Letters to a Satanist: Do you have a comment on the "not guilty" plea entered by the woman who tried to destroy your holiday display?

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LEE DEVITO
  • Lee DeVito

This week the woman who attempted to destroy your holiday display entered a plea of ‘Not Guilty’. Do you have a comment?

This past holiday season, as many readers are already aware, The Satanic Temple (TST) won the right (denied to us the year previous) to place a holiday display in the Florida Capitol Rotunda, where the state had allowed a Nativity scene, as well as other religious and non-religious holiday exhibits. Inclusion of the Satanic display proved controversial and, with no reference to TST’s own commentary, and with no apparent understanding of our beliefs and goals, offended pundits – from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson to voice-of-the-proudly-ignorant-paranoiac, Glenn Beck – took it upon themselves to contextualize our display as an assault upon "American Values."

Apparently energized by the irresponsible commentary, and with a head full of superstitious zeal, 54-year-old Susan Hemeryck was apprehended by police in the Rotunda when she began tearing down the display, later stating, “I was there at the right time and the right moment and I needed to take a stand against Satan."



To be sure, security footage clearly shows Hemeryck herself assaulting our display, and her own commentary affirms that she recognizes her act of vandalism. Nonetheless, Hemeryck entered a plea of not guilty this week, on Jan. 29. According to WCTV Eyewitness News, Hemeryck’s attorney, Mike Bauer, stated, "We are not sure there was a crime," adding, "I think this case represents the state basically putting an attack on Christians. That would be her viewpoint."

Think, for a moment, about how staggeringly ludicrous Bauer’s argument is. He seems to suggest that whether or not a crime has been committed is dependent upon whether or not the perpetrator can cite any reasoning for his or her actions. By this logic, the Klansman lynching an immigrant or African-American may not be committing a crime, as he may feel that his own culture is under assault by encroaching outsiders. The rapist is incited by provocative clothing, and likewise exonerated. I can punch anyone in the mouth who utters an offensive comment, whether or not the comment was directed toward me, and regardless of whether the speaker had any intent of offending anybody at all.



Hemeryck’s ridiculous plea has already elicited a good deal of head-shaking and disparaging commentary. Unfortunately, however, it seems most of the disgust is directed solely toward Hemeryck herself. In an ideal world, I personally feel that attorneys like Mike Bauer should suffer severe sanctions from the Bar Association for presenting such deranged and asinine arguments to the court at all. An attorney, wasting the time of the Court by presenting an argument that defies basic reasoning, much less legal justification, should be seen as displaying a breach of professional conduct. If Mike Bauer doesn’t know what a crime is, perhaps he doesn’t belong in the legal profession.

Lucien Greaves is the pen name/pseudonym for Doug Mesner, spokesman for The Satanic Temple.

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