Mass Panic 3: The Satanic Panic (1 & 2) W/ Anthony Drake
OTER FRAUD CLAIMED IN NEW ZEALAND OVER BIRD OF THE YEAR COMPETITION!
Hello, and welcome to Tangent Avenue - I’m Tazmen.
Welcome to the third of our end of the year special, the only topic fitting to end the year 2020, Mass Panic. And in this episode, we’re exploring one of the most recent events of mass hysteria in American history, the QANON of it all aside, the satanic panic. Originally, this episode was only meant to, yanno, be one episode but I just couldn’t condense the script enough to give it justice, so I decided to break it up to avoid giving you all a 3.5/4 hour episode. Although we will touch on how the two relate later in this episode.
Before we get into today’s topic, I do want to remind and ask everybody to support our Patreon. As we kick off the new year, we’ll be starting to do exclusive content over there - including a weekly power hour starting at the end of January, which will be many things from us just hanging out and talking after an episode, to some mini-topics that maybe wouldn’t fill a full episode. We’ll also be doing a monthly Tangent Takeover episode where all of our patrons can suggest and vote on an episode topic. The first episodes of both of these will be published on our main feed, as we’ve opened the votes for this month to anyone and you can find that on our facebook page or group, and then they’ll become an exclusive. Until then, though, you also get immediate access to episodes as I finish editing them and the scripts to our episodes so you can see just how far off topic we really get. You also do gain access to an exclusive discord chat where we can all connect and chat, including me and Bryson. So that’s the main $5 tier, but there’s also a $25 tier where you get exclusive quarterly merch as well as all of other benefits. And as an extra bonus for you, for the months of January and February, our base $5 tier will only be $1 for you guys to try it out, see if you like the extra content, and hopefully stick around. We thank you for your support, and you can find us on patreon by using your browser or downloading the patreon app and searching Tangent Avenue, or as always, we have a master-link in the description that will take you to a page with all of our links.
We’ve also noticed that our second biggest country outside the US is now India, so shout out to all of you over there listening! Hope you guys enjoy are enjoying listening to a couple of American dumb asses, and we hope you stick around.
So, I really want to shout out an article on vox.com titled The history of Satanic Panic in the US — and why it's not over yet for being a major help with this episode. All other sources can be found in our show notes on patreon. Anyways, what do you guys know about the satanic panic?
So first, now that we’re nearing the end of talking about mass hysteria and moral panic, we’re going to touch on just exactly what they are, then we’ll get into the story of adults convincing kids that they were touched by devil worshippers and how D&D led some kids to kill people.
I’m going to quote an article from Revision World for Moral Panic:
“Moral Panic occurs when someone or something is defined by the media as a threat to the values or interests of society.
The key moral panic theorist is Stanley Cohen. Cohen suggested in his 1972 book ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’ that a moral panic occurs when “condition, episode, person or group of people emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”.
Stanley Cohen believes the media play an important role in enforcing moral panic, even by just reporting the news.
In Cohen’s view the media overreact or sensationalise aspects of behaviour which challenge social norms. The media’s representation therefore then helps to define it, which can then lead to outsiders adopting and observing the behaviour based on the model they see in the media. The moral panic depicted by the media fuels further unacceptable behaviour.
In extreme cases moral panic creates mass hysteria within society. The general public start to believe whatever is being reported on is occurring everywhere in society.
Cohen defined his five stages of moral panic as:
1. Something or someone is defined as a threat to values or interests
2. This threat is depicted in an easily recognisable form by the media
3. There is a rapid build-up of public concern
4. There is a response from authorities or opinion makers
5. The panic recedes or results in social changes”
Some key things to note about the moral panic theory for modern day, with the introduction of the internet, and in the “fake news” world we live in now - for mass hysteria to happen now, which it is through the likes of QANON, Pizza Gate, and other similar conspiracy theory - it doesn’t necessarily have to be fueled by Cohen’s original form of “media” referring to news outlets, and can start through much stranger and unreliable forms such as a viral tweet, an article on 4CHAN, Facebook posts - with the internet, the possibilities are limitless, if a post goes viral, there’s a way for it to inspire moral panic which can then lead to mass hysteria. There’s some key things that are required to produce a moral panic: Concern – There must be the belief that the behavior of the group or activity deemed deviant is likely to have a negative effect on society.
Hostility – Hostility toward the group in question increases, and they become "folk devils". A clear division forms between "them" and "us".
