The Wiccan Rede and Testifying in Court

Does testifying against someone violate the Wiccan Rede?. Image © Eric Francis/Getty Images

Question: The Wiccan Rede and Testifying in Court


A reader writes in, "I'm concerned about an upcoming court case. I have to testify against my friend, who committed a burglary. I know he did it, but if I testify against him he's going to end up in jail because this isn't the first offense. He's emotionally fragile and I don't think he'll survive jail. So my dilemma is if I testify against him and he goes to jail, I'm going to be violating the "harm none" part of the Wiccan Rede, because it will really harm him to spend four years in jail. What should I do?




Let's break this down into a couple of different points. First of all, you've already said that your friend committed the crime of which he is accused. Second, you've said that this isn't his first offense. Third, you're considering lying under oath -- and you're worried that spending a few years in jail is going to violate the "harm none" part of the Wiccan Rede, which not everyone follows in the first place?

If your friend committed the crime -- whether it's burglary, assault, check forgery, or whatever -- then he committed it and needs to take responsibility for his actions. Responsibility means accepting the consequences -- and if those consequences include sitting in a 6 x 10 foot cell with three other guys for the next four years, then so be it. Your friend made his decision when he chose to commit a burglary. Any consequences are on his head, not yours.

Now, regarding the notion of "harm none." You're worried about causing him harm but you're not worried about perjuring yourself?

If you get on that witness stand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then that is exactly what you should be doing. There's no honor in lying about what your friend has done. Get up there and tell the truth. Let the judge or jury make the decision as far as what happens after that.

Keep in mind that not all Pagans follow the Wiccan Rede, and even among those Wiccans who do, there are a wide variety of interpretations.

On a final note, has it occurred to you that perhaps spending a few years in a correctional facility might be exactly what this friend of yours needs? You mentioned it's not his first offense -- maybe it's time for him to pull his head out of his butt and stop being a burden on society. It's entirely possible that by testifying against him, you'll in fact being doing him some good.