The Satanic Panic

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Ravenswing

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Something I'm remembering now is that some local yokels (a pair of brothers if rumor is true) broke into our school and painted 'Satan Lives!' and other slogans/symbols on the walls. I doubt the motivation had anything to do with pleasing their dark master and everything to do with riling up their gullible elders. I wonder how common that sort of pranking was.

Endemic. There isn't a teenager in America ignorant of the unfortunate truth that the easiest way to not merely rile the grownups and local authority figures beyond reason, but to see their handiwork on the national wire services into the bargain, is to (a) incorporate SS lightning runes and swastikas into their graffiti, within (b) line of sight of the nearest synagogue.

And it carries to many other aspects, extreme overreaction being our national raison d'etre. Want to get out of the 5th period math test? Drop a .22 shell casing (it doesn't actually have to have a BULLET, or anything naughty like that, in it) in the school corridor and you've guaranteed a lockdown. Spraypainting "BOMB" in big black letters on a van, and whole city blocks get evacuated while the state bomb squad is called in. Forget a bag lunch on the seat next to you, and the whole subway line is shut down. Never mind the reactions when three (!!!) Muslims (!!!) dare to enter a Walmart bathroom together, holding suspicious lengths of carpet (!!!)

(I am making up none of these examples.)
 

Voros

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In High School a friend and I used to joke about sacrificing puppies, worshipping Satan and the like all the time.

Our fellow students knew we were just weirdos and joking but we had one substitute teacher who we inadvertently freaked out with our schtick until our regular teacher reassured her. I felt bad about that.

For drama class I wrote and directed a play called 'Killing Mr. English' wherein we killed our beloved English teacher who appropriately enough was actually named Mr. English. Of course we performed it with him in attendance. It was all very meta.

I also wrote a poem in Junior High English about burning down my school.

All this provoked nothing but bemusement from our tolerant ex-hippie teachers who proceeded to give me As for this kind of behaviour.

All before Columbine and the rather puritan and paranoid environment kids seem to grow up in these days of course.
 
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Malleustein

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One of my English essays was a letter I wrote (and actually sent) to some Christian youth magazine, in response to an article warning about the dangers of D&D. I basically pointed out they clearly didn't have the faintest clue what the game actually invovled, and their conclusions were stupid.

What did you write? Did they reply in any way?
 

Ravenswing

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All this provoked nothing but bemusement from our tolerant ex-hippie teachers who proceeded to give me As for this kind of behaviour.

All before Columbine and the rather puritan and paranoid environment kids seem to grow up in these days of course.

Yep, and we know how it'd all be handled in our zero-tolerance world now. You would not have merely been expelled. You'd have done time. Heck, take that example I cited about "BOMB" being spraypainted onto a van. The van was unfortunately only a few blocks from the town's high school, out on a peninsula (Hull, for those of you who know Massachusetts), and they took the extraordinary measure of evacuating the students over water while cordoning off several blocks. The state bomb squad came in, the FBI came in ... and for a dumb prank that a generation ago would have had scrub brushes shoved into the hands of the two teenage vandals had them instead expelled from school -- despite that it was nowhere near school grounds -- and brought up on federal terrorism charges.

Osama bin Laden has to be giggling in the underworld.

And it leaves me wondering ... what would possibly be the fate of our hobby and of pop culture generally if the Satanic Panic had happened today?
 
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Nick J

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The greatest trick The Devil ever pulled wasn't in fact convincing the world he isn't real, but instead convincing my evangelical parents that D&D was Satan's handiwork, which in turn prompted my mom to pick up Cyborg Commando out of the bargain bin at Goodwill, bring it home and say, "Here, why don't you just play this instead?"

Bastard!
 

Black Leaf

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In High School a friend and I used to joke about sacrificing puppies, worshipping Satan and the like all the time.

Our fellow students knew we were just weirdos and joking but we had one substitute teacher who we inadvertently freaked out with our schtick until our regular teacher reassured her. I felt bad about that.

For drama class I wrote and directed a play called 'Killing Mr. English' wherein we killed our beloved English teacher who appropriately enough was actually named Mr. English. Of course we performed it with him in attendance. It was all very meta.

I also wrote a poem in Junior High English about burning down my school.

All this provoked nothing but bemusement from our tolerant ex-hippie teachers who proceeded to give me As for this kind of behaviour.

All before Columbine and the rather puritan and paranoid environment kids seem to grow up in these days of course.
I wouldn't try and play Killer these days as a kid, certainly not like we used to.

Shoeboxes with clocks on them and the word BOMB written on them?
 

TristramEvans

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And it leaves me wondering ... what would possibly be the fate of our hobby and of pop culture generally if the Satanic Panic had happened today?

Moral Panics are still happening today, but we can't really discuss those in the same way. Even beyond the politics, I think it takes some amount of hindsight to make opinions objective.
 

TristramEvans

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The greatest trick The Devil ever pulled wasn't in fact convincing the world he isn't real, but instead convincing my evangelical parents that D&D was Satan's handiwork, which in turn prompted my mom to pick up Cyborg Commando out of the bargain bin at Goodwill, bring it home and say, "Here, why don't you just play this instead?"

Bastard!

