April 26, 2017

Satanic Stupidity 2.0

This is something that's been a challenge for me to understand in the past: do Satanists follow principled positions, or is Satanism just a tool-kit to be used either in whole or part? I've had some very large disagreements with other Satanists over this question in the past and I've come to accept that Satanism can be both - it really just depends on the individual, you know? Me being who I am, though, I think that it's worth taking a principled stand on a variety of issues that are either important to me or that I think are worth being principled about. 

One such principled position I think is worth standing for is not being a massive, gaping asshole for the sole reason that there's no law which requires me to be a decent human being. And speaking from a lesser magic perspective, I'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar, you know what I mean? But, returning to the conversation: somebody in an online discussion group shared a link to a podcast, and somebody else made a general comment about how gosh-darned amazing the program is. I chimed in that I felt differently about their third-side interpretations of Satanic philosophy and decided to stop watching...

... and that's when these two guys just couldn't keep it together anymore. The way they flew off the handle you'd think I was posting pictures of my hairy asshole, but apparently having a non-critical difference of opinion is just as bad. 

But you know, I've learned my lesson from past encounters. It's wrong to try and force other Satanists to my way of thinking and insist that they see things the same way that I do. I've got strong opinions and I'll present evidence-based arguments for why I feel the way I do, but my days of storming other Satanists' blogs and videos and trying to discuss it with them are long over. I've accepted that if I feel differently, I don't need to convince them otherwise. They're welcome to their opinions, and me to mine - and if I feel very strongly about something, I'll elucidate my thoughts within the digital confines of my lair - namely my own blog, YouTube channel, or my Google+ profile. If they don't like what I have to say, then they don't have to visit these places and try to impose their solipsism upon me.

So naturally you might see why this whole exchange was alternately irritating and entertaining. I mean... for crying out loud, if they just want to advertise the show but don't want to have to talk to anybody about it then they can buy Facebook ads, amiright?

A few key points stood out to me from this exchange.

First, the host's friend's accusation that I'm shitting on the pride of the host of the show. Shit on his pride? What is this, a little league baseball game where every child is exceptional, everybody gets a trophy, and nobody's allowed to say anything that doesn't gush positive? For fuck's sake, people... can't I talk about the show generally without you getting all butt-hurt because I'm not falling over myself to praise it? And if what I said qualifies as "shitting on his pride," then these guys have awfully thin skin because I not only didn't say anything about the host of the episode in question, but I didn't even make a value judgement - I only said I felt differently. Apparently, that's a gave injury which needs soothing.

Second, the host and his friend both made this weird accusation that I'm forbidden from discussing other episodes. Huh? What is this, a no-free-speech zone? If these guys can't tolerate off-topic conversations on posts that they share in an online group created for the purpose of discussion, then the Internet isn't going to be a good place for them. And slightly related, but their accusation that my opinion is both "wrong" and "irrelevant" since I was referring to a past episode and two of the three hosts aren't even on the show anymore. Again, Huh? Since when is personal experience validated after the fact according to the interested party's preference? I'm pretty sure I was not impressed by the conversation then, and I'm still not impressed by it now. The hosts are welcome to their opinion, and since Satanism is an individual matter I'm not prepared to say that they're wrong - but I still feel differently and just don't feel like spending my very limited time watching a show that hasn't proven to be personally stimulating to me. Is that really so bad that I'm not falling over myself to love it?

Third, and this is rather petty - but what's with all these Satanists who can't use proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, and formatting? If I'm going to take time out of my evening to give the apparently misplaced courtesy of responding to hostile demands that I elucidate my thoughts and justify my opinion, I'd appreciate it if the other side of the conversation could at least attempt to make their writing easier to read. If I had a dollar for every time I communicated with a Satanist who wrote tenants instead of tenets, facilities instead of fallacies, and just inserted words seemingly at random into the middle of a sentence I'd have, well... probably enough to buy a good sushi dinner at the Shogun restaurant in town. But the point is - Why can't these people be bothered to care about what they're writing enough to spend 15 seconds proof-reading before they send it? Apparently, Satanic elitism doesn't extend to written communication.

