Podcasts/Sacred Tension-ST Satans Lawyer80tcg
ST_Satans_Lawyer80tcg SUMMARY KEYWORDS tst, ritual, people, question, satanism, religious, abortion, called, lawsuit, religion, law, state, judge, scottsdale, satanic, part, satan, free speech, prayer, bit SPEAKERS Stephen Bradford Long, Matt Kezhaya
Stephen Bradford Long 00:00 You're listening to a rock candy podcast this is sacred tension, the podcast about the discipline of asking questions. My name is Steven Bradford long, and we are here on the rock candy Podcast Network. For more shows like this one, go to rock candy recordings.com. All right. Well, as always, before we get started, I have to thank my patrons. My patrons are my personal lords and saviors, and I truly could not do this without them. So for this week, I have to thank Julia, Megan, Tim, and Adrienne, thank you so much, every little bit helps. And for anyone wondering where this money goes, it actually goes to like very practical life stuff like repairing my car and feeding my six cats. And the the pipes in my front yard exploded over the weekend. And it goes to repairing things like that. So every little bit helps. And for anyone listening who wants to join their number, just go to patreon.com forward slash Steven Bradford long. For $1 $3 $5 a month, you get extra content every single week, and early access to the occasional episode of sacred tension. And this show is also sponsored by the satanic temple.tv. The Satanic Temple has an incredibly creative community. And there's all kinds of stuff happening over at tst. TV. If you're interested in the occult, and talk shows, weird puppet shows and cooking shows, then, please go to the satanic temple.tv. And you can use my promo code sacred tension all caps, no space at checkout. And finally, one of the best ways to support this show is to leave five star reviews on Apple podcasts. I will read your review, even if it's nasty on the show. So please leave a five star review. You can also now leave five stars on Spotify as well. All of that helps it tells our digital overlords that this show is worth sharing with others. With all of that out of the way. Matthew Kezhaya. Welcome to the show.
Matt Kezhaya 02:30 Thank you so much for having me.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:31 Did I pronounce your name correctly?
Matt Kezhaya 02:33 Spot on.
Stephen Bradford Long 02:34 Okay, good. Tell us, tell us some about who you are and what you do.
Matt Kezhaya 02:38 So I serve as general counsel for TST the Sanctum people. I'm pretty much the guy that runs all the litigation efforts at TST does. Most recently we are in the news for the the reproductive religious rights campaign, which involves a couple of lawsuits against Texas. I say a couple we just filed the second one. I think it was last week, maybe the week before that it's actually getting served today. So very timely on that on that front. And you want to knows anything about TST it's, you know, all kinds of stuff. We're having Satan con here. The filming of this is on February 8. So here in a few days for me might be over about a 10 people listen to it, which was the subject of a different lawsuit. A couple of weeks back, we filed a big bell plane brief on the belt Lane matter. Just lots of things going on pretty much at all times.
Stephen Bradford Long 03:34 All the time... Did you just say that there is a lawsuit regarding SatanCon?
Matt Kezhaya 03:38 No, no. SatanCon is in Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ.
Stephen Bradford Long 03:42 Right? Where where one of the lawsuits took place over the invocation. Is that correct? Yeah.
Matt Kezhaya 03:48 Yeah. So we are good.
Stephen Bradford Long 03:50 Well, no, I was I was just going to say so it's like we are in like two different arms of tsp. So I serve on ordination Council in satanic ministry. So you know, like I am in the religious life, clergy side of the temple. And I never think I almost never think about the legal stuff. Like my, my whole world is the satanic ministry. And so that's what I'm like doing every single day. So whereas you're like, on the other end of the temple, doing all the legal stuff, so it's great to talk to you and what is going so there is so much talk about the reproductive rights battles going on in Texas. And with tsp, just give us an update what is going on?
