Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peter H. Gilmore Interview: The Satanic Rule vs. the Golden Rule (Part 2 of 2)

The second part of our interview with Peter H. Gilmore focuses on a couple of hypothetical situations. By explaining how one might maneuver these situations from a Satanist perspective, Magus Gilmore further illustrates the differences between the Satanic Rule and the Golden Rule. To read the first part of the interview, click here.

Joe Jarvis: Let’s look at a hypothetical example. My neighbor and I share garage parking. Although our spaces are clearly marked, my neighbor always parks with his tires over the line, forcing me to park at awkward angles and sometimes climb over my car’s console to exit on the passenger side. I spoke to my neighbor about the situation and he explained that because he drives an SUV, he needs more room. On one hand, I know that I should continue to attempt to resolve the situation peacefully. But what I really want to do is smack the side of his gas guzzler with my car door every time I’m forced to squeeze my way out.

First, would I be entitled, according to the Satanic Rule, to disregard -- and thus physically damage -- my neighbor's property because he disregards my own property (a deeded parking space that belongs to me)?

Peter H. Gilmore: No, since our approach is to follow the ancient Roman concept of Lex Talionis, wherein the punishment must fit in both kind and degree the crime. Physical damage to his vehicle would be an over-reaction.

JJ: I also daydream about stashing rat carcasses under his SUV’s hood and even cutting his brake lines. These reprisals, however, might be disproportionate to the original offense. If I am to do unto others as they do unto me, how do I make sure that I do not go overboard when I exact revenge, that my response is proportionate to the offense?

PHG: Most Satanists I know have a refined sense of give-and-take and like many other secular people we marvel over the folks who claim that they need God, religion, or some socio-political parental figure to keep them in line lest they behave in an out-of-control manner. I think the "going overboard" reaction seems to be primarily found in people who only behave properly if they fear some form of supernatural censure for grossly inappropriate acts. They act on these impulses if they think their actions are not being observed by whatever they consider to be their ├╝ber-regulator.

In the hypothetical you offer, it appears to me that frustration is the source for the escalated emotional reaction, but it should be something that would arise only should more rational means of resolution have failed. Wouldn't it be wiser to take the gripe to the people responsible for managing the parking spots and seek redress from them? Perhaps there are some larger spaces for SUVs? Sometimes diligence is required if the management does not respond with a proper solution in a time frame that is acceptable. But to jump to such feelings immediately seems a bit unstable if other options have not been explored.

However, controlled fantasies are a fine way of releasing unwanted emotions that put your life out of balance, and Satanism offers a solution - the release of these feelings in a ritual. Our concept of Greater Magic is a means for self-therapy, using a formalized ritual to experience and thus release unwanted or unbalanced feelings. So Satanism would offer you the cathartic experience of entertaining the revenge scenario, of picturing it happening with all the vividness you can muster, and once that satisfaction is reached you have then purged your system of the need to go beyond what is required in reality to handle this dispute.

JJ: How do you, in your everyday life, put the Satanic Rule of Engagement into action when confronted with rude behavior? Specifically, could you describe any memorable situation from your own life in which you were able to thus overcome rude behavior?

PHG: When out in public I consider people around me to be "possible hostiles" so I do my best to avoid interaction beyond anything required. The folks I encounter on a regular basis, I treat with respect and I have found that people who must deal with the public in their jobs are usually delighted to be seen as being a person rather than an automaton, and thus they often go out of their way to do more for me. So, for the most part, I don't regularly experience much rudeness.

When I find it appropriate, I can be quite verbally tart in dealing with someone who is willfully misbehaving. Since it does not happen to me that frequently, nothing of note comes to mind. But it is important to understand that part of the mix is knowing when aggressing back is worthwhile. A retort, aside from being satisfying, might get someone who was discourteous to catch themselves and apologize for an act which is not part of their regular conduct. But, some people are on a knife-edge of sanity, and riling a lunatic could engender worse than additional boorishness. A Satanist never responds in a knee-jerk fashion. Since another of our principles is "responsibility to the responsible," we always consider the consequences which might follow any of our actions.

Joe Jarvis: If someone bumps into me on the bus and doesn’t apologize, am I duty-bound by the Satanic Golden Rule to respond in kind? Do I have to, in each instance, do unto others as they do unto me? Is there room in a Satanist worldview for mercy and forgiveness? If yes, under what circumstances? If no, why not?

PHG: Since Satanism is based on individuality, each Satanist determines his own hierarchy of values. Our rules are guidelines, not duties, and automatic responses are not our way. In Satanism, we cultivate a sense of discrimination, which to us means selectivity based on educated appraisal. We judge people and situations based on a thorough examination of whatever evidence might be available. And subsequent additional information could lead to a revision of one's decision. Thus, accidents are understood as being non-intentional and evaluated accordingly. Forgiveness is certainly an option for a Satanist, meaning that one would consider the mitigating factors of an action that led to an un-merited negative experience, judgment being tempered by a broader understanding of the situation. The final decision would be one thought to be equitable by the Satanist.

