Friday, April 25, 2008

South African newspaper boycotted, and columnist fired, for defending rights of Satanists

The following news is a few months old, but I found out about it just now.

According to a news story titled South Africa: Old Hands Save Many an Editor's Blushes by Anton Harber, (Washington), 16 April 2008:

Rapport editor Tim du Plessis recently caused a storm by hiring controversial columnist Deon Maas, and then firing him quickly. In that case, Du Plessis distanced himself and his paper from Maas's view that Satanism should be treated as just other religion, but printed it, and then backed down when facing a boycott from readers, distributors and advertisers. I viewed that as an unfortunate victory for intolerance, because it was a provocative column that did not actually degrade or threaten anyone.

I looked around for older news stories confirming this, and found the following:

In the contested column, Deon Maas wrote, about a girl who had gotten arrested on drug charges:

What is disturbing is the fact that the police, after searching her bedroom, are also investigating her for Satanism.


What someone obviously forgot to tell police spokesman Inspector Paul Ramaloko, is that Satanism is a religion and that our Constitution guarantees everyone the freedom to practise the religion of their choice.

So far, so good. And this, alas, is apparently what got a lot of conservative folks in South Africa outraged enough to organize a boycott.

But Maas's column also contains some errors. He says:

The slaughtering of innocent pets, the tearing up of Bibles, the general oppressiveness that you have to live with, black painted fingernails and the fact that you generally have to be awake after midnight to practise your faith are all factors that make Anton LaVey's philosophy somewhat unacceptable to me.

None of the above activities are required in LaVeyan Satanism. Indeed the "slaughtering of innocent pets" is specifically prohibited in LaVey's Satanic Bible. Likewise in most other forms of Satanism.

Maas also says:

If Muslims think they have a hard time, they just need to consider Satanism. They really get a bum deal. Satanism still makes a better headline than Islam, even though they blow less stuff up and do more damage to themselves than to those around them.

In LaVeyan Satanism and most other forms of Satanism, Satanists aren't supposed to damage themselves.

Maas's column does include a reasonably accurate presentation of part of LaVey's list of "Satanic sins."

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