Thursday 10 May 2012

idle hands and the devil's workshop

While clearing out some neglected filing cabinets at work, I came across a packet of educational materials, first noticing the awesome hand drawn mimeotype symbols, but then I read the short essay and realized that hysteria, fear-mongering and urban legends about Satanic Cults in the 1980s is no different from the phenomena of terrorism and security—except that fretful parents did not need the constant drone of government to reinforce fears and were able to sustain worry over whether their children were in a cult or were going to be abducted or sacrificed. It was also a scary and weird time, and enough horrible things go on without being fixated on nebulous threats that never surfaced—just like now.
Cults (the essay's title), which takes a very scientific and exhaustive approach to the topic begins: “This is a sensitive subject. One of the ideals this country is founded on is freedom of religion. Satanism is a recognized religion.” What other recognized religions could be substituted nowadays? This anonymous study is worth reading in the grainy typewritten original with the tone of an after-school special, and the lists of suspicious activities and warning signs become a modern allegory for the recommended reactions and misgivings of terrorists-hunters and holy-rollers.