Sunday Curiosities: Freedom of Speech, Freedom to Offend

The past couple of weeks have been challenging. My grandfather died, and the ensuing family chaos and celebrations of a life well lived distracted me from my work. I hope to get back to a regular schedule soon.

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In response to my article In Defense of the Fourth Tenet of The Satanic Temple, a member of my discord server had some interesting things to say about the complexities of finding a space for sobriety within Satanism:

I have encountered a shocking amount of people who will use that 4th tenet to ostracize other Satanists and use it as a sort of “gatekeep” rule such as “if you have a problem with being offended then maybe Satanism isn’t for you”. More recently, I’ve seen it used to make people feel bad who are seeking secular sobriety environments where they may not be wanting the full topic of sobriety but at least want to be in common circles that don’t make it a point to talk about being wasted. It seems there is a large amount of folx who don’t recognize TST itself as a pretty important community for people seeking harm-reduction and freedom from substance usage without judgement or shame. It seems their reliance on that 4th tenet above all others makes the concept of holding all seven tenets close a bit pointless, in my opinion.

A commenter on my website reminded us that the Founders also had some things to say about the role of offense:

I might also add that the US founding fathers had something to say about offensive speech.
“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.”


~Benjamin Franklin
“He who dares not offend cannot be honest.”


~Thomas Paine

A commenter in my discord thinks I missed the primary purpose of the Fourth Tenet:

Maybe I didn’t see it, but I think the main reason for “freedom to offend” is being missed. many times people be it Christians, Muslims, Hindus, etc, etc to infinity will point to something they don’t like such as being gay or trans or being a Satanist as “being offensive. In my view the freedom to offend is about the right to exist and the right to be left alone even if someone calls your existence” offensive. It says we can do what ever ritual we feel helps us we don’t care if your offended, i can love who ever I want i don’t care if it offends you. I can believe that all human beings are human beings regardless immigration status i don’t care if it offends you.

My dear friend and House of Heretics cohost Timothy McPherson wrote a response to my article Varieties Religious Blasphemy, in which he critiques the Fourth Tenet and my usage of the word blasphemy. He’s a good friend and a smart person, and I respect his opinion, even if I disagree.

Maybe it’s just me, but I do not like this idea of the “freedom to offend.” The sentence in and of itself is paradoxical. At one point, they uphold the idea of having the freedom to believe what one wishes to believe, but at the same time authorizes people to offend others. This is hardly conducive at all to forming peace with everyone, but at the same time, most Christians haven’t been the best at “loving your neighbor” either.

There is probably a very nuanced hermeneutic to that tenet, but if it is so nuanced, then this tenets isn’t expressed very well.

The ensuing discussion we had on Patreon became the inspiration for my article on the Fourth Tenet. Find his full article here

interesting Links

(interest does not equal agreement)

What I’m reading this week

Assassin’s Quest by Robin Hobb – the third installment in the epic Realm of the Elderlings saga. I’m completely engrossed, and it’s one of the better fantasy series I’ve read in recent years.

Obligatory Cat Picture

Wednesday cuddling with Sylvester the Murderbunny

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