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Sun Jul 11, 2021, 07:08 AM

Conviction of Things Not Seen: The Uniquely American Myth of Satanic Cults

Last edited Sun Jul 11, 2021, 05:33 PM - Edit history (1)

snip

The period of nationwide moral hysteria that came to be known as the Satanic Panic began in 1980 with the publication of Michelle Remembers, a biographical account of the repressed memories of the childhood ritual abuse purportedly suffered by Canadian psychiatric patient Michelle Smith. Written by Smith and her psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, whom she later married, Michelle Remembers detailed the abuse that Smith alleged she experienced at the hands of her mother and other members of a Satanic cult during the mid-1950s in her native British Columbia. Pazder, who was originally treating Smith for depression following a miscarriage, helped Smith surface these memories by means of regression hypnosis, a highly controversial psychotherapeutic technique whose validity has been widely called into question by members of the mental health community.

The book, which earned Pazder and Smith more than $340,000 in hardcover and paperback rights alone, became a phenomenon. Tabloids publicized the new book widely, after which Pazder and Smith embarked on a lengthy book tour across the U.S. As Michelle Remembers gained in popularity, the media rarely questioned the truthfulness of Smith’s account of her supposedly abusive upbringing and the atrocities she endured. Smith claimed she had been imprisoned in cages among live snakes, forced to watch as members of her mother’s cult slaughtered kittens in front of her, and even endured 81 consecutive days of consistent physical abuse as the cultists engaged in a prolonged ritual to summon Satan himself. In 1989, almost 10 years after the publication of Michelle Remembers, Oprah Winfrey featured Smith as a guest on her show alongside Laurel Rose Willson, author of the equally fictitious Satanic ritual abuse survival memoir Satan’s Underground, which was published under the pseudonym Lauren Stratford. Both women’s experiences were presented by Winfrey as incontrovertible fact, and not once did she question the authenticity of any claim in either book.

snip

In the vast majority of reported cases of Satanic ritual abuse, it was the testimony of the allegedly abused children themselves that damned dozens of innocent people to lengthy prison sentences and a lifetime of social exile. However, subsequent review of these cases revealed that much of this testimony was obtained through coercion and suggestive interviewing techniques by overzealous social workers, and that these statements were rarely questioned by investigating officers. Despite the utter lack of evidence to corroborate claims of Satanic cult activity, new cases continued to be reported—and believed—nationwide, yet officials were no closer to uncovering any vast organized conspiracy by intergenerational Satanic cults.

snip

Lanning’s report critically examined the often-fluid definitions of Satanism that were used interchangeably by many law enforcement agencies, as well as debunking supposed indicators of Satanic crime highlighted during police training seminars such as symbolism in heavy metal music and fantasy role-playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Lanning also offered several alternative explanations for similarities among the disparate eyewitness accounts, including pathological distortions commonly observed in cases of Munchausen syndrome. It was the first time anyone had objectively challenged the commonalities in cases of ritual abuse that police forces across the country were taking as irrefutable evidence of Satanic cult activity.

https://psmag.com/social-justice/make-a-cross-with-your-fingers-its-the-satanic-panic

I remember Mc Martin pre-school and many of these Satanic Ritual Abuse stories. Back then I said they were crap and I was not surprised when they all fell apart. That none of these 'experts' lost their licenses or went to jail was criminal

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Reply Conviction of Things Not Seen: The Uniquely American Myth of Satanic Cults (Original post)
rpannier Jul 2021 OP
jimfields33 Jul 2021 #1
Buckeye_Democrat Jul 2021 #2
Scrivener7 Jul 2021 #3
Effete Snob Jul 2021 #5
Scrivener7 Jul 2021 #12
Effete Snob Jul 2021 #17
Elessar Zappa Jul 2021 #8
slightlv Jul 2021 #9
Scrivener7 Jul 2021 #11
slightlv Jul 2021 #18
Scrivener7 Jul 2021 #24
niyad Jul 2021 #13
slightlv Jul 2021 #19
niyad Jul 2021 #22
Bucky Jul 2021 #4
WhiskeyGrinder Jul 2021 #10
Merlot Jul 2021 #15
multigraincracker Jul 2021 #6
Effete Snob Jul 2021 #7
niyad Jul 2021 #14
mopinko Jul 2021 #16
Deep State Witch Jul 2021 #20
Deep State Witch Jul 2021 #21
KentuckyWoman Jul 2021 #23
A.M. Kittenplan Jul 2021 #25
I_UndergroundPanther Jul 2021 #26
GulfCoast66 Jul 2021 #27

Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 07:38 AM

1. Yes the Mcmartin case was a travesty

That family was destroyed! I never knew what happened after vindication. Sad case.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 07:46 AM

2. Many Americans have been gullible idiots...

... for decades.

