STLucienGreavesRighttoOffend SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, free speech, blasphemy, salman rushdie, offense, feel, tst, offended, hear, alex jones, satan, offensive, satanic, ben shapiro, idea, disgust, criticism, norms, questions, thought SPEAKERS Doug Misicko, Stephen Bradford Long, Lucien Greaves
Stephen Bradford Long 00:13 This is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long. And once again, I am here with the one and only Lucien Greaves, co founder and spokesperson of the Satanic Temple. Hi, how are you?
Doug Misicko 00:32 Very good. Thank you.
Stephen Bradford Long 00:33 We're doing this intro all over again, because I hit record. And then about seven minutes in, I noticed that it wasn't recording your audio. So we had to like, I had to like, figure out what the fuck was going on and restart. So hi, hello again. So the audience will miss that whole section where we talked about Kashia at the beginning, and you're apparently friends with her. And there's like an unreleased Kashia Lucian interview that hasn't come out. And everyone should go on Twitter and petition her to release that, that that forgotten Lucien Greaves interview. And then the idea was aired that maybe Kashia and satanic planet could do like some some crossover song, and you offered no comment on that. And that was the moment when I realized that I hadn't hit record. We're not going to rehash all that territory. We'll just leave people in suspense.
Doug Misicko 01:34 Yeah, well, maybe she should just interview me again. Because the original interview she did with me was, I don't know, past past February or something like that. It could be outdated by now.
Stephen Bradford Long 01:45 Who knows? All right. So yeah, well, tell tell your good friend Kashia that your friend Steven loves her new show conjuring Kashia
Doug Misicko 01:58 I'm not going to do that.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:01 Good. You shouldn't you really shouldn't. All right. Well, so you had a thing. You had a movie thing? Up in Salem. Since last we talked. It was like in between shows that we did. So how did that go? What did you do? What was the thing?
Doug Misicko 02:16 Well, that it, you know, apparently went really well. I wasn't really an audience member. I was I was the talent, you know, with cash. I know, a lot of people wanted to come weren't able to make it. Unfortunately, it really turned out to be bad timing for a lot of people. But we didn't know that when we started planning this, I had started, you know, live streaming movie nights, pretty much at the beginning of the pandemic as a way to have some kind of social interaction with people. And in the sidebar of chat, where the film is streaming, and tst. TV, we, we just make fun of these horrible movies that play, you know, I specialize in finding obscure low budget terrible, but entertaining films, entertaining, at least watch in that kind of setting. And so we've been doing that for, you know, going on three years now. And it was always an idea that we would do an in person movie night, when conditions allowed for it. You know, earlier on during the pandemic, of course, nothing was going on if this kind of nature and venues or anything like that. But, you know, even given all this time, and the restrictions lifted on masks and things like that, we were kind of in a COVID surge anyways, at the point where we did this in person Movie Night, and that wasn't lost on people. And some people didn't want to come for that reason. And other people, of course, because travel expenses were about four times their their norm. A lot of people stayed home too. But it was still a good crowd. And, you know, most importantly, in my mind, satanic planet, played, my band played its first show, which was a surprise show for the in person movie night during intermission we took to the stage and in there we went first show ever. It's amazing. I didn't realize that was your first show. Not only was it the first show, it felt like it was the first time we had actually kind of performed together in any coherent way because we had very little time we that we had given ourselves to do rehearsals, and the rehearsals were all a disaster before the actual live show.
Stephen Bradford Long 04:41 How so how were they disasters?
Doug Misicko 04:43 Well, it was mostly technical problems. You know, I was encountering problems of feedback with this effects processor. I was using problems of compression to the point where, you know, I was is getting very unpredictable results from the microphone being like, I could shout into it, and you'd hear nothing, and then all of a sudden, it would come in way too hot. And then we were in a real tight kind of restrictive rehearsal setting. And when we started playing with the drummers and everything, I couldn't hear a fucking thing. And then I, there was a kind of panic about, well, you know, what, if I can't hear my cues, doing this live, you know, like, the idea that I'm not actually going to be able to hear where the track is that while I'm supposed to be on time with my vocals and everything else. So, you know, ended up buying in ear monitor, you know, your bud piece to, yep, to hear what's going on better, and, you know, some other equipment and but then we got into the venue, and they had a great sound system. And some of that seems superfluous, because we could actually hear ourselves and, you know, and we, we delivered, I think, in a way that indicated that we were far more prepared than we actually were, and I'm happy with that outcome. That's always a good feeling. Yeah, cuz it seemed really idiotic of me at the time. Just before we were doing this, I thought, Well, shit. And I also put myself in a position where we're live streaming this, you know, we haven't had a successful run yet. And this is our first performance. Oh, my God, live stream it so that everybody can have this for for eternity, if, if it goes terribly wrong?
Stephen Bradford Long 06:36 Uh huh. Well, I'm glad it didn't go terribly wrong. Something that not many people know about me is that I went to school for classical music. I was a classical vocalist. And so there were seasons when I was performing every single week, and the anxiety of just thinking about any kind of situation where anything can go wrong on stage still, like over a decade later just terrifies me. The, the, the anxiety is so overwhelming. So yeah, that's, that's impressive that you got through that? Well, I
Doug Misicko 07:13 got I have to say, I still think it's, it's less impressive than doing the ad hoc speaking engagements with q&a and stuff like that. I think I still think that's a bit more rough. You know, I have an exact script for satanic planet. Right now I have a very well defined series of, of actions I go through and, you know, the vocals are all written for that. And that's what I do. There's no q&a afterwards. There's no reason for anybody to be so upset that they come and stab me up on the stage show, boy.
