To: Bean na nEan
Date: 15 Mar 1998
The only good article in _Out of Darkness_ was Agent Lanning's piece "A Law-Enforcement Perspective on Allegations of Ritual Abuse." In it, he discusses the history of America's attitude towards the abuse of children. As Lanning says, "Society's attitude about child sexual abuse and exploitation can be summed up in one word: denial."
Originally our culture stuck to pure denial -- this stuff does not happen, we will not talk about it. In the 1950's and 1960's, we switched to another form of denial: marginalizing abuse, portraying it as a horrific thing that the Others did. Lanning calls this the period of the "Stranger Danger" fantasy. The "typical" abuser was a stranger, a wrinkled, smelly, dirty old man who lured children away and did evil to them. The Stranger Danger myth is comforting, because it makes the abuser one of Them. We're all good, decent people. None of us are homeless bums with a pocket-full of candy.
In the 1970's, feminist researchers debunked this myth. They showed that the average abuser was someone who knew the child, someone from the same socio-economic background as their victim. Often they're related to the child. Abusers aren't evil bums, lingering on street corners. They're neighbors, cousins, friends of the family -- "good" upstanding people you can't spot easily.
Lanning argues that part of the appeal of the Satanic conspiracy is that it's a return to Stranger Danger. Once again the "typical" abuser is the Other, not us, not our family and friends.