FreeWellgroomedAtlanticsharpnosepuffer-max-1mb.gif
 

Voros

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I always think the establishment took the wrong message from Columbine and pretty much made everything worse but that's probably not a topic for the pub.

This is an excellent book by a reporter who stuck around and did a deep dive on the facts after most of the media had moved on.

41R+1sIDFyL.jpg

Not surprisingly, most of what was reported at the time and still largely believed today about the causes and motivations of the massacre was wildly inaccurate although it should be noted that was also because many of the 'witnesses' invented details and even incidents from whole clothe in a way not dissimilar to the Satanitic Panic.

One thing that this book really communicates well is how much these kids were suffering from mental illness and the deep grief and regret of their parents.

Plus just how horrific the actions of those boys really was, the detailed breakdown of the massacre near the end of the book is stomach-churning, enraging and deeply disturbing.

This book was widely successful and has done the important work of setting the record straight although I get the feeling a lot of the misinformation about it is still out there among those who don't pay attention to these things.
 

Simlasa

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Want to get out of the 5th period math test? Drop a .22 shell casing (it doesn't actually have to have a BULLET, or anything naughty like that, in it) in the school corridor and you've guaranteed a lockdown.
A friend of mine, now married to a Baptist minister (preacher? pastor?) was more direct. In college she just went to the class early, wrote 'class is cancelled today' on the board, and left before anyone else arrived.
 

Acmegamer

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I wouldn't try and play Killer these days as a kid, certainly not like we used to.

Shoeboxes with clocks on them and the word BOMB written on them?
Yeah, I'd have been arrested and taken away for sure for the things we did playing Killer back in High School 81'- 82'. We used things like trombone slide oil on the rag as chloroform, dart and disc guns, shoebox bombs were indeed a thing, water balloon grenades' etc. I loved my disc gun, though the disc would veer off after a short distance. I took out so many people in the library, theatre room and band room. lol. Fond memories.

1635619839445.png

My equivalent to mister Bond's Walther PPK. lol
 

Doc Sammy

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Miller is the demiurge. Rumour has it Earth was rolled up using the T5 world creation rules and not playtested.

As for God, think about the world you see around you.

You spend 100% of your time fully immersed/eläytyminen in the role of an average person
There are no bennies, no do overs, no metacurrency
Char Gen is random
The world out there might react to what you do, but you have no special narrative place in it.

God is CRKrueger. Let that theological realisation sink in.

CRKrueger's not so bad. If he had a cult, I'd join it.

But CRKruegar was originally, in another reality, the imaginary friend of a young autistic boy who was used as a test subject for experimental drugs in a mental hospital.

I'm morbidly curious to find out where I'd fit into this wider multiversal theological narrative...

Bro....shit. Are we like all just Endless Flight's dream?

Well, I do know we're certainly not in my dreams...

My ideal dream would be this but the characters are all hot anime guys, the pearly gates say "Welcome to The Garden State" and Frank Sinatra is replaced by Sid Vicious. lol

 
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Doc Sammy

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Séadna

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And one reason the moral campaigners in the UK like Whitehouss may merely appear less extreme...
I was just reading over this thread and found this interesting. It can sound sometimes like the US was/is more extreme about stuff like this, i.e. having all these panics and strange cultural phenomena.

Like earlier in the thread I mentioned that there was no Satanic panic here, but that's not due to us being super-rational or something. It's due to global popular culture not being available here so D&D never had any presence. American "moral guardians" seem to me to often be grass roots movements of individual parents, etc. This creates more drama and personal anecdotes one can write about and most of us elsewhere know enough about America to follow the conversation.

Where as our moral guardians operated silently at the state level and it'd require a huge amount of exposition to even explain what they were guarding against. I'd even have to get into how religion in Ireland was often far less concerned with actual belief than "correct behaviour" etc.

So yeah, just to say the differences in how well known US culture is and how phenomena like this play out there can create an imbalance that makes it seem more extreme.
 
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Malleustein

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Dungeons & Dragons didn't have as big a presence in the UK as in the US through the 80's and early 90's. While it was still the most prominent role-playing game, it had a bit more competition, especially from Games Workshop's early imports of Call of Cthulhu and other classic games. Obviously, Warhammer was coming into it's own at the same time too, and probably had as much public awareness as Dungeons & Dragons did.

I got my first Dungeons & Dragons boxed set the same Christmas as I received HeroQuest, so the two very much go hand-in-hand for me.

Ultimately though, other media was just a bigger scapegoat. Porn, alternative music (lingering punk, rock, or emerging rave), video nasties, etc. Nerdy kids reading books didn't compare to Fulci eye-gouging. Sure, it was not exactly full-blown satanic panic, more a collective disdainful sneer and finger wagging from the self-important.
 

Vargold

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Late to this thread ...

My father was a Presbyterian minister, but he and my mother never gave me any crap about D&D. In fact, when one of the parishioners asked my mother why she wasn't worried about the game, my mother replied, "All he and his friends seem to do is draw maps and roll dice. I don't see the problem."

One of my work colleagues grew up in an evangelical house (parents converted from Catholicism), and he was not allowed to play D&D but could play Top Secret and James Bond 007. (The Bond films were a pre-conversion favorite of his father's, so they were OK.)
 
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