Belfazaar Ashantison, who identifies as the “Founder and Elder of the House of Mystic Echoes, founder of NOVA (New Orleans Vampire Association)” and a “Vampire Voodoo Blood Drinker” recently posted an interesting rant in response to an article on the Vampire Learning Centre website, suggesting there needs to be more transparency and consistency in self-identified vampire communities.
The article was written by a friend of mine, Becka Wood, who has previously contributed an article to this website discussing her theories on homeostasis and its possible connection to sanguinarianism. She is also a self-identified vampire.
But back to Ashantison’s rant. He refers to Becka as “someone of dubious nature” specifically citing their defense of me within the article:
The person goes into vast broad-stroking detail in what they have deemed an unfair action on the part of the owners of one group in particular, VCN (Vampire Community News). Her, the author’s, cry for transparency in this particular issue seems to be a bit remiss. First of all, the person she is trying to champion, Anthony Hogg, is a self-styled ‘Vampirologist’ (a person who studies the mythologies, fictions, stories of vampires, and, supposedly, the real vampire community) however…
If Ashantison had bothered reading the article I wrote covering my presence in Vampire Community groups—in which I made clear I was not there to study members, but to participate in discussions—and one that was shared in VCN, he could’ve avoided assumption on that last point.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop him going into “vast broad-stroking detail” about my presence within that particular Facebook group:
This particular person has been known to be a disruptive force within vampire community organizations, yet did not start out that way… Just like many other people, he entered the community with questions about why people, such as myself, identify as vampire. After a while, however, he changed over time. He went from being the inquisitive “seeker” to a person who played “devil’s advocate” to a veritable force for derailing any meaningful discussion between new people entering the community and long time, standing members within the community.
Ashantison cites no examples of any of this activity taking place. But for clarity’s sake, I’m a seeker. I often do ask people why they identify as a mythological being, in that context. The reasons vary. Indeed, I even previously stated “I don’t think there’ll be a one-size-fits all answer” for what drives the “need” that self-identified vampires base their identities around.
So what did Becka’s article say about me that got Ashantison so worked up? This:
In Vampire Community News, Anthony Hogg was seen as being rude or abrasive and as derailing threads in the community’s view. Anthony has remained for quite a long period of time before his removal-keep that in mind when I move onto other points. Yet, [Damian] Nightwalker is also deemed a public menace to the community’s view whom is abrasive and derails according to them. I’m sure you all have blocked this person and may argue for me to do the same. Yet, the community saw a need to remove Anthony rather than block him which is their method with Nightwalker. Nightwalker has been in the VCN for a long period of time as well. There was no public discussion of removing anything or a voting system to have him removed and according to Anthony he was not informed, from the VCN they state he was. Regardless, of who was or wasn’t informed, the issue is that the community wasn’t informed until the decision was already made by a small party.
The point being here is, how can anyone take authority to be serious when the certainty and consistency of punishment is lacking? Nightwalker gets to continue behaving as he does unaccountable. Pulling from Beccaria’s arguments of reform, he argued for certainty, swiftness, and severity. Given the amount of time it took for the rules to be enforced only further demonstrates that there is a lack of certainty. We are lacking in all of these areas which I will expand.
That lack of consistency is, of course, the crux of the article. No official reason for why I was banned from the group last year has ever been given. At least, not publicly. I was there one moment, commenting on a thread, the next—I couldn’t comment. But here’s how Ashantison characterised it:
Her issue seems to be more about the dismissal of someone she considers a friend/idol/mentor/what-have-you and the perpetual keeping of someone else she considers more disruptive… A friend of mine whom I don’t always agree with and have had more than my share of head butting with for our, almost, diametrically opposed views, Damien [sic] Sebastian Nightwalker, whom she doesn’t even bother to identify fully, as she does her friend… She asks, rightly I might add, why was one dismissed from a group and the other not.
Here is where her argument fails, utterly. Becka Wood cites Beccaria’s work “On Crimes and Punishment” which she states she will “paraphrase from” and yet provides not one iota of ‘script’ which she is supposedly paraphrasing and gives a, somewhat, immature synopsis of what the work was supposed to do… “The piece he made was intended to make judicial reform given that during his time period there were inconsistent punishments that were barbaric and decisions were not made in the public eye.” Anyone who has even bothered to peruse through the judicial networks with even the lowest common understanding could have stated this… *shrug* Becka Wood uses this piece to argue for transparency over the issue of her friend’s, Anthony Hogg’s, dismissal from one single group that had, finally, after several warnings of his misbehavior, had enough and finally banned him from the group.
