Censorship: Not Just for Porn

I guess we’ve all heard about Tumblr banning all of the adult content. A ton of people are pissed about it and that’s good. Now other social media platforms are jumping on that bandwagon. It has been a few weeks since all of this started and most of the buzz has died down. I don’t think it should die down, though.  We should all be pissed when puritanical bullshit strangles the freedom of expression out of a space that once thrived on that very thing. We’re all acting shocked that this is happening now and I don’t really understand why. Censorship isn’t new and it damn sure isn’t limited to tits and ass.

Even if, like me, you don’t give a shit about Tumblr because you get your adult content elsewhere I don’t think that this is something we should just shrug off. As horror fans we know how censorship can destroy art. We are devoted to a genre of media that has been called dangerous and subversive. Just because you don’t care about the downfall of Tumblr doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about censorship. It is quickly infecting many other online spaces.

Lately it has come out that Instagram, among other platforms, is working a quiet campaign of religious persecution. Shops and artists who work within the themes of the occult or Satanism are not just having their reach limited but are having ads and posts taken down for absurd reasons. The folks at Left Hand Craft had an ad for a t-shirt depicting a fully-clothed nun removed for “sexually explicit content”; another of their pieces showing a rendition of John Wayne Gacy’s Pogo the Clown was taken down for being a “threat of violence”. These things are just the tip of the iceberg.

It isn’t just Instagram’s staff taking down ads and art for reasons that are, objectively speaking, a pile of horse shit they are also ignoring reports of legitimate abuse. Go scroll through the feed of someone who posts Satanic or occult things and it won’t take long to find some religious asshole hurling insults, hate, threats of eternal damnation, or worse. When these things get reported, though, nothing is done. These users are allowed to hurl unchecked abuse at religious minorities without fear of consequence while Instagram is removing t-shirt ads for sexual content. Seems a little one-sided to me.

Because of these actions the staff at Left Hand Craft have put up a Change.org petition to demand religious equality from Instagram or, at the very least, an explanation. If you’d like to help support independent artists, religious equality, and a free market go sign the petition and pass it on.

Don’t think for a second that this policy of censorship stops at religious minorities. Earlier today, we were going to buy pay to advertise our interview with Damien Leone (writer/director – Terrifier) but it was rejected because the photo of Damien standing with Art was deemed inappropriate. Don’t wait til they start this fuckery on the horror community! Help us stand for free speech now. Fans of blood, gore, tits, and ass; Satanists; witches; occultists; and artists of all stripes the time is now to stand up for our space before it is taken over by ad-friendly Logan Paul clones doing stupid dances and playing Minecraft.

Don’t take it from me though, I reached out to Benjamin from Left Hand Craft and we had a little back and forth about this issue. Here’s how that went:

 

Tell us a little about your shop. What is it called? What do you sell?

 

Left Hand Craft started in 2012 as an outlet for occult, horror and heavy metal themed art. As our ties with the Satanic community have strengthened, we’ve focused our efforts on supporting the ideologies of individualism and free will that Satanism represents. Over the years the shop has grown from just a few pieces of handmade jewelry to a massive collection of clothing and accessories. Our ultimate objective is to reject the mainstream Abrahamic values imposed on us by society and contribute to developing a strong community of freethinking individuals.

 

Some of the things we sell could be considered “offensive” or “edgy” to some. If people are offended by it, that’s their personal problem and we highly encourage them to go watch a Disney movie instead of looking at our art. Our merch isn’t for everybody and it takes all of ten seconds of browsing our page to decide whether it’s for you or not.

 

We have an admittedly dark sense of humor and sell a few things with shock value, although our pieces are intended more to provoke thought and conversation than to promote any sort of bad behavior. Don’t confuse our humor with our lack of faith. Oddly enough, it’s not the generally offensive, just-for-fun stuff we get punished for. It’s the posts involving our religious beliefs.

 

Have you had issue with Instagram or other social media outlets suppressing your reach due to the “dark” elements of your designs?

 

Social media has been a crucial part of our business, and also a major headache. Facebook started developing their internal problems years ago, removing posts and penalizing accounts for perceived, but not legitimate, infractions of their terms of service. There were privacy issues as well, which can be a bit of a deterrent when you don’t know what a company is doing with your information. Zuckerberg has failed at getting out in front of the issues and it seems like things are only getting worse.

