Monday, March 14, 2016

Left Hand Path Consortium Removes Controversial Speaker

Quietly, and with little fanfare, the International Left Hand Path Consortium has removed a controversial speaker from its list of presenters. Augustus Invictus, a Libertarian senatorial candidate from Florida, had been invited to speak at the conference on the subject of magick. When it became public knowledge, it sparked an online debate.

You see, Invictus' online presence (and some statements made by the former chair of the Libertarian Party in Florida, who resigned over Florida Libertarian's failure to denounce his candidacy) left many believing that he held fascist and racist ideals. Comparing, for example, his twitter feed and his facebook pages to the Wikipedia description of "fascism," it looks like he intentionally took all the agreed-upon criteria of "fascism" and set about ensuring he had something present that fulfilled the obligation. His decision to speak at American Front, a white supremicist organization left him looking racist as well, despite having fathered four children with his hispanic wife.

Laurie Pneumatikos, the conference organizer, stood fast by her decision to host him in spite of calls for resistance by Antifa-Atlanta. This organization is a local extension of the anti-fascist group that had allegedly attacked one of Invictus' supporters and destroyed property they believed belonged to him during a visit to Portland, and who protested his presence in Canada, successfully getting him detained at the border and sent back to the United States.

Laurie's reasoning was simple: freedom of speech. Regardless of whether people agreed with him or not, she believed he had the right to say what he thought. Even when presenters Taylor Ellwood and Ken Henson publicly bowed out rather than be identified with him, she stood by her decision. In the face of my continued impassioned rhetorical statements in various media in opposition, she stood by her principles.

It was her Will to create a conference that taught the magical principles of the Left Hand Path, and as far as she was concerned, his political beliefs were separate from her intent to have him at her conference.

Ultimately, his removal from the roster came as a result of his own words. He apparently posted a long invective against me and anyone else who was protesting his presence. He acknowledged he was considered a fascist, and rather than deny it, attacked all who didn't agree with his politics for being afraid of what he represented, comparing us to swine, and sheep. In his rant he called on his detractors to come to the conference armed, with his post culminating in a challenge to actually kill him.

At this point, Laurie recognized the danger of having this person at her event. His invitation of violence against his person at her conference had legal ramifications that were just too much to accept. His vehement response resulted in her decision to remove him from the list of presenters.

It's worth pointing out that it had nothing to do with outside pressure from the likes of me or anyone else. She did not cave in to the opposition. She judged him by his own actions, and determined that he was not only a controversial person politically and ideologically, but also a person who seemed intent on bringing harm and violence to himself, and perhaps others.

To my knowledge, there has been no word on whether the speakers who withdrew over his presence will be invited back to speak, or who will replace Invictus at the conference.

While I respect Laurie's choice to stand by her principles, I am also pleased that he will not be given a podium to address the world with his toxic views.

In his vehement denunciation of those who disagreed with him, he mocked the attempts to shut down the conference over "words." I would suggest it's a very poor magician who doesn't appreciate the power of words to change the world. It was, in the end, his own words that eliminated him from the conference, words spoken in response to words from folks like me. Words are a powerful thing indeed, and should be respected.

Laurie has worked hard to establish the Left Hand Path Consortium as a place where occultists can gather and receive instruction from people who are effective and knowledgeable, where beliefs across the spectrum of the occult are presented equally. I am confident that her decision has only furthered her aims along these lines. This year's conference quality has been immensely improved by her decision.