Stephen Bradford Long 07:50 Okay, so actually. So, before we get to that, I just realized that I forgot to thank my patrons, I won't go into my regular spiel. Because we're already into the show. I did the regular spiel about patrons about Patreon in the last cut that didn't get recorded, but Arthur Robert, Rory chatting cat thank you so much, and other people who might want to become patrons, you can do email@example.com forward slash Steven Bradford long there's also a link in the show notes. All right. Um, yeah, so you brought up the topic of stabbing on a stage as is so often the case when we do a show so much happens. There is so there is so much in the news to talk about. And in this situation, the renowned author Salman Rushdie, Salman Rushdie, I don't really know how to say his last name Salman Rushdie, the author of The Satanic Verses was stabbed on stage because his book The Satanic Verses is considered offensive to a lot of religious people.
Doug Misicko 08:57 Right and a fatwa was issued 33 years ago now on
Stephen Bradford Long 09:01 these in the fatwa is, is as old as me. I was one year old when that when that thing happened, and now 30 years later, he is or 33 years later, he was
Doug Misicko 09:18 10 times on stage in upstate New York. But it does look like he'll recover. In the New York Times published an article just just yesterday or today. In the title of it was something, something to the effect of that the Rushdi stabbing has revived free speech debates, and I've seen a lot of op eds, you know, from defenders of free speech talking about why it's important and hopefully people can see that now with this incident and things like that. But honestly, I don't think that This stabbing has provoked any debate. No, I
Stephen Bradford Long 10:02 don't. I don't think it has i Well, and the reason I don't think it has is because this has been 30 years in the making. Well, it's just fallen on deaf
Lucien Greaves 10:12 ears in a world now where, you know, previously it was 1989 when the fatwa was issued against Salman Rushdie. And at the time, Jimmy Carter wrote an op ed in New York Times saying that, you know, he thought the book was very offensive. And he took that, that position where, you know, essentially, we shouldn't be applauding this kind of offensive speech, and we shouldn't promote it, we shouldn't amplify it. But the First Amendment stands, and it's important and all that, which I feel is kind of nonsensical, but cowardly. Yeah, it's cowardly. But it's not as offensively cowardly, I don't think is the people who won't stand by the First Amendment, even in the circumstances, and instead, just insist that, you know, we must do away with the concept of free speech entirely. Yeah. And, you know, for the New York Times to say, this has revived the debate on free speech. I think, you know, all we're really seeing right now is the defenders of free speech, feeling emboldened to come out and say that they defend free speech and artistic liberty and all of that. But I'm really not seeing the articles from the anti free speech sides giving the however, and I think that that's because we live in an environment now where people take this ala carte attitude towards their issues. And if one scenario is troublesome, they'll simply ignore it for something that's more conducive to their argument. So, you know, they'll ignore Salman Rushdie. And then, you know, in the same very end the very same day, they're likely to draw a tenuous relationships between certain media and certain events, suggesting that we need to do away with free speech. I mean, the calling for somebody's death, you know, harassing people, libel, defamation, those kinds of things. They're already illegal. Yeah, right. But what we have now is a real push to to E legalize offensive speech. And we've gotten this from the beginning of the the inception of the Satanic Temple. I've seen messages all the time from people saying, if it weren't for our fourth tenant, they could stand by us. And our fourth tenant, of course, upholds the freedom to offend. Yes. And some people just don't understand why we even have that in, you know, I wonder if these people have any understanding, you know, even 10, gently of who we are, you know, to wonder why we could stand up for the freedom to offend, you know, in this current culture, of, you know, of perceived violations against minority communities based upon other people's offensive behavior. I don't understand how people fail to see that we are a marginalized, religious minority community. And we do deal with death threats all the time, we do fully understand the dangers of free speech. But we also understand that people see what we do as offense. And you know, it there's a real cognitive dissonance amongst that crowd who could embrace what we do, but also fail to recognize how what we do is dependent upon free speech to simply say, well, your speech isn't offensive, because you're not doing this or whatever, is to ignore the fact that they've set standards and by which they're not the ones to decide what's offensive, the offended do. And so when Catholics take the liberty of claiming that what we do is so offensive to them that it's tantamount to hate speech. And us doing any activity publicly is similar to allowing, you know, a kk k rally or whatever else, which also shouldn't be illegal is is entirely misconstrued. It's, the arguments are so are so incoherent sometimes that I wish that there was a revived debate about free speech going on that people were talking about the limits and what they actually want, when they call for further restrictions. And maybe it could lead to some discussion over how that could backfire on us, you know, if we start calling for Are you no prohibition against offensive speech that isolates any particular minority? Where does that end? And who exactly are the minorities even in the Rushdie case? It's not clear. Right, Rushdie was born into an Indian Kashmiri Muslim family. So are we really to say that he has no place being critical of Islam, you know, anybody who's grown up in an environment where they have a belief system imposed upon them, can't then be expected to shut up about whatever, whatever criticisms they have in to have that kind of that kind of perspective in which you think they should, I think, takes a really kind of patronizing position towards other cultures, societies, ethnicities, races and everything else. Because, you know, we don't afford that same kind of latitude towards our religious majorities here. People don't do that. If people don't feel that way about offending Catholics here, and people are really going to cry in defense of theocratic Iran, when they call for a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, I guess it's just that provincial notion that everything's the same everywhere in the world as it is in the United States. And that, you know, the Muslim populations are a minority anywhere they go and feel a unique sting of American readers reading something they feel is defamatory against them. And if in 20 years from now, the United States is very much in the midst of its own theocracy, which, you know, is not out of the question. I imagine how patronizing it would be to hear people overseas from other cultures, denigrating heretics like us, and saying we absolutely have no right to pick on it. This, this rich culture of Christianity that we clearly don't understand, right? Even though we've grown up in this environment, we've been, we've, we've felt the, the oppressive sting of their attempts to legislate our lives. And then we're going to deal with people telling us that we're, we're too we're too insensitive and our criticisms against that. That's, that's what I see when I see this kind of thing. Yeah, and I don't humane
