How offended are you that the national Libertarian Party Facebook page posted a meme that quoted the Satanic Temple?
If your answer is anything but “I’m not at all offended”, then just stop.
If you didn’t know, the Libertarian Party Facebook page published a meme that did in fact, quote the Satanic Temple. According to many, that was the exact moment the world fell apart. Even taken out of context, there was nothing wrong with the meme. It quoted the 3rd of the 7 Tenets of the Satanic Temple.
One’s body is inviolable, subject to one’s own will alone. -3rd Tenet, Satanic Temple
Nothing at all unlibertarian about that quote. In fact, I would venture to say that it perfectly exemplifies libertarian thought.
Put into its proper context, the meme makes even more sense. The LP Facebook page has been running a series of memes quoting many of the world’s major and not so major religions and philosophical thinkers. Among the other memes were quotes taken from Leviticus, Buddha, Frank Zappa, and the Unitarian Church. The memes featured quotes representing philosophical thoughts consistent with libertarianism.
Not knowing exactly who was a part in creating the series and thus, unable to speak on their behalf; I personally believe the point of the campaign was to highlight the common ground all these differing religious beliefs have in individual liberty. I believe it was a way to say, “look, we all believe in different things, but here is this one thing that we all passionately believe in, despite our different backgrounds and different ideas”.
One should strive to act with compassion and empathy towards all creatures in accordance with reason. -1st Tenet, Satanic Temple
What is truly laughable is that the vast majority of those offended clearly did not put an ounce of research into the Satanic Temple or what was being quoted. I have seen posts claiming the Libertarian Party is a group of Satanists, that it was poor marketing, or simply that specific meme was poorly timed (it was published several days before Easter).
I didn’t know a thing about the Satanic Temple myself when I first saw the meme, though I thought the quote appropriate for Libertarian publication. So, when I started seeing the snowflake “I’m offended” posts, I checked out their website. I looked at their seven Tenets and I read the FAQ’s page. What I found could have been taken directly from nearly any big or small L libertarian website.
The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions. -2nd Tenet, Satanic Temple
It turns out, the Satanic Temple isn’t really a bunch of evil Satanists. They can probably most accurately be described as a cross between anti-religious, libertarian, and humanist. The use the word and imagery of Satan was best described by Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark as ironic.
Their website is really a fascinating read for those who decide to do more than bitch about their name associated with the LP. It is clear that they do not promote evil and worship Satan; they are in fact, promoting the idea of individual liberty while also being decent, reliable, and reasonable citizens. The use of Satan in their name is in the spirit of rebellion and if anything, they are a group of agnostics.
The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo your own. -4th Tenet, Satanic Temple
So, what we have is a “religion” that promotes peace, justice, liberty, and social harmony. I don’t expect most of those offended to have realized this, because I know most of them never bothered to put any effort into finding any of this out. They took the narrative that the LP was promoting Satanism and evil and ran with it. And it’s such bullshit.
Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs -5th Tenet, Satanic Temple
One of the arguments against the use of the meme was that it was poor marketing, that the LP needs to be more pragmatic. Look, there was no bigger Gary Johnson cheerleader than me for most of 2016. But in a year where the two major parties offered the most unlikable candidates in history, he managed to pull just three percent of the vote. We’ve tried pragmatism to death and it simply hasn’t worked. Libertarianism and the Libertarian Party is bold. The line of thinking that we must be pragmatic comes from the same line of thought that says we shouldn’t say taxation is theft, and there is no question that that line has sparked a ton of interest in libertarianism and the LP.
Watering down our libertarian message only leaves voters with the feeling we are offering a watered-down version of what they already have in the Republican and Democratic Parties. Our candidates are constantly tasked with offering bold and controversial ideas to a populace conditioned to think our rights are bestowed upon us by the government. They need a national party that can be bold with them. As a former candidate myself, I speak from experience. I love the fact that I am a part of a party whose de facto slogan is “Taxation is Theft”. I love that it can brush up against perceived boundaries by quoting a controversial religion.
People are fallible. If we make a mistake, we should do our best to rectify it and resolve any harm that may have been caused. -6th Tenet, Satanic Temple
The other great offense this meme is being reported to have committed is the timing coinciding with the week of Easter. But this is such BS, too. As far as I can tell, this ad campaign began March 31st and this meme specifically posted a few days later. Many are saying the LP was being insensitive to the Christian holiday, that it was inappropriate to quote the Satanic Temple during this Holy week. But the fact is, if it would have been published on the Tuesday following Easter, the same people would be claiming the LP was insensitive to be posting it so soon after Easter. If it would have been published two weeks later they would have claimed the month of April, and then the entire Spring. The fact is some people are just looking for reasons to be offended, embodying all they claim to despise about the leftist SJW’s.
Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word. -7th Tenet, Satanic Temple.
A ton of those playing offended have said they are through with the LP because of this meme. That’s sad, that an internet picture of a quote that perfectly aligns itself with libertarianism would compel people to leave the Libertarian Party. In actuality, those people have been looking for a way out for a while. This is just the latest in a series of weak excuses some have grasped ahold of to give themselves a reason to join the shit-show that is the Trump administration and the Republican Party.
I don’t want to see people leave, because I think we are doing great work and I think we’re building something great. But I’d rather the LP be bold and adhere to libertarian principles than water down our message or walk on tip-toes around taboo subjects because we might offend some snowflakes. Especially those who have not bothered to put any actual thought into what they are getting offended about.
Maybe the LP should stay away from quoting religious texts, but most of the people on Earth believe in some form of religion, and highlighting how their religious texts promote libertarianism can only be a good thing. Rather than steer clear of controversy, shine a light on our similarities. Show Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Satanists, and all the rest where their philosophies and ours align. That is what brings people together for a common goal.