I was shocked to overhear so many people discussing a Geraldo Rivera TV special about Satanic cults, with expressions of fear and paranoia.

I had watched it the previous evening too, mocking it for being insane.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:06 AM

3. Wow. There is a lot to unpack in that. The article is unique and correct in that it posits that

in some cases (not the famous ones) the fabricated tales of ritual abuse might be mixed up in the telling about true experiences of - I don't quite know how to say it - "regular" child abuse, and they do need to be investigated.

“The focus on the Satanic or bizarre elements did not prevent investigators from doing their job; it just made it difficult to prove what actually happened,” Lanning says. “Most people would agree that just because a victim tells you one detail that turns out to be true, this does not mean that every detail is true. But many people–and the criminal justice system–seem to believe that if you can disprove one part of a victim's story, then the entire story is false. I believe people should be considered innocent unless proven guilty, but I also believe that a certain number of these cases involved a seed of truth that got buried.”


There's a really problematic paragraph in there, which is this:
“Americans prefer black-and-white problems with simple answers,” Lanning says. “Society seems to especially have a problem addressing any sexual-victimization case in which the adult offender is not completely ‘bad’ or the child victim is not completely ‘good.’ Part of the appeal of Satanic ritual abuse was that when someone we knew molested a child after our protection efforts had failed, it was easier to escape guilt by blaming it on an evil Satanist who was part of a cunning and highly organized group. However, even without the Satanic element, the sexual victimization of children remains a highly emotional issue, with simplistic stereotypes of offenders as evil predators and victims as innocent angels still prevalent and problematic.”


I find this a totally inappropriate way to discuss sexual abuse of children. The predators ARE evil and the victims ARE innocent. To suggest otherwise is disgusting.

The interesting question, which I have still yet to see discussed is, "What is it in us that makes us willing to believe it?" When the McMaster thing broke, I remember that there was NO pushback on it for months. There wasn't a republican/Democratic or religious/non-religious divide. Everyone's reaction was "WTF! WHAT happened? How could that happen?" There will be those here who say, "Oh, I never believed it," but I think that's hindsight. The nation was very credible about it for a long time until the really crazy stories started coming out.

And finally, I do have to say this: if you were a kid growing up in Yonkers, NY in the 70s, you knew about the weird guys in black robes who paraded around Untermeyer Park (now a very beautiful botanical garden, but then an abandoned park full of crumbling, eerie structures), about the old pump house with upside down crosses and pentagrams painted on the walls, and you heard about the frequent findings in the area of german shepherds who had been killed by having their throats cut. And then you were very shocked when Son of Sam turned out to have been a member of that group, and other purported members of the group died very young in violent accidents or murders. It had nothing to do with child abuse, but there was at least one group cosplaying devil worship, and that group was involved in some really terrible things.

(I suspect I will take some heat for this post, but there it is.)

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Response to Scrivener7 (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:48 AM

5. Where do you suppose they got the German Shepherds?


It’s kind of tricky to steal a watchdog. Tough to catch stray ones, too. Were there a lot of them walking around as volunteers, or was there a no-questions-asked dog pound?

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Response to Effete Snob (Reply #5)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:07 AM

12. Gosh. That proves it! You have totally debunked everything!

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Response to Scrivener7 (Reply #12)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 10:43 AM

17. It's just a question

I’m curious where they got the German Shepherds.

I thought you might know. I don’t really know where I’d get a regular supply of sacrificial German Shepherds.

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Response to Scrivener7 (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:53 AM

8. There was a so called Satanic cult

in our area too. They would hang out in caves near town and do some rituals. I’m not sure if they abused animals or anything like that but they did exist, I knew one of the dudes involved. I chalk most of it up to teen rebellion.

