Our war is a spiritual war, said the all-singing, all-dancing crap of this world, and that war is beginning in Detroit. Either that, or this whole “Detroit unveils statue of Satan” is just a ludicrously elaborate cosplay of the season five finale of Supernatural, in which the Hardy Boys converge on Detroit, where Lucifer possesses Sam and starts the end of the world.
Over the weekend, the largest organized Satanist chapter in the world (200 registered members) revealed a fancy statue at a private event hosted by the Satanic Temple of Detroit. It’s nine feet tall, bronze, and sitting on a throne that Time Magazine insists is reminiscent of the Iron Throne of Game of Thrones, which only serves to show that they are throne-racists who think all thrones look the same. A picture of it is in the header above.
The statue was crowdfunded on Indiegogo, and was originally intended to sit at the Oklahoma state capitol since Oklahoma is the root of all evil. Oh and also because the Ten Commandments had a statue there and ol’ goat head there was Plan B in case the Okie Supreme Court fell down on that whole church and state thing and Satanists then planned to demand equal representation. The court didn’t shit itself, and so Detroit was the next logical place since its burned out post-apocalyptic cityscape would feel homey for the king of hell.
Wait, did I say king? The problem is that the statue isn’t of “the devil” as is being frequently bandied about in headlines, but Baphomet, who yes is a devil, but English has definite and indefinite particles for reasons besides confusing the hell out of Eastern Europeans trying to learn the language.
Baphomet is an intentionally grotesque figure, a grafting of man and beast onto one another. And while the official line of the Church of Satan is that they chose this representation because of phrases like “duality of man” and “the connection between man and nature”, the reality is that this is a symbol not of those things but of evil. It was chosen explicitly for shock value and to strategically offend the people whose belief system the symbol was taken from. A gaggle of club kids dancing to objectively terrible music while wearing black and thinking they’re edgy is not doing so around this statue because they believe in it, but because they like the idea of pissing other people off. And pissing other people off is fine, this website certainly wouldn’t exist without it. But trolling while insisting that you’re acting on genuine deeply held conviction is still just trolling, just with the added flavor of disingenuous douchery.
And piss people off it did. The Catholics of Detroit have waged unceasing legal war against the unveiling of this statue, under the premise that the first amendment doesn’t apply to statues communicating religious themes unless said statue is a six foot bronze one of the Archangel Michael that they cart around in a truck to counter the “demonic influence” of the Baphomet statue.
Symbols matter because they are invested in meaning. And the symbols we choose communicate far more than just the words that we surround them with. So the Church of Satan can insist all they want on the party line that they do not “promote a belief in a personal Satan” and that their reverence for Satan is of “a literary figure, not a deity — he stands for rationality, for skepticism, for speaking truth to power, even at great personal cost”. Because if any of that had the slightest thing to do with their motivation, that statue would not be a cliched murderous fiend designed to piss off Christians, but one of a fallen archangel. Of course, that wouldn’t piss people off.