Consensus – Though concern does not have to be nationwide, there must be widespread acceptance that the group in question poses a very real threat to society. It is important at this stage that the "moral entrepreneurs" are vocal and the "folk devils" appear weak and disorganized.
Disproportionality – The action taken is disproportionate to the actual threat posed by the accused group.
Volatility – Moral panics are highly volatile and tend to disappear as quickly as they appeared because public interest wanes or news reports change to another narrative.
Now, mass hysteria. So in sociology and psychology, mass hysteria (also known as mass psychogenic illness, collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behavior) is a phenomenon that transmits collective illusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population and society as a result of rumors and fear.
Outside of what we’ve covered so far, there’s many accounts of moral panic and mass hysteria throughout history, some of these include:
In the 1400’s a nun began randomly biting people, for no documented reason, and then the behaviour spread.
The dancing plague of 1518 which I’ll go more into in a later episode.
"War of the Worlds" radio broadcast in 1938 - Newspaper headlines reported that thousands of American's were plunged into panic over an Orson Welles radio play, convinced that America was under a deadly Martian attack.
1840s–1860s: Nativist movement and the Know-Nothing Party
This example reflects the fear of immigrants which emerged in the United States during the 1840s and 1850s. A short-lived national The Know-Nothing Party embodied the Moral Panic Theory, focusing upon Catholic immigrants and labelling them as members of an "out-group". This was due to their rejection of traditional Americanism. Nativist criticism of immigrants from Catholic nations centered upon the control of the Pope over the church. The widespread concern regarding the perceived social threat is exhibited by the showing of the Know Nothing Party in the Presidential Election of 1856, where they won 21.5% of the total vote share. It is important to note the quick decline in political success for the Know Nothing Party as a result of a decline in concern for the perceived social threat, an indicative feature of the movements situated in Moral Panic.
1919–1920, late 1940s, and 1950s: Communism
During the year 1919, the year 1920, the late 1940s, and the 1950s, the United States had a moral panic over communism and feared being attacked by the Soviet Union. In the late 1940s and the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy led a witch hunt against communists called McCarthyism, where people were accused of being communists. Bryson will likely do an episode on this in the future.
There’s many more instances of moral panic and mass hysteria, but I think you kind of get the idea. Part of a population, not all of it, not even half of it, but a considerable amount - must perceive a threat from an opposing group, even if that group is imaginary, even if the threat is entirely fictitious, it becomes real to them - and thus, moral panic ensues, and mass hysteria isn’t far behind. You know what else isn’t far behind? These ads.
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Okay, so let’s start with what we already know after covering the past two topics, and then we’ll touch on several defining moments that put America in the perfect state for the satanic panic before getting into the events themselves..
So, the United States, a country heavily populated by European colonizers, who’s ancestors had already had several instances of panicking about devil related events. Witches were believed to be disciples of satan, and so with this and the rise of wiccan in the 1960’s and 70’s, America was starting to get on edge - well, not all of America. Mostly Evangelical Christians and conservatives. See a pattern here? So let’s touch on Evangelicals a bit here. Starting in the early 1900’s, Evangelicals were going through a bit of a bad break-up, listening to lots of Taylor Swift, Evangelicals split into two primary groups - the Fundamentalists and the Modernists. Modernists were more liberal with their beliefs and felt it was appropriate to grow the times, allowing scientific beliefs, like evolution, and human rights beliefs, like the end of slavery, should be incorporated with into their religion and they should grow as society does - fundamentalists on the other hand? Not so much. They tried to hold their ground with their beliefs.
Fundamentalists went through a lot of struggles as it kept dying out, so they decided they could compromise on one thing - television and radio. As these forms of entertainment began to grip the public, they decided they could compromise on one thing - and thus the televangelists were born. Around the satanic panic would begin, they were going through another rough time. Fundamentalists just weren’t keeping a hold of their once known grip, and they were scared of losing society to the liberal masses, and this is around the first time fundamentalist evangelicals were associated with conservative republicans. We’ll touch on that more later, as that all comes together.
Another key thing that began to assert fear about the occult and satan into the general american population would be the manson cult in the 1960’s, which in the summer of 1969, led to a string of mass murders. This would be THE defining moment where organized ritual killings would become known, and a fear, by many americans.
The same year, my boy Anton LeVay, published his philosophical ideas in The Book of Satan. This book, however, largely plagiarized earlier philosophies of self-actualization and self-empowerment of writers like H.L. Menken and Ayn Rand. Initially, because of the regurgitation of philosophies and lack of his belief in an actual Satan, the book did little to instill fear into americans. However, with his religion beginning in ‘66, The Book of Satan in ‘69, followed by another book, Satanic Rituals, in ‘72 - which came out the same year as Satan Seller, which we’ll get into later, all of this would begin to set fear in Americans about the rise of Satanism.