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Response to Scrivener7 (Reply #3)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:58 AM

9. Yeah, I'm not going to give you any heat

But maybe turn you on to another aspect of the evil that WAS done. You mentioned upside down crosses and pentagrams in your reply. Now, I've never been around anyone with upside-down crosses, but pentagrams, yes... galore. And WE were thrown in with all the hoopla. Talk about no way to prove your innocence. Families were torn apart. Parents in jail. People jailed for doing no more than gathering together to worship the Goddess. That was the time when we began the Witches Defense League. But we were thrown in with the Satanists in everyone's minds. It was hard living and still try to practice and live your religion. Our pentacles and other religious jewelry was worn under our shirts, away from any eyes. It was a time of trying to educate your boss as to what your religion was... just in case... so you might have someone on your side. Gods, talk about a terrifying time! Problem is, with the Dominionists in full bloom coming at us thru the *rump administration, their theocracy a hair's breadth from realization, I can see those times coming again. I call them the return of the Burning Times. Any other witches on DU will know what I mean. It doesn't mean literal burning, tho I wouldn't put that past Dominionists; but it does mean going back into the deepest, darkest closet you can find and instituting, once again, The Laws of the old days. Not one of us wants that.

But even still.. in 2021.. you see, we've got someone enlightened who is still thinking pentagrams=Satanism. (sigh) I've been Craft since the 1970's. Will we ever be accepted, even now when our religion is recognized legally and militarily? I weep for this country. Two steps forward and three steps back on every progress we've ever made on any subject, it seems. And now, so close to losing all that and democracy, too. But while I can, I will state proudly and most affirmatively: I am a Witch. I am a Priestess of the Goddess and I'm proud and humbled by it. I am NOT a Satanist, and tho I can think *rump is the Anti-Christ, I don't believe in a devil called Satan or Shaitan.

And I am stuck here; at my age, no other country would want me. And guess what, most witches give away what money or assets they have to those who need it more; money was never our "big thing" anyway... so, yippers, I'm poor; most of us are. gryn

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Response to slightlv (Reply #9)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:06 AM

11. I never said pentagrams equal satanism. I'm just telling you they were there.

Last edited Mon Jul 12, 2021, 05:55 AM - Edit history (1)

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Response to Scrivener7 (Reply #11)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 02:55 PM

18. And that was probably LeVey's group

The group today, however they call themselves, I've even been in touch with to congratulate and thank them for standing up women's rights and alternate religious ideas beyond Christianity. They're a heck of a lot more into the "in your face" than I would ever be... but I'd rather deal with them than with the evangelicals and dominionists. Now, THOSE people scare the hell out of me!

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Response to slightlv (Reply #18)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:49 PM

24. There's no reason to assume it was part of a larger group.

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Response to slightlv (Reply #9)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:28 AM

13. I wish this were its own OP, so that I could kick and rec. Would you

consider cross-posting this in Women's Rights And Issues? You elucidate some very important issues. Thanks in advance.

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Response to niyad (Reply #13)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 02:57 PM

19. Hi, niyad

I'm honored at the request. Have errands to run, but will do so when I'm back and settled in again. I've never written one over here, so I need to check out rules, etc., so I don't end up making it my last (gryn). Any shortcuts, suggestions, need-to-know, etc would be appreciated.

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Response to slightlv (Reply #19)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 07:01 PM

22. No need to worry. Apart from the usual DU rules, the primary rule is that it has to be

about issues and subjects of interest to women. Which, of course, brings to mind the old saying, "Every issue is a Women's issue."

I would guess that we are of a similar age, and some similar experiences with regard to teCraft. You expressed it all beautifully, and I feel it that deserves wider visibility,

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:16 AM

4. "Written by Smith and her psychiatrist Lawrence Pazder, whom she later married"

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Response to Bucky (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:02 AM

10. Yeah it is a MESS. I've read the book and it's something else.

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Response to Bucky (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:40 AM

15. Yes, that caught my attention as well.

Should have been disqualifying.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:49 AM

6. Let's burn the witch.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 08:50 AM

7. There is a recent re-hash of this phenomenon


It’s part of Q lore, and is also believed by quite a few here.

