July 3, 2012

Is theft of a "Vote Satan" sign a hate crime?

"We are Satanists… Satanists," said Luigi Bellaviste.
Luigi and Angie Bellaviste belong to the Church of Satan. They even have a Satanic Bible in their home....

“Everybody that sees that sign says, ‘What is going on with those people?,’” said neighbor Mary Morasco.

The couple’s home and yard are decorated with items like a Christmas tree that has been painted black, skulls and the number 666....

“I feel like we’re being treated unfairly because it’s not a so-called mainstream religion,” said Luigi.

“I know of many people who have the Virgin Mary and tons of Jesus memorabilia ‘I Love Jesus’ and what is the difference?” said Angie.
There's your question: What is the difference?

54 comments:

Gov98 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gov98 said...

Whoa Whoa Whoa...this is weird, really weird, I mean can a Satanist complain about a theft? I mean really isn't one of Satan's chief sin that he tried to steal the glory that rightly belonged to God. I mean isn't the person stealing the sign just following in the footsteps of the religions progenitor, if so how can his "adherents" complain? Shouldn't they celebrate how another person has fallen into darkness by stealing?

chickelit said...

What is the difference?

Night and day?

For starters, their cited symbols are derivative and chosen to negate the original. Effective but it's not very original. That point is germane to mockery.

Lyssa said...

What's the difference?

One is being put up by adults, the other by people who never outgrew the "look-at-me-I'm-different-and-a-rebel" part of their early teens?

Yeah, yeah, I do agree they should have the same protections as anyone else, but is the theft of someone's "Jesus is the reason for the season" sign really considered a "hate crime?" I'm doubtful.

Patrick said...

It's difficult to take a sign asking one to vote in a certain way as religious, rather than political. Either way, it's taking property at the very least and ought not be condoned.

I don't understand the whole "Satanist" thing, though. Do they think Satan is the font of all evil and want evil to prevail, or do they not think Satan is evil? And if they don't think Satan is evil, really, what's the point?

Ann Althouse said...

"Whoa Whoa Whoa...this is weird, really weird, I mean can a Satanist complain about a theft? "

Can a Christian?

Here's a reminder: Turn the other cheek. If someone would take your coat, give him your coat and your cloak. Give away everything you have to the poor and follow Jesus.

Charlie Eklund said...

In other words, what is the difference between good and evil? I could recommend a good book if you want to know the answer to that.

Rocketeer said...

Gov98 is right: how can a satanist not consider this an act of worship?

Rocketeer said...

Here's a reminder: Turn the other cheek. If someone would take your coat, give him your coat and your cloak. Give away everything you have to the poor and follow Jesus.

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" -- Matthew 22:21

I forgive as a Christian. I press charges as a citizen.

X said...

isn't a hate crime something satan would approve of?

MadisonMan said...

Is stealing a 'Turn to Jesus' sign a Hate Crime?

No.

Is this?

No.

David said...

If I go to their door, will they give me candy?

Just kidding.

Assuming they are sincere and not just publicity hounds, God Bless 'em.

Or is it bigoted to ask for God to bless a Satanist?

Seriously, God Bless.

Peter said...

It's never clear what someone means by "Satanist."

It could literally mean someone who worships the Devil (that is, someone who is committed to evil).

But more often it seems to just mean, "An athiest who hates all religion, but especially Christianity."

This non-event seems to be more a case of the second thaan the first.

Which is to say, the dramatic displays are similar to Serrano's Piss Christ in that they appear to be designed to say, "See! See!! I am SOOOO transgressive, aren't you impressed now?"

So, yes, there are differences. If they are truly dedicated to promoting evil, then the public has reason to be concerned.

But if it's just stupid attention-seeking juvenalia (as is almost certainly the case), providing the attention they seek just prompts for more obnoxious behavior.

TWM said...

This reminds me of any number of horror movies where the so-called Satanists finally meet up with Satan, or as more often happens, one of his not-so-friendly demons. It always ends badly for them and you would think these folks would have worked that out.

Gov98 said...

Can a Christian?

Here's a reminder: Turn the other cheek. If someone would take your coat, give him your coat and your cloak. Give away everything you have to the poor and follow Jesus.


In some senses yes and in some senses no. When a crime is committed and the Christian is a witness there can be a duty to honestly report the offense, see Leviticus 5:1 (not as law, but as moral principle). Furthermore, the civil authority is meant to punish wrongdoing so that society operates properly, Romans 13:1-7.

However, the Christian is not to take personal offense to the theft, that is to personally not hold a grudge or bitterness, for bitterness is an indictment that you are unhappy with what God has allowed in your life.

