Incredibly Clueless Catholic Argues For Blasphemy Laws

If you thought the demand for censorship of a satanic black mass in Oklahoma City was absurd, wait till you read this column in the National Catholic Reporter by Phyllis Zagano. Her bio says she’s a “senior research associate-in-residence at Hofstra University and winner of the 2014 Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice.” Her research apparently does not include getting even a tiny little clue about the Constitution, but it has taught her how to poison the well.

The facts: a Satanist group called Dakhma of Angra Mainyu plunked down $420 to rent the 92-seat CitySpace Theatre for a “black mass.” The Catholic archbishop complained. The city manager cited the First Amendment. The archbishop has asked for prayers. The rest of city government is not talking.

The force behind the event, 35-year-old Adam Brian Daniels, is well-known to the Civic Center folks. He’s been involved in two of the three previous Satanist events there. Last year, nobody came.

Daniels is also a lifetime member of the Oklahoma Sex Offender Registry.

Yet Oklahoma City authorities defend his right to perform a vile attack on what Christians hold sacred.

Bravo, Ms. Zagano. You’ve learned how to poison the well. The fact that Daniels is a registered sex offender has precisely nothing to do with the issue. He may be the biggest asshole on the planet. The fact that he’s a satanist and he thinks idiotic rituals like this are worth doing means I would probably not get along with him at all. But that has nothing to do with whether the city can prevent him from renting a public facility for his little display. And honestly, a Catholic is probably the last person on earth who ought to be using that particular attempt to distract attention, don’t you think?

No matter. The city manager has a bunch of old Supreme Court cases in his briefcase, all about the freedom of religion and free speech.

The law has always seemed to be rooted in common sense, but this is off the rails. Who can think Satanism is a religion? Who thinks a “black mass” is political speech? Bottom line: The city manager thinks the First Amendment protects blasphemous hate speech. Don’t they know about the 14th Amendment out there in Oklahoma?

Okay, seriously: What? The? Fuck? How in the world did this “senior research associate-in-residence” come to think that the 14th Amendment somehow should prevent this from happening? The 14th Amendment does apply the Bill of Rights to the states, including the First Amendment, which is precisely why the city can’t ban this event. And yes, the First Amendment does protect blasphemous speech (and no, there is no First Amendment exception for “hate speech” either).

I always thought your First Amendment rights ended at the tip of my nose: You cannot punch me any more than you can yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or defame me. No government or government entity can deny my rights. The 14th Amendment makes that quite clear: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States … nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

*headdesk* Holy mother of god, this woman is a moron. You aren’t being punched. You aren’t being defamed. And the equal protection of the laws means that you have the same right to offend this guy as he has to offend you. The Catholic Church offends me in a thousand different ways, but that doesn’t mean I get to shut down churches. Equal protection of the laws does not mean — cannot mean — that you get to decide what bothers you and ban it.

So Oklahoma City is enforcing its interpretation of law so that Catholics — their beliefs, practices, and their very selves — are not protected. Why don’t Catholics get “equal protection of the laws”?

Of course, you can argue that both ways, but the bottom line is that my rights not to be offended or harmed can, or at least should, overtake your rights to offend or harm me. That does not mean discussing Obamacare or even burning the flag. That means public desecration of the Eucharist. That means blasphemy.

NO, you can’t “argue that both ways.” Well, you can, but your argument is fucking stupid. And as a matter of constitutional law, this could not be more plain or well-established. I know the Catholic Church had the power to oppress non-Catholics in centuries past, but that was a long time ago. You’ve never had that power in this country and you never will. Maybe it’s time for you to get the fuck over it.

Here’s a news flash: Oklahoma has blasphemy laws. Blasphemy is a misdemeanor. The Oklahoma Statutes state: “Blasphemy consists in wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion.”

Another news flash: This law is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Again, this is not even remotely a matter of dispute. This was decided decades ago. You’d think a “senior research associate-in-residence” could figure that out. I suggest trying that newfangled Google thingie.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    You aren’t being punched. You aren’t being defamed.

    Yes she is. Don’t you remember the rhyme, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, and also words will hurt me”? I mean, come on! It’s right there in the Federalist Papers!

  • raven

    Phyllis Zagano doesn’t seem to believe that the Catholic pantheon of gods; god, jesus, Mary, Holy Spook, the Saints, angels, Pope, and magician priests have any real power.

    If they existed, they should be able to handle a few satanists performing a ritual. After all, my cat can do that.

    She is halfway to being an atheist and doesn’t even know it!!!

    And she is at Hofstra University, whatever that is. Another example of Fundie Xian Induced Cognitive Impairment.

  • chisaihana5219

    This is more incredibly strange that you think. Phyllis Zagano is an adjunct professor at Hofstra ( a real academic large university). And judging from her past works and affiliations, she is a liberal Catholic. National Catholic Reporter (NCR) is a liberal Catholic national newspaper. Prof. Zagano has numerous degrees, publications, awards and appearances on public radio programs. This is a woman who is cited for working to get women accepted as Deacons in the Catholic church. Now, seemingly out of nowhere, she is spouting this stuff about being “offended” by nonsence and others having no right to offend her. Maybe she has a dementia problem building, a real medical cognitive impairment.