We also get the entertainment industry using more controversial things as well, such as The Exorcist. Claiming to be based on a true story, the book released in ‘71 and the movie in ‘73, which is also where we got the fear of ouija boards. Throughout the years, many artists and movies will take satanic imagery and sounds and use them to rile up controversy - because any publicity is good publicity - and thanks to the news at the time, they gave satanic anything the spotlight - because people tuned in for it.
Now, let’s talk about the book I mentioned earlier, the entirely fictitious book, The Satan Seller. It’s very possible that this is one of the key moments that sent the US over the edge into the Satanic Panic. Written by self-proclaimed Christian evangelist Mike Warnke, this book was sold under false claims that it was based off of a true story, and consisted of claims that Mike was a Satanist in his childhood and young adulthood. Mike claimed that he was a high-priest in the Church of Satan and was involved in ritualistic orgies, amongst other things. We’ll touch more on that later.
Along this time, we also see three other “former satanists” John Todd, Herschel Smith, and David Henson begin to speak about their supposed experiences with Satanism, claiming that the world was being ran by ritualistic witch cults. Notice how many things QANON and the Satanic Panic have in common? As the wise one, Robert Evans, once said - The Satanic Panic is the USA’s first QANON, which the more we learn about it, the more you’ll see is true.
So all four of these men were linked to the consevative right, along with becoming Fundematlist Evangelical Christians, which is where the two would firmly begin to establish a connection and now typically just go hand-in-hand, which reminds me of my favorite chant during the BLM protests this summer, which I believe this chant originated in Portland - because that just makes the most sense - but: “the cops and klan go hand-in-hand.” Can’t miss a moment to throw out a BLM or ACAB moment in this podcast.
Anyways, Todd was supported by Jack Chick, who used his false claims as the basis for several comic-style pamphlets against Satanism. Mike spent over a decade posing as an “expert” in Satanism for the fundamental evangelical Christian community, passing off much of his made-up childhood as how “real” Satanism worked.
You know how I said there was a lot of shit that contributed to how and why the Satanic Panic happened? Yeah, we’re not done with that yet. There was also a bunch of serial killers and supposed ritualistic killers doing their thang too. So we have the Zodiac Killer and the Alphabet Killer, who both had ritualistic tendencies, we also have Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, the Hillside Stranglers, and David Berkowitz - the Son of Sam, who actually set a whole mass panic of his own in ‘77.
These serial killers garnered a lot of attention from the media and maintained an image of having the upper hand against the law: The Zodiac Killer and Berkowitz wrote taunting letters to the press and police; Bundy escaped from prison and immediately resumed his terrifying killing sprees; John Wayne Gacy hid his evil under kid-friendly disguises like a clown who performed for children.
I’m going to completely quote an article on The Vox here:
“In a 2005 book about that fateful New York summer, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning, author Jonathan Mahler writes of the impact that Son of Sam had on the media: "The frenzied [media] coverage fanned the growing sense of fear; the growing sense of fear fanned the frenzied coverage." Mahler’s observation about the media fueling this mass panic would ring true well into the next decade, when heightened religious fears and stranger danger coalesced into a new breed of mass hysteria.”
In 1978, there was the Jonestown Massacre. Though it had nothing to do with satanism, or even traditional occultism, it was immediately attached to those fears and made the US population terrified of what occult activity can do. A quick rundown on what the Jonestown Massacre was for anybody who doesn’t know, the Jonestown Massacre was a ritualistic suicide-murder event that resulted in an occult leader by the name of Jim Jones talking 918 people into killing themselves, and their children, with cyanide. Now, I’m going to do something we don’t usually do here, but I am going to play a short clip from the very end of the 48 minute tape recording of that event, only about 45 seconds. The reason I’m doing this is to kind of get you on that feel of what the american population may have been thinking, and the fear that they had, as you hear children and babies in the background of this man’s speech moments before nearly a thousand people all killed themselves. I’ll play that now.
_____play audio_____ Disturbing, right?
In 1979 we get into what we all knew was coming, our true love on this podcast, Dungeons and Dragons. This is also what we’re going to end part one of this episode. So in 1979, 17 year old James Dallas Egbert III disappeared. A private investigator, William Dear, was hired by James’ parents to look into their sons’ disappearance, and he came to the conclusion that it was the fault of non-other than Dungeons and Dragons. This couldn’t be further from the truth, though. James’ had suffered from major depression and drug abuse and in an episode of self-harming, he went into hiding in the tunnels under the school, and would later go to shoot himself in 1980, which many would also contribute to the fault of D&D.