Ann Althouse said...

""Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" -- Matthew 22:21"

That was about taxes. I'm talking about the Commerce Clause.

bagoh20 said...

I'm guessing that Satan was the one who cut it down. That's just the kind of thing he would do to start trouble.

This would be like Christians complaining that someone left a bottle of wine and loaf of bread on their porch.

chickelit said...

An officer with the Mountain View Police Department said the report will likely be filed as theft because there was no obvious attack on the couple’s church or religious beliefs.

Precisely because the sign was political, I think the police were right. I met people in Wisconsin recently who had yard signs damaged or stolen. How is that not also a "hate crime" even though the candidates were different?

tim maguire said...

The difference (for me) is that I can't accept Satanism as anything other than an affectation, a deliberate eccentricity.

Nobody really worships Satan. Not in the post-magic age, anyway.

rhhardin said...

It was probably taken by a UFO.

According to an interview on Southwest Radio Church, UFOs are piloted by fallen angels attempting to get the attention of the media.

They have succeeded.

Bob Ellison said...

You're talking about the commerce clause? I need explication.

bagoh20 said...

"Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" -- Matthew 22:21"

But when they both want your soul, the Constitution should be consulted, not some new creation of the mind.

Chip S. said...

You left out one of the most salient parts of the article:

Despite their opinion on the couple’s choice of lawn ornaments, most of the Bellaviste’s neighbors are on their side.

So as far as this is concerned,

Here's a reminder: Turn the other cheek....

that's pretty much what their neighbors are doing.

Also, you seem to be implying that the sign was stolen by Christians, although nothing in the story says that.

My guess would be that this is an argument between rival Satanic sects. The Beezelbubbites vs. the Luciferians or something.

Rocketeer said...

That was about taxes. I'm talking about the Commerce Clause.

Unsurprisingly that's a rather Pharisaic reading (to be clear, I'm speaking historically - not calling you a hypocrite).

I disagree strongly. The question was about taxes, but the answer wasn't.

You know, kind of a "reverse Roberts."

Dante said...

The answer is "Of course it's wrong." The new "normal" is so expansive it's hard for people to use their normal human capabilities to know deviancy.

Now, people have to use a set of rules that aren't natural to decide "what's normal" and not. Unfortunately, it also opens up the door for all kinds of shenanigans. Like the CA state congressman who put forward a law saying kids can have more than two parents. Whatever happened to "If you want to live way outside of the realm of normal, you have to deal with the fact that society might not be accommodating."

bagoh20 said...

What is Satan running for? I'm sure one could derail his campaign pretty easy with a whore, some crack and a camera.

Of course the last time they did that he got reelected later, so yea, Vote Satan!

Pogo said...

This is the pointlessness of "hate crimes", adding extra penalties for a violation for thoughts and beliefs, often supposed.

There's no difference in the crime, the difference comes in that the State marks the groups it prefers over others, allowing the in-group special status in shaping the penalty.

In that way, all men are no longer equal before the law.

Paddy O said...

I'm guessing that Satan was the one who cut it down. That's just the kind of thing he would do to start trouble

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
John 10:9-11


Really, I think this is an issue of a religion's content. Jesus saves, and Jesus brings life is, at least ideally, about participating with neighbors and working to promote life affirming practices.

Satanism, by definition, is about evil and darkness and egocentric behavior. If a person put up a sign saying, "I'm going to kill you and steal from you and destroy you all," that would probably be seen as unacceptable. There's an implied threat of community welfare as our culture understands it.

Now, if they had just chosen a pagan god that doesn't have the same inherent connotations of evil, by definition, then they'd have a much better case. Well, there would be some pagan exceptions. We wouldn't want worshippers of Odin because they might go berserk. And we wouldn't want worshippers of Molech because then we'd fear for our kids safety.

Jim S. said...

I think there are some obvious differences, but these shouldn't matter as far as the law is concerned. If Satanists wanted to start up a soup kitchen and religious groups were eligible for government funding (à la Dubya) they should be eligible to get the money just as much as a Christian group would be. I say this as a born-again Bible thumper.

Darrell said...

It's simple theft, but if someone want to put up a sign supporting Obama, everyone should respect that right.

Pogo said...

It's not theft, it's a tax.

Original Mike said...

Satan's running for re-election?

Chip S. said...

What is Satan running for?

Re-election.

Chip S. said...

I'll let that comment stand as a tribute to Original Mike.

ricpic said...

