Friday, February 1, 2013

Not all conspiracy theories are harmless: satanic ritual abuse

In my last entry (link) I argued that although I am not big on conspiracy theories, I don't see the harm.

Just afterward, an incident on Facebook reminded me of an exception that must be noted.

A woman that I met once in person at a lecture, somewhat prominent in the local liberty community, who participates in a few of the Ron Paul and Libertarian Facebook groups that I subscribe to, started posting material about satanic ritual abuse.  I discovered this as I was getting ready for work, and not having much time, I cut and paste two paragraphs from an earlier entry in this blog, Polygamy, hatred, and the "True Believer" (link), made a few modifications, and posted it.  Later in the day I checked back to see if any further comments had been added, and I found mine gone.  In a private message:

R-, my comments earlier this morning regarding satanic ritual abuse claims seem to have disappeared. If they were deliberately deleted, I would appreciate knowing why. Thank you.

R W:
You should be respectful to those that have endured these terrible experiences. Nobody knows everything and we should treat each issue as such. It is like telling a rape victim that there is no such thing as rape. Be respectful towards victims around you cause I guarantee that there are many around you and you have no idea. I deleted your post cause it hurt a dear friend of mine.

Your audience is your audience. I will therefore not make any further attempts to present anything to them that you find objectionable.

I would, however, like to continue the discussion between the two of us privately. I have briefly outlined the basis for my disbelief. I was following this controversy even before the Pace memo brought the LDS church into it, and I still keep a large stack of the materials I gathered back then. Before I go any further, though, I would like to hear what has persuaded you to believe?
I should have suspected right away that I was dealing with true believer syndrome, rather than naively assuming this was a reasonable person who had gotten ahold of some bad information.

I waited the better part of a day for an answer, noted that she had been active in posting on other matters, and hit the "unfriend" button.  If she's unwilling to even accept my invitation to present her basis for belief, there's no point in trying to push the matter, to do so would only make me look like a bully.  There's also no point in thinking that there's anything meaningful to learn by continuing to follow the posts of someone whose perception of reality leads her to guarantee that that the problem is so pervasive that the victims are all around us.

She is correct on one account, I don't know everything, but there are a few things I do know.  When a person describes an experience that is not physically possible, that experience did not occur, and, if the problem were really as pervasive as this person believes, and the number of people claiming to be victims would indicate, there would be some physical evidence.

The only evidence we have indicates teenage occult dabblers are scattered here and there, and have done some bad things, usually to animals, though at times to people.  Widespread, multi-generational conspiracies, where people living respectable lives by day have some alternate personality kick in, put on black robes, and torture children the way they were tortured as children (though they have completely repressed these memories), are nothing more than sick fiction.

This frustrates me because R W is such a good illustration of just why it is so destructive to believe that satanic ritual abuse is real.  She apparently actively associates with other true believers, as well as those who believe themselves to be victims.  She shields them from truth they desperately need to hear, so that they can get real help, and get away from the quack therapists who have induced these false memories, and are treating them for abuse that did not actually occur.  Reality does matter.  These quack therapists are about as unethical (and counter-productive) as an MD administering chemo and radiation to anyone and everyone who believes themselves to have cancer.

In the height of this hysteria, our community was not spared.  Alan Hadfield of Lehi, Ut. was just one of our local people whose lives were devastated by a witch hunt (using that name in a google search should start you in the right direction, if you're not already familiar).  Could R W and her friends trigger another round of satanic panic?  Not if I can do anything about it.