I’ll be summarizing and quoting a lot of a BBC article “The Great 1980’s Dungeons & Dragons Panic” here.
So, in 1982, a high school student named Irving Lee Pulling killed himself as well, and his mother, Patricia Pulling, believed her son's suicide was caused by him playing D&D.
So his mother would attempt to sue her son's high school principal, claiming the curse placed upon her son's character during a game run by the principal was real. She also sued TSR Inc, the publishers of D&D at the time. Unsurprisingly, the court dismissed these cases, but Patricia continued her campaign by forming Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons (BADD) in 1983.
Patricia would describe D&D as… are you ready for this?
"A fantasy role-playing game which uses demonology, witchcraft, voodoo, murder, rape, blasphemy, suicide, assassination, insanity, sex perversion, homosexuality, prostitution, satanic type rituals, gambling, barbarism, cannibalism, sadism, desecration, demon summoning, necromantics, divination and other teachings".
BADD would go on to launch a media campaign against D&D through conservative Christian outlets and mainstream media, including a 60-Minute interview where she was opposite of D&D co-creator Gary Gygax. Which I’ll play a short clip from now:
In 1985, Jon Quigley, of the Lakeview Full Gospel Fellowship, spoke for many opponents when he claimed: "The game is an occult tool that opens up young people to influence or possession by demons."
Veteran roleplayer Andy Smith found himself in the unusual position of being both a roleplayer and a Christian. "While working for a Christian organisation I was told to remove my roleplaying books from the shared accommodation as they were offensive to some of the other workers and contained references to demon-worship."
Dr. David Waldron, a lecturer in history and anthropology at Federation University Australia and author of Roleplaying Games and the Christian Right: Community Formation in Response to a Moral Panic would describe it very well. Quote: "Since fantasy typically features activities like magic and witchcraft, D&D was perceived to be in direct opposition to biblical precepts and established thinking about witchcraft and magic. There was also a view that youth had an inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality.
"The memes from this campaign proliferated and, being published largely uncritically in the initial stages, led to a wide-ranging list of bizarre claims. For example, that when a character died you were also likely to commit suicide." Unquote.
I think that we can all agree that, as tragic as these kids' suicides were, it wasn’t D&D’s fault. In all likelihood, D&D was almost certainly these kids only escapes from being bullied and their own minds.
Next week, we’ll start back up in the 80’s, where the Satanic Panic begins to grab america by the balls and squeeze.
Parcast Network - Cults / Serial Killers - Satanic Panic
Robert Evans - Behind The Bastards - Satanic Panic
Hey, hey, hey welcome back! I’m Tazmen-
So this time, I promise, this is our final episode in our Mass Panic end of the year special! We really hope you’ve enjoyed the road so far, and we’re very thankful for you taking this drive with us.
If you’ve liked what you’ve heard so far, we’d like to ask everybody to support our Patreon if you can. As we kick off the new year, we’ll be starting to do exclusive content over there - including a weekly power hour starting at the end of January, which will be many things from us just hanging out and talking after an episode, to some mini-topics that maybe wouldn’t fill a full episode. So far we have a power hour planned to talk about all the crazy shit that’s happened in 2020 and recap our year, the state of the gaming industry and all the controversy surrounding crunch, the cryptid known as the Ebu Gogo, pondering the existence of aliens after we record our Roswell episode, and many more. We’ll also be doing a monthly Tangent Takeover episode where all of our patrons can suggest and vote on an episode topic. The first episodes of both of these will be published on our main feed, as we’ve opened the votes for this month to anyone and you can find that on our facebook page or group, and then they’ll become an exclusive. Until then, though, you also get immediate access to episodes as I finish editing them and the scripts to our episodes so you can see just how far off topic we really get. You also do gain access to an exclusive discord chat where we can all connect and chat, including me and Bryson. So that’s the main $5 tier, but there’s also a $25 tier where you get exclusive quarterly merch as well as all of other benefits. And as an extra bonus for you, for the months of January and February, our base $5 tier will only be $1 for you guys to try it out, see if you like the extra content, and hopefully stick around. We thank you for your support, and you can find us on patreon by using your browser or downloading the patreon app and searching Tangent Avenue, or as always, we have a master-link in the description that will take you to a page with all of our links.
