Satanic Temple Threatens to Sue Twitter for Religious Discrimination After They Were Threatened With Arson 

Greaves, pictured at the Satanic Temple’s headquarters in
October 2016. Photo via
AP Images

Here’s the latest development in a fight that started weirdly
and only got weirder as time went on: the Satanic Temple is
threatening to sue Twitter over an imbroglio that began with
former child-actor Corey Feldman ranting about “Satanic
nutbags” and retweeting a call to burn down their headquarters,
and ended, somehow, with the permanent deletion of the Temple
spokesperson’s account. Lucien Greaves, the Temple’s cofounder
and a spokesperson for the organization, accused the company in
a press release of “egregious failure to apply Twitter’s Terms
of Service evenly, or even sensibly.”

The Satanic Temple is
a group of merry trolls
who use clever legal stunts to
advocate for reproductive freedom and rigorous church-state
separation. But they also say they are sincere, practicing,
non-theistic Satanists, and they face plenty of sincere,
violent threats from people who think they literally answer to
the Dark Lord. That includes a Twitter user named Laurie, who
earlier this week suggested that someone should burn down the
Temple’s headquarters in Salem, MA:

That call to arson was retweeted by Feldman, who has said in
interviews that he became a devout Christian in his early 20s.
(Feldman has alleged that he was
serially sexually abused as a child actor
, and has said
that he found God after leaving Hollywood and entering rehab.)

Feldman’s religious convictions and prolific Twitter use means
that he’s
frequently and loudly upset about all things Satanic
. He
retweeted Laurie’s call to burn down the Temple’s headquarters,
then added that he was crying after watching a video of a woman
who alleges she was sexually abused by a Satanic cult.

Around this point, a self-identified member of the Satanic
Temple intervened, to point out that they don’t support child
abuse or sexual abuse of any kind, and asking that Feldman
refrain from retweeting what he called “terroristic threats”
against them.

Greaves asked his supporters to report the arson-suggesting
tweet, and asked Feldman why he’d shared it.

Several people told Greaves they had reported the tweet, and
received a response saying it wasn’t a violation of the site’s
terms of service. In a followup, Greaves suggested that
Twitter’s response to threats against them was inadequate and
that Laurie is, in his view, an asshole.

Shortly thereafter, Greaves says, his account was permanently
suspended without warning; he forwarded Twitter’s response to
him, which informs him “Your account has been suspended and
will not be restored” due to violating Twitter’s rules against
targeted abuse. The email adds, “In order to ensure that people
feel safe expressing diverse opinions and beliefs on our
platform, we do not tolerate abusive behavior.”

In a speedily-issued press release, the Satanic Temple accused
Twitter of religious discrimination, both for failing to take
the arson tweet seriously and for deleting Greaves’ account:

The Satanic Temple believes that religious discrimination is
clearly evidenced in both the fact that Twitter failed
repeatedly to apply their own Terms of Service against a user
who openly called for arson against their religious center,
and the punitive action Twitter took against Greaves’
attempts to correct them.

Calling someone an asshole is usually not grounds for Twitter
deletion; in the release, Greaves alleged that a threat against
another religious organization would have been treated
differently.

“If this were a threat against any other place of congregation,
I’m certain Twitter would have responded much differently,”
he’s quoted as saying. “Twitter has explicit policies against
targeting religious groups and against calls for violence
against groups and individuals, but they arbitrarily decided
that those rules don’t apply when the threats are directed
toward us.”

Greaves’ permanent ban is an interesting contrast to Twitter’s

incomplete purge of alt-right and Nazi-affiliated accounts
,
which disappeared some self-proclaimed white nationalists and
left others who espouse hateful and violent rhetoric, including
elderly white supremacist David Duke and hate groups like
Identity Evropa.

In threatening to sue Twitter, the Satanic Temple finds itself
in curious company: nightmare right-wing troll trio Roger
Stone, Milo Yiannopoulos and Chuck C. Johnson (who’s
previously sued
our former parent company Gawker Media)
have
claimed that they plan to file suit
against Twitter in
February. The three amigos have alleged that Twitter and other
companies discriminate against conservatives.

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