Matt Kezhaya 04:42 So the update I feel like I should start with the predicate so that the update makes sense, but I'll start with the update. The update is again, there are two lawsuits. There's the federal lawsuit in the state lawsuit. I want to say maybe a month or so ago, the federal lawsuit got state aid because if if you know what's going on with the Supreme Court, they're basically trying to overturn Roe v. Wade. Well, that's basically something that the federal judge picked up on and said, Well, you know, you're part of the lawsuit entails, it's called Casey. That's the that's actually the case that matters. That's how you look at abortion regulations, at least as of right now. So we have a Casey claim in this lawsuit, basically saying that these abortion regulations are an undue burden in the language of the law. And since it's resting, essentially on Roe v. Wade, and Roe v. Wade is looking like it's about to go away, the judge said, Well, we're just going to stay all this, let's figure out what happens with Roe v. Wade, and Casey, and then we'll, we'll go from there. So we had everything all briefed up and had been briefed up since about August or so of last year is when we had our oil oral argument and call it I don't know, January or December. So it just got vacated, we're just going to start all over here pretty soon. So that's the big update on the federal side of things. One of the outcomes of this motion to dismiss was that a state claim could only be turned out a state claim could only be heard in state court. So part of the lawsuit got ejected from the federal lawsuit. And we just refiled that a couple a couple of weeks ago or so within the past couple weeks. And so that one is a little bit more on than this gets into the weeds a little bit. So the kind of the predicate for all of these two lawsuits is that TSD has an abortion ritual. Everyone else has abortions, and it's just a secular medical concern. But there are special rights that kick in when something is religiously motivated. So that's the impetus of gsts claim. The federal lawsuit attacks it from the federal constitution perspective, the state lawsuit attacks it from a it's called the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act very high level in 1990. A federal case came out that said, so far as the federal constitution is concerned, if a neutral and generally applicable law happens to infringe upon your religious beliefs or practices, it's still kosher, you have to show that it was intended to target that particular belief. Otherwise, it's it doesn't matter that it's religiously motivated. Well, that triggered a backlash from about two thirds of the states and the federal government. That said, that's not what the law should be. The law should be if there's even a general neutrally neutral and generally applicable law, even if that's the case, the fact that it's infringing on religiously motivated conduct, that's not okay. And the government should have a very high burden to prove that that's the least restrictive way that I can go about pursuing whatever that it's called the compelling interest that the highest order interest of, of government. So that's the state law claim. And so, you know, this, all of this Texas business came out before SBA, so part of the new Texas lawsuit is taking issue with SBA and saying this runs afoul of our Texas refer rights. It actually, in our opinion, runs and follow the Texas cuts tuition because they just amended their constitution to basically incorporate refer reasoning. And then the interesting most interesting part legally, to me, is there's a part of SBA that says liability does not attach for conduct that is protected by the First Amendment. So we're asserting that this is conduct its expressive conduct minimally, it's particularly religious, expressive conduct. So we shouldn't even need to get to the constitutionality of SBA. It just falls into this safe harbor that this ritual is not a predicate for liability. So all of this to say that our members should be able to get their abortions as an exemption to Texas's generally applicable regulations. As a general proposition, there are some that, you know, we're not taking issue with.
Stephen Bradford Long 09:09 Do you think that the people who set all of this up the religious freedom exemptions and whatnot had any idea that it would apply to anyone other than Christians?
Matt Kezhaya 09:20 Yeah, yeah. Okay. So for the most part, religious freedom case laws developed from non well, I'll just say they're, they're usually developed by minority religions. In 1992, which was about three, four years before the federal referral act. And there's some background there initially started out that it was just a federal act, and it was supposed to apply to both the federal government and all the states, but then I want to say 98 or 2000, the part that says this applies to the States as well gotten validated because it's a it's a federalism issue. And so as a result of that, about Two thirds of states have passed their own analogs of RiFRA. And they're all you know, the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Arkansas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, some different names as well, but they usually just follow the same language as the federal act. All this to say, though, that just four years before this Act came out, the Harry Krishnas were they had to go to the Supreme Court, the US Supreme Court, because there were a bunch of regulations that said they can't hand out their literature, except in like, they can't go behind the security area where everyone's getting on the plane, they were relegated to the front. And there were some other things that were designed, frankly, purposely to limit their proselytizing, and that's not kosher. Harry, Christians were not a popular group. There were minority groups. So I mean, it was anyone who's paying attention in Congress is they they know what's going on. They're briefed by it. There's people that care about this stuff. I'm frankly one of them. So yeah, they they know that these kinds of rights are going to apply equally to Christians as well as minority religions. And it's I'm not sure I'd go that far. Okay. Okay. And contemporary society, meaning like nowadays, I don't think so. I think nowadays when you hear religious freedom, you're mostly hearing from Catholics. I want to say it was a to within the past couple of years, actually about a year and a half ago. A really big case came out, called Espinosa. And I forget the rest of it, but basically their Montana had a law that said, these state funds can only go to secular schools or paths. We're passing out money and can only go to secular schools cannot go to religious schools. And this Espinosa case, totally overhauled that and said, No, it's a free exercise problem. You can't you can't bar this Catholic school because they're Catholic from participating in this. Shortly after that, there was another big case called Fulton actually, this was this was right before our response brief. And the Texas case it just came out like June ish of last year there same kind of thing that kind of up ended a little bit, that whole notion of remember, we talked about neutral and generally applicable laws, this kind of blew that up and said, Look, if you have the discretion if the government reserves the right to accommodate or not accommodate, it must accommodate otherwise is not really neutral, because they can accommodate they just chose not to in your particular case. And that was the Catholics wanting to discriminate against same sex couples, but they still wanted money from the state. So that's, that's what happened there.
Stephen Bradford Long 12:50 Yeah, super interesting. So there's a lot of skepticism about the abortion ritual. And for everyone interested, everyone should go back into the archive and listen to my interview with Jane Essex, of when the abortion ritual was first launched when it was first announced. I think that was in 2020. Is that right?
Matt Kezhaya 13:12 2020? Say August 2020. Sounds right.
Stephen Bradford Long 13:15 Yeah, that sounds right. So everyone can go back and listen to that episode. It gives a lot of the details, but a lot of people on Twitter and there there is a lot of skepticism, some skepticism about the abortion ritual. And so I collected questions from my Discord server. And I think this question is really interesting, and it kind of explores an angle on the abortion ritual. So as the first one here, some critics have claimed that the legal basis for TSDS abortion ritual is faulty. That because it was not explicitly approved by any courts, and that because it merely falls after the fact into the guidelines set out it is not truly an exemption to abortion bans, or other laws dictating how abortion is handled on the state level. can you articulate the legality of the abortion ritual?
