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Statue on campus sparks debate

Photo courtesy of Valerie Montano

A goat-headed symbol of religious propaganda was placed at the Arkansas capitol building by the Satanic Temple. To Catholics and non-believers, the statue adhered to be quite terrifying and disgraceful, but to those in support made sure the statue gave the public a message, no matter what the message actually entails, the objective is a catalyst of sociopolitical freedom.

The satanic Temple constructed an 8-foot Baphomet statue for a rally at the Arkansas Capitol Building. Lucien Greaves prepared a presentation one year in advance at a press meeting which determined the legality of inviting different kinds of religion on the same grounds.

The satanic Temple has come a long way, not only to the Arkansas capitol, but historically as the “false god” group for the oppressed. The Baphomet statue agenda is to convey a reaction.

Catholics in Arkansas perceive satanic traditions in a very negative light. To coexist with other religious beliefs is a scary concept for a very religious state.

As of 2017, 38% of young people are not affiliated with religious beliefs, according to statistica, But there were people that showed up to this rally with bibles in hand ready to protest for their right to remain dominant. Freedom of speech is granted for both sides regardless of the circumstance.

Judgement is brought upon by those who acclimate to their environment and feed off of what they know to be true.
“Christianity is all about loving everybody…loving one another. How are you going to love thy neighbor if you’re going to ridicule them for freedom of religion?” Local satanist Jessica Skumlien said.

A place for free speech has given those unalike a voice to give reason to a cause much bigger than us all. For example, confederate flags show appreciation for the South, but a lot of people believe that the flag represents racism. Perception is in the eyes of the beholder.

At the local level, Mesa Community College displayed a temporary statue that continues the debate on free speech and whether free speech that is offensive should be allowed.

An inflatable statue of President Trump dressed in KKK robes was placed on Mesa Community College last semester.  It was part of a tabling event for MCC student group M.E.Ch.A. in coordination with Puente Human Rights Movement of Arizona.

The message of the statue according to Joel Cornejo was that People of Color (POC) have been treated unfairly under the actions of President Trump.  Joel Cornejo is the co-chair of M.E.Ch.A. on MCC.

With the inflatable statue, Cornejo said the group  “wanted to expose an awareness that Trump is [an] actual racist.  You know all the executive action that he’s doing, it’s against POC communities.”  He also said that the conservative environment often wants to silence POC and he wanted to spread the message “that we should not be afraid to speak our minds.”

 

The statue remained on campus for approximately 2 to 3 hours.  During that time Cornejo said that there were students and teachers who felt offended.  An unknown teacher wanted the statue taken down.

Valerie Montano, senator of M.E.Ch.A. met with some classes and asked both students and professors before the event their thoughts about seeing the statue on campus.  A majority told Montano they wanted to see the statue on campus.

The statue was not placed without thought, said Cornejo.  He said the group researched the rules of MCC and asked staff if it would be allowed before the day of the tabling event.

Briana Ramirez, a Veteran Services work study and veteran, said she feels there should be more stuff like that on campus.   “Some people don’t really kind of care neither here nor there as far as politics these days in this generation and it’s always good to see people actually voicing their opinion, “ said Ramirez.

Ramirez does not think President Trump may be best suited for his job.  Ramirez said, “I”m not really fond of him. I think the Nazi thing kind of took it a little too far with the KKK.  I think it was kind of extreme. But I mean that’s their opinion. I don’t feel the same way, “ she said.

“We do though tie him often with the KKK and the neo-nazi groups.  I remember back when there was a neo-nazi protest,” said Cornejo, “he went in public and said that there was good people in that crowd.  When someone says there’s good people in a crowd of neo-nazis, we got to tie you to them.”

The MCC Facebook page received some negative reviews after the event.  One reviewer saying, “The ignorance displayed on your school campus shows a lack of integrity and I find it disturbing that you would allow any form of racism or degradation of ANY leader of our country to be erected or encouraged on school campus … one that is publicly funded no less. I hope your enrollment rates are as low as the IQ of the person who placed that inflatable statue on school property.”

Cornejo’s response to the criticism of the statue being racist is that racism is an institutional discrimination.  He said, “And also like some people that were being offended there’s a lot of things going on right now in the country.  You know a lot of POC are being attacked with different laws and executive actions the administration is actually doing. And to me, it’s embarrassing that that doesn’t offend those people.  But me making a statement challenging an environment that wants to silence POC and makes them uncomfortable.”

“I think that it’s not a lie that Trump has associated with the neo-nazi groups,” said Montano.   “I think it’s ignorant to ignore the reality of what is going on. Everybody has an image and it’s just freedom of expression to me.”

Ramirez said that she noticed some debate that day, not at the table where the statue was displayed but around campus.

“I was glad to hear was that people were actually speaking up about their own opinion.  A lot of times people are afraid to offend someone and so they don’t they don’t speak up.  So with this, it was kind of like you know, you have to. It’s there. It’s big,” Montano said.

 

Janae Thompson and Josette Medina collaborated on this story.

 

About Author

Writer and opinions editor at The Mesa Legend. I previously started my career as a student writer.

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