Having blogged about the world of right-wing pop-culture warriors off and on for a few years now, one thing that’s fascinated me is the contradiction at the centre of their movement. They like to portray themselves as rebellious bad-boys, melting snowflakes and smashing safe spaces; yet at the same time their movement has a streak of puritanical moralism that’d make Mary Whitehouse say “dude, lighten up.”
I recently a good example of this conflict bubbling to the surface. Brian Niemeier (a sci-fi author so far to the right that even BasedCon founder Rob Kroese called him a “nutcase and an asshole”) ran a blog post arguing that left-wingers are being controlled by demons. The post isn’t particularly remarkable by Niemeier’s standards, being largely a reprint of an article he published in 2017, albeit altered so that it says “woke” instead of the now-antiquated “SJW”. What caught my attention was a post in the comments section by someone called Dweller:
I have seen demons myself.
Okay, with an opener like that we all know we’re in for a treat. Dweller goes on to explain that his demonic encounter involved hearing voices in bed:
One night, after a series of bizarre dreams, I woke up to the faint sound of my mother calling for help. My mother lives far across town so I thought, “Surely that was just part of the dream I just had.” and started to lay back down when suddenly a random thought popped into my head:
“God has given you a vision of the future! Leave now and go help your mother!”
I will admit, for a second I wondered if my mother really was in danger. As I sat in my bed another thought appeared:
“God did not give you a vision of the future and that was not your mother’s voice.”
“Then who’s was it?”
The anecdote segues from auditory to visual phenomena as Dweller catches sight of the supposed demon:
Suddenly, a large pale white face with black holes for eyes and large black lips lunged out towards my face. It started flying around the room making horrible loud noises that sounded like a distorted lion roar mixed with a swarm of bees.
As soon as it showed itself it got hard for me to breathe and my whole body started shaking as if I was having an panic attack. I remember hiding under the covers trying to mutter out “Lord have mercy”. When I finally did, a blinding white light enveloped the room and I woke up.
Any description of a supernatural encounter that ends with “I woke up” is pretty easy to explain away, but none of the other commentators seem to have doubted the reality of this incident. Here’s a reply from poster D Cal, who apparently required a trigger warning:
Your description of the demon alone also gave me a panic attack, such that I literally had to sing the Hail Mary in Latin and recite the Fatima prayer. Seriously. It’s one thing to see such a creature in a horror game; it’s another to realize that such creatures could be inspired by actual supernatural beings.
Next, Niemeier himself weighs in:
Demons can use any impression that’s come through our senses to tempt us. It’s child’s play for one to impress the sound of your mother’s voice, a lion’s roar, bees’ buzzing, etc. on your imagination. As an aside, that’s also why viewing lewd images is an exceptionally bad idea.
The reference to the viewing of “lewd images” as a potential trigger for demonic activity is ironic, as just a couple of days beforehand Niemeier had run a post promoting an independent comic (apparently put together by his mates) called 9 Volt. The cover shows a busty manga chick in a bikini:
Admittedly, this is a quite tame contribution to the world of comicbook cheesecakery. Commentator Dennis, however, found it most objectionable indeed:
This is greatly offensive to purity, so much so I don’t even need to defend it, and you risk complicity in others’ sin by promoting it. Pre-conversion, I loved such lurid stuff like Frank Frazetta. Now, it’s obviously repugnant to Our Lord and Our Lady, who see through my eyes what I see. Not to mention it’s shamelessly placing myself in near occasion of sin.
JD Cowan (another author from Niemeier’s circle) defended the drawing, prompting more comments from Dennis:
Who do you think would prefer the above picture of the scantily-clad buxom girl, the Virgin Mary Most Pure, or satan? If nothing else, please just answer that. […] Is it possible you lack proper sensitivity to offenses against the 6th and 9th commandments? Or that you may have an undue attachment to “fun” and pulpy material that comes at the expense of an authentic saint-grade renunciation of self and love for God (which is what He made you made for)?
While this was going on, Niemeier devoted a whole blog post to Dweller’s description of his buzzy-face nightmare (which, remarkably, Niemeier used as an excuse to promote one of his books). JD Cowan pops up in the comments section:
I was attacked when I was an agnostic nihilist.
Alas, Cowan doesn’t go into detail about this demonic attack. His brief comment prompts Dennis to resume the argument from the other post, now expressing the intriguing theological theory that Satan is personally attracted to manga boobies:
Perhaps you should stop consuming manga boobies. It’s not about whether or not you, JD Cowan, find them attractive; it’s that Satan probably does, and you don’t want the demons to oogle them over your shoulder.
Note that none of the people involved in this argument are questioning the basic premise that looking at porn will give you demons. The only disagreement is as to whether 9 Volt and Frank Frazetta paintings are sufficiently pornographic to get Satan on your back.
Now, let’s stop and imagine if, for example, Anita Sarkeesian did a video claiming that looking at anime boobs will cause demons to attack you. She would’ve been laughed off the stage. And yet, the movement that’s supposedly defending creative freedom from puritanical wokejaydubyas — or, at least, one particular mutation of the movement — is making that exact claim.