For a while now, one recurring topic on my blog has been the ongoing revival of the Satanic Panic. This phenomenon was mainstream in America during the 1980s and 90s and is now being pushed back into vogue by contemporary conspiracy theorists.
I personally divide the Satanic Panic into two aspects. One is the “soft” Satanic Panic, which deals with pop-cultural concerns (notions that role-playing games or heavy metal music are turning children into Satanists, for example); the other is the “hard” Satanic Panic, which deals with allegations of ritual abuse. While it’s the “soft” variety that attracted me to writing about the subject — I’m a horror author, after all — this post will discuss the second variety. I’d like to stress that I’m in no way a qualified expert in this field; I’m simply a writer whose area of popular culture has led me to the topic.
The revived Satanic Panic has already amassed a mythology mixing older cases with newer elements. A good example is the case of a group known as the Finders, founded by a man named Marion Pettie: this is a story from 1987-93 that was given a new lease of life in October 2019, when the FBI released a 1993 document on the case.
A video recently went viral online showing footage from a daycare centre. One of the staff members is pacing around in a Halloween mask — the poor kids look utterly terrified — while a second worker watches on laughing. The incident made international news and the daycare in question (Lil’ Blessings Childcare and Learning Center in Hamilton, Mississippi) fired the staff members responsible.
I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what was going on in the heads of the masked woman and her accomplice. Possibly it started out as a good-natured Halloween prank, but the fact that the woman carries on even when the tiny children are clearly distressed means that this excuse really doesn’t stand up. It’s the sort of behaviour that would be ugly enough coming from a dim-witted teenage sibling; seeing it from a professional entrusted to take care of children is rancid.
The above photograph comes from a North Norfolk News article about a Drag Queen Story Hour event in North Walsham being called off amid protests. What caught my eye was the leaflet held by the protestors:
Even at the low resolution, it’s clear that the drag queen on the leaflet is not Titania Trust (who was due to appear at the British library in question) but American performer Xochi Mochi. The latter appeared at a Californian library in 2017; a photograph from the event subsequently went viral and has been incorporated in many images attacking Drag Queen Story Hour (or targets perceived as being somehow related to Drag Queen Story Hour).