Matt Kezhaya 14:12 I'm having a little bit of trouble with and the the background to the question followed by the question, taking the question as as stated, can you articulate the legality of the abortion ritual? Yeah, the the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees that people are allowed to exercise their religion as they see fit. And religion is a pretty broad term TST counts as a religion in this context. That's actually the big one that we got out of Scottsdale is that we got that judicial stamp of approval. We are a bonafide religion entitled to First Amendment religious rights. And no one can ever take that away from us at this point, but the background to the question,
Stephen Bradford Long 14:53 I might be able to, I might be able to clarify some. Okay, at least this is how I read Did I, because people have actually articulated this to me in in various ways. And so this may or may not be what this particular person meant to ask, but this is how I will interpret it. There is I think that there's something that might rub people the wrong way because it feels to them to some people like the abortion ritual is contrived, merely for the sake of granting exemption as a loophole, not as a sincere religious expression. And so take, for example, Ayahuasca ceremonies or peyote ceremonies for native for Native Americans, where it's like the that is a sincere religious practice that has involved ritual for decades, if not centuries. And so it makes sense to people that that would, that that is a legitimate religious exercise, I think, and this isn't my view, by the way, but I think some people have a hard time not seeing the abortion ritual as almost like a gimmick that the Satanic Temple is using to exploit a loophole and that it is not, in fact, a sincerely held religious ritual. That is my view. But I think that is the view of a lot of people online.
Matt Kezhaya 16:25 Sure. So thank you for that. That actually helps elucidate quite a bit. So I kind of break this down then into two questions. Question number one is, is it a sincerely held religious practice? Is it religious within the meaning of these religious exemption rights? The suggestion is that well, since it's new, or since it's being deployed for the purpose of, seemingly at least for the purpose of seeking an exemption to these religious portions, that makes it not sincerely held. So I'll address that question first. So the thing is part of these religious rights cases necessarily entail is this practice? Is this belief, religious in nature. And it's basically a two part test. Question number one is, is it sincerely held because this is where the Pastafarians went wrong? They roll around in their pirate outfits colanders on your head and whatnot, they're very clearly mocking religion. Yeah, that's an argument that I have to deal with fairly regularly. And in my line of work
Stephen Bradford Long 17:32 and pause, I am so sick of being compared to Pastafarians just yet to everyone listening. I the comparisons to pasta foreign ism. I, I get it on an initial kind of surface level. But there is literally nothing ironic about my Satanism. My Satanism goes to my very bone marrow like there is there's nothing ironic or humorous about it. It is 100% deadly serious not. That doesn't mean that it can't have a sense of humor. But there's zero irony there. So I am so sick of the pasta foreign comparisons anyway, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt. I just had to interject. It kills me. It absolutely fucking kills me.
Matt Kezhaya 18:20 And, frankly, I completely agree that that reaction right there, though, just demonstrates that's what makes TST sincerely help. Exactly. Now, if this is something that you don't give a shit about, first of all, why are you in court? But second of all, like that, that, that just immediate sense of offense, when you're when you're, you know, questioning on that nature. That is what sincerely held is really getting at. So that's the first part of the question. The second part of the question is, is it religious? And there's not a concise and clear statement of when something religious. The best case that I've found is called mal neck too. And I cited this in the Scottsdale case, I think this is why we won the TSDS or religion side of things. It's very philosophical. But I basically boil it down to a single question. Does this organization or belief or practice do for that plaintiff? What Christianity or God or what have you does for Christians? So this is where it matters that TST has removing the abortion ritual from the equation. We have destruction rituals, we have other rituals, we have ceremony, and in other words, we have to some extent, well, I'll just take it in descending order. We have symbolism, there's quite a bit of symbolism involved. We have congregation that's a big part of things as well, although not necessary. All of these things are, you know, indicative of it's a religion But the main thing is, at the end of the day TSGs creed is something that answers those fundamental questions of life, man's place in the universe, etc. That is really it fills that same need that going to church does for a Christian or believing in God does for Christians. That's what makes it religious.
Stephen Bradford Long 20:26 And as a former Christian, I can 100% vouch to that I converted from Christianity, to Satanism. I didn't D convert from Christianity to atheism, or I didn't D convert to Satanism. I converted from from one religion to another. And I can see the parallels between the two in very stark terms. I mean, the two are so very obviously religious to me, because my own experience of both Christianity and Satanism are 100%. Religious.