Satanists are no different than Communists. Both are in the business of fundamentally transforming, setting upside down, the moral order, which Satanists call Christian Morality and Communists call Bourgeoise Morality. Homosexualists call the moral order Straight Morality. Satanists, Obama and hatboy must therefore all be opposed, not passively but aggressively, in order to do unto them before they do unto us, the good normals.

Anga2010 said...

Parents of boy named Adolf Hitler lose custody of fourth child.

The New Jersey parents who were thrust into the national spotlight for naming their son Adolf Hitler lost custody of their newest baby boy just hours after he was delivered, the family said.

Heath and Deborah Campbell told the Lehigh Valley's Express-Times that child welfare agents took their son, Hons Campbell, at around 6:50 p.m. on Thursday after the doctor who delivered him called the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services.

Baby Hons was born at around 2 a.m. Thursday after the doctor induced labor on Wednesday evening, the newspaper reported.

Heath Campbell said he doesn't know why the agency took his baby boy."


Now sure, Hitler was a bad guy, but no where close to the prince of darkness and if the government can remove your children because of the name you've selected for one of them, certainly it ought to discourage the promulgation of unspeakable evil. Right?

Original Mike said...

"I'll let that comment stand as a tribute to Original Mike."

I'm honored, Chip.

edutcher said...

I wasn't aware the Obama/Biden 2012 yard signs were out yet.

Ann Althouse said...

Here's a reminder: Turn the other cheek.

Very often, he who turns the other cheek gets hit with the other fist.

Original Mike said...

Who's to say Satan didn't steal his own sign?

Paddy O said...

What is Satan running for?

Re-election.


Ha!!

Erika said...

Oh for heaven's sake--I'd bet my husband's next paycheck that it was a group of sniggering 15 year old boys, who hung it up in someone's basement and are currently chortling over their cleverness.

Richard Dolan said...

If 'what is the difference' is the question, the answer turns on the scale to be applied in measuring the distance between the two. Are we asking about intentions, or perceptions, or social function/utility, or legal rights/duties, or what?

Paddy O says that it's "an issue of a religion's content." Perhaps so if you're using a measuring stick that comes in those units. But there are many different ways of measuring anything, and it helps to be clear at the get-go.

Shanna said...

The couple’s home and yard are decorated with items like a Christmas tree that has been painted black, skulls and the number 666....

God their neighbors must hate them.

Saint Croix said...

“I know of many people who have the Virgin Mary and tons of Jesus memorabilia ‘I Love Jesus’ and what is the difference?”

You're going to hell! Duh.

Saint Croix said...

It seems to me if you are worshiping the prince of darkness, you ought to commit to it. To have your evil polluted by the stench of moral relativism! And whining about hate crimes. Does Count Dracula whine about hate crimes? Does Lex Luthor whine about hate crimes? You're supposed to be inspiring hate, fear, evil and thievery, dummy. That's your mission! It's like you don't understand Satan at all. Next you'll be singing Kumbaya, My Devil and refusing to sacrifice a goat. You're a Squishy Satanist, that's what you are. What are you doing, aiming for the first circle of hell? Lower your goals!

Patrick said...

Shanna: The couple’s home and yard are decorated with items like a Christmas tree that has been painted black, skulls and the number 666....

God their neighbors must hate them.


Yet, as Chip notes, they support them. Awfully tolerant bunch.

Original Mike said...

"I'd bet my husband's next paycheck that it was a group of sniggering 15 year old boys,"

I'll see your bet and raise you my neighbor's car.

Shanna said...

Yet, as Chip notes, they support them. Awfully tolerant bunch.

So they say to the police/reporters. What do you think they say to each other?

I'd put money on '15 year old kid' as well for the sign stealing. If you have a different or funny sign, it will end up in someone's basement. It's a rule.

Chip S. said...

These dipshits festoon their yard with skulls, and we're supposed to think that what really pisses off the neighbors is a "Vote Satan" sign?

The fact that people leave their black Christmas tree and assorted other weird shit unmolested tells me plenty about their neighbors' tolerance.

I think they got frustrated that they weren't getting under their neighbors' skin, and ginned up this bogus story themselves.

phx said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EMD said...

These people are lousy satanists.

They should be out raping and murdering, performing virgin sacrifices and stealing livestock, among other nefarious things.

Their commitment to Satan is questionable.

Chip S. said...

They're Reform, not Orthodox.

traditionalguy said...

The Zombies, Cannibals and Werwolves make the best professional Satanists.

These dilletiantes probably just play Satan dress up games on the weekend.

Blue@9 said...

I mean can a Satanist complain about a theft?

Commies still claim property rights.

Anarchists still call the cops.

Clowns are still clowns.