[Author's Note: I wrote this article in early 2007, when I had first become actively involved in the plural community and some of its affairs. While I agree with most of what I've written, I feel that this article should be treated as representative of my thoughts in 2007, and not necessarily a reflection of my current beliefs, which are more nuanced and probably shouldn't be accompanied by annoying Satanic animated gifs.] —Hess Sakamoto-Kalashnikov, 2010

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There is a really, really pernicious concept that seems to float around multiplicity forums, and it's the stereotype of the 'evil demon alter'. If you've been in those communities, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. The scared host comes in and makes a post about how their scary evil demon alter is either:
  1. having anonymous promiscuous sex
  2. is threatening to hurt people somewhere
  3. is keeping them from being faithful to Lord Jeeeeeeezus Christ
...or something else the 'host' doesn't particularly like. It could be anything, like, say, wanting to put anchovies on the pizza whereas the host would prefer pineapple or tuna. And of course, the post is followed by several comments saying that they wish that they could help, and a few snarking at them for being so stupid on teh intarwebz.

I'm sure that you'd like to know exactly WHY the idea of an EVIL DEMON ALTER is particularly pernicious. There are various reasons for that. Firstly, that evil demon alter is hardly ever allowed to speak for themselves. It's always the host, coming in to make themselves look as though they're completely responsible, and there's nothing that they can do about that uncontrollable alter. I really don't think that that set-up is in the 'alter's' favour, either - the opinion of the 'evil alter' is COMPLETELY framed by the host. There's no way that they can come in and refute the claims of them being a nasty person, or to give an explanation of exactly *why* they act that way.

Also, when it comes to the host's coming in to post about evil demon alters in forums, I'd think that the host knows more about that evil demon alter than some of the people in the forums and communities do. Shouldn't the host try to handle it WITHIN the group, or amongst friends who may know more about them? (Now there's something to be said by getting uninvolved people to help to analyse the situation in a support community, but it's not good when you're just painting EVIL DEMON ALTER to be completely unreasonable.)

Of course, there are problems with the way people treat 'evil demon alters'. Besides not letting them speak for themselves, they're often punished and just locked away (or worse, killed) without being reasoned with, because it's assumed that they don't know a damn thing about reason and logic, because they've been pegged with the EVIL DEMON ALTER label, and with the way the 'host' thinks about the evil demon alters, there's no way for them to speak for themselves. Even the ones who REALLY do bad things can be TALKED to, and maybe sent to therapists within the group space, or told NOT to front for the group's own good. They don't seem to emphasise personal responsibility at ALL when 'evil demon alters' are concerned. It seems to be either 'lock them up!!!11' or 'ZOMG EV0L DEMON ALTAR IZ RUANING MAI LAIFE NAO!!!!11' Like it or not, there is no easy way to deal with others all the time, whether they're in a plural group or NOT.

I think that if people treat some of their odder group mates as evil demon alters from the start and keep on doing it, it's inevitable that these people are going to get pissed off and are going to do things just to act out BECAUSE they've been treated like shit, not because they're inherently arseholes.

In the past, I've sometimes been classed as the 'evil demon alter', not necessarily by my group mates, but by other people who don't take the time to get to know me, so this rant is kind of personal. (For the record, I'm neither evil, nor a demon, nor an alter!) They just make judgements about my writing style, personality, sense of humour or what have you and I'm suddenly pegged as 'evil' and to be avoided at all costs. It's definitely had negative effects on my self-esteem, and I imagine that other people who have experienced the same treatment might view things similarly. I think that appealing to someone's better nature is generally the best bet in handling folks like this.