 

We focused our efforts on Instagram as it was (at the time) a simple platform for publishing our images and putting Left Hand Craft’s art on display. One of the recurring issues we’ve been having is posts being removed by Instagram, advertising refused and our account getting shadow banned for entirely ridiculous reasons. This prevents users from discovering our posts in search, limits the amount of people our posts are being delivered to, and generally limits traffic to our Instagram account. If this is happening to established businesses, we can only imagine what’s happening to individuals. That’s one of the reasons this is such an important issue for us to get behind. No one should be punished for expressing their religious beliefs. Not a business and definitely not people on their private social media pages.

 

Pictures of tee shirts featuring inverted crosses and demonic saints were blacklisted from Instagram ads. One of the reasons we were given was that we were selling sexual products or services. These were judgements made by Instagram employees.

 

It’s pretty clear that a tee shirt featuring Satanic imagery is not a sexual product. I don’t know what Instagram employees do with their shirts, but… how would that even work? Can you even use a tee shirt as a sex toy?

 

We were also told that a meme mocking golden age Christian comics, like the ones they publish in their propaganda pamphlets, was targeting a private individual for harassment or blackmail. Who were we targeting? The comic character? These are the actual reasons they’ve given for enacting penalties and limitations on our account. It feels like flat out religious discrimination.

 

The illegitimate reasons they’ve given coupled with the consistent theme of the posts they’re removing shows a clear pattern of Instagram employees punishing Satanists simply for being Satanists. Nothing they’ve penalized us for goes against their terms of service and they would know this if they read their own rules. It seems like some of the people working at IG are using their administrative powers to freely discriminate against religious beliefs they don’t personally agree with, despite no official rules being broken.

 

There is an argument for social media to be treated by the government in the United States as a public utility, which would protect the constitutional rights of users including our freedom of speech and freedom of religion. As it stands now, these private corporations can arbitrarily discriminate and penalize at will. It’s definitely something to consider. Why does a corporation get to decide that the United States Constitution doesn’t apply to their business practices?

 

If your art is connected to the occult or Satanism, have you been attacked verbally or had posts maliciously flagged because of it?

 

Verbal attacks are the norm. I can’t begin to count the amount of death threats and hate mail I’ve seen come through comments and DM’s. The typical “You’ll burn in hell when you die.” messages don’t bother me, because I don’t believe in hell. You might as well threaten me with unicorns. It would have the same effect.

 

The post flagging is one of the problems that Instagram needs to deal with. Example: Anti-Satanist IG user flags a post. Anti-Satanist IG employee reviews that flag and penalizes our account. There’s no unbiased intermediary, no process to dispute things like this, and that’s what we’d like to change. Instagram doesn’t respond to messages or help requests and their apathy actively facilitates this type of abuse. It’s odd that a company claims to be against bullying and harassment, yet they allow their employees to participate in it.

 

 

On the other side of that coin, have you reported abuse? If so, what were the results?

 

I don’t report people’s posts for one simple reason. I’m not easily offended and I recognize that we all have a right to speak our minds. If I see something I don’t like or I don’t agree with, I’m an adult and I know how to keep scrolling or unsubscribe from that feed. The stuff that’s really concerning is the actual physical threats of violence involving death and rape, people saying they’re coming after me or my family. That kind of shit gets reported and documented. One disconcerting thing is that a lot of the serious threats we get are prefaced by the potential attacker declaring their faith in Christianity and using it to justify the threats that follow.

 

I want to support not only your freedom of religion and expression but also your shop/art.  Go ahead and give your shop link, any promo codes/sales you’ve got going on for the upcoming gift giving season.

 

Our shop is at www.LeftHandCraft.com and all our official social media accounts are @LeftHandCraft. We have sales going on from time to time and are more than happy to take custom orders during the off season. The best way to keep up with what we’re doing is to follow our social accounts. We depend on them to get our message out and we appreciate all the support we can get.

Yeti

Hey guys! I'm Yeti, the head writer of TN Horror News and co-host of The Horror Basement Podcast. I'm a tattooed weirdo who has been a huge horror fan for as long as I remember. I'm not super picky when it comes to movies; I dig it all. I'm a lover of the extreme, offbeat, retro, sleazy, and the down right awful. If you want to connect, you can hit my Instagram @the.yeti.616

One Comment

  1. This is utterly wrong. The xian power Trip needs to be remedied. They are not the only group on this rock. And they wonder why intelligent people aren’t xian.

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