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Why We Need a Satanic Conspiracy
In the past year or so, police officers have been trained to be on the watch for signs of "satanic" or "occult-related" crime. They are now jumping at shadows, putting large amounts of money and effort into ferreting out a massive conspiracy that doesnt exist.
Here are a few quotations from an Associated Press article on such a training session: "But it [satanism] is very secretive. he said. Its real difficult to get hard evidence." "[T]here are groups of people practicing satanism in the Twin Cities but police dont know how many individuals are involved." "[N]o evidence of such a ritual was found."
For the most part, calling crime "satanic" is a feeble attempt to lump together some rather disturbing occurrences in todays society. Once, people could blame "witchcraft" when something disturbing and strange happened. Now, we have "satanism."
Here is the reality of "satanic" crime:
First, lets weed out gang activity. That takes care of the "satanic graffiti" that has been a focus for law-enforcement agencies over the past year. For instance, anyone with connections to the street or an eye for the news should know that a six-pointed star implies Disciples turf, or that of an associated group. Conversely, if a gangs mark contains a stylized broken star, that gang has declared itself anti-Disciple.
Then there are gang claims to "satanic" rites. These are just bad-boy posturings, and should be taken no more seriously than the claim of some gangs to Christian or Muslim beliefs: Even if sincerely held, the problem is not religion, but gang activity. Police should perhaps concern themselves more with crime than with criminals self-justification.
Child sexual abuse should also be separated from the search for satanists. As with gangs, the primary concern should be for the abuse, not the excuses made by the abuser.
The human mind has a deep-seated need to justify action. If a child is raised in an environment that has all the warmth of a prison, the child will probably believe that this is the way things are done, and carry at least some of this baggage on to his or her own children. Parental example is a powerful thing, and no less so when you love the person who beats you.
Fanatical application of physical discipline, to the point of beating a child to death, is regularly justified as discipline that gets out of hand when a parent snaps due to stress, drugs, alcohol, or mental problems. And there is always the old Calvinistic standby, "Spare the rod, spoil the child."
But what justification, however lame, is there for sexually assaulting ones own child? None. Yet the abuse does happen, and, like any other form of child abuse, sexual abuse does get handed down through the generations. So a "reason" must be manufactured, and homemade pseudo-satanism is handy. A few candles, smelly incense, even the torturing of a stray cat or two, are easier to accept than the possibility that the abuse itself is wrong. Such an admission of guilt, while painful enough, would require impugning beloved parents, grandparents and so on down the line, condemning ones own family for, as it were, ones own action. It is easier to label it "devil worship" and let it rest.
Then we have loons and wackos. In the strongest criminal case of "satanism" in the entire history of the state of Minnesota, the Minneapolis police arrested one man for raping and threatening to kill a woman. The fact that he was living in a tent in a south Minneapolis park speaks poorly for any sort of international satanic conspiracy. His claims of satanic motivation have not been validated, despite police desires to prove that such activity exists.
A special category between the others would be screwed-up kids. Here we can place the "vampire murder" of last March, where a bunch of St. Cloud boys, led by Timothy Erickson, murdered a drifter. Erickson afterward licked the blood from his fingers. Onlookers blamed the murder on satanism, the vampire movie The Lost Boys, heavy metal music, his parents, his school, etc.
Last winter, on the East Coast, a boy murdered his mother and then killed himself. A full reading of the story shows that he was cracking long before he read about satanism, and that crediting the devil with his demented thoughts was his way of dealing with increasing psychosis.
In my home town, drunken teenagers have been running through the cemetery, overturning gravestones and otherwise vandalizing the place, since before my fathers wild youth. Yet in the last two years, these same activities, occurring at about the same rate as ever, are now hyped in the press as "possibly occult motivated." Again, those of us with an eye to the news would laugh, if we werent so unsettled by the press and its uncritical consumers.
From the AP article cited above: "Last spring, a young St. Paul woman terrified her parents by wildly dyeing her hair, carving pentagrams on her arms and walking around the house in an apparent trance ." Satanism, or psychosis? Or drug use, perhaps? Blaming some mysteriously powerful satanic force keeps the madness at a safe distance, where both drug use and psychosis are entirely too personal.
Another special category would be religious nuts. Remember, the self-named Son of Sam claimed his orders to kill came from some odd variants of the Christian God, not Satan, yet no moves have been made to clamp down on Christianity.
Local police officers, when queried about actual satanic activity in the Twin Cities, regularly refer to a woman who tried to sacrifice her grandchild on an altar. However, this woman considered herself a good Catholic. She believed the child to be possessed by Satan, and hoped to exorcise the devil by stabbing the child to death on an altar to the Virgin Mary.
Then we have mislabeled religion. A few years ago, a dead goat was found in a Minneapolis park. Its throat had been slit, it was cut open and stuffed with white rice and coins, and it was wrapped in a red-and-white checked tablecloth. Satanism? Hardly; any anthropologist should have recognized a rite of Santeria, a Caribbean tribal religion. All the materials, even to the colors of the tablecloth, indicate a plea to the spirits for prosperity.
What would the perpetrators have been charged with if they had been caught by police? Cruelty to animals? The method of killing is less inhumane than that used in most slaughterhouses, and identical to that of any kosher shop: one smooth cut across the throat. Perhaps that was the crime, slaughtering without a license, but then any self-respecting Moslem household is at risk during the holy days. Littering, maybe?
One last group to cull out would be thrill-seekers. This category overlaps with gangs and wackos. Thrill-seekers do what they want and seek whatever "justification" for it that they can. This group is almost entirely populated by music fans; many of the "dark side" fans of heavy metal, thrash, and punk music would fit better here. They are not as crazy, and are probably nowhere as dangerous, as theyd like to seem. The "satanic": guise is more a matter of fashion than of belief or action.
While individual cases may slip into more than one of these categories, they are quite inclusive: All local crime labeled "satanic" in recent years fits quite nicely. I would venture that about the same proportion on a national level is also thus explained.
The only thing the great majority of these cases have in common is that they fit into the above typology. Despite what fear-mongers have been claiming, there is no evidence to support the existence of a satanic conspiracy of crime.
In these cases, "satanism" is nothing more than a convenient catch-all for societal problems that are so simple as to be impossible to solve. For instance, we have gang problems, but we pretend their turf-claiming graffiti has no social meaning, and spend our energy searching for the "cult" that has drawn it there for some reason unknown to us mere mortals. A satanic conspiracy is apparently easier to accept than a socio-cultural need for gangs.
Similarly, when a "good boy" goes off the deep end, we cannot accept that he was deranged or that his family had deep-running disturbances, reasons that are entirely too personal. Instead, we try to "explain" it in terms of some impersonal, mysterious, all-powerful force.
Such "explanation" ignores the issues at hand. Are we as a society going to maintain an ever-expanding file of "satanism," or are we going to deal with our problems in a realistic manner?
article © 2003, 1988, W. Gregory Zeuner, Albermarle ARG
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