Let’s talk about the Wisconsin Girl Scout leader who was let go because of a “satanic” website
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Controversies come in all shapes and sizes, and can involve anything from public art to highly contentious adult day care facilities. But when some good old-fashioned satanic panic gets thrown into the mix—much like it did when two local gals went nuts on an unsuspecting online hookup last year—things can get blown out of proportion. That’s why I’m surprised a recent story about a Wisconsin Girl Scout volunteer who was let go because of her association with a supposedly “satanic” website hasn’t been getting more press. The story has all of the hallmarks of a juicy scandal of the week: a cherished institution, vague intimations of “evil,” the Internet, and half-naked girls covered in fake blood. Shouldn’t this story be the lead on every 9 o’clock newscast in town?
Apparently not. First, the facts: On Feb. 9, Stacy Hintz, a self-described “28-year-old mother of two from West Bend, Wisconsin,” was asked to cease her volunteer activities with the Milwaukee-based Girl Scouts Of Wisconsin Southeast. Hintz had been working with her young daughter’s local troop for four years, and was an upstanding leader by all accounts. She was reportedly well liked by other parents and staff, and was chosen to represent the Girl Scouts at a national 100-year anniversary convention in Austin, Texas. But when it was discovered that Hintz was involved with a website called Wisconsin Sickness—a site run by her husband, Charlie Hintz—her co-leader asked her to step down. Apparently, the co-leader felt the site promoted “sin,” “demonic activities,” “zombie porn,” and other scary stuff that tends to get the easily outraged worked up.
So what is Wisconsin Sickness? According to the site’s Facebook page, it’s pretty much what you’d expect:
Wisconsin Sickness is a Mental Shed project created to expose and preserve the dark and disturbing underground world of Wisconsin art in all its forms, including art, film, and the world-renown WI metal!
Maybe there’s something in the water. Maybe we’ve inhaled too much cow shit and chemical fertilizer. [...] Whatever the reason, there is a deep and passionate psychosis that runs through the unstable synapses of those of us from Wisconsin, land of serial killers and cannibals.
And we’re proud of it.
Wisconsin Sickness is all about bringing the independent, underground Wisconsin scene together and spreading the sickness like a virus.
So yeah, it’s that kind of site—a site with plenty of spooky pictures of skulls, profiles of metal bands from Fond Du Lac, and an entire section dedicated to Ed Gein. You know, the sort of harmless, dopey junk we all dug when we were 15. (And the sort of harmless, dopey junk that plenty of normal, grown adults still dig today.) The site is also home to the Cannibelles, a Suicide Girl-like group of alt- and goth-flavored models. There’s no nudity to be found, though with free registration, users can enjoy a smattering of (relatively) tame photo sets featuring scantily clad ladies covered in fake blood and holding axes or whatever. Hintz herself is a Cannibelle, and goes by the name Madam Summer. Her identity and involvement with the site are freely available and easy to find.
But enough about half-naked goth girls. Outraged after being asked to step down (a post on Wisconsin Sickness claims the co-leader brought a Bible to the initial meeting), Hintz began posting a series of vlogs about the incident. In the first video, she explains her predicament:
Other videos detail further developments, including Hintz’s co-leader stepping down; five girls being pulled from the troop; and Hintz’s interviews with UW-Oshkosh’s Titan TV and Milwaukee’s FOX6 News (neither of which seem to be online at the moment). Unfortunately, Hintz’s calls for tolerance and support seemed to fall on deaf ears. On Tuesday, Girl Scouts Of Wisconsin Southeast sent her a formal dismissal letter:
Dear Ms. Hintz:
Following an internal review, we are reaffirming the notice of February 9, 2012 removing you from all of your volunteer positions with Girl Scouts of Wisconsin Southeast. This action is being taken due to violations of policy, including your endorsement, while in a Girl Scout capacity, of a website service that does not live up to the Girl Scout standards and principles. [...]
Hintz goes into more detail about her dismissal in this video:
Again, I’m surprised that this story hasn’t received more coverage. It’s too bad, because I think Hintz has a legitimate grievance with the Girl Scouts, and her plight should be given more local—if not national—attention. So what gives, FOX6 (and, to a lesser extent, Titan TV)? Shouldn’t this be at least worthy of a “Ted’s Take”?
Of course, Hintz’s case isn’t as cut-and-dry as she may believe. In her videos, she goes to great lengths to explain that what she does in her personal life is her business, and that her involvement with an “alternative” website has no bearing on her work with the Girl Scouts. True enough. In a perfect, offline world, it wouldn’t matter. In the real world, however, when your website is dedicated to “the dark and disturbing underground world of Wisconsin,” that underground world is only a simple, judgmental Google search away.
UPDATE UPDATE: Wisconsin Sickness has used its moment in the spotlight to make an impassioned plea for tolerance and freedom of expression, and to denounce the culture of fear that so many people continue to perpetuate. Wait, no it hasn’t—but you can buy its brand-new “Zombie Porn Star” T-shirt for only $15!