Stephen Bradford Long 17:47 it's it's paternalistic, inhumane, a combination of like anti human coddling to say, oh, you know, Salman Rushdie, he has no right to to, you know, hurt the feelings of a religious community in this way. And, you know, today i i was watching kind of some vintage Footage from 30 years ago, when the fatwa was first announced against Salman Rushdie and the the fear are in the streets of Muslim majority countries, the rage, the righteous rage, and the disgust and the anger and the hurt. And it really, when you see something like that it really drives home the reality that offense is not a barometer for truth. Offense on its own means nothing offense on its own, is any emotion and that's it. We don't have to elevate it to any sort of truth, the truth might be elsewhere. And in fact, I think most of the time the truth is elsewhere and is not necessarily somehow embedded in the offense that we all feel, you know, the in this human reaction, but it's such a deceptive emotion because it feels so righteous offense feels so righteous and has such a sense of moral clarity to it, but that's an illusion. And you can watch these riots of Muslims in the streets burning effigies of Salman Rushdie and realize that the moral compass is just broken their moral compass, their their offense meter was just broken. It was it was misfiring in that occasion. And if we elevate offense to the love to the status of truth, or morality, then we're just in big fucking trouble because offense is just an emotion sometimes there's truth beneath it, but very often Often there isn't. Right,
Lucien Greaves 20:02 right. And I feel like, you know, the the mainstream attitude was towards Muslims was, you know that you have every right to be offended. And you know, but however, and you know, I'm not even sure about that, do you really have a right to be offended when you indoctrinate children into a into a particular belief system and then demand that they have no criticism of it for the rest of their lives? Right, you know? Or how did how does anybody know what Rushdie's experiences you know, I know people who still identify as Christian, and I don't hold it against them. It doesn't work for me, I can never see this mythology as an embodiment of my ideals. But people who hold very similar values to me can't see it any other way. They have a liberal interpretation of Christianity. They have a different background, they have a different upbringing, these things mean different things to them. Right? Yep. And to Rushdi Islam means something that it doesn't mean to a lot of the Muslims I met growing up in Michigan, who were all very moderate Muslims, and certainly not, you know, wants to endorse the fatwa or anything like that, right. And I have sympathy for them, too. But I feel like if I were to have a dialogue about this, I would just tell them like, those very things, you're like, you don't know this guy's background, you don't know what he's dealt with. And, yes, this is so ubiquitous. And, and important, honestly, like a religion reaches that point, it becomes important, whether it's all an illusion, or are based upon, you know, misguided mythology or not, you know, you know, the Pope is a powerful person, just because people imagine that he is, you know, and then then you have the power of numbers behind you, and that kind of thing. You have to be able to offer criticism, you have to be able to dissect these things and scrutinize them, ask questions and in nobody should be able to stop you from that. And there's, you know, an untold value in that, that I think, you know, I can't do justice to win in florid prose, but it is essential to any free and democratic society. And we should be very careful. We put any prohibitions, you know, beyond those that we have, on offensive speech taking offense is not a legitimate criticism, it never has been merely taking offense. That is, yeah, like, you can think about things that, you know, are of significant consequence, like putting, putting fatwas out, you know, death threats upon people and things like that, you know, we can be offended by those things, but they're not illegal just because they're offensive. And we don't leave it to somebody else to just tell us they're offended and say that something should not stand because of it. That's not, it's not a legitimate reason to ban anything. It never has been, it never will be. And I feel like, instead of seeing a renewed debate about free speech, we're seeing intellectual cowardice from the anti free speech crowd that has never bothered to answer the difficult questions. And I know this personally, because I've written essays about free speech, where I pose these questions where I ask, like, in a case of a guy like Salman Rushdie is, are we to consider him, you know, assimilated into the broader non-believing population? That's non Islamic. When he when he becomes an apostate of Islam, or as an apostate of Islam? Is he a minority within a minority, deserving of even greater protections? You know, those are the kinds of questions I would expect from this kind of debate if a debate were being had. But as I said, I don't see that debate happening. I see people just treating this idea as something to score points with on social media, you know, and they take, they take a very extreme stance, and they ignore whatever scenarios they don't like. And I feel like this Salman Rushdie case is exactly that. I'm not seeing a whole lot of people saying this time around. I'm not seeing a whole lot of people saying like, well, however, he should have known better or whatever. I feel like now people are accustomed to just waiting till the new cycle goes and waiting for an argument that's more conducive or set of circumstances more conducive to their their position, so they don't have to You don't have to take a principled stand, that applies generally, they just like to pick and choose.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:05 Right, you know, the ACLU, which used to be the bastion of free. So they've said nothing, they had nothing. And that to me, I think just that, to me is symptomatic of the response to this whole thing. I mean, like you said, the pro free speech, people are, you know, emboldened jumping all over jumping all over it, you know, people like us are jumping all over it and making it a topic of conversation. But, but I think a lot of a lot of other people in the, you know, quote, unquote, discourse are just, it's just crickets. And it's the same with the ACLU, which used to be, you know, the greatest bastion of free speech in the United States, or one of at least, and they've, they I, in my opinion, they've completely lost their way in recent years as as defenders of free speech, and they have been dead silence, at least as of this recording. They have been dead, silent. And
