Can a Satanist be the victim of a hate crime? The Village Voice’s Kristen Lombardi investigates the case of Daniel Romano, a 20-year old Satanist from Queens who was beaten last January by two Christian acquaintances (both of whom claim the dispute was over money, not religious beliefs). Lombardi’s question goes beyond the gleeful tabloid headlines and standard incredulity about protecting Satanists as religious minorities, and considers the criticism Romano has received from other Satanists, who argue that since Romano assumed a “victim role,” and wasn’t able to “handle the street,” he doesn’t qualify as a member of the real Church of Satan, which doesn’t really worship Satan, but sees him as a metaphor for concepts of individualism and self-determination, and stresses the necessity of intelligence, self-defense and self-honesty. Like Ayn Randians with a gothic flair. Though these won’t be the questions that occupy the courts now that the attackers have been indicted under the state hate crime act — nor those raised by the Libertarian Party in its attempt to use the case to ridicule hate crime laws in general — what Lombardi’s asking is a theological question more complicated than whether or not John Kerry should get Communion; something that seems parallel to theodicy: can a Satanist (or “atheist auto-deist,” as Romano also calls himself) become a victim, and still be a Satanist?