I listened to an “evil” song and survived

I heard a little buzz about the Grammy awards last weekend — there was one song performed that infuriated the culture war conservatives. It got Ted Cruz mad.

“This… is… evil,” Cruz wrote on Twitter, the ellipses perhaps representing the breaks he took to consume more pornography. His post was a re-tweet from conservative commenter and former OANN presenter Liz Wheeler, famed for having the kind of brain you normally find in an aquarium. “Demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan,” she wrote. “I could throw up.”

Well, then. As an atheist in good standing, I had to look this performance up. Here you go, everyone can watch the Sam Smith and Kim Petras song, “Unholy.”

They lied to me. Oh, sure, Sam Smith wears a top hat with devil horns, but the song isn’t about Satan worship, it’s all about people of ambiguous and not-so-ambiguous gender gyrating on the dance floor at a hot club, with lots of lascivious behavior. Anyone interrupting the proceedings with a sermon about Satanism would be a killjoy, and would probably be thrown out. It wasn’t about God or Satan at all, it was about sex.

That’s what make the conservatives uncomfortable — it’s simply their current obsession with changing mores about sex, and the fact that a singer wears a hat with horns allows them to claim it’s all about their religion. It’s not. Christians have sex, too. Some of them are gay or trans even. All that’s going on is that they’ve got an excuse to exercise their authoritarian purity culture.

Let’s see what notorious libertine and Catholic League president Bill Donohue has to say about it all.

Kim Petras is a man who thinks he’s a woman, or what is today called a “transgender person” (they really don’t exist, but that’s for another day). He said he “personally grew up wondering about religion and wanting to be a part of it, but then slowly realizing it doesn’t want me to be a part of it.”

He did not say who told him he could not be a part of whatever religion he was talking about, or why. But he did admit that “as a trans person, I’m kind of already not wanted in religion.” He did not explain why that might be.

Wow. Donohue has always been an ugly little man, but he really embraces the hatefulness. Also obliviousness.

Petras says she (a person who really exists) was sympathetic to and curious about religion, but was rejected by religion. Donohue then stupidly complains that she didn’t say who or why she was told this religion would not accept her, or why she might not be wanted by that religion. I mean, read what you wrote, Bill. You are a shining example of the problem.

Man, I haven’t read anything by Bill since those long ago days when he was happily hating me. I think he’s gotten worse.

By the way, about the song: I didn’t much care for it, and it won’t be getting much play around my house, and that’s OK! It’s not evil, it just wasn’t to my taste. If you liked it, that’s OK, too! This shouldn’t be about the song, but about authoritarians who want to dictate your personal preferences.


  1. raven says

    Man, I haven’t read anything by Bill since those long ago days when he was happily hating me. I think he’s gotten worse.

    Yeah, I haven’t read anything about or from Donohue in years.
    I only ever heard of him anyway because I read Freethoughtblogs.

    He’s probably gotten worse.
    The USA is full of old white guys who hate everything that happened since the 1950s.

    Ironically, for only the second time in history, a member of a once despised and discriminated against minority is…President of the USA. Joe Biden is an Irish American Catholic.
    I’m sure Donohue of the so called Catholic League sincerely, viciously hates…Joe Biden.

  2. says

    I have to thank the conservative Streisands because I hadn’t even heard of this song until they piled onto their collective fainting couches. I really enjoyed it. Almost as much as I’m enjoying the figurative smell of their soiled underwear. And they just finished changing it after Lil Nas X’s video where he was grinding on Satan’s crotch! It turns on if you want to hear some right wing wailing all you have to do is have an LGTBQ+ performer throw a pair of devil horns into a music video.

    Also, Bill, there is no way you’d know Kim Poitras is trans if she wasn’t open about it.

  3. wzrd1 says

    I dunno, I might be inclined to play that when Witnesses come to call.

    But, given that the Christian bible has trouble defining man and woman, given male and female were created together, but Eve was created on a subsequent day, whyinhell would anyone want them to give their daffynition of anything whatsoever?
    Especially, when on top of that confusion, the majority cannot define what a covenant is and how one replaces another utterly. Decidedly odd, given its ancient status as a legal term. But then, they tend to not be a people of law, but one of insisting upon rule by force of violence.

  4. whywhywhy says

    This shouldn’t be about the song, but about authoritarians who want to dictate your personal preferences.

    I think the religious fascists are trying to get attention. This is a PR stunt. The Grammy’s are shown on national TV and watched by millions with even more listening to the artists that performed. They just want to take some of the publicity for themselves and trolling is their method to achieve this.

  5. raven says

    AFAICT, the Catholic League is mostly an affinity group scam and Donohue is typical grifter.