Lucien Greaves 26:06 yeah, and it's been, it's been almost a week. Now, it has
Stephen Bradford Long 26:10 been almost a week. So I doubt they will say anything, but how do I want to say this, okay, so I know Catholics, for whom satanic imagery, say, the black mass, for example, and the black mass is an inversion and blasphemy of the Catholic mass. And that that is specifically what makes it a black mass is that it is a an inversion of the primary features of the Catholic mass, there are Catholics for whom the very existence of a black mass happening is just a form of psychic psychological torture. To them. It is a it is a sort of heartbreak and torture and offense that to my eyes seems unbearable. And I remember having a conversation not with a Catholic, but with a Christian friend of mine, who was generally very supportive and very, you know, very, very progressive, and were great friends. But I read some sections of a black mass to him and he just burst into tears. He just started sobbing because the there was such a powerful visceral response, and they owe where do I want to go with this that sense of heartbreak at a symbol being used in the quote unquote, wrong way, that sense of heartbreak and confronting that heartbreak and confronting that offense and that anguish, it that's kind of necessary to living in a democracy in a pluralistic democracy. And so, you know, another example, I just recently read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. And I mean, just total levels of depravity, just like unbelievable levels of depravity, and it came out in the 60s. And I'm like, I cannot even imagine how America in the 60s responded to this book. And William S. Burroughs was a was a champion of free speech. And the reason is, because that that feeling of gross ness and offense, a pluralistic society demands that we maybe not 100% defeated people may never completely overcome that disgust response, but at least that it be contained enough so that we can have a cooperative body politic, right. And when I look at the response to Salman Rushdie, in parts of the Islamic world caveat, not the entire Islamic world, but you know, and definitely in certain parts of it in certain theocratic corners. That's a that is a level of disgust that does not allow for any sort of pluralistic existence whatsoever.
Lucien Greaves 29:07 Well, yeah, I mean, going back, though, to the idea of the black mass, and this bringing somebody into tears, I think there's, it's a, it's a very unsophisticated view a lot of people have when it comes to blasphemy, which I would hope anybody who has any affinity for Satanism would realize that the blasphemous is important to us internally, you know, personally, and not just something we engage with because we're hoping it'll piss somebody off in our immediate proximity at the moment. We're doing it like to us, you know, blasphemy itself has the transcendent value that other people get from the mainstream religious team. teachings themselves, perhaps our ability to remove ourselves from it, to take the things that we've been indoctrinated with, and embrace their opposite even, even when we've been told that those things will put us into a pit of eternal torment, or that, you know, these are thoughts that must not be thought, you know, there's a very liberating feeling that comes from being able to embrace blasphemy. And a lot of us, you know, came to Satanism in that way where we might have been unbelievers, but you still have that visceral response to something that's been so imprinted upon you. Yeah, that is the blasphemy that relevance. And in that way, blasphemy is very important. And even though we have our own affirmative values, and we're totally willing to accept it, when those values are in line with somebody, or some group or church that identifies themselves as Christian, or whatever, you know, we don't simply change our point of view to be the opposite of what somebody else says. You know, you can call off and define anything by its opposites. You know, and for a lot of Satanists, we feel that a lot of our values are diametrically opposite of those that were traditionally imposed by the Christian religion. And that's a legitimate viewpoints, that's a viewpoint that isn't one meant merely to provoke and offend. You know, it's, it's it, it can be a viewpoint held by responsible adult thinking people, and it can be a very legitimate religious viewpoint as well. So to treat blasphemy in this way, as though it's always just an effort to offend the true believers and adherence of a religious practice is beyond insulting to the reality on the ground, in, you know, not to beat a dead horse. But going back to that idea of being raised in an environment and having these things imposed upon you your entire life. And then having somebody have the audacity to say that you simply don't have the understanding necessary to put these criticisms upon upon this group, because apparently, you have to agree with them enough to be one of them, to identify as one of them to have any criticism at all. Right, so that possible, so that could possibly work out. So no, there really is no excuse for the idea of standing by anti blasphemy laws. And I honestly feel that with the lack of respect, for free speech on both sides of the political spectrum, you have the right trying to ban books and burn books, again, yep, well, while simultaneously upholding themselves as the defenders of free speech when they find themselves banned from social media platforms, or whatever else. But on the opposite side of that, you find people who are dumb enough to take those right wing fanatics at their word, that they are defenders of free speech, and figuring there for free speech must be entirely abandoned. And I think that this leads inexorably eventually towards anti blasphemy laws in the United States. If the Republicans sweep their way back into power, fully realizing that they can get away with anything they want, in the wake of Trump, and desperate as ever, to appeal to an ever more militantly fundamentalist evangelical base.
