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While it’s (very) easy to mock and laugh at these videos now, we can’t forget the part programs like this played in ruining the lives of hundreds of people in the 1980s and 1990s. While the “Law Enforcement Guide to Satanic Cults” seems blatantly fabricated and made-up on-the-fly today, programs like it were no doubt instrumental in miscarriages of justice like the West Memphis 3 case, or the Kern County California arrests. Then, and today still, self-appointed “occult experts” ride a circuit of town halls, police gatherings, and church halls to share their “expertise” in an always-alleged but never conclusively proven occult crime underground. Updating their schtick to include the latest fads (lately, that means vampires).
As I pointed out in my recent piece on the mainstreaming of exorcisms, all the “silly” talk about Satanism primes the pump for new moral panics breaking out, especially in hard times. The next time it emerges it could come from within the Hip-Hop community, or be directed at the fans of a popular pop starlet. It all seems bizarre and unlikely until you realize that federal money was spent to combat “goth culture” in the wake of Columbine. So yes, it’s easy to laugh at these videos now, but lets not forget that all comedy is tragedy plus timing.