Matt Kezhaya 21:01 Yeah. So that's, that's really the crux of these two cases is, you know, is this belief sincerely held is or this practice? Rather, is it securely held? Does it come from? Is it an expression of the tenants? And that's a fact question. You know, we have a particular member who wanted to engage in this ceremony. And these regulations that we're taking issue with were roadblocks to our ability to participate in that ceremony. I likened it to the judge it's like taxing and regulating maths, you just, you know, if there was a licensing scheme, before you're allowed to go participate in maths, there would be an uproar. But the thing about the Constitution is, it doesn't, you don't count heads, we don't have the Constitution for the majority, belief structure, we have it for the minority belief structure, it's protection from tyranny of the majority. That's why we have these things, their fundamental civil rights, that evocative sense of, Well, this is a religious practice, then if this is a religious practice, and at the stage we're at is presumed to be a religious practice, because the facts go away, then what does that mean, when you put roadblocks up in front of it, so that I think maybe a little bit better addresses it? And then the second part of the question that I'm kind of deriving from this is, do religions have to be old? In order to be a bonafide religion? The answer is no, there is quite a bit of scholarship out there, basically, to the effect of new religions are a thing and they are no less legitimate and no less entitled to protections than old religions. Going back to a very significant case Larson versus Valenti of lintec. I think it's the 1982 case that I cite, probably in all of my cases, it talks about the basically history of the assumptions, laws, and that is the genius and part of our First Amendment that I forget exactly how they put it there. They're far better written than they are spoken for us. But it's to the effect of, you know, there is no greater guarantee against tyranny, that the majority must relegate treatment of itself to its treatment of the minority, you know, to someone else, you got to hold yourself to that same hurdle there. So, you know, this is the kind of underlying legal framework that we work from, to say this is for wine, it's legitimate, not just not just because it's presumed to be legitimate at this stage because of a legal fiction, but I talked to people before I go putting their name on a lawsuit, as lawyers supposed to but I, you know, really put him through the wringer and say, okay, you know, who are you? Why are you wanting to do this? Is this legitimate? You know, are you just kind of out there to, you know, make a name for yourself or whatever, you know, and it's, I satisfy myself that it's sincere before we file a lawsuit.
Stephen Bradford Long 23:53 So I think that gets to the first part of this question as well, which is, how do you tell if someone who wants these religious exemptions is sincere in their religious conviction, or just playing a role, or something like that? And so what I'm hearing you say is that you put them through the wringer until you're satisfied that it is a sincerely held religious conviction?
Matt Kezhaya 24:18 Yeah, well, I don't think I'd be doing anyone any favors by just slapping their name on a complaint and then they get put through the wringer of deposition? Absolutely. Usually, these things involve a camera in your face very hard questions being asked in rapid fire order from some attorney who's you know, staring down his nose at you, and it's not a comfortable experience. And, you know, they need a taste of it before you know, they gotta dip their toe in the water so to speak before they get involved in that, you know, because prep only goes so far. I can't I can't make someone say something under pressure there. These Depositions are designed to try to extract the truth, so to speak. axon interrogation but it sure as hell feels like it.
Stephen Bradford Long 25:02 Right. So we, you talked about how the pasta faria in comparison, drives you crazy. Here's another question from discord. Ask him what the most annoying question he gets about TST is.
Matt Kezhaya 25:16 Hands dow, honestly, the positive foreign one doesn't annoy me as much as it does you. But that's because I typically am dealing with, you know, a neutral arbiter like a judge? Who, I can say, yeah, here's the difference is judge a, we're not running around in pirate costumes demanding that we have colanders on our head. Right? Here's here's the philosophical background tst. This is why this is where it comes from. I'm not inviting an inquiry into whether this is reasonable. What this is, is it's an explanation, I can give that philosophical framework. So that is actually relatively easy for me to deal with, unless I'm just acting or dealing with a bad actor, because that's the thing. But there are sometimes bad actor judges out there know, the one that annoys me the most is outside the law practice, which is why satan, I despise that question. Why is Satan?
Stephen Bradford Long 26:06 What how does? How do you respond to that?
Matt Kezhaya 26:10 I usually just kind of stumbled through it. But I mean, the the usually what I'll say is, well, you know, there's, it comes from a literary satanic movement, you know, from what the late 1700s or whatever. Mari shell you may have heard of her because Frankenstein, while you know, she was part of this movement of people who basically turn this literary character of Satan on its head, and said, you know, basically, maybe Satan wasn't so bad. And so that kind of started the impetus of now we have Satanism, which is, you know, fundamentally, that is the icon, that is the creed that is Satanism, it's the starting point. So that's why it's eight. So, you know, I have an answer. I just hate giving it because, you know, the premise of the question is that the speaker knows more about what's going on inside my head, than I do as if I'm just like, putting on this aspect for their fucking entertainment, or whatever.
Stephen Bradford Long 27:13 Yep, no, I have the exact same experience. And I wrote an article several years ago, titled, why Satan in which I attempt to answer that question. But it there's just like, this deep, deep confusion about why would anyone attach themselves to such a stigmatized figure? Why would anyone attach themselves to like, the icon of all evil in Western culture? And the answer that I usually give them is stop and think about what you just said. Doesn't that suggest that this is stigmatized? And yet I do it anyway? Doesn't that suggest to you that this isn't a political ploy? That this isn't a troll, but it is, in fact, a sincere religious conversion that I experienced that it is a sincere religious conviction that I'm willing to take hits for? Because it's what I believe, and it's who I am. Doesn't that suggest to you just how serious it is? And that tends to be that tends to be one of the things that I say, but I, but yeah, no, I totally get that. And it I feel like people have this deep confusion over whether we are primarily a religious organization, or a political organization. And I think a lot of people probably because they watched Hail Satan by Penny Lane, which is a great movie. It is fantastic. But as one of my friends says, there isn't a thing about Satanism in it. It's it is there isn't a bit of Satanism in that movie. And I liked Penny Lane, and I liked the movie, I think, I think it is in a good representation of the temple. But there is no Satanism in it. And I like Penny Lane. I had her on the show when the movie came out. So I think people see the movie and assume that we are first and foremost a political organization. But the problem is that being a political organization and doing political activism, you know, the number of times people have said to me, don't you think your political cause would be better served if it if you didn't have Satan in your name? And I'm like, there's a fundamental confusion here. Because you think that we are a political organization, not a religion, and it's like getting the cart before the horse. It would be like saying, oh, you know, the Quakers, they aren't actually religious. Their Quakerism is just a cover for their social activism. It would be as weird and offensive as that. You know?