Stephen Bradford Long 34:04 Right? Yeah, no one no one should buy into the Republican talking points about free speech. They talk about free speech the same way they talk about religious liberty. That was the same way they talk about religious freedom, which is basically absolute freedom for me. No freedom for those who I think are immoral, degenerate. Wrong symbol, what have you, right?
Doug Misicko 34:33 Oh, the same way they talk about the Constitution. Yeah, no idea what it says or what it stands for? Is this whatever they feel is sounds right at the moment. Well, I
Stephen Bradford Long 34:42 think this is a really important point, though, because I think one of the reasons why so many people on the left have soured towards the concept of free speech is because they've bought the far rights bullshit. They've bought the concept, that free speech is a right wing value. And maybe the reason why they've bought that lie is because their first encounter with free speech was maybe 4chan or some horrific anti semitic troll on Twitter and so on and so forth. But and I get being disgusted by all that I get being disgusted by people who say that they are acting in the name of free speech but but that Disgust is about as rational as you know, saying, oh, Religious freedom is also a right wing talking point, therefore, there's no merit in the concept of freedom of religion, right? Like it's the same logic. And so like, no one should by the right wing lie, that that they are the Bastion that they are the torchbearer of free speech because they aren't. Oh, look,
Lucien Greaves 35:53 look at that little cunt. Charlie Kirk, right? He has been floating Trump ever since Trump was first elected. He started he's this he's this little dickhead who's has it has who looks like he has hydrocephalus. He
Stephen Bradford Long 36:11 was he was the one by the way, who there's a viral footage of him from several years ago of like being in a diaper cosplaying and a diaper pretending to be a triggered snowflake on a college campus and in a diaper. And
Doug Misicko 36:26 yeah, all right. He's the defender of free speech, who also felt that the government should have intervened from satan Khan taking place. Oh, that's right. I mean, talk about prohibitions against free speech. These are not defenders of free speech by any stretch of the imagination. Yeah, but that's no excuse for, you know, any of us to match their tactics by being just as hypocritical and disingenuous, ignoring the case of Salman Rushdie in favor of claiming, well, you know, if right part weren't allowed to publish, then, you know, we speculate that, you know, so many, so many marginalized people wouldn't have been killed by police this year, whatever else, you know, whatever kind of tangential relationship they can, they can determine from anything, you know, with or without any evidence at all, or, you know, or evidence based upon lived experience, which is a, you know, which is sometimes valid as, as a means of actually listening to the populations you're talking about. But it's often abused to say, well, we just have to take everything, you know, the person we prefer to listen to says at face value without listening to anybody else. Yeah, yeah,
Stephen Bradford Long 37:43 exactly. I want to I want to go back to that topic that you were just going on with about blasphemy. So as I was listening to your talk, where you were discussing how blasphemy the black mass in particular, it for us, it isn't about React or, you know, offending or attacking another faith, it is rather about taking our own trauma, our own experiences with our theocratic upbringings, and kind of through the alchemy of ritual, turning it into something transcendent. And that reminds me of something that an acquaintance named Pope Wonka said this was a while ago, this was a long time ago, but he was he was talking about the concept of high blasphemy, or maybe another way to put it is transcendent blasphemy versus reactionary blasphemy. And they both might have their place. I mean, and we can't create a world where either of them are illegal, and we can't create a world where I where either of them are forbidden, right?
Lucien Greaves 38:59 Right. And we don't want to create an environment where we have somebody at the door checking and saying, Well, which one are you? Yeah, exactly. And we end those what one one comes from the other. I feel like, I feel like at the beginning, you're likely to want to offend, you know, you feel perhaps that you were harmed, and you want to say fuck you, you know. Yep. But for some people, it's just not that and I think people evolve also, or they realize this has personal value to me, but I really have no interest in raising the ire of somebody else. However, I'm going to be true to myself, and I'm going to do what I want to do, and nobody should be restrained from doing that. And there's an important message in that, you know, there's, there's an important message for people who maybe haven't thought that deeply about these issues might have similar exposure to similar things. But you know, it's always nice to know. So always nice there. It's always going to be the apostates and blasphemers around, you know, do we want to pretend They're not there. Do we want to ignore them? Do we want to? Do we do we want to silence them just to make sure that nobody's offended?
Stephen Bradford Long 40:08 Yeah, yeah. So so I could hear someone listening to this and try to parse out what you're saying here. And they might respond with something like, okay, so what about someone like Alex Jones, where his speech has caused legitimate damage? And can any sane person really say that he should be able to say what he said, and I bring this up? Because his trial is going on in it's a complete fucking circus? And maybe we can talk about that, too. But I know, I know how I would respond to that. But how would you? How would you respond to that? Like, because it's easy for a lot of people to, to look at the term free speech, and then look at someone like Alex Jones and the untold amounts of damage that he has caused, and our culture and just be like, No, I, the concept of free speech is fundamentally flawed. And Alex Jones is the proof of why how would you respond to that?
Lucien Greaves 41:08 Well, one thing I would first say is that Alex Jones is being held accountable.
Stephen Bradford Long 41:13 And exactly what he did was illegal.
