“How has no one used Satanic Panic as a band name? it’s such a great name”

I just heard this one this week’s Cracked podcast and I like YES, HELL YEAH IT IS.  People sometimes comment on my monicker- I worship the devil or something.  For the record, I do not worship the devil.

I came up with this monicker in 2006 when I first used it over at Huffington Post.  Here’s my profile– August 2006.    I don’t really go there anymore unless I happen upon a link to there from somewhere else.  I can think of other things I would rather read about than celebrities’ nipples or about how vaccines are bad for you.  But I’ve been using it ever since.  I use it all over the internet, so likely if you see SatanicPanic, it’s me, except in those places where I am TheRealSatanicPanic (notably Youtube) because some copycat used it first.

I chose the name because it rhymes and because when I came back to the USA around 2006 I thought certain aspects of the War on Terror reminded me of the great moral panic of the 80s.  The one where everyone thought there was a Satanic cult operating in every town, except in this case it was Muslim terrorists.

Obviously there are actually were (and maybe are) Muslim terrorists operating in the USA, where the evidence for Satanic cults was pretty near zero, but I thought stories about schools cancelling their field trips to pumpkin patches were a sign that people were going a little overboard.  OK I was being a little flippant, but this is the internet we’re talking about and I tend to be flippant here.  The other thing is that moral panics do have costs, which I was just reminded of this week:

The Real Victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse

Among the atrocities that Frances and Dan Keller were supposed to have committed while running a day care center out of their Texas home: drowning and dismembering babies in front of the children; killing dogs and cats in front of the children; transporting the children to Mexico to be sexually abused by soldiers in the Mexican army; dressing as pumpkins and shooting children in the arms and legs; putting the children into a pool with sharks that ate babies; putting blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; cutting the arm or a finger off a gorilla at a local park; and exhuming bodies at a cemetery, forcing children to carry the bones.

 It was frankly unbelievable—except that people, most importantly, a Texas jury, did believe the Kellers had committed at least some of these acts. In 1992, the Kellers were convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a child and each sentenced to 48 years in prison. The investigation into their supposed crimes took slightly more than a year, the trial only six days.

After multiple appeal efforts and 21 years in prison, the Kellers are finally free. Fran Keller, 63, was released from prison on Nov. 26 on a personal bond, just in time for Thanksgiving. Her daughter was waiting for her with a bag full of the first clothes that weren’t prison-issued that Keller had seen in years. Dan, who turned 72 in prison and now walks with a cane, was released on Dec. 5; this time, Fran was there to greet him. (The Kellers divorced while in prison yet remain close, as close as two people locked up in separate prisons for crimes they say they didn’t commit can be.)

This was a story I remember reading about a long, long time ago and thinking- wow, that’s far-fetched.  Putting children into pools with sharks?  How in the fuck did they get sharks to Austin Texas anyway?  Did the prosecution produce an armless gorilla?  Were all these people HIGH?

I’m ashamed I never followed up on this story and sent some money to a defense fund for these people, because they got railroaded.  What a joke.

Anyway, that’s where my monicker comes from.



  1. Ha, when I first saw your name when we came across each other’s path here on wordpress, I actually thought you WERE part of a satanic cult. Then I realised you’re a father with a young child just like me which …, in a way …, can indeed sometimes drive you to join a satanic cult! 🙂

  2. I kind of remember the Keller story from when it happened. There were more than a few of these types of cases, a few of them here in Massachusetts. The problem is that my husband (the reporter) covered them and he knew stuff. In some cases, stuff that the jury never got to hear for one legal reason or another. Undoubtedly some of this stuff is trumped up nonsense, but as often as not, the really ugly – true – stuff never gets heard at all. I don’t know about Texas, of course. Texas has (apparently) entirely different rules of evidence than the rest of the country.

    1. There may have been some true believers or some copycats out there too. Excessive media coverage seems to spawn people who want to be famous for awful reasons. The 80s were a crazy time.

      1. Just depends- In terms of our civil discourse and the absurd things people are willing to do and say on TV (or worse, things they’re willing to do to BE on television), I agree. But 80s fashion and music will never be topped in terms of unrestrained tackiness.

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