    Center for Inquiry Feb. 14, 2022

    The eternally-outraged Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League Grievance Generator, apparently has less to be angry about because he’s been enjoying a big, fat raise, now making more than a million dollars a year. (I can shake my fist at perceived slights! Why can’t I have a million dollars a year???) But, you see, according to (NBC News), it’s all part of an “exit package.” I guess they’re going to find him a nice, quiet retirement community where he can be offended in peace.

    Donohue is making a million dollars a year for doing what every right wingnut old white guy does on Facebook and Twitter for free.

    Reposting hate memes that don’t make much sense or are outright lies.

  6. imback says

    As priests have often demonstrated, it’s better to keep any getting some on the side as deep dark secrets.

  7. hemidactylus says

    The song was run of the mill electronic dance stuff. Video was ok, but not near as dark and sinister as Nine Inch Nails’s Starsuckers, Inc or pretty much any Nine Inch Nails video.

    In Crocodile Dundee voice, “That’s not evil…This is evil…”:

    Pre-emptive strike in case Jordan Peterson chimes in.

  8. moonslicer says

    Kim Petras is what I might call a “classic transgender person”–i.e., a lot of people’s conception of what we are, though I don’t know how many of us would be. It was obvious from the very start that she was trans. She stood up to a bit of parental opposition, but was eventually allowed (exceptionally under German law) to transition at the age of 16. Her dad admitted that she could be quite determined.

    These days Chloe Cole is much in the news. The right never mentions young trans people like Petras who have successfully and happily transitioned.

    No, I don’t get excited about her music. We’re of different generations. But you can be sure we all celebrate her success.

    Good old Bill O’Donohue still thinks he can simply declare that transpeople don’t exist, and that means we don’t. And it’s true that trans people as he conceives of them don’t exist. A trans person isn’t a man who thinks he’s a woman, nor a woman who thinks she’s a man. A cute trick: he misdefines us, then claims that those misdefined beings don’t exist–which happens to be true.

    If only we could misdefine him out of existence. But no, he’s a Christian. Who could deny that?

  9. says

    Donohue secretly worries that his god and everyone else despises him; he’s projecting his fear. He’s right to be afraid, too. But he should be working to be less loathsome, if he wants to be less loathed. Worrying about what other people do with eachother is also a perversion.

  10. StevoR says

    @ ^ moonslicer : Other Christians that are embarrassed by him whose doctrines differ by enough of an iota to rule him to be “no true Christian” maybe? They used to murder other “Christian” people by burning them alive for things like that. Thankfully they can’t anymore and it clearly annoys them that they can’t any more and they’d change that if they could. Starting with the present victims of their hate but quickly moving on to, well, other Christians – just as in the “good” (not so-much), old ( not far into the past enough) days.. (centuries.).

  11. StevoR says

    Also “This..Is..Evil.”

    A song.

    A song with people in funny costumes (like Catholics can talk there!) is “evil.”

    Huh. What does that make decades, centuries, of child abuse, murder, pillage, genocide and all that stuff your Church has done in its history of crusades, quite literal witchcraft trials and subsequent executions and persecutions, tortures of astronomers for telling truths about our solar system, religious wars attacking SW Asia mainly but with some Byzantine “collateral damage” alon the blood-stained way, endless misogyny, homophobia and bigotry and oh yeah, systemic, covered up, enabled child rape and molestation.

    If a mere song rises to the level of evil what of all that?

    Think any journo will actually have the guts to ask him that?

  12. hemidactylus says

    Well with K.I.S.S. (Knights in Satan’s Service), AC/DC (Against Christ/Devil’s Children), and Led Zep’s backward masking being passe’ Boomer recruiting stuff the demonic powers had to upgrade their approach. Seriously this music-bashing schtick is moldy stuff. Old hat.

  13. Akira MacKenzie says

    Once again, I’m left dumbfounded that a civilization that split that atom, landed humans on the moon, and decoded the human genome is INFESTED with these credulous morons who still believe in primitive superstitions and the supernatural.

    Dumbfounded and disgusted…

  14. says

    Slippery slope, my friend.
    I once ate some candy that had a little cartoon devil on the box. Now I’m an atheist.
    Quod erat demonstrandum.

  15. Matt G says

    Poor Bill. It must be terrible to realize that the world is moving forward and nobody gives a crap about your hateful, outdated opinions.

  16. Ed Seedhouse says

    Powerful stuff. I felt a short lived impulse to worship Lord Satan and I didn’t even listen to the song…

  17. moonslicer says

    @ PZ Myers #15

    I remember when my younger brother was barely 2 years old. One day our older sister put a dress and a bonnet on him, and we took him around the neighborhood introducing him as our little sister. To this day, of course, he’s as cis and straight as they come.

    She never put a dress on me, and yet . . . What happened? I suppose at that tender age I’d already turned my back on God.

