The AP reports on the release of four women imprisoned during the Satanic Panic:
Four San Antonio women imprisoned for sexually assaulting two girls in 1994 have achieved their first aim: freedom.
Their next step is to fight for exoneration, and that is what their attorneys intend to pursue before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh and Cassandra Rivera were released Monday night on their own recognizance. That was after a judge decided to recommend that an appeals court vacate their 1998 convictions as tainted by faulty witness testimony.
The fourth woman, Anna Vasquez, was released on parole last year.
The women haven’t been exonerated formally. Bexar County prosecutors have said they don’t intend to retry them if the appeals court vacates the convictions. However, they disagree with the women’s attorneys that they should be declared formally innocent. Exoneration would allow them to collect money Texas pays to the wrongfully imprisoned
Google’s new NGram viewer gives a fascinating look at how memes ebb and flow throughout the years by sharting the appearance of certain words within all the books indexed by Google Books. So far, you can search between 1800 and 2008.
Michelle Remembers (the book that helped start the Satanic Panic) was released in 1980 and Falcon Publishing started around that year.
Some of Llewellyn‘s biggest hits like Wicca and Modern Magick didn’t come out in the late 80s, but the publishing house has been around since the 1901 (founded in Portland, incidentally). According to Wikipedia, the company started publishing authors like Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley in the 60s. The other big publisher of occult and new age books, Weiser, was founded in 1956 – also well before the 80s explosion.
McMartin preschool trial started in 1983 and through the 1987. This probably contributed significantly to number of books published on magick and the occult during this period.
The signal always gets distorted, degraded…and more popular every time. Dumb is accessible, people like dumb. They like aliens, they like Satanist bad guys, and they like to buy products that signify their secret knowledge. It’s hard to exaggerate how hollowed out the Conspiratainment Complex has become in 2010. Conspiracy Theory is literally being taught to Americans on a chalkboard now. Remote Viewing has gone from a classified project to a mini-industry of competing DVD training packages. Even Tila Tequila is tracking the Illuminati’s every move these days. This is an emerging demographic and it’s going to be extremely important in the next decade. […]
Today, these competing meta-narratives are blending into a Conspiratainment mainstream, where the largest possible audience meets the lowest common denominator. Roswell is an article of faith, JFK is holy scripture, and 9/11 is the wedge issue and the litmus test. The Apollo 11 mission exists in a Schroedinger-style quantum state where it simultaneously did and did not land on the moon, although the priesthood agrees there was a cover-up, either way.
A few years ago, I wrote an article about contemporary subcultures and made the case that the 9/11 Truth movement was a legitimate subculture. Although it was already being productized in the form of DVDs, books and merchandise, I didn’t think it was something that would be appropriated by the mainstream. And though 9/11 still hasn’t been appropriated by the mainstream, thanks to the likes of Glenn Beck and the Tea Party, conspiracy theory is more mainstream than ever.
This reminds me of a quote Justin posted on Facebook a while back. I can’t find the specific entry, but I think it was from a 9/11 Truther. It went something like this “Conspiracy theory has never hurt anyone, but the Obama administration has.”
Don’t think for a second I’m letting Obama and company off the hook for their targeted assassinations, Afghan war escalation, etc. But I’m calling bullshit on the “conspiracy theory never hurt anyone” line.
It would be disingenuous to say The Protocols of the Elders of Zioncaused the Holocaust, but it did contribute to the antisemitism and paranoia during the first half of the 20th century that enabled WWI and the holocaust. That’s a pretty serious amount of blood on the hands of a conspiracy theory.
It’s these very issues that lead me to begin distancing myself from conspiracy theory after the second EsoZone. Once I’d hoped that conspiracy theory could enlightening, a way to break down rigid thinking and foster skepticism and critical thinking (as Robert Anton Wilsons’s writings on conspiracy theory had done for me). These days I’m cynical about that prospect (see here and here) of conspiracy theory opening people’s minds. Instead of breaking down “consensus reality,” conspiracy theory has been entrenching many people deeper into their own “reality tunnels.” Before I thought, at the very least, conspiracy theory could be entertaining. It just doesn’t seem funny to me any more.
Meanwhile, as Justin writes:
Conspiracy theory tends towards monolithic explanations, attributing far too much power to far too few people. Political Science assumes the existence of hundreds of co-existing and conflicting conspiracies in any group of over thousand people.
Most real, successful conspiracies are mundane and barely covert: consider the Council for National Policy, an invitation-only Evangelical Conservative influence network with a membership list so powerful it defies belief. What happens when you get Pat Robertson and John Ashcroft into the same room? Throw in Oliver North, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, Jesse “33°” Helms, James Dobson, and big money sponsors like Richard DeVos, Holland Coors, Richard Mellon Scaife and Nelson Baker Hunt.
Another interesting example is the Family, a Christian theocratic conspiracy, which I’ve covered quite a bit here. The Family tries to keep a low profile, but not exactly a secret. Yet, I could find only one reference to the Family on Alex Jones’s InfoWars – naturally, an article about the possibility that the Family may have helped finance 9/11. Here is a real and well-documented modern conspiracy. Where’s the outrage from conspiracy circles? (To his credit, Jones did have Jeff Sharlet on his show.) I could find no references to the Council for National Policy on InfoWars.
That, I’m afraid, is the sad state of conspiracy theory. Real conspiracies play out before our very eyes, while too many very smart people clutch at straws.
There was a time that Pamela Hobbs believed justice had been served for her young son’s murder.
But 16 years after the mutilations and killings of three 8-year-old Cub Scouts, including her son, she has more doubts than ever. […]
Her public change of heart has been supported by new evidence presented by the defense over the past few years. In 2007, DNA and forensic evidence tests revealed no physical evidence at the crime scene that linked the three teens to murders. The evidence was presented to the state.
Furthermore, DNA that might belong to two other men was found in the knot used to tie Christopher.
One of the men is Terry Hobbs, the stepfather of Stevie, the defense says. In 1993, such advanced DNA testing had not been available, attorneys said.
“It has been 15 years since Damien Echols was sentenced to die for the murders of three 8-year-old boys in West Memphis. He claims he and the other two convicted of the heinous killings have what they need to prove they are innocent. Surrounded by guards in Arkansas’ only super-max prison, Damien Echols is shackled at the hands and feet. (Damien Echols, Death Row Inmate) “Every single morning for the past 15 years I’ve had to wake up in a prison cell knowing I should have never been there in the first place. They took from me the entire decade of my 20’s. I’m now in my 30’s. They are taking my 30’s. I’ve lost 15 Christmas’, 15 Thanksgivings… my son has had to grow up without his father.” Treated as one of the most dangerous criminals in the state, Echols is one of only about 40 inmates on Arkansas’ death row.
(Echols) “I can take exactly 4 steps from the back of the cell to the front of the cell. Everything is made out of concrete except for the door which is steel. .” Now 15 years after being locked up, as he spends day in and day out in solitary confinement, Echols believes he is the closest he has ever been to getting a new trial.
(Echols) “Ever since the minute I was arrested 15 years ago, I’ve tried to tell them that I did not do this and they just weren’t interested in listening. They said well that’s what everyone says. And that’s why for me the dna evidence is so important now because finally there is concrete forensic evidence that I can point to and say look I told you.”