Now, let’s dig right back into the fourth part of our special, the second part of the Satanic Panic! We’ll dig right back in where we left off, the start of the 80’s.
So, the 80’s. Fun times, right? Although to a lot of people it was, it was also a time of a lot of uncertainty and unease. This is when America began to require the double income model, which is weird considering it’s also known as a time of economic growth and financial prosperity, but hey. Only for the upper class.
Anyways, this required an increase in child-care services, so as a result, this increased anxiety about the children, which is fair because I refuse to put my son in daycare due to some of the fucked up shit that has happened there. However, parents were beginning to look for any signs that their children were in danger, even making many up because of the anxiety they had.
The ’80s also saw the rise of the AIDS scare, kidnap victims’ faces appearing on milk cartons, the mass panic surrounding the 1982 Tylenol murders, the Halloween candy killer, Ronald Clark O’Brien, and the first wave of reports of scary killer clowns attempting to prey on children.
Along with all of these scary things, Christian Fundamentalists and Televangelists were gaining more and more popularity, along with the whole-hearted belief of real angels and devils.
As we’ve discussed previously, the Christian Fundamentalists weren’t alone in their fear-mongering and obsession around the occult. The media didn’t help at all. In 1988, Geraldo Rivera’s lurid documentary Devil Worship: Exposing Satan’s Underground became the highest-rated televised documentary to air up to that point. A 1991 20/20 episode famously televised an official Roman Catholic exorcism. Evangelical documentaries like Hell’s Bells attempted to tie rock music to the occult, while “Christian fantasy” like that of bestselling author Frank Peretti transformed real-world social issues into matters of angelic and demonic warfare.
The 80’s is also where we get into what is traditionally known as the satanic panic, but however is only a fraction of it as we’ve found out in this special so far - satanic ritual abuse mass hysteria. In 1980, Michelle Smith, or after she got married to the psychologist who helped her write the book, Michelle Pazder - published her book Michelle Remembers. Shis book is really fucked up.
So the book details Michelle’s therapy sessions during the late 1970s with Lawrence Pazder. In 1976, when Lawrence was treating Smith for depression, which was related to her having had a miscarriage, Michelle told him that she felt that she had something important to tell him, but couldn’t remember what it was. Sooo, apparently, they also had a session where Smith purportedly screamed for 25 minutes non-stop and eventually started speaking in the voice of a five-year-old. According to Lawrence, during the next 14 months he spent more than 600 hours using hypnosis to help her recover seeming memories of Satanic ritual abuse that occurred when she was five years old in 1954 and 1955 at the hands of her mother Virginia Proby and many others, all of whom Michelle said were members of a "satanic cult" in Victoria.
She believed that she was forced to attend satanic rituals of all kinds, and Lawrence stated that she was abused by the "Church of Satan," which he claimed is a worldwide organization predating the Christian church. The first alleged ritual attended by Michelle occurred in 1954 when she was five years old, and the final one documented by the book was an 81-day ritual in 1955 that supposedly summoned Satan himself and involved the intervention of… are you ready for this?
Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Michael the Archangel, who she claims removed the scars received throughout the year of abuse and blocked memories of the events "until the time was right". During the rituals, she was allegedly tortured, locked in cages, sexually assaulted, forced to participate in various rituals, witnessed several human sacrifices, and was rubbed with the blood and body parts of various sacrificed infants and adults.
After Michelle had seemingly recovered her memories, she and Lawrence consulted with various church authorities, eventually traveling to the Vatican.
Lawrence was a credentialed psychiatrist and fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, and the book states that its source materials (therapy tapes) were scrutinized. However, the accuracy of the allegations in Michelle Remembers was questioned soon after the book was published. After the book's publication, Lawrence withdrew his assertion that it was the Church of Satan that had abused Smith when Anton LaVey threatened to sue for libel.
In an October 27, 1980 article in the magazine Maclean's, Paul Grescoe interviewed Michelle’s father, Jack Proby, who denied the allegations against Smith's mother, Virginia (who had died in 1964), and claimed he could refute all the allegations in the book. Paul also noted that the book failed to make any mention of Smith's two sisters, Charyl and Tertia, or that Lawrence and Smith had divorced their spouses and married each other. The book also fails to mention any police investigations or any attempt Lawrence made to involve the police in verifying any of the book's accusations.
The authors of a 1995 book found no newspaper record of the car crash that the book describes in the time frame described despite the fact that the local newspaper reported on all vehicle accidents at the time. Former neighbors, teachers and friends were interviewed and yearbooks from Michelle’s elementary school were reviewed and found no indication of her being absent from school or missing for lengthy periods of time, including the alleged 81-day non-stop ceremony. Ultimately the book's authors were unable to find anyone who knew Michelle during the 1950s who could corroborate any of the details in her allegations.
