burns better, I just want the stool for firewood.

I just think that the same exemptions (or lack of) for religious beliefs should be given to artistic beliefs.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 1:18 AM on August 17, 2016


my brain is punishing me for that awful menorah analogy by developing the franchise concept without my consent
posted by reprise the theme song and roll the credits at 1:32 AM on August 17, 2016


I think one possible distinction is he sees this as disrespectful of his wands. Whether he feels his wands deserve respect because of spiritual significance or just because he puts a lot of effort into them, or whatever, that is how it comes across to me.

So where he gets more sympathy from me than a "no gays" cake baker, is the cake baker is implying that just being gay is inherently disrespectful, which I don't agree with. But, even if I don't agree that his wands are really magical, I can still agree that someone who treats them as magical is treating them with more respect than someone using it as part of a costume.
posted by RobotHero at 9:44 AM on August 17, 2016


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