Lucien Greaves 41:15 Right. Right. And, you know, that he is being charged with defamation and other such things, and it doesn't look like it's going well, for him, but just the same, you know, you want him to have good representation in the courts, because you don't want Yep, fixation with the specific case of Alex Jones, to, you know, diminish our free speech environment, you know, in ways that become prohibitive against, you know, speaking truth to power. So, you know, there again, you know, as much as I hate Alex Jones, I want to see him get his day in court. And I also feel that for his irresponsible, is he clearly it's an irresponsible idiot, like him, you know, you can hope only comes around, you know, once every couple generations or whatever, but unfortunately, it looks like we've got a daily show of them.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:20 Yep. Right. To pandemic.
Lucien Greaves 42:23 Yeah, there's an epidemic of Alex Jones is, yep. But, but really, you know, there's, there's a lot that goes into Alex Jones, seeming credible to people that go well beyond Alex Jones, personally, as a character. And I think censoring him, doesn't do a whole lot to mitigate that. And in fact, could even make somebody like him a bit more powerful. There's a, in the conspiracy crowds, you know, censoring somebody doesn't tend to discredit them by any stretch of the imagination, it, it tends to lend more credibility, rather than anything else. And it's like, if you have to chase them around through different platforms or whatever, you're going to find an audience that's willing to do that and becoming more militant as things go on. You know, I feel like after a while, idiots like Alex Jones, tend to bury themselves. And, you know, I know there's a lot of people who like to say that
Doug Misicko 43:33 D platforming destroyed Milo Yiannopoulos. But that's revisionist history, not not in the least. The protests against Milo Yiannopoulos made him a household name. That's right. He really he really flourished after, I think it was, was at Berkeley, where they,
Stephen Bradford Long 43:54 it was the Barclays riots. Yeah, it was it, it got very dangerous very quickly. Well, and you know, there was this,
Lucien Greaves 44:02 even heard of him really, until then. And then then he was Benny was a household name. But, you know, he's the one who talked himself into oblivion, because he started justifying pedophilia, or whatever. And that's when he really collapsed. It had nothing to do with, you know, the protests against him, which only served to make him more popular. And that's the thing with a guy like Alex Jones, these ideas don't go away these ideas, they need to be confronted, and we definitely are in the throes of a real epidemic, when it comes to misinformation, fake news and things like that. And, you know, we have to find ways to mitigate the propagation of such on the internet, while still respecting the value of free speech, the principle thing like things like that, you know, you know, we really have to have that respect. You know what
Stephen Bradford Long 44:58 this is making me think of actually LEED is how so I don't know if you know this, but I used to be a big time conspiracy theorist. And so this was in my early 20s. So over over a year ago, or over a year ago, Jesus over over a decade ago, and you know, a lot of it was really wrapped up, I think in my PTSD from recently surviving a shooting at the time. And so I was hyper vigilant, and I fell down the YouTube algorithm hole and, and it was just a time of my life where conspiracy theories were very sticky for me, and and just kind of irresistible for me. And thinking back to then, when I was like, you know, when I was going down the Infowars, Alex Jones rabbit hole, and I was convinced Oh, and I was also a believer in in 2012, the whole 2012 conspiracy theory. And so back in 2010, and 2011, it was it was like impossible for me to invest in my future in any meaningful way. Because I was right, right, I was convinced that I that we were all going to die, right?
Lucien Greaves 46:13 Just Just hold there. Now imagine yourself wrapped up in that subculture online and stuff like that. And suddenly hearing that from from on high, some judges determine that you are not allowed. Yeah, exactly. Material anymore. Does anybody think for a moment that your reaction would be to say, well?
Stephen Bradford Long 46:38 Yeah, exactly wrong about everything. Yeah, it's a failure of empathy to realize the the depths of how much how deeply I believed it. And, and just thinking back to that time of my life, how would I respond if some judge said, Okay, now, you know, Alex Jones can't can't say these things anymore. I would take that as proof, I would take validation. And you know, what actually got me out of it was reading the rise and fall of the Third Reich by William sharar. Because suddenly, I was reading real history. And it slowly dawned on me that there wasn't a secret cabal running the entire world, it dawned on me that there wasn't a a group of all powerful shadow government, you know, Shadow, you know, that the Illuminati wasn't controlling all of us that it was complex human affairs, kind of muddling itself out. And so it was reading real history that got me out of that death spiral that made me realize, Oh, I've been living a delusion that I'm getting really good therapy to for trauma. For for my PTSD, right?
Lucien Greaves 47:57 It's hardly a novel observation to say that conspiracy theories have taken the place of religion in a lot of people's minds. It's a way of finding some universal coherence. There's a narrative thread through everything, there's somebody in control, whether it's completely evil or not. And even if it's completely evil, then you have a centralized evil, that should only you defeat, all the ills in the world are fixed. In some ways. Conspiracy theories are very optimistic. But look what happens when you try also to censor religious movements, which is essentially how Christianity took off. You know, we still have these lingering tales of martyrdom, is veneration of, of Christians fed to the lions in ancient Rome? Yep. You know, nothing really made that a long term, sustainable religion, then its marginalization and the attempts to censor it from I mean, the idea that you can, you know, just prohibit these ideas from being spread, and thereby dismantle them entirely, is, I think, been proven wrong again and again, and has done no small amount of damage.
