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Margaret Weis, as nerds tend to do from time to time, recently reraised the issue of the Satanic Panic, sharing one of her anecdotes and inspiring others to do the same.
I don’t want to share an anecdote, but rather make some general comments. I was a victim of this bullshit. Though my father was present until the day he died, my mother did all of the child rearing, and she’s an infallibility-of-the-Pope Catholic. (She may not be because Pope Francis isn’t conservative enough, but I wouldn’t know because I no longer speak with her.) As the primary authority figure, she wasn’t fond of me playing D&D. Note well that her favorite way of dealing with me when I was too young to resist was hitting me with a metal spoon with a sharp edge to it. This was no small matter.
I have an opinion as to why these dipshits were in such a panic. First, though, I want to assure you that I don’t want to insult the faithful generally. I’m an agnostic, but I see the value to religion, so if you’re religious, I’m cool with it. In fact, in my early days of congoing, I’ve helped make sure some of you found a church to attend in an unfamiliar city. You don’t have to be this way in order to be faithful, but some of you are.
I think D&D was seen as competition for my mother, et al. Even though I saw Zeus, Thor, Shango, and Raiden as the center of fun stories, they saw them as competitors to their religious thrones. I apologize for the offense this will cause, but I agree. They are competitors, because the philosophies, stories, and views of many of the religious even today aren’t much less ridiculous to me than those of the ancient people who would see a microwave oven as witchcraft. This is consistent with the fact that a lot of faith is placed in the writings of ancient people who, in fact, would also see a microwave oven as witchcraft. One who blindly accepts the words of people like that isn’t much better than those people.
Regardless of the psychological rationale, and regardless of your lack of experience with it, the Satanic Panic was real, as was the needless hurt it caused a lot of people. If anyone denies or understates the existence of the Satanic Panic, they’re either lying or ignorant as to its scope.