  • Alverant

    Doesn’t Zagano realize that the satanists have the same rights as she does?

  • colnago80

    Re raven @ #2

    Hofstra is a reputable university located in the New York City area and is private and nonsectarian.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstra_University

  • Chiroptera

    The law has always seemed to be rooted in common sense, but this is off the rails.

    Actually, the law has been off the rails at least since Thomas’ confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice locked in a solid conservative majority on the Supreme Court.

  • howardhershey

    How many *registered* sex offenders offer Catholic mass? Doesn’t the Church do its best to keep its sex offenders from being *registered*?

  • D. C. Sessions

    Of course, you can argue that both ways, but the bottom line is that my rights not to be offended or harmed can, or at least should, overtake your rights to offend or harm me.

    Seriously? I mean, seriously? She is actually arguing for my legal ability to shut down the (highly offensive) Catholic Church and their misogyny, ritual cannibalism, child abuse, tax subsidies, etc?

  • AsqJames

    casting contumelious reproach

    Wow, why don’t they write laws like that anymore? Oh yeah, because not one in a thousand legislators could even tell you what “contumelious” means. Or anybody else to be fair, including me until 2 minutes ago.

    via google:

    contumelious

    ˌkɒntjʊˈmiːlɪəs/

    adjective archaic

    (of behaviour) scornful and insulting; insolent.

    My new goal for the week is to use the word “contumelious” in an appropriate context.

  • cptdoom

    So let me get this straight: an ex-con with virtually no following has spent less than the cost of one pair of Carrie Bradshaw’s shoes to rent a tiny public space for an event probably only a few, if any, will attend. And this event is so threatening to the largest Christian denomination on the planet that it must be shut down. However it’s totally fine for all the other forms of blasphemy and heresy – which include every single Protestant denomination, not to mention the Mormons – to conduct weekly services for decades. Nope, still doesn’t make sense.

    …but the bottom line is that my rights not to be offended or harmed…

    And therein lies your problem Ms. Zagano. Not only are you unschooled in grammar (it’s “my right not to be offended or harmed), but you also have a fundamental misunderstanding of the Constitution. You have zero right “not to be offended or harmed,” no one does (as long as we aren’t talking about actual physical harm). Living in a pluralistic society means one is likely to be offended on a regular basis.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Actually, the law has been off the rails at least since Thomas’ confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice locked in a solid conservative Catholic majority on the Supreme Court.

    I added back the word you forgot. All five of Team Republican are Catholic. So is Sotomayor, but she’s not on Team Republican. The other three are Jewish. This disproportionate lack of Real Christians will, I am confident, be corrected by the next Republican appointee to the Court, who will be a recent graduate of Liberty University Law School.

  • Richard Smith

    …my rights not to be offended…

    …are as imaginary as your God.

  • John Pieret

    You cannot punch me …

    When a Satanist tries to punch you, let us know!

    any more than you can yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater

    That is “falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater that causes panic and injury.” Context is everything. Nothing in what this bozo is proposing to do threatens physical harm to anybody.

    or defame me.

    He isn’t proposing to do anything that would defame you. At worst he is proposing to defame your god. When he files a suit and shows up in court, we’ll deal with it then.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    cptdoom “one is likely to be offended on a regular basis.”

    That’s what the sign says on the door to my bedroom, ladies.

  • Chiroptera

    You wanna know what’s funny? Replace each “Satanist” in that screed with “Catholic,” and you have exactly the same argument that was occuring 250 years ago in the UK and proto-US. Plus your house being burned down. In fact, it was idiots like this that made it clear we needed the First Amendment.

  • John Pieret

    That does not mean discussing Obamacare or even burning the flag. That means public desecration of the Eucharist. That means blasphemy.

    One small thing she has right here. I have the right to burn my flag, I don’t have the right to burn your flag. If the Satanist purloined a “consecrated” host (which he has claimed he is in possession of) from a Catholic church, that would violate that church’s rights and it could demand it back. That assumes he stole one and just didn’t buy an unconsecrated one from a supplier, which anyone can do.

  • smrnda

    Even if there were some ‘right’ not to be offended, when two parties are mutually offended, there would be no way to decide whose offense should take precedence.

  • Trebuchet

    I’d love to see Ken White weigh in on this. If he hasn’t already.

  • Richard Smith

    I’m on the fence

    when it comes to defence

    of somebody’s sense

    of taking offence.

    Leaves me all tense.

  • briandavis

    With the exception of one spittle spewing random capitalizer she’s being shredded in the comments.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    John Pieret “One small thing she has right here. I have the right to burn my flag, I don’t have the right to burn your flag. If the Satanist purloined a “consecrated” host (which he has claimed he is in possession of) from a Catholic church, that would violate that church’s rights and it could demand it back.”

    If they stole it, sure. But if the priest gave it to them, there’s First Sale Doctrine, and he’s got no rights over/to it. Granted, Roman Catholic Church LLC could create a EULA stating that the customer only has a licence for a Eucharist, but without taking that step, at worst the customer is voiding the warranty.

