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Devil down to Arkansas

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They wheeled Ol' Splitfoot right up to the steps of the Arkansas State Capitol the other day. Brought him in on a flatbed truck positioned just so for maximum Instagramability with the stately Capitol dome in the background, the statue wrapped in a tarp that one of the assembled Satanistas whipped off with great flourish like the former theater majors many of them likely are. Around back of the Capitol, meanwhile, Sen. Jason Rapert's Ten Commandments monument was swaddled in sackcloth and caution tape for the occasion, most likely, we guess, to keep the Satanists from mugging for photos in front of it, crotches athrust. You just know that kind of thing drives Jason batshit crazy.

We say Ol' Splitfoot, but that's just lazy writing. The Observer is too caffeine-starved right now to look up the trifold flow chart showing which of the umpteen jillion religions of yore revered Baphomet, the goat-headed he-beast depicted in the eight-foot-tall statue The Satanic Temple paid to have trucked in here from way yonder. Where Baphomet fits in isn't the point, anyway. The point is, in the imagination of a guy like Rapert and all the swells who hang on his every word like he's Facebook besties with Big J.C. himself, Baphomet LOOKS like The Devil Incarnate. It's an object meant to literally put the fear of lower-case god in those who have spent decades poking their dicks into the wall of separation between Church and State, testing for soft spots in hopes of bringing it whole thing down. As Thomas Jefferson would have told them — the real Jefferson — the barrier between Church and State is a load-bearing wall, kids. You knock that sucker down, and the whole house may well go. If that happens, you can be sure that what gets rebuilt in the aftermath will be a place where nobody wants to live but the jackleg carpenters who built it to their liking. Rapert and his incurious ilk are myriad of things, but they are definitely not fit to wash the jocks and socks of the certified polymath geniuses who cooked up the Bill of Rights the first go-round, no matter how much they wanna believe that a real close reading of the Bible, a landslide victory in Standard Umpstead and a suit from Sears grants them intellectual superpowers. Spend some time in the state legislature and tell us we're wrong.

The funniest bit about all this business — the 200 black-clad folks who showed up the other day to sweat through their velvet in the August heat and the preachers who came to yell Bible verses at them, the bronze statue, the courtroom dueling soon to come — is that you get the feeling nobody involved really believes this bullshit. Rapert knows that admitting the 10C monument is about shoehorning religion into the public space will hurt him in court, so he will swear and bedamn that it's all about honoring the history of the law, even though the thing has "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness" etched right on it. Meanwhile, having been around some of the Satanic Temple folks a time or three now while reporting and such, The Observer has the distinct impression that the black outfits and guyliner and even having an eight-foot-tall bronze cast to give the Constitutional Vapors to Arkansas crackers are an elaborate kind of goof, by people who understand that the separation between church and state is there for a reason. Did you ever think you'd live in an age where the Satanists are the good guys?

We actually kinda hope The Satanic Temple prevails and gets to install its statue, notwithstanding Rapert's flinty-eyed public pronouncement the other day that it would be a cold day in hell when that happened. Cold days in hell seem to happen a lot these days for folks like him. Must be global warming. While we'd hate to see the lovely grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol turned into Charles Foster Kane's estate sale, stacked with monuments representing every religious flimflam from Tony Alamo to Cargo Cults, it would serve the folks who opened the door to all this right and proper. And just imagine what a gothified tourist attraction Ol' Baphy would be! Come to think of it, maybe Rapert WILL wind up doing something to benefit the State of Arkansas during his time in office after all, albeit in spite of himself.

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