But what warnings? Were were the warnings for Nightwalker? The last thread I contributed to concern the use of “vampire” to describe oneself—and the thread wasn’t even initiated by me. Hardly a hanging offense and it’s certainly not “disruptive” or “derailing” to discuss a thread’s topic. Or so I’d think.
She calls for transparency of the reason why… IT IS A FACEBOOK GROUP RUN BY ONE ORGANIZATION, they have their own rules. As many members within this group belong to the multi-cultural vampire organization, VVC (Voices of the Vampire Community), there WAS a discussion in which BOTH parties were spoke of, however, the debate was to remove ONE person… Anthony Hogg. It was discussed, voted on, and placed into action. The action was removal. Sorry to disappoint you… COMMUNITY LEADERS WERE INVOLVED IN THE DISCUSSION AND SUBSEQUENT VOTE.
So no public announcement, a secret conclave of people voting to remove me from a Facebook group, no official reason given—isn’t that the lack of transparency Becka mentioned in the first place?
Ashantison’s comment about the group run by “ONE ORGANIZATION” is an odd one, considering no such thing is mentioned in its Facebook group description. Even the Vampire Community News website only mentions that “Vampire Community News (VCN) was founded in 2008 by Merticus as an extension of the internal notification system for the Voices of the Vampire Community (VVC).”
Irony doesn’t seem to be Ashantison’s strong suit as he labours on:
Further failing in her argument, Becka Wood, though she claims otherwise, treats VCN as if it is a Body Politic with a true judicial process and system… It isn’t… It is a community news network that allows posting of articles both by and about vampires. We get links from various news articles posted around the world, as well as those posted by members of the GVC (Greater Vampire Community) which we can either discuss, like, and/or share. Yet, make no mistake, the VCN is NOT a Body Politic. It is merely a news service and, as such, it holds to the whims and fancies of those who own and Admin at it. Transparency is NOT necessary, needed, nor is it even required. And all because it isn’t a Body Politic.
Ashantison had just been describing a political body gathering together to vote someone off a news group—with no transparency involved. That sounds pretty damn political to me! So-called “news services” generally don’t gather together to vote people off their sites, Survivor-style. “The tribe has spoken—you’re off!” No, it doesn’t generally work that way.
That said, Becka has probably given the group more weight than it deserves. After all, the “Vampire Community” incorporates many, many different identities, groups and roles. Merticus, the group’s primary admin, says it includes “anyone who identifies as a vampire. The community even extends to include donors of real vampires (sanguinarian or blood-drinking, and psychic or energy feeding), vampire enthusiasts, vampire lifestylers, and even roleplayers.”
Indeed even Ashantison pays this concept some lip service, while acknowledging its own internal inconsistencies—which, if I’m not mistaken, was also the point of Becka’s article:
OF COURSE there are inconsistencies within the community. Every Vlad, Lestat, Elsabeth wannabe within the community has their OWN group which they, in turn, run THEIR OWN WAY. Consistency? There’s more consistency in the ways people make bread pudding and rice pilaf than there is in the GVC. We don’t even have a consistent definition on what “vampirism” is and we DAMNED sure can’t even agree with what makes a vampire a vampire…
Which is an interesting thing to admit to, considering it’s the same point I’ve made within the same group. But by this point, Ashantison can’t stem the hypocrisy of his statements:
Becka then goes on to derail her own topic by jumping from consistency to favoritism. Again, I ask, “Really?? REALLY??”. You’re going to cry about favoritism because YOUR friend is no longer a part of a FACEBOOK GROUP and someone you can’t stand IS still a part of that self-same Facebook group??? There’s a modicum to a majority of favoritism in EVERY group on Facebook and in EVERY group, chat, e-list, House, Coven, Halo, etc., etc., and etc. To whine about your personal friend being removed from the group of a NON Body Politic group for continued breaking of the rules, and basically being a disruptive shit slinger is tantamount to Donald Trump whining about being treated unfairly by the Republican Party for his outbursts against women, Hispanics and any other ethnic group he happens to have a particular hard on for at that moment…
Well, yeah—that is favoritism. That’s kind of the point, too. The Trump analogue, a political one, I might add, is odd especially after Ashantison chastised her for a lack of perspective: “Anthony Hogg got banned from a group NOT beheaded for proposing that God might not be as into the rich establishment as people think. She is comparing someone who was banned for being a ‘disruptive influence’ in a group to life imprisonment and death penalties.”