A 2002 article by Kerr Cuhulain explored what Cuhulain considered the unlikeliness of Smith's allegations. Among other things, Cuhulain noted that it seemed unlikely that a sophisticated cult that had secretly existed for generations could be outwitted by a five-year-old; that the cult could hold rituals in the Ross Bay Cemetery unnoticed given that Smith claimed she was screaming and given that the Ross Bay Cemetery is surrounded on three sides by residential neighborhoods; that an 81-day non-stop ceremony involving hundreds of participants and a massive round room could have gone on in Victoria unnoticed; and that none of Michelle’s tormentors (other than her mother) have ever been identified, especially given that some of them had cut off one of their middle fingers at the Black Mass. He also notes that during the alleged 81-day ritual, Michelle was confirmed to be attending school, with no remarkable absences and no apparent signs that she was being abused. Like other authors, Cuhulain also noted that many of Smith's so-called recovered memories appear to have represented elements of popular culture at the time, like the movie The Exorcist, and Lawrence’s own religious beliefs and experiences from when he was living and working in Africa during the early 1960s. He noted it odd that Lawrence didn't report any of the sexual abuse to police that Michelle allegedly had endured. Finally, Cuhulain hypothesized that Michelle’s motivation for making the allegations may have come from her desire to spend time with Pazder; though both were initially married to other people, they divorced their spouses and remarried each other after the publication of the book.
James R. Lewis, in The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, wrote that Michelle Remembers "must be treated with great skepticism, not least because literally all the charges involved seem drawn from accounts of West African secret societies from the 1950s, imported to Canada." Nichol Spanos has stated that in addition to the lack of corroboration of Michelle’s alleged memories, "skepticism appears warranted by the fact that some of these 'memories' involve Michelle's encounters with supernatural beings". Spanos also mentions that Smith's father and unmentioned two siblings deny the allegations made by Michelle, as well as Lawrence’s time in West Africa during a time when there was widespread concern about secret, blood-drinking, cannibalistic cults.
Despite the lack of evidence and criticism concerning the allegations made in Michelle Remembers, there are still people who believe that her claims of abuse are true, and are evidence of a worldwide intergenerational satanic conspiracy to abuse and sacrifice human beings.
So, in summary: the book's contents have not been substantiated by any evidence beyond Michelle’s testimony. Despite this, the book allegedly inspired imitative accusations throughout the world, against members of the Church of Satan, other occultists, and others who seemed to have no association with the occult.
So along with the already going satanic panic, there was another ongoing mass panic that touched tips and docked with it: the daycare sex abuse mass panic. Quoting some more from the vox article: “In her book about the ritual abuse hysteria, Satan’s Silence, journalist Debbie Nathan elucidates this basic blueprint for Satanic Panic: “To right-wing Christian fundamentalists steeped in lore about devils and stewing with hostility toward public child care, it was hard not to embrace the notion of Satan infiltrating day-care centers.” And at the beginning of the decade, that’s exactly what happened.” There’s been cases of daycare mass hysteria all the way up to 2013, with at least 20 different significant cases starting in 1982.
Of these cases, the McMartin Pre-school trial is the most famous, and rightfully so. So let’s go over that.
In 1983, Judy Johnson, mother of one of the Manhattan Beach, California, preschool's young students, reported to the police that her son had been sodomized by her estranged husband and by McMartin teacher Ray Buckey. Judy’s belief that her son had been abused began when her son had painful bowel movements. Do you want to know the fucked up thing? She was so worried about her son’s asshole, that she was touching it and inspecting way, way too often which irritated it even more until she took him to the doctor.
What happened next is still disputed. Some sources state that at that time, Judy’s son denied her suggestion that his preschool teachers had molested him, whereas others say he confirmed the abuse.
In addition, Johnson also made several more accusations, including that people at the daycare had sexual encounters with animals, that quote "Peggy drilled a child under the arms" and "Ray flew in the air." unquote. Ray Buckey was questioned, but was not prosecuted due to lack of evidence. The police then sent a form letter to about 200 parents of students at the McMartin school, stating that their children might have been abused, and asking the parents to question their children. I’m going to read that letter now.
September 8, 1983.
