Abdicating responsibility: Can we still blame the devil?

The phenomenon of a school murder is certainly not new. There’s a good chance that you may have heard about the notorious Columbine High School massacre that occurred when two teens, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, took it upon themselves to remove some of their fellow students from the gene pool. The first thing that people started asking was why did it happen? When answers weren’t forthcoming immediately, some reason had to be found and talk abounded about the effects that the gothic subculture, bullying, violent computer games and the availability of guns have on teenagers.

In his 2002 movie, Bowling for Columbine, filmmaker Michael Moore interviewed “shock-rocker” Marilyn Manson.

Michael Moore asked Marilyn Manson, “If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine or the people in that community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?”

Marilyn Manson replied, “I wouldn’t say a single word to them, I would listen to what they have to say and that’s what no one did.”

This, in my mind, is perhaps a telling reason why some youngsters feel the need to look toward the occult or “darkness” in imagery when they choose to express themselves. But to say that all youngsters who tend toward this are, at heart potential killers, is a display of faulty logic. By the same measure, fingers can be pointed to other religious affiliations, whose adherents commit crimes of violence. What then, can be asked, about so-called “holy” wars? This is a social quagmire.

Issues of social alienation, a fascination with the occult and “dark” subcultures, have often been blamed for abhorrent behaviour in youngsters and, from time to time crop up closer to home. Not too long ago, during August 2008, a Krugersdorp learner Morne Harmse, who attended Nic Diederichs Technical High School, took a sword to school and aimed a few swipes at his fellow learners, slashing young Jaques Pretorius fatally through the throat before going on to injure three others.

The uproar was phenomenal, making front-page news in many newspapers in South Africa. So, why did he do it? The name of the band Slipknot was mentioned in the same breath as the word as “Satanic” and that the boy was somehow “possessed” by an evil spirit due to his dabbling with so-called occult forces.

According to an article published on www.iol.co.za, Christian pastor Marc Bredenkamp felt quite strongly about that there was a link to Harmes and Satanism. By observing Harmse’s reported behaviour, Bredenkamp believes that the boy is a self-styled Satanist. This term refers to people who follow a form of Satanism which they evolve themselves and are not governed by any other group or individual. 1

In the same article, Bredenkamp is further paraphrased speaking about the evils of heavy metal. Bredenkamp says death metal or heavy metal music can play a role because the lyrics are hopeless and make the listener believe there is no hope in the future, but he added that this did not mean that the music was entirely to blame.

So, was the devil behind it? Does dabbling in so-called “evil” forces and listening to heavy metal music result in an instant desire to go out and mutilate, main and murder? Ask upstanding Christians about Satan and you’re bound to receive a range of reactions, mostly of disgust and fear. You don’t have to go far on the World Wide Web to dredge up opinions too countless to deal with in the scope of this article.

According to Dr Attie Lamprecht, senior superintendent at the SAPS detectives’ head office, “Satanism is not a crime, it is a belief system that leads to crime. There are some of the Satanic rules that will get you in trouble sooner or later. Satan represents all of the sins, and young people apply them to their lives.” 2

But, so far, has anyone bothered asking one of the major Satanic organisations what its opinion is?


Magus Peter H Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan, a religious organisation founded by Anton La Vey during the 1960s, kindly added his five cents when contacted for comment on the Krugersdorp incident.

Saffron: Do you see a link between Morne’s actions and Satanism?

Peter: I currently see no relation to Satanism in this incident. Certainly such killings are contrary to the philosophy of Satanism. There is no rational way to speculate as to what motivated this student to commit his crimes. Until one had statements by him or had the chance to interview him, any opinion would simply be pure theory, and weak theory at that since it wouldn’t be based on any data.

Saffron: Any religion, if taken to an extreme, can be dangerous. Where do you draw the line between right and wrong?

Peter: Making broad statements about religions and extremes is simplistic and pointless. It all depends upon what religion is in question and what could be defined as an extreme – and whether that extreme is supported by the philosophy and scriptures of the religion or if such extremes are in fact contrary to the philosophy of the religion which then makes them acts which are OUTSIDE of the religion in question.