Stephen Bradford Long 49:25 Yeah, absolutely. So if censorship doesn't work, then then what are the strategies? So so how do you counter the bad ideas? So let's take the most toxic deranged conspiracy theories what what are the strategies then that we do try to inject some rationality and reality into this dynamic because you know, If censorship is off the table, then what do we do?
Doug Misicko 50:04 Right. And in I think, at this point, we have to look at what's unique about now. You know, it's like we've been dealing with conspiracy theories, from the very beginning. You know, whenever media was propagated, you know, there's always been fake news, there's always been dumb ideas. There's always been radicalized movements and stuff like that, what's unique about now, that makes this a situation in which, you know, people are again talking about prohibiting free speech after we had a period of entrenchment where, you know, people took, as, you know, a, and understood platitude that free speech was a fundamental value in democracy and in everything else, and I feel like, well, the idea of the marketplace of ideas where good ideas can counter bad ideas. And in eventually, the truth will win out has been compromised, by the way the big tech companies run their algorithms online, people have the impression that they're in an open marketplace of ideas online. But really, they're in their insulated bubbles, where they're being served a day luge of news and opinions, that are thoughts to match those that they already hold, because those are more conducive to their interaction, or, you know, just they're going to be showing the opinions that they're more most likely to interact with, even if they outrage them, or, or whatever. But they're also just seeing seeing a very limited sliver of what's available and what opinions are. So everybody is under the impression that their viewpoints are the norm, because that's what they're often seeing. And people are really spiraling into extremist directions as, as they only see one side of the story, they continually see it, they often see the same fake stories again and again. And those fake stories seem to lend credibility to them. Yeah, but I, I do think that, in order for us to mitigate the damage of the current corruption of the information environment, we need to kill the surveillance capitalism model of social media, and big tech internet companies, which is to say that this idea that they have some kind of free rein to collect whatever data they can on us indefinitely, determine our proclivities, our positions, what we'll respond to, and hold on to those, you know, metrics for the rest of time, or for the rest of your life or whatever. I think that needs to be utterly destroyed. And I don't think we're anywhere close to even having that dialogue right now. But I do think it's vital to humanity at this point that we consider dismantling this system.
Stephen Bradford Long 53:14 You know, a big piece of the puzzle fell into place for me when I talked to Jonathan Roush, about his book, The Constitution of knowledge several weeks ago. And the argument that Jonathan Roush makes is that free speech is really only functional if we have the institutions that are able to maintain it well, right. And so take for example, Twitter, Twitter is not a platform that adheres to what Jonathan Roush calls the constitution of knowledge, which is a set of time tested proven norms and wisdom about how discourse works well, and when those rules or when those norms become violent. And when those institutions start to deteriorate or you know, just just become you know, mutated horrific amalgams like surveillance, capitalism, capitalism and Facebook and Twitter. It's almost like, you know, people being it's almost like driving without traffic lights or something, it breaks down, it falls apart. And so a big piece that's fallen into place for me, is that free speech, free speech, if it is true, if it is authentic, if it is real, it also has to exist within a framework in which it is possible, right? And the institutions have to uphold those norms. Those and you know, he saw It's things like in the academic world peer review, no one has the final word. No one, you know, journalists can't lie, they they can't make stuff up. And this all sounds really intuitive to us now, but it really wasn't. Right. It took years it took decades, it took centuries for journalists to figure out that they shouldn't make shit up. Right. And, and so those those norms are important. And that's what makes free speech flourish. But what Twitter does and Facebook does is it erodes those norms. And I also sometimes wonder if that's why people are so are, are turning their back on the concept of free speech, because it's like the fish doesn't know they're wet. Maybe free speech doesn't seem to be, quote, unquote, working right now, not because the concept of free speech is wrong. But because the water we're living in the water we're swimming in is, is surveillance capitalism, which does not allow for the free exchange of ideas, and the marketplace of ideas to do its work.
Doug Misicko 56:05 Yeah, no, I think it's, it's a, in some respects, a reiteration of what I was saying about the information environment that people are in online, and the degree to which they don't realize that what they're seeing has been manufactured for them to match their interests. And, you know, despite what Google says about trying to mitigate the proliferation of misinformation, I'm infuriated sometimes by what I see in my recommends through YouTube.
Stephen Bradford Long 56:37 No, yeah, same. YouTube apparently thinks that I'm that I really need to watch Ben Shapiro.
Lucien Greaves 56:44 YouTube thinks everybody needs to see Ben Shapiro. Yeah, that's true. So John, my partner's absolutely no reason I should have ever recommended a video from that fuckface I've never watched anything that would suggest that I would have any interest in anything that shithead says, yeah. And yet, you know, you know, I hear people speculate all the time. Well, you know, Facebook has a right wing bias and these other sites or whatever, and I feel like, you know, it's probably, I don't know, it probably just turned out that way from the algorithm or whatever. YouTube's the one where I feel like, Alright, does YouTube really have this right wing bias? Why the fuck is it recommending? So I,
Stephen Bradford Long 57:27 I really wonder that too, because I'm pretty far left. Like, whenever I take the political test thing online, I always come out as like, super ultra progressive, whatever tribe that is where that where it's only like, 11% of the American population, or whatever it is, like, that's always the tribe that I come out as. And despite that, it always thinks that I want to watch Ben Shapiro and even John to date, my partner, John is maybe the most non political, non politically active. No, that's not true that that isn't accurate, but his interests aren't as political as mine, let's say. And he was just like, why the fuck is YouTube recommending Ben Shapiro to me, what is it about? And no, so I seriously do think that that YouTube might have a right wing bias. For whatever reason, I don't know why. Yeah.
