September 10, 2008 § 4 Comments
The latest hoo-ha in the tarot community concerns a tarot reader in Seattle, WA, who was allegedly discriminated against by the King County Solid Waste Division (KCSWD). In a nutshell, and as reported in the Seattle Weekly, the KCSWD solicits small local business to donate their services at a reduced rate to be distributed as gifts during the holidays, “in the hope that grandmothers and other gift-givers will replace ugly sweaters with experiences that generate less trash”.
Alexandra Chauran offered her skills as a tarot reader, crystal ball diviner and tea-leaf reader and was turned down. The American Tarot Association (ATA) have leapt to her defence, issuing a press release and writing to lots of county officials, as well as the editor of the Seattle Weekly, etc. etc. You can read their press release here at the Aeclectic forum.
Okay, so I’ve a feeling this isn’t going to be a popular post but I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. It seems the KCSWD has been running this Waste Free Holiday Program for a few years. They clearly invest time and effort and probably money into running it and, as it’s for a very good cause (saving the planet) they want it to be as much of a success as it can be. Presumably they have a limited amount of space and a particular audience in mind, so they want to include the services that they think will most appeal to that audience.
So they reject a tarot reader because they say tarot is controversial. Well, tarot IS controversial. Yes, it’s the 21st Century. No, there’s absolutely nothing satanic or occultish about tarot. We understand that but a large part of the population still doesn’t, hence the controversy. I could happily give a wellness spa break to almost any member of my family but I’d have to think very carefully about who would appreciate a tarot reading. It just doesn’t have the same mass market appeal.
The KCSWD explained they have also rejected financial planners and tutors. “We try to limit it to something you would see on a wish list,” said Megan Sety, of the division’s Recycling and Environmental Services department. Fair enough then.
It’s important to note that – unlike the Miss Toronto tourism officials – the KCSWD didn’t cast any disparaging remarks on tarot at all (you know, associating it with witchcraft and the like). They just simply – and politely – refused Chauran’s offer, and now they’re in hot water. So if someone offers you their services, you’re not allowed to reject them? I’d understand if Chauran had offered to rescue orphan kitties and they’d turned her down because she was a tarot reader. That would be discrimination. But they didn’t really reject her…they rejected the service she was offering and it’s the service that they’re passing on to the public. I run an online store and I get approached a couple of times a week with link exchanges – most of which are relevant and most of which I politely refuse. I exercise my right to select the most appropriate content for my site’s visitors. God forbid I have to start accepting all of them for fear of discriminating against anyone.
Perhaps the KCSWD’s only error was to be so up-front and honest about their reasons for turning Chauran down. They could have just said the program was full this year, and saved themselves some hassle. Guess they won’t make that mistake again.
As for the ATA…well, I don’t see that it was necessary for them to weigh in on this. Well, okay, if you like, use it as an opportunity to educate the public about tarot, but don’t use it to accuse the KCSWD of discrimination. Don’t take everything so personally guys. Yes, it’s a shame – I’m sure there are lots of people who would be delighted to be given a tarot reading as a holiday gift – but no one’s got hurt and no one’s missed out. There’s no fight to be fought here.