You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

EDITORIAL

‘Black mass’ at Harvard: Don’t feed the trolls

Courtesty of the Satanic Temple

The “black mass” controversy at Harvard ended with a fizzle — and, possibly, a Scorpion Bowl. After promising to reenact a satanic ritual on campus Monday, a group of Harvard Extension School students, in conjunction with a New York group called the Satanic Temple, had drawn condemnations from the Archdiocese of Boston, Harvard President Drew Faust, and hundreds of local Catholics, some of whom marched in protest of a rite they said mocked Catholicism. Faust and her administrators declined to throw the group off campus, citing the right to free assembly. But the public outcry seemed to do its job: Somehow, the Satanists abandoned their campus location and claimed that they instead held a quiet ceremony at the Hong Kong restaurant in Harvard Square.

Continue reading it below

A wearisome dispute now seems to be over. Still, it’s useful to read the snarky comments of a Satanic Temple leader — who wryly told Boston Magazine that, in the ritual, “Satan appears, and everybody plays spin the bottle” — and see this episode for what it was: an effort at trolling, not a statement about religion or free speech. It’s understandable, but too bad, that Catholic groups took the bait; without a public backlash, such a deliberate effort to stir up rancor would have passed with minimal attention. In the future, Harvard should feel no need to indulge such affairs with a promise of campus space. The Constitution protects speech on public property. A private institution has no obligation to help trolls.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.