Doug Misicko 58:22 No, I see it too. Like I said, like I'm I'm always looking up, you know, outdated materials on YouTube and in low budget movies that are, you know, so abandon that somebody was able to upload them to YouTube or whatever, but but nothing. Nothing would indicate that I would give a shit about Ben Shapiro. It really does seem to be Ben Shapiro, like YouTube must have some kind of vested interest in Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson. That motherfucker.
Stephen Bradford Long 58:54 Yep. Jordan Peterson to. So speaking of free speech, and so I did take some questions from my audience on on my Discord server. By the way, I do not mention my Discord server enough because it is a super cool group of people. So everyone, go to the go to the show notes. And there's a link for discord in the show notes. Go Go check it out. It's a great group of people. Speaking of free speech, dissent offense. One question did come up that I want to ask you about because I feel like it ties in with the conversation that we've had, quote, What does he think about the role of dissent within TST specifically as a subset of its role within the religion? So let's be more specific, let's say someone has listened this far to the podcast. They're a member of tsp and they've really fucking disagreed with you on some things. What would be your response to that?
Doug Misicko 59:46 Well, I mean, we're always open to the dialogue. We have our town halls, we try to keep open communication, you know, but if it comes down to my I disagree with the fourth tenant Like, why don't you just go somewhere else? You know, it's one of our fundamental tenants, you know, if we're, when we're working out the details beyond that, you know, there's always disagreement, and there's always a back and forth. But I feel like free speech is one of those things like we've held on to from the very beginning, and been very clear about as an organization. And to be honest, I haven't heard a coherent argument against it, that leads to a principled stand that could be broadly applied in wouldn't devastate the Satanic Temple itself. If it were instigated, as I said, you know, we have these, you know, Christian groups all the time saying that what we do is hate speech and everything else. And we're hyper vigilant against the prospect of anti blasphemy laws and everything else, you know, so I feel like the people who say, Well, you just have to reconsider the one of your own fundamental tenets, I think, well, maybe maybe you should reconsider having any part of us because that's, that's a lot to ask, you know. But, you know, that said, again, you know, when it's not an issue of trying to change the very tenants upon which this organization is based, and instead, discussing tactics of how we best arrive at the goals, we all share that we want to get to, you know, we always want to leave that discussion wide open.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:39 There are people in TST, who really dislike, for example, the way I articulate my own Satanism, and I've heard from them, and I think that's fantastic, because Satanism is inherently individualistic, but like you said, when when it goes to the very heart, of what the organization is, to the tenets, what that kind of reminds me of is when people start to be really uncomfortable with the Satan part. Right, right, right. You know, I've watched this pattern happen over and over again, where someone will enthusiastically join TST to get, you know, some vague notion of religious exemption for, you know, their, you know, some progressive cause that they have, which is a good cause of BIA, bodily autonomy or LGBT rights or what have you, right. And so they, they come to TST. And, but, but they really take the poison pill approach, the idea that Satan is just a poison pill to give the theocrats, a taste of their own medicine or something like that. But then over time, they start to become really uncomfortable with the satanic aspect. And I start to hear things like, well, you know, if only we could maybe, you know, this isn't really about Satan, so maybe we could change that part. And I'm like, No, we're Satanists. To change the satanic part of it would be would mean, we aren't Satanists anymore. No, fuck, you were Satanist. And it's the same with the tenets. So it's like there there are certain levels of discourse that or disagreement that can happen we can disagree about our interpretations of the tenets but or we can disagree about tactics and we can disagree about the sim you know, what the symbol of Satan means in our own lived Satan isms. But when it gets to the heart of what the organization is built on, which is the tenets and Satan is like no that then just go somewhere else.
Doug Misicko 1:03:44 There are some non negotiables here Yeah. And
Stephen Bradford Long 1:03:48 I think that's what frustrates me is when dissent is what what's what's what's put forward as dissent is really just will just change your entire fucking organization or just change your entire religion like Why Why does it have to be about Satan it this isn't really about Satan just, you know, just just be a humanist or whatever. It's, that's what frustrates me. But when dissent comes
Lucien Greaves 1:04:16 out, of course, they could just go and be humanists themselves. Well, you know,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:20 there's, there's nothing wrong with that. Go Go be a humanist or Unitarian Universalist or whatever.
Lucien Greaves 1:04:27 Why Satan, it's like, well, you don't have to do this. No,
Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:32 absolutely. Yeah. Well, I trying to think if there's anything else on my mind, but I think I think we covered it all. We covered your movie night and satanic planet performance. We talked about Salman Rushdie, I think I think that was all that I had. Is there anything else that you wanted to discuss? No, I
Doug Misicko 1:04:52 think we did it. I think it's a success.
Stephen Bradford Long 1:04:54 I think it is a success. And dear listeners, I always welcome for feedback and I love hearing back from all of you because this is a conversation and this podcast is just one side of that conversation. So please leave a comment on my website Steven Bradford long.com You can email me using the contact form on my website or you can join in the join in on the conversation on Discord. I would love that too. Well, that is it for this show. The music is by eleventy seven you can find it on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you listen to music This show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is made possible by my firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash Steven Bradford long as always Hail Satan. And thanks for listening