Matt Kezhaya 28:33 I do yeah, it's, well, it's spot on. God, I can't remember which podcast I listened to, but someone had some churches Satan member on there. And they were just talking about, you know, that's the main difference between CEOs and TST is the activism it's doing things. And frankly, I understand that there's a philosophical gap there. But I don't think that other people really grasp that from the outside. Because, you know, I mean, partly, I think the issue is TST doesn't really proselytize in the way that other religions do. You know, TST does things that broadcasts we exist, this is kind of what we believe, but it's not your you're never going to be good and knock on your door. Ask being asked if someone wants to talk about Satan that day, it's a we have better things to do and be that's just not, that's just antithetical to the belief structure. So that tends to cause like a marketing issue. People don't know who we are, what we believe and whatnot. Frankly, that's fine. But you know, that's it does, cause it does cause some difficulties for me in the legal space. I can as judges carry those those biases. Yeah, very much. And I have to counteract those.
Stephen Bradford Long 31:22 Yeah, I can imagine. Well, and, you know, writing about Satanism, it's probably the thing that I deal with the most and just kind of being a satanic content creator on the internet, the I watch people have these, like, tiny existential crises on a regular basis where they, they're like, You seem really sincere. But TST is a joke. How do I put these things together? And I'm like, does it occur to you? That maybe it isn't, that maybe your assumptions were wrong. And there's this concept that Joseph Laycock talks about, which is what he calls ignorant familiarity, where, and he talks about this in his book, Speak of the devil with an ignorant Familiarity is this phenomenon where people who know the least about something, tend to think and act as if they know the most. And so there are all of these people who know literally nothing the most they know about Satanism is what they watched in an in, you know, a music video on in on MTV 20 years ago, that is the most that they know about any kind of thing relating to Satanism at all. And then they are they they have the authority to regale me with satanic knowledge with knowledge of the religion of Satanism, and it is 100% of thing. And I encounter it all the time.
Matt Kezhaya 32:59 It must be exhausting.
Stephen Bradford Long 33:00 It is, it is but you know, you don't become a Satanist. And you don't become a public satanist and not be forced to be willing to talk about it on a regular basis. So here's a question. That's interesting. Have you learned anything new from working on TST cases, any obscure facets of law?
Matt Kezhaya 33:24 Will really I would consider all of the First Amendment to kind of fall under this under this notion before I was TSTs. Lawyer, I was just a lawyer. And there's not a lot of First Amendment work out there. I you know, I would spot constitutional issues all the time in cases because there's just a lot of law out there. But you know, really getting involved and the TST work is there is there is a lot to talk about free speech, free exercise, equal protection. Hell, even some due process stuff I've had to come in all of these are lawyer jargon term, sorry. Free speech is the first amendment right to free expression. It's the right to either express things that you want to express or not support expressions of things that you don't want to express the right to whether to speak, and if so what to say. And that, that's an umbrella under which free expression can be found. But free exercise is a little bit more precise. It's more about the freedom of conscience. It's your belief structure, your viewpoint about basically religion, things, which importantly, includes not just how you worship but how you can be free from government requirements of worship. Force prayer, for example, is not just an establishment clause concern. It's also a Free Exercise Clause concern. Obviously, it's action clauses what it is that I mean, there's there's just so much I have so much knowledge that I can't even I can't even try to answer that obscure facets of law.
Stephen Bradford Long 35:14 ...and obscure facets of law sounds like something that even if you did try to explain, no one would understand like this is this is like very arcane hermetic knowledge of law.
Matt Kezhaya 35:29 Yeah, I would I would say is this I, before TST, I didn't really have much of a federal practice, I was mostly state. And the the divide between state and federal, is usually you're going to have like two people, I say people to mean that Incore corporations can be included in the term person, two people from different states battling over something that's worth at least $75,000. That's your typical federal case. And the reason why is there's a statute that says federal courts can hear those kinds of cases. I didn't really have much in the way of IP work, intellectual property rights, copyrights, things of that nature.
Stephen Bradford Long 36:14 But there was a lot of that with TST.