Fourth, I'm really astonished at the level of self-censorship exercised by the other two guys in the conversation. It's absolutely each individual's choice to decide for him or herself who and what is included in his or her total environment. I do the same thing - if I don't want to see somebody or something on Google+, I clean up my circles and followed pages to eliminate it from my timeline. Nothing wrong with that. But the OP who shared the link was so triggered by my non-critical comment that I felt differently and decided to stop watching that he couldn't leave it alone. He was compelled to argue with me and make me justify my opinion, and when I presented evidence to show him that there really was in fact a reason that I felt differently, he had a childish fit and declared that I had better not ever comment on his links again and promptly quit the group. The second guy was so triggered that he deleted his top-level comment to erase the entire conversation. Who does that? That's quite intriguing to me that he felt the need to prevent anybody else from seeing what we were talking about, and again - I still didn't actually criticize anybody. From the very start, my only assertion is that I felt differently. What does it say about both of these guys that a difference of opinion is so threatening to them?

I thought this whole thing was finished, but the host's fanboy was apparently so upset that I didn't generally love the podcast as much as he did that it was necessary for him to contact me in private and try to teach me why I'm wrong. He very helpfully opened by saying that he understands it and that he's right, and then inviting me to explain whatever it was I didn't understand. Yes... thank-you for your condescension. Nothing sparks a riveting conversation among Satanists as opening with, "I'm right and you're wrong." And hey, I'll admit - I've made this mistake in the past. It can be very difficult to put aside passionate emotions in a Satanic discussion, but it's something I think I've gotten much better at. Clearly, this is a lesson "Bob" is still learning.

At this point, you might be wondering what the issue is that sparked a difference of opinion? I'm not going to link it for the sole reason that I just don't care to feed drama - but in an episode of this podcast the three hosts had a round-table discussion in which they talked about not calling people by their preferred genders because they haven't done anything (for the hosts personally) to deserve it. And you know, the justification for such a rationale is right there in the 4th Satanic statement - kindness is for the deserving! - so the hosts are surely welcome to make this argument if they really feel that way.

But you know, it's also in the canon literature that Satanism accepts all sexual orientation and gender identities. The argument can also be made that there's no reason to refuse to call people by their preferred gender and - arguably - it's un-Satanic to refuse such an simple request. Why in the world would you demand that people you meet either online or in person who care to call themselves by a different gender than the one they were born curry your favor and do you some kind of service to deserve your kindness over such a simple request? I think that this is place where I should be principled and that there shouldn't be any debate over the matter. Don't you think it's inconsistent to say in one breath that you won't address people by their preferred gender because they haven't earned it, and then say in the next breath that Satanism has always been GLBTQ+ inclusive? Doesn't really jive, does it?

After some back and forth with this guy, he kindly informed me, "I don't give 2 shits what your preferred gender is and I am not going to respect it, either." And that was the point in the conversation where I said, "I'm sorry you feel that way, madam," and refused to address her as a man for the rest of the conversation in the hope that she would see my point. Naturally, this ended with her calling me stupid, accusing me of not being a true Satanist, and insisting that I failed to see her point. I was optimistic that since she took the time to contact me directly that we could share a private conversation free of interference and reach a mutual understanding, but judging by the results I expected too much. 

These kinds of encounters make me question my place in Satanism. Not myself as a Satanist, but where I stand in the greater Satanic conversation. Part of me thinks that I must be a dullard that I can't see it the other way, and then another part of me thinks that if this kind of view is what qualifies as "truly Satanic," then I should find another way to be Satanic. Or at least, I'll have to fully embrace the Satanic reality that Satanism is for the individual and that I may be happier practicing my individual approach to Satanism in a vacuum. There are worse things than practicing alone, and if anybody asked me I'd say that one of them is giving a free pass to embarrassing and ignorant behavior from co-religionists.

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Freedom of Expression =/= Freedom from Consequences