For the record, I don’t think most people entering the United States from Mexico are criminals and rapists. I’ve never said I could shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose votes, nor suggested that Muslim terrorists be executed with bullets soaked in pig’s blood—among other inflammatory nonsense masquerading as a presidential campaign. And besides, what is this “shit” I’m supposed to have slung in the first place? Typically, Ashantison provides no examples.
Nonetheless, I can’t help but question the authority of Ashantison’s statements, considering that not only has no public reason ever been given for my removal (it wouldn’t surprise me if one followed this article for PR reasons), but Ashantison is not even an admin of the group. Those honours fall to Merticus Stevens, Isealdor DeGaelia and Michelle Belanger. So on whose behalf is he speaking?
Apart from using my ban as an example of inconsistency and the lack of transparency within the VCN, Ashantison’s other issues seem to be an expression of outrage that a relative newcomer, like Becka, dare speak out-of-turn against so-called “elders” within the community (the one he characterised as rife with internal confusion over who even constitutes a “vampire” in the first place). He voices his objections in a typically sensitive and considerate way:
And she FURTHER compounds the idiocy of her writing by trying to compare someone who has been a member of the GVC for over TWO decades to someone who barely can be found in and around the community since 2013 or 2014. Most of the old timers, myself included, have dealt with Damien [sic] Sebastian Nightwalker for the entirety of his and our involvement within the GVC. We KNOW of this person’s proclivity for flippancy and his over exuberance to point out who he, himself, has determined is and is not a real vampire as if he is the real and only authority on the subject.
If you’re scratching your head wondering how Ashantison can acknowledge Becka’s points about Nightwalker’s abrasiveness, while simultaneously attacking her for voicing them, you’re not the only one. I find it particularly confusing, myself. But that doesn’t stop his rants against her youth:
Becka hasn’t the grasp of a pre-teen child when it comes to how things go in the GVC and has, herself, only been a member for a short time and yet she talks about Anthony being around for “quite a while” before being banned for being rude and disruptive. In that time, he had been warned over and over again by several members of the GVC, to which he didn’t even bother to give any heed to and ALSO pointed fingers at other members of the community, most notably, Damien [sic] Sebastian Nightwalker for HIS behavior, as if this were to excuse his bad behavior. It doesn’t. In ANYONE’S world, pointing fingers at another for YOUR bad behavior is childish, at best, and a crock of serious shit, at worst.
Again, Ashantison overlooks Becka’s key points in his haste to attack: I was punished with a ban (supposedly voted by a shadowy enclave), but nothing happened to Nightwalker. Hence the “inconsistency” she drew attention to in the first place. Indeed, the group’s description clearly states: “Keep your non-civilized personal disagreements or inter-personal drama contained to private messages. You WILL be removed if you choose to repeatedly cause disruptions.”
Has Ashantison been upholding the group’s rules, or has he been selectively applying it? Well, on the same thread he posted his rant—already abusive in and personal in tone—he aimed several not-quite-civil comments at Becka: “I frankly don’t talk to your stupid disrespectful ass 90% of the time“, “You really are a twit” and “You truly are ignorant, aren’t you?“
In light of the seriousness with which the VCN views “non-civilized personal disagreements,” one can only count down the days Ashantison faces banishment, too.
After all, there’s no favoritism in VCN, is there?
