Victims of the ‘Satanic Panic’?

Robert Johnson: Satanist!

As you may have heard, the ‘West Memphis 3’ are being released from prison after spending 18 years in prison accused of the crime of killing 3 young boys as a part of some kind of alleged ‘satanic ritual.’ In 1994, three 8 year old cub scouts were found murdered and, somehow, police settled on 3 teenage friends who listened to ‘satanic’ heavy metal music, wore black t-shirts and expressed nihilistic sentiments (in other words, they acted like teenaged boys). The accused (one of whom was on death row) were only released because they accepted an ‘Alford Plea.’ More details here.

Under the terms of this ‘Alford Plea,’ the three men were released after they pled guilty to the murder and were given ‘time served’ in exchange for pleading guilty… even though the three maintain that they are innocent of the murders. I guess the ‘Alford Plea’ allows the judge and prosecutor who would have had their work discredited to save face and keeps the victims of false imprisonment from suing the state, prosecutors, judge, court or police.

Over the years, DNA and other evidence has surfaced to suggest that the three teens did not have anything to do with the murders. The presiding judge in the case left for the State Senate, clearing the way for a new Judge to examine the evidence again and work this deal. The sad thing is that the fact that the ‘West Memphis 3’ are out of jail seems to have nothing to do with what actually happened to the murder victims and everything to do with state politics.

The reason I bring it up is because I wonder if these 3 were caught up in the ‘Satanic Panic’ of the 80s and 90s. I remember being surprised during those years that people believed that there were ‘secret satanic cults’ everywhere that wanted to engage in human sacrifice and child rape and other things despite the fact that the ‘satanic conspiracy’ never actually materialized. I don’t suppose it should surprise me since many people believe so many goddamn stupid things. Among other things, the ‘satanic panic’ folks believed that heavy metal music, playing Dungeons & Dragons and not going to an evangelical church all inevitably lead to becoming a blood thirsty cultist. I read a book on the history of this time called ‘Satanic Panic; The Creation of a Contemporary Legend’ a while back; an interesting (and terrifying) read. Part of the story that scares me is how frequently people have been falsely accused of crimes on the basis of testimony from ‘satanic cult’ experts.

I don’t know all of the legal ins and outs of the case but I believe the accused are innocent and wish them well; I hope they can start to make up for lost time (although many in the area apparently refuse to accept that the three have been released and may be innocent; beliefs die hard). The funny thing about ‘witch hunts’ is that they never seem to lead to people who have actually done the crimes they are accused of — usually they are just guilty of being unpopular in the community or violating the values of the status quo.

(note: The pic at right is of blues musician Robert Johnson. He has nothing to do with this story other than the fact that he is rumored to have ‘sold his soul to the devil’ in exchange for guitar chops… I think Johnson may have started this rumor himself. Another hero of mine and just another in a long line of people trafficking with Satan to destroy society…)

One Comment on “Victims of the ‘Satanic Panic’?”

  1. Eric says:

    Being from Arkansas this was huge news for us, it has been in and out of the news for years, I am happy that this is finally settled.

    Now about the “satanic panic”, on our local news station our Libertarian Commentator had suggested the kids where railroaded in this for that very reason. “Satanic panic” is common in Arkansas even to this day. Though we tend to be a “Blue” state we have always been the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt.

    Sad part is I blame BS like that as to why our geek culture here is so underground, at least in Central Arkansas. I even gripped about it on my Blog…


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