While browsing the internet one afternoon, I scrolled by a post from something called The LGB Group. At that moment I knew nothing about the group, and as I write this now, I still know just about nothing about them. The post said “We don’t even want Pride Month anymore, we just want to be separated from the TQ+ cult.” It caught my eye because it was an unusual or unexpected message. Being the naturally curious Satanist that I am, I shared it among some other Satanists and asked “I don’t know what this is, or what it’s about exactly. Anyone?”
I did exactly what I suggest anyone do. Ask questions. When in doubt, learn. Some fellow members of our congregation casually explained that it’s a group of gay people who don’t like or want to be connected with trans people. I’m sure there are greater levels of detail or nuance that could be explained, but that was the gist of it. And that was good enough for me. I didn’t feel compelled to learn anything more about the group.
Shortly after, I was contacted by one individual privately. The message said:
“Hey, just going to call out that on the first day of pride platforming hatred to half of the actual community in the LGBTQIA+ space even though unintentional isn’t a particularly great way to start off a HAPPY PRIDE.
I know that wouldn’t be your intent but that’s a flaming kind of post and raising anger and sentiment like fight/flight response actually reduces quality of life”
And finally, it ended with “Maybe post up some baphomet stuff to amplify gender fluidity and equality in Satanism?”
I responded, and we had a completely reasonable, respectful interaction. It was clear that we held very different views on some things. And it should go without saying, but just to be clear, different views on things are not only acceptable and encouraged within Satanic Delco, but it’s one of the primary ingredients of an interesting life. If there is actually a Hell, it is a place where everyone agrees on everything, leaving nothing left to discuss or debate. A place where questions aren’t welcome.
Nothing about the original post, or the conversation that followed is noteworthy to any great degree on their own. However, the interaction serves as a good opportunity to explain my perspective on some things, and the way that those attitudes carry over into the way our congregation is guided, moderated, and presented to the world.
First, I’m going to address the notion of “platforming hatred,” which was how the asking of my question was framed. I’ve witnessed other Satanic communities rely heavily on phrases like “in bad faith” when they want to quickly shut down a question or debate that may not be favorable to the majority opinion. They’ll offer something like “We aren’t going to entertain arguments in bad faith…” And often enough, what that really translates to is “You’ve made a valid point or raised a question that makes me uncomfortable, so I need to find a way out of this ASAP.” The accusation of platforming hatred feels closely related.
If I accepted someone’s request to build a venue in order to more easily hold Nazi rallies, perhaps one could suggest I was platforming hatred. But asking a question to my fellow Satanists? I can’t begin to relate to or understand the leap it would take to get from one to the other. Let’s follow through on this logic a bit. When the news reports on a murder, should they be accused of platforming murderers? When your internet service provider or companies like Netflix and HBO offer access to true crime stories, are they platforming those terrible criminals and ideas? By definition they are, since they are making those things visible to more and more people. Since the internet itself is indeed “platforming hatred”, what should be done about it? For anyone with this mindset, I suggest that by continuing to use the platform or service, and giving them your money to do so, you are directly supporting the platforming of such hatred and crime. Every service/data provider has the ability to block specific content on their network. Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is, and follow through on your standard of virtuousness by removing yourself from any service that gives voice to such content, starting with your internet service providers, including your mobile plan? Anything short of that is easily dismissible hypocrisy.
The next line of the message described my question as “a flaming kind of post” that “actually reduces quality of life.” Like many of you I imagine, I was shocked to read this reaction, especially considering that my question was shared with a group of people who align with things like critical thinking and the freedom to offend. Within Outsider Satanism, “insatiable curiosity motivates us.” Is it possible that one could have some kind of ulterior motive for asking a question? Yes, it’s possible. But the truth is never wrong, and it should never be feared. Among adults, no question should be off limits. During our interaction, I stated “I don’t accept any idea that suggests certain topics can’t be discussed or certain questions can’t be asked. That’s the antithesis of the pursuit of knowledge.” I stand by that.
And the last line said “Maybe post up some baphomet stuff to amplify gender fluidity and equality in Satanism?” When I read that, the message I get is “To make up for your wrongdoing, you should perform some insincere virtue signaling.” Respectfully, I just don’t play that shit. Do I respect everyone’s gender identity? Of course I do. Do I value equality in Satanism? Of course I do. But the last thing I feel motivated to do is make amends for committing the sin of curiosity. As for Baphomet, it has nothing at all to do with the concept of gender fluidity. As noted in this essay on the Satanic value of Balance, Éliphas Lévi explained that Baphomet “was the symbol of the equilibrium or the balance of contraries.” The reason Baphomet displays mixed sex (not gender) is simply to represent that balance of contraries.
I’m sure people have various personal definitions of what a safe space is. Generally speaking, Satanic Delco is diverse, welcoming, and kind. Respectful discourse is the norm for us, and aiming to be hurtful isn’t something that will be tolerated. But if words feel like violence to you, if ideas and questions are scary to you, if you’re someone who is easily offended or hurt by the acknowledgment of differing world-views, beware. Satanic Delco is dangerous.