The Number Of The Beast – Satanic Panic in 2021

Note – I originally intended to post this last Friday, the 15th. I started coming into updated information about this incident so I held off until the final news of the matter came through. I had to rewrite most of what I had. This is why I don’t mess with current event stuff much. I’m a hobby blogger, not a damn reporter and I don’t have time for breaking news. I’ll still post this but it’s kind of a damn mess.

A strange case that seemed ripped out of headlines from 1986 came to the attention of heavy metal social media a few weeks ago. A group of parents with children in a high school in Ontario, Canada started an online petition to have the school’s principal removed from her job.

The original petition, since deleted, had a bit over 500 signatures to it. A counter petition filed by students of the school in support of the principal and obviously noticed by Iron Maiden fans, was over 23,000 signatures when I last looked Sunday afternoon. I will briefly mention that I think online petitions are totally useless, and then move on.

After some back and forth over the issue, someone who filed the original petition doubled down on their efforts. The filer suggested that they were uninterested in the principal’s music taste, but was concerned about the use of the number 666 on a sign the school official made in support of the band. Also, the principal dared flash the dreaded “devil horns” gesture in photos involving her obvious love of Iron Maiden. It is worth noting that the photos were posted to the principal’s official Instagram account as agent of the school, not a personal account.

Metal and rock sites offered details of the story and metal Twitter and Facebook lit aflame with criticism of the original petition filers. The filer continued to double down on the criticism of the Satanic imagery, even suggesting that the “battle” wasn’t over after the principal removed the photos from the school’s IG account. A campaign to “get to know” the “real” issue came from the first petition, even as the counter petition swallowed the original in signatures.

Someone file a petition to get me to stop using quotation marks in a sardonic manner, please.

This issue would dissolve for good on Saturday, October 16, when the school announced the principal would remain in her potion with no sanctions or action taken. The original petition was disabled and everyone went their merry way, I suppose. Here is a link to a article outlining the likely final resolution in this case.

This case did remind me of something and also easily caught my attention since Iron Maiden is my favorite band. The following text is the second part of what I wrote originally about this whole thing and I’ve decided to post it unedited. It might make for an incoherent narrative so I wanted to make a note of it for context.

There is no escaping the number 666 with Iron Maiden – it is woven into one of their most famous songs. The Number Of The Beast is usually an auto-include in any tour setlist and is one of the band’s most celebrated works. I would imagine that shirts, posters, tapestries and other merchandise of the album are among the band’s highest-selling merch offerings, and the album itself is a classic that is often ranked at least top 5 in the band’s catalog, if not at the very top.

And the devil horns? A common sign from heavy metal and also often rock fans. Hell, it’s used in other applications outside of music, such as fans of the University of Texas Longhorns sports teams. Sure, they’re popularly known as “devil horns,” but the gesture likely not invented by Gene Simmons does not truly bear any Satanic connotations. It’s just a thing, that’s all it really is.

I won’t get into some huge theological argument here. I’m not a religious person but this site isn’t a space where I intend to really discuss that outside of any relevant context to music. I know plenty of very awesome religious people who are into heavy metal, and I know plenty of very awesome religious people who aren’t into heavy metal who probably think this whole thing is a joke and would not want someone removed from her job because she likes a band.

The overriding point I get out of all this is flashbacks to that absurd battle of the 1980’s – the Satanic Panic. It was quite the chore to grow up and get into rock and metal while everyone was flipping out about real and perceived Satanism in music, movies, behind bushes and in shadows everywhere. That panic informed a great deal of my music-listening childhood and adolescence. I will get much deeper into these themes another time, but I and many others had some memories surface when hearing about this kind of crap going on toward the end of 2021, and about 27 years after the harrowing conclusion of the Satanic Panic.

In the end, all I can really do is hope the principal gets to keep her job (she will). She seems loved by her students and hopefully reason will prevail in a world where it often doesn’t. I don’t expect the group of parents calling for her head to grasp the folly of their argument or to open their perspectives to any different views. That’s not how we do business in the world in 2021.

If nothing else, I’m sure this woman will not have to pay for any beverage of her choice the next time she sees Iron Maiden in concert. If I know anything, it’s that this community does rally around its own. Down with panic, and as always, Up The Irons.

4 thoughts on “The Number Of The Beast – Satanic Panic in 2021

  1. While I do fully acknowledge that the “personal” (darn those quotations!) page would have been the more appropriate place for the photos, I doubt it really would have mattered.
    Funny how the main problem with Religious extremism is that it’s Religious extremism.
    Oh shit, I posted one of those “screaming goats” videos on my Facebook page several years ago. Since Iron Maiden has probably had a Metal band who uses goats in their symbolism open up for them, at some point over the decades, do you think we should start an online petition blaming the Maidens for my transgressions?? It’s gotta be their fault, right? In fact, maybe we should try to prove that Steve Harris invented goats–hundreds of thousands of years before he was born–to spread evil??

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m really surprised that this got as much coverage as it did.

    Then again, people behind keyboards believe they have a right to take someone’s job away because of their musical preferences. And social media can amplify it.

    Clicks means dollars hence why the Metal websites kept running with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Social media was the main push behind this one, the news sites picked up on the story after it was spreading on Twitter like wildfire. Then the wind went out of the sails once the school said the principal would keep her job.

      Liked by 1 person

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