Dear Parent: This Department is conducting a criminal investigation involving child molestation (288 P.C.) Ray Buckey, an employee of Virginia McMartin's Pre-School, was arrested September 7, 1983 by this Department. The following procedure is obviously an unpleasant one, but to protect the rights of your children as well as the rights of the accused, this inquiry is necessary for a complete investigation. Records indicate that your child has been or is currently a student at the pre-school. We are asking your assistance in this continuing investigation. Please question your child to see if he or she has been a witness to any crime or if he or she has been a victim. Our investigation indicates that possible criminal acts include: oral sex, fondling of genitals, buttock or chest area, and sodomy, possibly committed under the pretense of "taking the child's temperature." Also photos may have been taken of children without their clothing. Any information from your child regarding having ever observed Ray Buckey to leave a classroom alone with a child during any nap period, or if they have ever observed Ray Buckey tie up a child, is important. Please complete the enclosed information form and return it to this Department in the enclosed stamped return envelope as soon as possible. We will contact you if circumstances dictate same. We ask you to please keep this investigation strictly confidential because of the nature of the charges and the highly emotional effect it could have on our community. Please do not discuss this investigation with anyone outside your immediate family. Do not contact or discuss the investigation with Raymond Buckey, any member of the accused defendant's family, or employees connected with the McMartin Pre-School.
So this next part’s pretty fun. Have you ever tried to convince a child something supernatural or strange is weird? It’s a pretty easy thing to do, if you haven’t. Kids have a wild imagination and can be convinced something happened with little to no coercion, as seen in the Salem Witch Trials, and often times they will even exaggerate what you’re trying to convince them of.
Several hundred children were then interviewed by the Children's Institute International (CII), a Los Angeles-based abuse therapy clinic run by Kee MacFarlane, an unlicensed psychotherapist with her highest form of education being a welding degree. Her two assistants were also unlicensed. However, by spring of 1984, she had interviewed 400 children and it was claimed that 359 of them had been abused. Astrid Heppenstall Heger performed medical examinations and took photos of what she believed to be minute scarring, which she stated was caused by anal penetration. Journalist John Earl believed that her findings were based on unsubstantiated medical histories. Only 41 of the original 359 children ultimately testified in the grand jury and pretrial hearings, and fewer than a dozen testified at the actual trials.
Michael P. Maloney, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychiatry, reviewed videotapes of the children's interviews. Maloney, testifying as an expert witness on interviewing children, was highly critical of the techniques used, referring to them as improper, coercive, directive, problematic and adult-directed in a way that forced the children to follow a rigid script. He concluded that "many of the kids' statements in the interviews were generated by the examiner." Transcripts and recordings of the interviews contained far more speech from adults than children and demonstrated that, despite the highly coercive interviewing techniques used, initially the children were resistant to interviewers' attempts to elicit disclosures. The recordings of the interviews were instrumental in the jury's refusal to convict, by demonstrating how children could be coerced to giving vivid and dramatic testimonies without having experienced actual abuse. She would also use anatomically correct dolls. The techniques used were shown to be contrary to the existing guidelines in California for the investigation of cases involving children and child witnesses.
Many of the allegations were described as “bizarre” and some of the abuse was alleged to have occurred in secret tunnels beneath the school and that they used them to transport them to ceremony spots, the kids claimed that they would be flushed down a toilet, and that their abusers could turn into witches and fly. Several excavations turned up evidence of old buildings on the site and other debris from before the school was built, but no evidence of any secret chambers or tunnels was found. There were claims of orgies at car washes and airports, and of children being flushed down toilets to secret rooms where they would be abused, then cleaned up and presented back to their parents. Some child interviewees talked of a game called "naked movie star" and suggested they were forcibly photographed nude. During trial testimony, some children stated that the "naked movie star" game was actually a rhyming taunt used to tease other children – "What you say is what you are, you're a naked movie star," – and had nothing to do with having naked pictures taken.
Judy Johnson, who made the initial allegations, made fucking weird statements and claims about Raymond Buckey, including that he could fly. Though the prosecution asserted Judy’s mental illness was caused by the events of the trial, Judy did admit to them that she was mentally ill beforehand. Evidence of Judy’s mental illness was withheld from the defense for three years and, when provided, was in the form of sanitized reports that excluded her statements, at the order of the prosecution. One of the original prosecutors, Glenn Stevens, left the case in protest and stated that other prosecutors had withheld evidence from the defense, including the information that Judy’s son did not actually identify Ray Buckey in a series of photographs. Stevens also accused Robert Philibosian, the deputy district attorney on the case, of lying and withholding evidence from the court and defense lawyers in order to keep the Buckeys in jail and prevent access to exonerating evidence. Judy would also be found dead in her house in 1986 due to complications with alcoholism…
I’m going to quote from the lovely little article on the vox again here: “Due to the over-the-top nature of the allegations in the McMartin case, the public gradually became skeptical of claims of satanic ritual abuse. “After scouring the country, we found no evidence for large-scale cults that sexually abuse children,” Dr. Gail Goodman, a psychologist who conducted a wide-scale survey of US case workers about the hysteria, told The New York Times in 1994. What criminal allegations were made had generally come about due to a mix of mental illness, false memories implanted during therapy and witness investigations, and, most frequently, reports from people who were being influenced by histrionic media reports of satanic ritual abuse.”