Satanism is a religion of atheism, scepticism, and reason, which supports law and order and complete secularity of government. It is NOT devil worship, does not embrace supernatural beliefs, and in fact feels that a social contract is mandatory for our species. Concerning situations of criminal behaviour, we insist that the punishment should fit in kind and degree the crime. This is very clear from our literature.

Saffron: How would you suggest helping misguided teens, such as this boy?

Peter: The following text is from an essay in my book The Satanic Scriptures called Victors and Victims: From West Memphis to Columbine, which answers your question about Satanism and disturbed students in commenting on the Columbine incident, where the killers were known to be intelligent and creative by the school officials and their fellow students:

One thing might have helped defuse the situation: Satanism. If Klebold and Harris had understood real Satanism and chosen to live by it, their vengeance spree would not have happened. Satanism would have taught them that, indeed, they were not like these others, and that such is a positive attribute. Satanism would have taught them that they had only one life, and that their intelligence and talent would take them along paths which would lead to their drinking deeply from that cup which is offered but once. They would have known that Satanists practice Lex Talionis, making the punishment fit in kind and degree the crime. With their superior intelligence, they should have been able to respond to taunting with verbal wit, and made responsible administrators aware of their pain. They would see that the herd cannot help their nature, and that the human who really flows with Nature learns to walk nimbly between these ponderous golems, to snatch the bounties that the dullards will never even see. The Satanist finds a way to prevent the torture, and means to be free to prosper, as living well is truly the best revenge. If these two had a Satanist’s perspective, they would not have seen the transitory period of High School as being such an insurmountable burden, and they would not have been compelled to commit heinous acts against innocent victims.

Instead, they saw no way out, and thus made their last stand, and perhaps did so as a gesture for those they thought to be like themselves. They are now icons for the alienated, and an example that sets up an Is-To-Be that desperate others may follow. Satanism can stop it. Satanism sees the futility of martyrdom, as what matter is it becoming a symbol while losing your own life? To the Satanist, his own life is the most precious. Let fools die and become symbols. Self-immolation is “herd think,” Christian life’s blood—the essence of their creed. And so in this siege, they essentially finally adopted the herd’s premise that one’s own life can and should be thrown away.

Saffron: Do you think that extreme music can influence your behaviour?

Peter: The idea that any sort of music, whether somebody considers it “extreme” or not, could influence behaviour of a sane individual to commit acts not congruent with their character and beliefs is complete nonsense. People are not robots who can be programmed into behaving in certain ways simply by listening to music. If that was the case, then we could broadcast positive tunes with happy messages that would make everyone behave like nice little automatons. That just doesn’t happen.

Individuals who have mental illnesses on the other hand can be influenced by anything, from a leaf falling to seeing secret messages in alphabet soup. You cannot base the validity of any aesthetic expression – be it music, art, literature, film or poetry – on whether a mentally unstable person has used it as motivation for insane acts. Responsibility does not lie with the artist or art form, it rests on the person who was looking for any excuse to justify the behaviour in question. People are horrified when a person snaps and kills innocent victims and they look for easy answers – there are none. At such times of shock and grief it is important not to scapegoat a song or a band or a religion to get a quick answer.

Studying what happened over the course of the disturbed person’s life might give some clue as to why that person finally acted in such horrific ways, but the responsibility for each person’s actions must stay with the person themselves and not be fobbed off on something else to make the victims feel better by providing an excuse. There is no excuse or simple cause when an irrational person explodes in violence. The emotional trauma has no simple or quick fixes. To think otherwise is classic lynch-mob mentality, which has no place in a sane society.

Saffron: Is belonging to a minority religion/sub-culture dangerous?

Peter: There is no inherent danger in participating in many minority religions or sub-cultures. Remember that most of the present majority religions and above-ground cultural forms began as small niche associations and, over time, those that had values that drew in more followers ultimately graduated to become the major generators of mass beliefs and practices. If a particular religion has life-threatening actions as part of its practices – such as the evangelical Christian sects that handle poisonous snakes – then that would be an exception and could be seen as being dangerous. The sexual sub-culture that practices auto-erotic asphyxiation would also been seen the same way. I’d add to that any sub-culture that encourages the use of addictive substances.