  • marcus

    Phyllis Zagano perfectly exemplifies how magical thinking warps one cognitive faculties.

  • Michael Heath

    I’m just happy to see a conservative Christian acknowledge the existence of the Equal Protection Clause. That’s a rare feat!

    Now how much anybody wanna bet she’s capable of applying it to gay people and their families?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Michael Heath “Now how much anybody wanna bet she’s capable of applying it to gay people and their families?”

    She is. Under Equal Protection, she has the same right to not be offended by them as she does the Satanists.

  • whheydt

    And the latest is the Archbishop talking lawsuit, claiming that the wafer is (a) consecrated and (b) purloined.

    What I would like to see is the Archbishop on the witness stand being presented with a closed, transparent box with two–apparently identical–wafers in it. Question to the Archbishop: Which of these two wafers has been consecrated? Followup question: How can you tell? Give an answer that will allow anyone to determine if a wafer has been consecrated or not.

    (This matters because anyone can *claim* to be in possession of a “consecrated wafer”, but if that can’t be reliably verified by examining the wafer, there is no way to determine if it is or not, and if it isn’t consecrated, then the church has no cause of action unless they can show actual theft…and what is the value of a wafer?)

    Might be an interesting way to make a little money… Post that you have a consecrated wafer in your possession that you are going to destroy in a thoroughly blasphemous fashion. If the church comes along claiming that that means it is stolen, let them sue to get it back…or simply *buy* it from you. What’s the going price for a piece of the flesh of Christ?

  • http://rationalrant.blogspot.com/ sbh

    Who can think Satanism is a religion? Who thinks a “black mass” is political speech?

    Well, Satanists presumably think Satanism is a religion. The handful of Satanists I’ve met didn’t seem to take it very seriously, but then neither do most Catholics I know take Catholicism very seriously.

    And what is this about a black mass being political speech? Did somebody claim it was? I don’t get it; what kind of speech it is is irrelevant to the discussion. I read the article linked to here, and also read a couple of other articles by the same author, but didn’t see anything that explained her question. Is she suffering under the illusion that Bork’s proposal that only political speech be protected by the first amendment is now law? Or is this some Oklahoma thing?

    In any case these questions seem on the surface idiotic. Whether Satanism is a religion or not the Dakhma of Angra Mainyu have a right to use the building on the same basis as other groups. And whether a black mass is political speech or not has no bearing on the group’s right to perform it.

  • marcus

    whheydt @ 25 “What’s the going price for a piece of the flesh of Christ?

    Run, Baby Jesus, run!

  • John Pieret

    whheydt @ 25:

    Apparently the archbishop has filed the lawsuit:

    Daniels [the Satanist] said he initially heard about the lawsuit from a representative of a Catholic blog. He said he acquired the host from a Catholic priest in Turkey who consecrated it and mailed it to him. Daniels said the priest, whom he refused to name, was killed recently by Muslims in Turkey because of his satanic beliefs.

    “I did not say where it came from and they have no proof” the host was stolen, Daniels said.

    According to the lawsuit, any consecrated host is property of the Roman Catholic Church and rules have been put in place to protect the hosts and ensure that they are dealt with reverently. The lawsuit states hosts are typically kept in a tabernacle, which is maintained “under lock and key” and Catholics who receive consecrated hosts during communion are taught to consume the hosts immediately and never to take them from the church.

    “The Church maintains ownership of all consecrated hosts throughout the world,” the lawsuit states.

    http://newsok.com/oklahoma-city-catholic-archbishop-files-lawsuit-against-satanist-group-related-to-black-mass/article/5333988

    Well, now, that is a pretty interesting claim and not necessarily without precedence. Nations have, more and more, successfully claimed the right to recover “national historic treasures” even if they have been sold to foreigners by people who have found them on their own private property and were not, therefore, technically “stolen.” Of course, what is a “treasure” is a rather subjective criteria.

    It will be interesting, in a theater of the absurd kind of way, to see how the court deals with this.

  • grumpyoldfart

    I checked her other blog posts. No recent stories about Catholic priests having sex with children. She’s not offended by that sort of thing I suppose.

  • D. C. Sessions

    It will be interesting, in a theater of the absurd kind of way, to see how the court deals with this.

    We can always hope. Imagine the scene in court where the defendant presents twenty or so boxes, each containing a wafer. Will the plaintiff please pick the one that they claim is theirs?

  • raven

    1. I don’t see what the big deal is with Holy Water and Consecrated wafers. This means that these Satanists are explicitly Catholics!!!

    Not impressed. You could have picked a better xian sect to be rebelling against.

    2. Anyone can consecrate wafers. My cat could do it. She has as much power as all the priests and Pope put together. (It’s zero but 0 times X = 0.)

    One of the peculiarities of the RCC is the claim that the priests are really magicians. Only priests can turn crackers into jesus. There is no evidence for this. Most xians don’t agree and even half of all Catholics have no idea what Transubstantiation is.