Along the way through the satanic panic, there was a lot of media that either genuinely meddled in the occult, like Led Zeppelin dabbling in Thelema - going so far as to even buy Aleister Crowley’s house, or just accused metal music. Many bands and movie makers would then bounce off each other, writing metal for horror movies, and metal music being inspired by horror movies. Due to the rising panic about this, it would be the cause of the parental advisory sticker. Though most of the bands and writers, directors, etc of horror movies weren’t in any way associated with the occult, satan, or any black magic shit - they would often use the controversy to their advantage, as the media would cover it, which would garner them more attention and more panic.
More accusations would pop up, even to this day, however it’s widely recognized that the Satanic Panic would end in the mid 90’s. Obviously, we have QANON these days that’s pretty much bringing on a second satanic panic, but outside of that - accusations would pop occasionally even to this day. We’re not going to really touch on QANON in this episode because we already have an episode out on it, so if you’re wanting to hear about that I’d check that episode out.
Do you guys want to know what’s really fucked up? How many people were jailed due to this panic. There are still people to this day in prison for crimes they likely didn’t commit, and others released even within the past few years. I want to touch on a few of these, because our justice system failed them. There was no balance between the children’s accusations and the rights of the accused.
There’s the case of Ileana and Frank Luster. They were accused of molesting 8 children, with 20 in total making claims, and despite having the same hallmarks as each of the other cases: a lack of physical evidence, and a ballooning number of children making unsubstantiated and embellished claims of dark satanic rites after coercive interview sessions, they were taken to trial. Ileana was coerced by a therapist to testify against Frank by using dubious memory-recovery techniques and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, served three, and then got deported. Frank, however, was sentenced to serve 6 consecutive life terms, or 165 years minimum. Frank Fuster is still in prison to this day.
In 1989 in Glendale, Florida, a Montessori headmaster James Toward and his office assistant Brenda Williams were convicted in a satanic ritual abuse case spearheaded by a therapist named Alan Tesson. The case of course followed the same patterns as before. In 1996, Dr. Tesson was sued for implanting false memories of satanic ritual abuse in an adult patient. The lawsuit revealed Tesson to have consulted multiple “experts” in satanic ritual abuse over the years, and to have been “obsessed” with the subject since the time of the Glendale trial.
Toward pled guilty in an Alford Plea, which is where you’re still pleading guilty but not admitting to the crime while still asserting your innocence, in order to have his sentence reduced, but in 1998, the year before he was to have been released, Florida passed a law that forced him to serve 85 percent of his full sentence before parole. When he was finally released at age 80 in 2010, he was ordered to leave the country; the local media continued to credulously label him as “evil” and a “child molester.”
The last one we’re going to talk about is of course the most famous case - the West Memphis Three. In 1993, three teenagers in West Memphis, Arkansas, were accused and later convicted of the sexual assault and murders of three young boys. The kids were accused based on extremely weak evidence, including a lack of any physical evidence linking them to the crime, and hearsay due to their goth lifestyles and unfounded accusations that they worshipped Satan.
The most famous member of the Three, Damien Echols, rapidly gained celebrity status and public support due to his intelligence and the way he embodied the archetype of a shrewd outcast persecuted by rigid small-town moralists for not fitting in. The three men were finally released in 2011, after new DNA evidence showed them to have no connection to the killings. They entered Alford Pleas which commuted their sentences to time served: 18 years in prison.
So before we do final thoughts, I have a clip that I’m going to play here from a police training video from 1994 titled “GOT SATANISTS?” I watched the whole video, but started laughing seconds in due to just the absurdness of it. I’ll play that now, and I do want you guys to know… this is how the video starts. Immediately. No buildup, no intro, nothing: ________________________play “GOT SATANISTS”______________________
Parcast Network - Cults / Serial Killers - Satanic Panic
Robert Evans - Behind The Bastards - Satanic Panic