It's always nice when the future masters of the universe solidify their futures by having an official deal with the devil.
It's being defended the President of Harvard, of course. Even better? It's President Faust.
The reenactment of a 'black mass' planned by a student group affiliated with the Harvard Extension School challenges us to reconcile the dedication to free expression at the heart of a university with our commitment to foster a community based on civility and mutual understanding. Vigorous and open discussion and debate are essential to the pursuit of knowledge, and we must uphold these values even in the face of controversy. Freedom of expression, as Justice Holmes famously said long ago, protects not only free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.
This is the same Harvard that drove out one of its Previous Presidents because he thought the differences between men and women should be studied? That Harvard? That freedom?
There is, of course, a caveat. A cover your behind clause, if you will.
But even as we permit expression of the widest range of ideas, we must also take responsibility for debating and challenging expression with which we profoundly disagree. The 'black mass' had its historical origins as a means of denigrating the Catholic Church; it mocks a deeply sacred event in Catholicism, and is highly offensive to many in the Church and beyond. The decision by a student club to sponsor an enactment of this ritual is abhorrent; it represents a fundamental affront to the values of inclusion, belonging and mutual respect that must define our community. It is deeply regrettable that the organizers of this event, well aware of the offense they are causing so many others, have chosen to proceed with a form of expression that is so flagrantly disrespectful and inflammatory.
While my general reaction is "do / think / say / believe whatever you like, just leave me the heck alone," this is literally a ceremony to worship evil. The best that Faust can do is say that the Black Mass isn't politically correct? It's not all-inclusive, therefore it's abhorrent? Really? This is a formalized, ritualized hate crime directly targeting a particular religion, but covered under freedom of expression? Whatever happened to hate crime legislation, that folks that Harvard support? Where is the argument about shouting fire in a crowded theater as an incitement to riot?
There is a Supreme Court case from the 1940s that dictates that "fighting words"--words that are expressed to incite hate and violence from their target--are the exception to the rule to freedom of speech (Chaplinski v. New Hampshire, 1942). If this doesn't count, then what does?
Even the student group hosting it said, "Our purpose is not to denigrate any religion or faith, which would be repugnant to our educational purposes, but instead learn and experience the history of different cultural practices." But its very purpose is dedicated to denigrate religion and faith.
Then again, Irish Catholics have populated Boston since 1749, when was the last time they blew up a building at Harvard? Never, to my knowledge. So, shooting at people who don't shoot back is perfectly fine, apparently.
So, what's next? Since the ancestors of the Palestinians were worshipers of Moloch, is a fire-pit due to be set up? Wouldn't be the first time.