But outside of those rare exceptions, no, there’s no inherent danger in simply being part of something that is not embraced by the majority. The only historical exception to that would be if the majority had the power to put you to death for not sharing their beliefs – which was the situation for much of the past two thousand years when Christian churches worked with governments to exterminate anyone they considered to be heretics. That bloody history should not be ignored. Christianity – with its central image of a father God sacrificing his only son as well as offering rituals which claim to be the eating of their saviour’s flesh and the drinking of his blood – is currently considered to be harmless when in fact it was the motivating force behind centuries of slaughtering innocent people.

Satanism, unlike Christianity, does not advocate murder of those who think differently. We Satanists never forget that fact. Satanism embraces life, since it is fleeting and precious. For us, enjoying the one life we have is our goal and sharing it with the people we cherish.


In Closing, it is abundantly clear that each case of school violence or incident with supposed occult or Satanic influences must be viewed individually.

The crime Morne Harmse committed was deplorable. Reading the assorted newspaper articles, it is clear that it was premeditated and the act of an individual in control of his actions. 3

Morne knew what he was doing when he donned the mask and gripped that sword. Morne, alone, is to blame for his actions and we should not seek “easy” answers by pointing fingers. Morne needs help. He needs people to listen to him.

If it were heavy music, a subculture or Satanism that is to blame, why aren’t there thousands more involved in these things being found guilty of similar, heinous crimes? Why is there no hue and cry over the so-called “influences” of Christianity when a Christian murders his children, as in the case of policeman Marius van der Westhuizen. 4

It doesn’t matter what your religion or culture is. When the circumstances are right – or wrong, in these cases – any individual can take a life.

Media sources:

1: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20080830090132803C149540

2: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20080925054910111C569982

3: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=nw20081024101933125C343355

4: http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=13&art_id=vn20090305124014181C107293


9 Responses to “Abdicating responsibility: Can we still blame the devil?”

  1. starviego Says:

    Satanism definitely had something to do with the motivations of the killers at Columbine. The fact is the trenchcoat mafia was heavily satanic; though this lead was never followed up by investigators.

    1)  TCMer Eric Dutro walking around the school cafeteria telling people that “Satan loves you”(Kelly Beer, 6106) in the spring of ’98.

    2)   Courtney van Dell, aka ‘devil girl,’  wore barettes in her hair to make it look like she had horns.  Said to be a ‘wikken'(sic) or a devil worshipper(Kristi Mohrbacher(1010), Jessica Lucero(1508 ), Leigh Ann Clark(2723)).

    3)  The students seeking shelter with Clement Park worker Steve Ogle(1056) told him the perpetrators were TCM and were “satanists”.

    4)  Jecoa Catt(1364) told IO that the TCM were satanic.

    5)  Jason Jones(1474) observed the TCM playing ‘magic’ cards in the cafeteria, which were about the devil and about power.

    6)  Lacey Shotts(1651) said she believed the TCM students were ‘devil worshippers.’

    7)  Jen Smull saw Robert Perry at a halloween party dressed as a worlock(1827).

    8 ) Student Perlman(4054) said Joe Stair used to come to woodshop class with a book he called ‘the devil’s bible’.

    9)  Prior to 4th hour on 4-20, Nicole Ray(4144) saw a male TCMer in the science hall, with his hair fashioned into devil’s horns.

    10) TCM associate Nathan Dykeman’s bedroom wall was supposedly covered with devil posters(4630).

    11)  Nathan Dykeman says Harris called him ‘devil man’.(10710)

    12)  Daniel Burg(5838 ) told the IO that “…the TCM–they’re like satanists.”

    13)  TCM leader Chris Morris told Mark Hengel(5899) “I don’t believe in God. I follow Satan’s Commandmants.”

