|Obligatory Southpark Satan Photo.|
"Your parents have given you to us. They know what is happening."
--Don't Make Me Go Back, Mommy: A child's book about satanic ritual abuse
There is a wide range of claims about dangerous Satanism and criminal Satanic cults being circulated in American society. In brief, these claims assert that there exists a secret organization, or network, of criminals who worship Satan and who are engaged in the pornography business, forced prostitution, and drug dealing. These criminals also engage in the sexual abuse and torture of children in an effort to brainwash children into becoming life-long Devil worshipers. In their Devil worshiping rituals, these criminals kill and sacrifice infants, and sometimes adults, and commit cannibalism with the body parts.
--Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend
There are many silences to be broken here. Perhaps the biggest one emanates from thoughtful women's advocates and child protectionists who doubt the logic of ritual-abuse claims but hesitate to speak out because they lack an analysis with which to articulate their skepticism . . . if there is anything that can be called satanic about ritual abuse, it is the cacophony of media and scholarly prurience that has silenced thoughtful exploration of its roots and meanings.
--Satan's Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt
In the 1980s and early 90s, Satan was around every corner. Starting with the publication of Michelle Remembers, parents, policy-makers, and law enforcement fell under the spell of a hysteria driven by fears of ritualistic child abuse in day cares. The hysteria quickly rose to prominence, being featured by Geraldo Rivera and 20/20; the hysteria caused Proctor & Gamble to change their logo. Unfortunately, the hysteria did not stop at mere speculation: it fueled a series of highly publicized and celebrated trials and convictions of day care workers, all who vehemently declared their innocence. In the most famous, the McMartin trial, the California spent seven years and $15 million dollars prosecuting day care operators. Unlike many of the cases, the McMartin defendants were ultimately acquitted.
|This is exactly the sort of thing you should be showing your children.|
Ironically, this missive prohibiting interrogation went ignored by the law enforcement community.
By the mid-90s, the interest in supporting allegations of Satanic Abuse Rituals had shifted; in its place came an academic interest in showing how wrong the Satanic hysteria was about everything. Instead of a vast Satanic conspiracy of rape, sacrifice, and blackmail, scholars uncovered a vast mechanism to badger children into false accusations and a criminal justice system eager to convict innocent defendants of crimes. Coupled with sensationalistic journalism, those accused of these crimes stood defenseless.
|P&G's Old Logo. Very Satanic.|
Satan's Silence, focuses more on the role of politics and law in the Satanic hysteria. The authors place Satanic crimes as creating an alliance between conservatives (who could use the Satanic crimes as a moral target) and a branch of liberals (who used the child-victimization as an extension of feminist efforts to combat rape-culture). The result was the creation of the perfect victim (innocent children) and the perfect enemy (evil, Satan-worshiping child molesters). The authors include in-depth analyses of the science behind the accusers and how/why people bought into such patently absurd junk science.
The books, taken together, document an interesting (and I think mostly forgotten) witch hunt that consumed U.S. society for roughly ten years. Although Satanism is not so much a pressing concern now, the problem posed by witch hunts and the circular logic they bring is a problem that seems to elude permanent resolution.