- Founder and Elder of the House of Mystic Echoes, founder of NOVA (New Orleans Vampire Association): Voices of the Vampire Community (VVC), “VVC Membership Directory,” Voices of the Vampire Community, 2016, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, http://www.veritasvosliberabit.com/members.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/4TB6h
- Vampire Voodoo Blood Drinker: “Interview with Vampire Voodoo Blood Drinker Belfazaar Ashantison,” Before It’s News, Feb. 1, 2014, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, http://beforeitsnews.com/paranormal/2014/02/interview-with-vampire-voodoo-blood-drinker-belfazaar-ashantison-2463638.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/taRkS
- an interesting rant: Belfazaar Michael Bousum Ashantison, ” ‘Transparency, Consistency, and Strengthening Community Faith Argument’ or Are You FOR FUCKING REAL???” Facebook note, Feb. 22, 2016, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/notes/belfazaar-michael-bousum-ashantison/transparency-consistency-and-strengthening-community-faith-argument-or-are-you-f/1050101368383813?hc_location=ufi. archive.is link: https://archive.is/bJgP3. All subsquent quotes from Ashantison are taken from this note.
- an article on the Vampire Learning Centre website: Becka Wood, “Transparency, Consistency, and Strengthening Community Faith Argument,” Vampire Learning Centre, Feb. 18, 2016, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, https://vampirelearningcentre.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/transparency-consistency-and-strengthening-community-faith-argument/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/q6aVy
- an article to this website discussing her theories on homeostasis: Becka Wood, “Vampire Hypothesis: Is Vampirism Explained Through Homeostasis?” Vamped, July 4, 2015, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, http://vamped.org/2015/07/04/vampire-hypothesis-is-vampirism-explained-through-homeostasis/.
- the article I wrote covering my presence in Vampire Community groups: Anthony Hogg, “A Vampirologist Responds to the Vampyre Academy’s ‘Vampirology Poll’,” Vamped, Aug. 5, 2015, accessed Feb. 24, 2016, http://vamped.org/2015/08/05/4943/.
- “I don’t think there’ll be a one-size-fits all answer”: Nadina Maritz, “Comprehensive Interview with Anthony Hogg a Vampirologist, on Absolutely Everything Vampire,” My Addiction (blog), May 29, 2015, http://my-addictionbooks.blogspot.nl/2015/05/comprehensive-interview-with-anthony.html. archive.is link: https://archive.is/nNWCK
- “In Vampire Community News, Anthony Hogg was seen as being rude or abrasive”: Wood, “Transparency, Consistency, and Strengthening Community Faith Argument.”
- “The point being here is”: Ibid.
- no such thing is mentioned in its Facebook group description: Vampire Community News Facebook group, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, https://www.facebook.com/groups/vampirecommunitynews/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/qxXEP
- Vampire Community News website: Vampire Community News (VCN) & Merticus, “About VCN,” Vampire Community News, 2015, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, http://merticus.com/vampirenews/about/. https://archive.is/RwF9e
- “anyone who identifies as a vampire”: Merticus, “On Vampirism and Energy Work,” in The Vampire in Europe: A Critical Edition, by Montague Summers, ed. John Edgar Browning (Berkeley, CA: The Apocryphile Press, 2014), 374.
- criminals and rapists: Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “Donald Trump’s False Comments Connecting Mexican Immigrants and Crime,” The Washington Post, July 8, 2015, accessed Feb. 24, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-trumps-false-comments-connecting-mexican-immigrants-and-crime/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/XT5ns
- shoot someone on New York’s Fifth Avenue and not lose votes: Steve Holland and Ginger Gibson, “Confident Trump Says Could ‘shoot somebody’ and Not Lose Voters,” Reuters, Jan. 23, 2016, accessed Feb. 24, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-idUSMTZSAPEC1NFEQLYN. archive.is link: https://archive.is/EDrmN
- Muslim prisoners be executed with bullets soaked in pig’s blood: Jeremy Diamond, “Trump Cites Story of General Who Dipped Bullets in Pigs’ Blood to Deter Muslims,” CNN, Feb. 20, 2016, accessed Feb. 23, 2016, http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/19/politics/donald-trump-south-carolina-john-pershing/. archive.is link: https://archive.is/lx5gq
- inflammatory nonsense: Michael Kinsley, “Why It’s Pointless to Fact-Check Donald Trump,” Vanity Fair, Feb. 8, 2016, accessed Feb. 24, 2016, http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/02/politics-media-gaffes-lies. archive.is link: https://archive.is/ntSQC
Becka recently established her website, the Vampire Learning Centre, as a resource for Vampire Community members. Visit it here: https://vampirelearningcentre.wordpress.com/.
I administrate a Facebook group called Vampire Community Skeptics. After reading this piece, you probably know why. Join the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/vampirecommunityskeptics/.