Having Trouble Deciding Between Brands Of Satanism? Breitbart & Salon Can Help!
It was Halloween, which was probably the excuse for the Breitbart article contrasting good, pure, “safe word” Satanism with bad, politically correct, social-justice-warrior-drenched Satanism.
(Now I’ve had a few articles on Breitbart, and, this being the Internet where everybody is guilty by association, the cerebrally challenged should know I think Breitbart lost its editorial mind.)
Breitbart is doing for Satanism what Salon is doing for pedophilia (and Satanism; see below), and that merits a discussion. What’s fascinating here are the attempts at mainstreaming preposterous views.
A fellow named Greg Stevens wrote “When Satanism Met The Internet” on Breitbart’s new Tech vertical. He cheerfully tells us “I, dear reader, consider myself a Satanist.” But he’s anxious to convey he means this in a good way. His is a modern, healthy, freedom-loving Satanism, a sort of science-soaked Randian libertarianism with hedonism sauce (“Satanists appreciate sexual deviancy. Of course they do!”), a cult for rough-hewn, alt-right individualists where man can unshackle himself from big-G Government and become a small-g god.
Stevens admires Anton LaVey, speaking of him in almost loving terms, carefully highlighting his bullet-pointed rules for living. Such as? How about this: “When walking in open territory, bother no one. If someone bothers you, ask him to stop. If he does not stop, destroy him.” Hope you don’t think I’m bothering you, Stevens, old boy.
Satanism was a party where all were welcome, Stevens says, until the Internet came along and allowed space for The Satanic Temple, the splitters. These are the poorly dressed folks who “built a gigantic statue of Baphomet” which it placed in Detroit, and which poured milk on halfwits to protest “forced motherhood”, among other hilarities.
Religious freedom makes Stevens nervous: “From the Temple’s perspective, the internet is playing the same role for the Satanic Reformation that the printing press played for the Protestant Reformation: allowing anyone at all to read a multiplicity of views and decide for themselves what makes the most sense.”
Not coincidentally, the very day after Breitbart’s battiness, Salon itself kicked in with a fawning piece supporting the Temple: “All hail the Satanic Temple: Up close with the brilliant ‘Satanists’ who drive the faith-deranged nuts”, an article which begins with the words, “All hail Satan and the Satanic Temple!” These words are almost immediately followed by spitting and sputtering about “the faith-deranged.”
Satan “is a democrat,” Salon’s Jeffrey Tayler (a contributing editor to The Atlantic) tells us. Satan rules “the nether realms by ‘the popular vote’ — in other words, he has to persuade his subjects to support him, and doesn’t just bully them around, as does God.” Too, Satan was able to lead away a third of the angels under God’s command. “How would we regard General Petraeus if a third of his troops had mutinied in Iraq?”
Hoorah to the Satanic Temple, says the faithful faith-disparaging Tayler, which embodies “secularism, critical thinking, belief in the here and now, gender equality and a woman’s right to do as she sees fit with her body.” So popular is the Temple becoming that even Megyn Kelly of Fox News interviewed its founder Doug Mesner (40), where he said the Temple “answers the need for a counterbalance against the dominant religious privilege in America today.”
What we have here, logic lovers, is the false dichotomy, twice over. Breitbart disparages the low-IQ brigade at the Temple of Satan, rightly saying they are the result of “identity politics gone haywire”, from which we are to infer that the Church of Satan isn’t such a bad alternative. Meanwhile, Salon ravages the worldly weakness of a supposedly non-existent God, believed in by figures as low as George Bush and Pat Robertson, from which we are to infer that it’s “Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven.”
The false dichotomy is a lovely rhetorical trick. It works not so much because the alternative the author wants you to embrace is supported, but because an obvious falsehood is exposed in funny or clever ways. The author wants you to believe the enemy of my enemy is my friend, which is the same fallacy. You and the author are confreres, a band of brothers, dispatching a common foe, and thus it would be ungracious of you not to at least discover some good points in your new friend’s favored view.
But, come on. Satanism? It is Ayn Rand for porn-addicted misfits.
This piece originally appeared at William Briggs’ blog, in a slightly different form.