Matt Kezhaya 36:16 There's a decent amount of that. Yeah, there's, I mean, I'm GC. I write contracts, I, you know, look at IP issues and say, Okay, well, why don't you send this demand letter here? It's not all. It's not all suing governments there are DST, like every other organization as legal needs that I'm, I'm the guy. But all of this background to say one thing that I was really surprised by is how federal judges are just as prone to making legal errors, factual errors, logical errors is your state judges, they just usually have more resources to think about, how are they going to screw you over to make your appeal harder? My state judges, they don't care. They just say, Okay, well, this is what I'm gonna do. Judge you can't do that. It's against law. I don't care appeal me. Okay. You know, federal judges not so much. They just like disregard inconvenient facts. They just say, Oh, that's not what the law is. The law requires coercion, it doesn't. The Establishment Clause case only lies in coercion. If you're not being forced to pray, that's not an exception clause case. disregard this case over here that says endorsement is a problem that's on all fours. I have this very specific kind of fact pattern. So that was, I think that's probably the thing that surprised me the most. Scott still was really an eye opener. We had literal op eds, literally, the mayor and city councilor put out a newspaper notice we are going to discriminate against the satanists, we're going to tell them hell, now we're going to send the satanic Sideshow elsewhere. And we still lost, we still lost. So these are the kinds of things that, you know, it's just shocking. It's truly shocking. You hear about it a little bit when you're LOD Jason, about just how unjust the system is. And it's real unjust out there. Not just for GST, so obviously, but that's, you know, the subject of discussion.
Stephen Bradford Long 38:26 Sure. Yeah. And so, for people who are unfamiliar with the Scottsdale case, let me see if I can recap. The Arizona chapter, then chapter now congregation was going to hold a a, what's it called? A?
Matt Kezhaya 38:47 It's a legislative prayer. So I can I can give it
Stephen Bradford Long 38:52 please. Yes, please. Because whatever you say, whatever I say, will be riddled with plot holes. So definitely tell us what happened.
Matt Kezhaya 38:59 Super, super high level, here's how it goes. Sometimes, in fact, often, governments will open a government meeting with a government led prayer. And that's a little fishy. From the social class perspective. It sure sounds like the government is saying, We endorse prayer over nonbelievers. If you want to be a good citizen, you must pray. And you must sit here and listen to this prayer that we are going to host and particularly when it comes to like cities, for example, that kind of raises people's bags because they're like I have to either, like be out as a non believer and potentially offend the person who I'm going to be asking something from. Or I have to override my religious non beliefs in most cases. And just go along with this prayer, even though I don't want to because I want something from this person. I don't want them to be mad at me because I'm not participating in their prayer scheme. The way that the Constitution resolves this is they say, oh, You can have these prayers, but they must be non discriminatory. The ability to pray must be evenly handed given out to Christians as Buddhists as indie, you name it, everyone is allowed in or no one is allowed it. That's how this game works. So that being the impetus for all this, Arizona chapter says they are going around not just to Scottsdale is just that Scottsdale was the one that was the issue. Before Scottsdale, they went to Phoenix and Phoenix shut down their prayer scheme to exclude TSD. Then they go over to Scottsdale and Scottsdale says we're gonna let you in. No qualifications, no, nothing sounds great. You want in you get it? Because that's, that's how the law works. That's how you're supposed to do it. A a shitshow happened 15,000 Plus emails crash CD servers entitled no Hail Satan prayer. The as I said earlier, a four out of seven counselors made some kind of public statement to the effect of we don't want these people in here. We talked about it, we resolved that we cannot consistent with the Constitution, exclude them. And then about a month, about a month before the invocation. We get an email from the functionally they they call it a city. City Manager, I think either city manager, a city administrator, basically it's the mayor, the guy who actually runs the city. The mayor sends to the scheduling person an email that says you're going to tell them no. And you're going to tell them no, because they don't have any substantial community ties. And we require that and we always have. And so that was the whole basis of the lawsuit you allowed us in without question, What do you mean, you always required community ties? Seems like that's the kind of question you would ask me before you let us say, right. And also, how do you know, we don't have substantial immunity? Guys, you're just telling us that we don't. And so we saw the writing on the wall, what it is, no matter what it is we come up with, it's not going to be substantially community ties. They're going to redefine substantial community ties to exclude us. And that's what happened litigation. At the outset. You needed a member, we had a member Oh, you need to, we have to, oh, well, you need at least three and a physical location. Okay. And the judge says, oh, that's that's their policy, disregard the the shifting goalposts here. That's their policy. So we lost.
Stephen Bradford Long 42:37 So here's, here's a question. I'm not entirely sure how to articulate it. But what does Matt think of the future regarding bodily autonomy rituals in relation to trans rights, slash access to health care.
Matt Kezhaya 42:52 This kind of goes back to what we were talking about the two functional Wings of TSC, you're in the ministry side of things. I'm in the law side of things. I can tell you all about the legal framework, you present me with a ritual you asked me, you know, what are the legal requirements for ritual? This is kind of what I'm trying to get to. That's totally, totally my field. I, I have thoughts about, you know, short answer. Yeah. I mean, you know, you, for example, want to get top surgery and you want to ritualize the matter? Yeah, I can see many different ways that you could do that, that is a little bit more of the artistry side of TST, that I just not being a minister I, I can't really speak to, but you know, ritual, very traditionally is there to acknowledge certain stages in a person's life. Sometimes, you know, you have birth related rituals, you have death related rituals, you have, you know, coming of age related rituals, I absolutely could see rituals being formed of it. I just don't see how it becomes a legal issue until unless there's some kind of law that is, you know, burdening or, you know, some kind of, you're not allowed to do that, or, you know, maybe you're in the hospital and you're wanting to have your ritual, but like, right before the ritual and or the procedure, and they're telling you no, you know, these are the kinds of areas where I can see, okay, well, these are legal issues now, but in terms of ritualizing the experience that's, I mean, so so far as I'm concerned, I don't think you really need DSTS blessing to ritualize that or to develop your own ritual or what have you. That seems like something you would discuss with your minister though.