    14)  Sara Lutes(6821) says the TCM were satanic, and that they wore satanic symbols on their shirts, underneath their trenchcoats.

    15)  Chris Hooker, 18, said they were “satanic individuals.”
    “We’d see them every day. They’ve threatened to kill people … but nobody thought that was serious,” Hooker said.

    16)  Library Intern Mary Ziccardi(13647) spent one week at CHS in November of ’98.  Says Eric Harris “looked like the devil” and may have worn black lipstick.

    17)  Teacher Mr. Long(EP24-17) said he kicked TCM associate Joe Stair out the computer class for accessing satanic sights.  This happened last year.(1998)

    18 ) TCM associate Eric Ault(10645) told the IOs that “they were into satanic worship.”

    19)  Jennfer Harmon(8835):  “…one of their friends-‘Becka’-was waiting for the devil to take over the soul.”

    20)  Brooks Brown(USAToday.com):  “They’re(TCM) all big on anti-God Satanism.  They are really just ‘pure hate’.”

    21)  What kind of music did the TCM like?  ‘Devil’ music according to Brandi Wiseman(4751).

    22)  Trista Fogerty(1420):  TCM were satanic, when she first got to CHS friends told her to avoid the group.

    23)  Nicole Markham(8794):  “Harris was into…heavy satanic music.”

    24)  Nicole Lawson, sophomore(3526):  (TCM associates)”Stephanie(Kinny) and Kelly(Schwab) would draw “fnords” on the black board.  Fnords are little symbols that were servants of the devil.  They would draw a whole bunch of them.  They did it when no one was looking.”    [‘fnord’ is thought to stand for ‘for no other reason, discord’]

    25)  TCM associate Chuckie Phillips(10866) internet code(Puterfnord@…) name was meant to represent a servant of the devil.

    26) Dustin Harrison(6577): “Dustin said (Redacted) ‘scared me to death’ because Dustin had heard that (Redacted) was a member of the “Hells Angels” satanic group and said that this satanic group is into human sacrifices. Dustin said that (Redacted) was very verbal about his desire to kill people.”

  2. onyxdrake Says:

    You do leave some amusing reference, good sir, but I think you miss the point of the article.

  3. carmeleon Says:

    Dear starviego, you seem to be as easily influenced and instantly defensive as 90% of the world population as soon as the word satan is uttered. Read the article again and then rethink your comment.

  4. Amusing, but a “fnord” was a piece of nonsense created by the Discordian Society in the 1950s in the US and popularized by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson in their novel _Illuminatus!_ “Fnord” was never defined nor was any meaning associated with it by either the non-Satanic Discordians or the equally non-Satanic Mr. Shea and Mr. Wilson.

  5. “Satanism definitely had something to do with the motivations of the killers at Columbine. The fact is the trenchcoat mafia was heavily satanic; though this lead was never followed up by investigators.”

    The list is full of hearsay and misinformation. For someone to say “fnord” has anything to do with Satanism is clearly grasping as strawmen (to mix metaphors). Look it up on wikipedia…

    These kids were “outsiders”, but people calling them “satanic” doesn’t make them so. Is is true that Jews are Satanists? How about Mormons?

    Anyway, really weak list of anecdotal evidence… proves nothing (unless you count it as proof that there is no good evidence to support your claims).

  6. Alan Cabal Says:

    Maybe Columbine wasn’t about Satanism at all.

    Look at this evidence:


  7. Karin Kosina Says:

    Thank you for this excellent article.

    I am saddened that even in our day and age, people still resort to superstition (“the devil made him do it”) rather than trying to understand the psychological and social factors that ultimately cause such tragedies.

    I thought we had left the medieval age behind some centuries ago. Perhaps I should start looking out for people with pitchforks screaming “burn the witch!”

    • onyxdrake Says:

      It’s a pleasure. It’s important that people realise there are no easy answers. I sometimes think it’s like shouting down a hurricane but every small bit helps.

  8. Michelle Diamond Says:

    It is good to see that Marc and Peter have been pointed out as qualifying to provide opposite insights. If anything stands to reason.. this certainly does.

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