Mercy to us is understood as the act of abandoning justice for the idealistic notion that punishment should not be rendered for some nebulous "greater good", or for possible punishment being dealt to the offender in an afterlife we consider to be a myth. We don't think anyone should be given a "free pass" for no concrete reason. In some trivial situations the Satanist might find it his responsibility to act (wisely), but in serious situations we would rely upon the mechanisms in our society intended to regulate such situations. Hence Satanists support the idea of a criminal justice system that is diligent and efficient, enforcing laws which are rational and fair. While a Satanist is his own greatest good, Satanists also recognize that we have accepted a social contract, which is a means for peaceful mingling with others, rendering the greatest benefits that can be had from our society.


JJ: Any additional comments?

PHG: For Satanists, basically the "Golden Rule" is rejected as it tends to be linked to the idea of "turning the other cheek," and that to us is cowardly behavior allowing miscreants to never be held accountable and it serves as a recipe that will turn one into a perpetual victim. Satanists abhor being placed in an unwillingly servile position. While masochism for personal sexual satisfaction is an option for those to whom it comes naturally in Satanism, we never accept with docility unbidden aggression against us.

We are happily part of a social order, but our goal is to always amend it through available mechanisms so that we have the maximum amount of personal freedom and autonomy. Since we expect others to keep out of the way of our pursuit of personal bliss, we also do our best to refrain from interfering in their search for the same. Where conflicts arise, we expect the legal systems to help reach a resolution, and to that end whatever laws exist must be examined regularly so that they function to maintain equity in the current practices of society at large. Not surprisingly, in addition to many of our members being artistically inclined, we do have a number of lawyers who have affiliated.


  1. do you ever have a chance of parking up while hes not there? because if you do then you should park your car "just over the line" to make a point...

    Do you live in rented accommodation? and if you do do your properties share the same landlord? because if they do then you could try contacting your landlord and getting them to write to him.

    Finally you could do what James does when someone parks too close...

    he keeps sachets of mayo/salad cream/tartare sauce that you get when you buy a hot meal from a tourist spot cafe and squeezes it on the driver and passengers door handles ;o)

    Or you could continually ask him to move his car everytime you want to park up/leave - that would inconvenience him enough to make him think about either parking elsewhere or getting a smaller car.

  2. chocolat: All your suggestions are good. I should have been clearer that the scenario itself was hypothetical. I actually don't own a car, although that parking scenario was inspired by a friend's real-life situation. I must admit, James's mayo revenge does sound particularly satisfying.

  3. An exemplary conclusion from the High Priest. Brings to mind the chapter 'Love & Hate' from The Satanic Bible, a contemplative recollection of the 4th Satanic Statement, 'My Dark Satanic Love' by Magistra Nadramia, and My own 'Evilove' from The Devil's Scroll. Makes one proud to be a part of this Cabal. Hail The Infernal Empire!

  4. Based on this interview with Gilmore, the Church of Satan looks more like a atheistic parody of Christianity than an actual religion. Gilmore seems to equate spirituality with theism and theism with weak-minded conformity. His philosophy is something like "Seek pleasure within reason. If others harm you, harm them. Otherwise let them be."

    They seem to embrace materialism and reject spirituality, even atheistic spirituality. It's a very reductionist philosophy, reminiscent of Ayn Rand's thought. It is also derivative. The Golden Rule without altruism. Religion without God. Satanism describes human behavior as is but doesn't advance any ideas about how it should be.

    I disagree with Gilmore that the Golden Rule is weak. The important and oft overlooked aspect is that the Golden Rule doesn't ask you to treat rude people nicely. It asks you to treat them as you would want to be treated if you were being offensive. The question is, how would you want to be treated in that instance?

    I believe that I would want to be treated kindly, but also informed firmly but politely that my behavior is unacceptable. Everyone commits a faux-pas now and then, including the Satanists. The rules of etiquette are more complicated and subtle than Gilmore believes. Sometimes both parties are wrong. Sometimes both are right. It is important to not contribute to the negativity.

    The Satanic Golden Rule assumes that the person enforcing it has perfect knowledge of etiquette. It does not allow for a mutual misunderstanding. Does it serve anyone's interest to amplify the anger? Reducing tension and educating others about etiquette is enlightened self-interest.

    Part of living in a community is exercising patience. Without a principle of charity, we would all be at each other's throats all the time. The Satanists do not allow for charity. They only allow for some form of vengeance. It strikes me as poor leadership on their part. If they are abandoning the concept of spiritual leadership, I am not sure what the objective of their movement is.