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Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Satanic panic and RAW

Although I can't remember it ever being discussed by RAW fans, one of the best things Robert Anton Wilson ever did, at least in my opinion, was to speak out loudly and clearly against the 1980s "Satanic panic" which sent quite a few innocent people to prison. In "Trajectories" pieces reprinted in Chaos and Beyond (recently released by Hilaritas Press), RAW wrote angry denunciations of the McMartin preschool case, prosecuted in supposedly progressive California by a Democratic district attorney, Ira Reiner, and other Satanic panic cases. (See the pieces "Sex, Satanism and Sodomized Dogs" and "1994 Update" in Chaos). 

I am old enough to remember these prosecutions and I thought they were bullshit, but as RAW writes, there were plenty of true believers. This Wikipedia article summarizes many of the cases. Also, shoutout to Dorothy Rabinowitz, who was a brave voice of sanity at the Wall Street Journal. 

The New York Times has now published an obituary for one of the villains in the Satanic panic, Bennett Braun. Hat tip to Jesse Walker, who spotted the obit and quoted this memorable sentence: "I began to add a few things up and realized there was no way I could come from a little town in Iowa, be eating 2,000 people a year, and nobody said anything about it."

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