  18. hemidactylus says

    @18- rgmani
    Too mellow. The vocals on this one, whatever might be actually said, sound as if Satan is trying to communicate “something”:

    And I thought Meshuggah was way too much for me to deal with at my age. Yipes. Can’t see any fundie sitting down trying to decipher what is exactly going on there with that

  19. rgmani says

    @20 – hemidactylus

    I checked out the lyrics of the Defeated Sanity song. Unfortunately, there is nothing satanic about the song at all. It is a rant against the Hindu practice of sati (in which a widow is burned on the funeral pyre of her husband). If the Christian right could understand the lyrics, they would actually love it.

    I can understand Ghost being called mellow but I didn’t think that that word could be applied to anything by Behemoth. Granted, “O Father, O Satan, O Sun” is one of their somewhat more melodic songs. If it is harshness you want then check out “Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer“.

  20. weylguy says

    You survived, PZ, but alas I did not. After sinfully reading Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ banned books Lolita, Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, I now feel an overpowering urge to become a pedophile, a whoremonger and a reclusive watcher of children. Save me, O Republican protectorate of moral sanity!

  21. says

    I listened to an “evil” song and survived

    That just proves you’re one of the Devil’s minions and secretly believe in God while worshipping the Devil.

  22. birgerjohansson says

    I watched the Woodland Critter Christmas episode of South Park and now I am a Satanic serial ki … no, wait, I am still a boring nerd.

  23. birgerjohansson says

    Weylguy, to be endorsed by the Republicans you have to be more like, wossname, famous novel and film about some guy who becomes a preacher in the South while being, shall we say, imperfect.
    The story pre-dated the rise of televangelists by decades.

  24. Larry says

    I’d offer that the real path to satan and devilry is recorded backwards onto the record. The problem is, however, unlike vinyl records, there’s no way to play CDs backwards or to reverse the streaming audio.

  25. robro says

    birgerjohansson — That story may have pre-dated televangelists, but not itinerant evangelists. There were holy rollers all over the place, a natural progression from the fading carnival hucksters of previous generations. Sinclair Lewis had excellent examples in the mid-1920s.

  26. rrhain says

    So a song that calls adultery “unholy” is making the right wing freak out.

    I think they’re trying to tell us something….

  27. hemidactylus says

    @25-26 birgerjohansson
    Wow you’re launching heavy artillery today— Rollins and the Woodland Critters. I’m impressed!

  28. hemidactylus says

    @21- rgmani
    Actually Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer sounds really listenable to me. It doesn’t annoy me like the Suttee song or most of Meshuggah. Taste is subjective I suppose, but I’m now gonna follow Behemoth on Tidal to get a feel for what they do. Thanks.

  29. hemidactylus says

    Again to @21- rgmani
    It’s rare a song grabs me like that. But Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer hit the spot. I cut my teeth on Soulfly, and Sepultura (with Max) before that. Not sure if that experience preloaded me for your song.

    I can listen to Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss a billion times and say to myself that this is supposed to be really heavy but transcends that cubbyhole and becomes something else entirely! Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer does that and then some. Don’t even feel like sacrificing anything to Satan after or anything.

    BTW IMO Tool is the G.O.A.T.

  30. Tethys says

    The dancing has a real Cabaret/Sweet Charity vibe to it.

    Apparently Cruz is an uncultured ninny, in addition to being a sex-negative hatemonger.

    Can you even imagine Theater without the creative contributions of LGBTQ folk? Gender bending is one of its oldest traditions!

  31. rgmani says

    @ hemidactylus

    Glad you liked Behemoth. Their earlier albums are a little too harsh for me but the last three albums fall on the right side of the line. Of course, that means that die hard fans have accused them of selling out :). Anyway, their 2014 album The Satanist is one of the best extreme metal albums I have heard. Both Behemoth songs I linked to were from that album.

    Regarding Meshuggah, what irritates me the most about them is Jens Kidman’s singing. I really cannot put my finger on it but after a few songs, it really starts to grate. The instrumentalists (particularly Thomas Haake on drums) are pretty amazing but as a result of Kidman’s vocals, I have never been able to get through a full album before losing interest.

  32. hemidactylus says

    @35- rgmani
    For me Meshuggah goes well beyond nails on a chalkboard for some subjective reason. I watched Sam Dunn‘s Metal Evolution and thought Meshuggah and Mastodon were interesting. Mastodon stuck for me. Meshuggah not so much. Here’s Tom Cruise trying to figure out his place in some bizarre BDSM sphere:

    It. Never. Lets. Up. No breaks!

    Behemoth has promise. I oddly laughed at Necrophagist based on band name and song names, but they surprised me with musicality (for that very extreme genre).

  33. rgmani says

    @ hemidactylus

    My go-to version of Bleed is the live drum cam video. It allows me to focus on Thomas Haake’s incredible drumming and ignore Jens Kidman’s vocals. I saw Metal Evolution too and I agree, Mastodon is great.