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Response to Effete Snob (Reply #7)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:34 AM

14. None of this is new to many of us. I pointed out in an OP quite some time ago that there

is very little new in qanon, particularly the satanic panic nonsense (anybody else remember the Procter and Gamble hysteria?).

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 10:38 AM

16. i was raising kids in those years.

oldest born in 75. then 1st of 4 in 85.

the eldest grew up mid-panic. she delighted in baiting me w this stuff- the symbols and the rituals w her equally rebellious friends.

but the middle kid was always troubled, and really did the whole occult thing as a teen. after the 1st one, it sorta scared the bejesus out of me.

but all of them loved magic and fantasy. that wasnt really what scared me.
that kid had a small hypoxia at birth, and i know a whole lot of other moms spend a lot of time trying to figure out their slightly 'off' children. i struggled w this child from the time she could talk.

she's a successful adult now, but she still struggles with migraines and joint pain and other weirdness. took til now to draw that line.

the overlay of this insanity was like a weighted pack i carried for a decade. even tho it was wearing off by time the shit really hit the fan.
that and the persistent freudian lens of- it's all mommy's fault.

it's amazing how little it takes to set a family spinning.
a subtle difference in a kid gets an overlay of both pathology and panic, and everything goes wonky.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 04:26 PM

20. And Fundies talk about "Cancel Culture"

This was "cancel culture" in a nutshell.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)


Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 07:40 PM

23. The damage is long lasting and real ...



I personally know a family torn apart in the late 80's. The 16 yr old girl ended up in the hospital nearly died due to anorexia. The parents had tried for several years to help her every way they could think of. At some point a psychiatrist decided to try hypnosis on her and managed to convince her she'd been repeatedly raped as a baby by her grandpa and uncle.

There was a church - House of Prayer in Atlanta, the parents along with the preacher was beating kids half to death with the belief they had demons in them that had to be cast out.

There was even people who jumped on the bandwagon of occultism to milk the churches ... I remember comedian Mike Warnke making a quite a name claiming he was a former Satanic Priest turned evangelical christian, eventually proved a liar after appearing on 20/20.

I don't know if any religion has caused more damage to humanity than Christianity, but it has to be near the top.

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Response to KentuckyWoman (Reply #23)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 09:10 PM

25. I looked up Mike Warnke on Wikipedia,

Apparently a notable religious magazine exposed Warnke as a fraud in June 1992. It seemed that this magazine story went generally unacknowledged, by other Evangelical Christians. I didn’t learn about Warnke being discredited for many years ex post facto.

Of course, what was happening in June 1992 was political campaigning. The trusted, incumbent
Republican was being out-flanked by a charismatic Democrat and an eccentric billionaire. Warnke slid down a memory hole. Heavy Metal slid off the music charts. Politics became the focus for Evangelical Christians.

I heard quite a few hearsay campfire stories back then.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Sun Jul 11, 2021, 11:05 PM

26. During satanic panic

I got chased by christians with knives in my neighborhood because I walked past them on the sidewalk and they saw my pentacle.. I outran them in tall grass and hid up a tree. They didn't think to look up thankfully..

I also got treated like shit on a dissociative disorders unit. At the time I was a member of the church of Satan and knew there was no child abuse going on there.

Told the psydoc there that I was abused by christians
and that is why Satanism appealed to me because it was cathartic.

And the doc believing the shit and hysteria tried to twist it around by saying the christian abusers were really Satanists . I was shocked asked do you think I am lying? He tried to convince me it was all Satanists.. After that I told off my psychiatrist,
walked out of therapy and slammed the door as hard as I could.

The staff there treated me like I was less than everyone else I had to wear gloves to cover up the pentacle tattoo on my hand they made sure none of my devilish artwork was seen in my room and it hurt ,didn't help me at all.

Years later I got sent there again,had the same psydoc,and he apologized to me first session we had. He turned out to be a really caring person.

He admitted he believed the hysteria back in the day and felt really stupid and was sorry for hurting me like that.

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Response to rpannier (Original post)

Mon Jul 12, 2021, 12:12 AM

27. Never understood this thing. If you don't believe in a overseeing god of the Bible

How can you believe in Satin? It’s a package deal

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