Satanists like to be experts.
Arrogance is baked right in; you don’t just tell God to fuck off to His face without at least a little hubris. From knowledge comes certainty, and from certainty, confidence. Confidence is sexy, and above all, Satanists like to feel sexy.
But few things are as genital-withering as the insecurity of diseased pride. Just a toe’s length beyond the line of cool confidence lies a simpering Dunning-Krugerism, a common-as-dirt impulse to assert yourself as an authority no matter how uninformed or unprepared you might be. There is the assumption that just because people are listening, you must have something to say.
The Satanic Temple has never appeared more in the weeds than they have with their muddled COVID-19 response, which began as many TST responses do: with a disingenuous but good-sounding quip that is pushed to the media by a surrogate so that it will be picked up by other outlets.
Satanists want you to respond to the pandemic with compassion — and reason.– quote that was never actually said by anyone in Satanic Temple leadership, but was inexplicably photoshopped into the Raw Story article to make it look like it was.
Well that sounds great. For the moment, we can decline to examine TST’s own track record with both compassion and reason, and say that this probably would have been a sufficient response to the coronavirus if it had been the only response, and had stopped there.
“Hot toddies cure coronavirus.” (They do not.)
“Just plant vegetables anywhere in the city! It doesn’t matter! Don’t ask permission!” (Please do not. Urban land plots are notoriously polluted.)
In a seemingly desperate need to be relevant and viewed as authorities during this crisis, Satanic Temple leaders and membership have made insane, dangerous, and racist claims. It’s not enough to merely comfort people, this organization attracts people who will specifically talk out of turn knowing fully well they don’t know what they’re talking about.
Most of the time, that passes as a really annoying personality flaw, but it becomes dangerous in a time where lives are on the line, facts matter, and people are looking to these goons for guidance because they don’t know any better.
While Lucien definitely made some responsible noises on Patreon about cancelling social gatherings, he mostly used the space to grouse about his own financial hardship and to flog content for non-starter TST-TV.
One thing highlighted by this crisis is that while Lucien has a hair-trigger for bloviation, he has no real inner structure for how to help people, only how to safely troll cherry picked ideological opponents. Having nothing actually useful to say to anyone, he simply falls back on familiar rhetoric: drumming up upset about what hypothetical journalists might possibly say retrospectively about Christians in some theoretical future.
Forget what they’re going to say about Christians. What are they going to say about you? What were you doing during all of this?
Unfortunately, TST likes to collect validity checks from the media on the front-end of any project, and tends to avoid any kind of follow-up like the plague. For example, you want to get a lot of attention up front for collecting water for the homeless community, but then not really talk about letting it rot in the Texas sun for several months.
The Satanic Temple, for better or worse, has the world’s largest Satanic platform and, for better or worse, a lot of members that are going to look to their leadership for guidance more and more. TST, along with the rest of the world, is moving out of a realm of the theoretical, and into the real. They aren’t going to be able to meet real world challenges with patchwork snark and misinformation. They aren’t going to be able to serve a religious community with sEcULar bLoOd rITuaLs and fake Latin.
The Incredible Ability To Do Two Things
One of the Satanic Temple’s favorite deflections is that critics just don’t do anything but criticize, which is hilariously far from the truth considering that most vocal critics are organizers in other, very active and unconstrained groups.
It may come as a shock that we’re capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. There is a lot of chewing going on too, from Washington State to Washington DC, Satanists have been busy organizing mutual aid.
A notable example is Jack Sullivan, a League of Rebel Eve organizer who, after self-quarantining for two weeks, has spent the intervening pandemic running errands for the immunocompromised and other vulnerable people in New York City, one of the hardest-hit cities in the country. There’s no theater involved, no posturing for points. He’s just out there getting food and medicine to people who need it because it’s the right thing to do.
For our part, we’ve been accepting donations of PPE and distributing them to medical facilities, providing at-cost member-sewn cloth masks for the community, providing mental health support and maintaining an around the clock watch for bad information (see the hot toddies and ill advised dirt lot gardens above) so that our members are able to confront this crisis with the best possible information.
These were all things we were just doing because we’re an organization founded on principles of community care. I mention them here to disabuse anyone of the notion that Satanists aren’t active everywhere on the ground while its most visible figure is squirreled away hissing about what Christians might be doing.
This is a time for real leadership and real community.
This is not a time for snake oil and grift.