Stephen Bradford Long 44:41 Absolutely. Yeah. So if anyone listening to this, who is interested in this subject, definitely get in touch with the various ministers, you know, and if you want to ritualize your transition or a surge Yuri or anything related to your LGBTQ identity, definitely go to your congregation or minister and ask them about that, because that is totally within ministry's purview.
Matt Kezhaya 45:13 Yeah. And I've even encouraged it. You know, I mean, I, personally, I'm not queer of any variety, but I absolutely could see coming out of the closet, that's an immense part of someone's life that, you know, you commemorate that with ritual, you make it, you make the stress. And this is really where the, I guess this probably should have been answered on the first question, but this is, what the abortion ritual is there for is you know, there's a lot of societal pressure on a societal stress and the part of the abortion ritual is there to kind of leave that and give some sense of comfort and a time when is not probably or potentially then is not a good time. That's why we have rituals, we have grief rituals, we have funerals, all of these things. These are around. And you know, it's not just because it's supernatural beliefs, it's there are well studied secular benefits to ritual. I think that's a significant value that TSC gives to the membership.
Stephen Bradford Long 46:19 I'm going to probably get the language here wrong when Church Militant, which is a crazy, fucking Catholic, absolutely lunatic, like Trad Catholic or media organization?
Matt Kezhaya 46:36 Yeah.
Stephen Bradford Long 46:37 You were... You, were you? "All of these are the correct words." Were you I assume you were involved in a statement about their free speech and their religious freedom. Could you talk to them about this, because I read it. And I and I found out about this, because certain TSD to detractors. Were posting this statement everywhere, where, you know, you're defending the Free Speech of this unbelievably horrifically toxic organization called Church Militant. And they were like, see what evil people TST are. And I did not interpret it that way. I saw it as an extraordinary commitment to the first part to first principles, I saw it as an extraordinary commitment to the foundational principles of enlightenment the to the principles that keep society running. So talk some about that situation.
Matt Kezhaya 47:38 Yeah, I'd be more than happy to I'm I'm actually really excited about that brief. I was very excited that Mark Randazza. their lawyer, he texted me and said, "Hey, I want..." it's called an amicus brief. So typically, the way that lawsuits work is you have plaintiff, the defendant, plaintiff is suing defendant, because defendant did something that caused some legal arm to plaintiff. And usually, it's just between the two of them. But when you go up on appeal, which is to say, the trial judge comes out with a decision, then both sides have an opportunity to say I don't like that decision. I don't like something that happened in the trial process, you have an appeal, which is you go above the trial judge and you have a panel of at least three judges who hear your appeal. And they say, essentially, did the judge make the right or wrong call? Fundamentally, and usually on appeal of cases of significant questions, you'll have amicus briefs, the front of the court briefs and mucus puree, who are kind of just side by side observers. It's I'm not like, personally affected by this, but I have an interest in this litigation. And so that's what an amicus is. And I am advocating for the court to do one thing or another, maybe I disagree with both them in this case, I I did actually kind of disagree with them, because they never, the plaintiffs never really addressed the Free Exercise implications, but they're talking about they're so focused on free speech, which again, there's a difference between religious speech and just non religious speech, like secular speech. So they're, you know, pursuing this whole secular argument. And I'm like, well, you're kind of missing a pretty big crux here. This isn't just a business organization that was silenced. You have a religious organization.
Stephen Bradford Long 48:26 And in what way were They silenced? sorry. The fact pattern was this. The United States Conference of Bishops were having their bishop con in Baltimore. Whatever it is, Bishop. Yeah, I don't know. But it's where they cosplay they cosplay as bishops.
Matt Kezhaya 49:47 Yeah, yeah. I or so I assume I never really been Catholic. So at any rate, so they're doing their their bishop thing, administering the Catholic Church and And Church Militant is a bunch of Catholics but they're dissents. dissenters in the Catholic Church, specifically, or at least, specifically, at this point, surrounding the child abuse scandals are saying y'all aren't doing enough to address, you know, the whole raping of kids business. And so Baltimore, if, if I remember correctly, yeah, so where they wanted to have their event was at a Baltimore own venue, City of Baltimore owns a pavilion. And so they wanted to have, you know, speakers come in and talk about basically, this is what's going on, we want to spread awareness. And there was also going to be religious stuff happening there, they're going to be praying the rosary, whatever that means. And there's going to be, you know, it's a, it's a Catholic event is uniquely Catholic event. It's also talking about church governance, which is why it's for exercise problem. And so city of Baltimore finds out about this. And they tell their management company to exclude Church Militant. They say we don't like what they have to say. So D platform them, basically. And they were everything was going fine up until say you've said cancel them. And The stated reason for why they said cancel them as we don't like what they have to say that's a huge Free X free speech issue. Huge sensitive issue.
Stephen Bradford Long 51:19 And so the difference here between say, Twitter, saying We don't like what so and so says, or they're violating our terms of service, therefore, we're deplatforming them, versus the government doing it. Yeah. There's obviously gargantuan Twitter being a private organization, the government being the government, and that is what makes this a legal issue is that it was in a government pavilion. Right.
Matt Kezhaya 51:47 And that's what makes it a free speech issue. Right, right. Right. Right. Okay. Private companies can cause private harms. And so for example, Arkansas has a you cannot religiously discriminate. Law. Like at all, nobody can religiously discriminate lots of places have, you know, hotels can't religiously discriminate, or they call it places of public accommodation, can't religiously discriminate, but Arkansas just has like a carte blanche. Nobody can religiously discriminate. So there are some times when stuff like that can come up, like if you're censoring religious speech, for example. In this particular case, it's actual because it's the government doing it that makes the most sense. Yes. But, you know, the people aren't control the laws, if you know, there's enough political pressure. I could see there being some regulation out there that says Twitter can't discriminate along these lines is happening for now. That's not the case, though. So that's what happened in in Baltimore. And the judge rightly found the trial judge rightly found, this is totally viewpoint discrimination. You can't do that. And so you're, you're liable. So they they appeal on that ground. We intervened as Amicus because they appeal just the Free Speech side of things, not the religious expression side of things. And as part of every amicus brief, you have to start out with your statement of interest. This is who we are. And this is why we care about this lawsuit. This is why court you should be hearing from us. And the crux of TST statement of interest is this could have just as easily been us. What if instead of the United States, Catholic Bishops being offended, and so they call their friends at City Hall to go kick out the church militants. The exact same fact pattern happens they say we don't like those Satan's kick them out. Yep. Exactly. It's just as easily us is just as easily anyone in a minority viewpoint. You know, that's, that's an issue. So that's why we intervened.
Stephen Bradford Long 53:48 And I know, in my audience is probably sick of me saying this, but part of the reason why in my opinion, minority rights have been successful in the United States is because of religion of is because of freedom of speech. Yeah, that is, that is why freedom of speech exists to protect the minority. And so I have a theory that part of the reason why the terms free speech have become a right wing catchphrase. And the left has just kind of given it to them. And so, you know, you talk to you know, lefty, online socialists and you and you say the word free speech and they all cringe. Well, I think the reason they cringe is because we've, you know, probably the first place where we encountered the phrase free speech was from 4chan Trolls. On online and, and in there's like that immediate distaste and so we just, we just let go have the word and we just let go of the idea. But the thing that I always want to bring it back to is if if the precedent is set of D platforming and silencing people if that precedent has said, Who do you think will be the first people to be victimized by that? It it will be us, it will be queer people, it will be Satanist, it will be the religious minorities, it will be the the weird freaks on the fringes of society who freak out the mainstream. That is, that is what will happen if we set that precedent. If we call for the silencing in in the public square of people we don't like well, guess who will be the first ones that that turns back on, it's going to be us. And so the principle is what matters here? Because the principle is what protects all of us?
Matt Kezhaya 55:57 Yeah, well, that's you're spot on. And I go one step further. And point out that we have and you say this, or you state this, but this is a very artful turn of phrase, we have free speech rights, not for the freedom or not for the speech that we agree with. We haven't for the speech that we hate. Exactly. It's why we have free speech.
Stephen Bradford Long 56:18 It doesn't do any good. If it's just for the speech we're comfortable with. There's no use there. Yeah.
Matt Kezhaya 56:24 So you know, that's I mean, so they're the primary thing, the crux of why we intervened is justice easily been asked. Part of it also is a bit of a longer term strategy that I have at play here, I'd like to start doing more amicus briefs, because what I want is, for the first time that we have a case in front of a judge as plaintiff, I want them to have heard of who we are, and I want them to see that we are friends of the court. I want them to see that we know what the law is we're doing this you know, we're applying it properly all that business. So that when we actually do have a need from say, the Fourth Circuit in this particular case, they will have seen our work in the past they will have heard of us and they will have known haha, these aren't just bunch of jokes or as they they know what the First Amendment's about and so that's that's important that there's a reason why you go to any Supreme court docket, you see 50 Different Damn, Amicus filings, one for one or both sides. They they want their name in front of that Supreme Court so that when they need something for the Supreme Court, they're looked upon favorably they're familiar. So that was why we've, we've intervened.
Stephen Bradford Long 57:37 Yeah, it's fascinating. So I, I wanted to end on that note, that broader principle of free speech and freedom of religion. So before we end, what are your cat's names? You've you two cats have been coming in and out.
Matt Kezhaya 57:53 So we have we have the two cats. The one currently hanging out with me is Princess Princess. That's one. And then our other cat is usually just cat we call him cat. Sometimes it's a cat with many names. Sometimes it's Satan cat. Sometimes it's no cat because we live in Minnesota. Yeah, we're talking about Satan cut. Yes. Oh, is he and then the other. Mini Satan. The other one is also sometimes mini Satan. This one. That's
Stephen Bradford Long 58:29 amazing. Amazing. Beautiful. All right. Well, I think that is it for this show. Thank you, Matt, so much for joining me. And you're welcome back anytime.
Matt Kezhaya 58:39 Thank you for having me.
Stephen Bradford Long 58:40 You have to come back. The theme song is wild by eleventy seven. You can find it on Apple Music Spotify, or wherever you listen to music. The show is written, produced and edited by me Steven Bradford long and it is a production of rock candy recordings. As always, Hail Satan, LLC. And thanks for listening