American Leviathan (Part One)
"The box. You opened it. We came." - Hellraiser
Dr Hal Pepinsky is a professor of criminal justice at Indiana University in Bloomington. I know this because a few days ago I discovered a paper he'd presented in 1999 at S.M.A.R.T.'s ninth annual conference on the subject "How I Bring the Voices of Survivors of Ritual Violence and Mind Control Experimentation into My Classrooms."
It's interesting reading, but more than that, it's also one of those strange comforts to find professional and academic support that says things may be as bad as I suspect, and I may not be as crazy as I hope. Know what I mean? There are a number of things I'm persuaded of about which I like to think I'm wrong. (Speaking of which, remember the 1993 interview False Memory Syndrome Foundation board members Ralph Underwager and wife Hollida Wakefield gave Paidika, the Dutch journal of paedophilia? Well here's something that feels like a kick in the head: Dr Vern Bullough, board member of the debunking Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal and its Skeptical Inquirer, served from 1988 to 1998 as Paidika's consulting editor.)
One thing I appreciate about Pepinsky's paper is his wrestling with the implications of a hidden crime, the scope of which invites incredulity:
You know, you could believe every now and then that maybe an official engages in a little political corruption. But if you talk about the drug war for example, how easy it was it for people to believe. We used to talk about this a fair amount. The evidence indicated that the CIA was probably the biggest actor in the legal drug trafficking in the world, and the US military. What do you do with that? It becomes really almost impossible for people to conceive of that. And so this is what I ran into when I tried to convey to others that there might be such a thing as people in high positions, maybe even including presidents, who maybe occasionally even killed and ate people and got away with it? Or who consistently molested children, or who trafficked in child prostitution; who did all the kinds of worst things, that if you haven't lived through the experiences that so many in this room have lived through, then you may never imagine? Worse things than are in a movie. And that maybe the people who are in trusted positions - police, therapists, any one you might want to turn to, teachers, principals, politicians, business leaders - that at all of those levels, you could have worse crimes being carried out than you have ever allowed yourself to imagine before. That is the hardest thing, the hardest thing to accept.
Another is Pepinsky's description of how the abstract became immediate, and what it did to him:
It hit me particularly hard when, three years after I started teaching the seminar, I wandered through some woods. I'd lived in Bloomington for twenty years and a couple of blocks from where I lived, I'd walked through these woods. I was enjoying an early spring day in March and as I was out in the woods I suddenly saw what looked to me, now that I've heard so much and seen so much about ritual abuse, like what used to be a ritual altar. And I went exploring further. It went on for hundreds of yards down the creek bed. I called a survivor and had him walk through it with me. We came upon what appeared to be a human grave covered over with cement in the creek bed. We found a bag of anti-coagulant that was in the creek bed. We tried talking to a police detective. Then I saw helicopters go over for a couple of days. And then he told me, "The Deputy Chief of Police said that there is really not much more that they can do to pursue it."
The people who own that particular property kind of own it in little packages. They all live on one-half street and this included some pretty prominent people in town. Then I found out that one of the co-owners of that property was my someone I had sought for professional services. I got scared. It was scary enough to begin with, but suddenly it got really personal. And it became further validated by the fact that people were leaving calling cards around the house regularly, once I began to try to talk about it.
People knew that I was on to something. Once I tried to pursue the history of this. Actually, once I worked out the geography I said, "There are some other high spots in town. Let me go get ‘em." And the next one I went to, there was a ritual site. So all of a sudden it was right here. It wasn't just something that survivors from out of town were bringing to me; it was right next to me. It could involve people who were very close to me.
Pepinsky adds that "people said at the time that they thought that I might be going psychotic and they probably weren't far wrong. But what I do know is that I became deeply depressed."
Linda Blood tells in The New Satanists of being called in to help counsel a 14-year old girl and her family in 1988 after they had been forced to flee their comfortable home in the "suburb of a major southeastern city that is a center for scientific research and military operations." The girl was trying to leave a cult that had ritually raped her and forced her to participate in animal sacrifice. When Blood contacted a police source, she was told she had "stumbled into an ongoing investigation that traced back to similar complaints 20 years before, indicating that the cult was probably generational." Further police consultation informed Blood the cult was "engaged in serious criminal activity ranging from drug trafficking to pornography and prostitution to multimillion-dollar white collar crimes such as insurance scams"... and its members included "doctors, lawyers, judges, police, engineers."
In her 1985 report on ritualistic child abuse, reprinted in Cults That Kill, Detective Sandi Gallant of the San Francisco Police Department included synopses of then-current investigations in California to substantiate its credibility.
- A 17-year old male in Atherton who claimed to have been drugged by injection and forced into S&M pornography by his stepfather, compelled to drink blood, witness animal mutilations and a murder.
- A 5-year old boy in Fremont who claimed two men repeatedly injected him with something that made him drowsy and forced him into sexual activity in what might have been a church with black candles. Said he was sometimes photographed, and forced to watch the mutilation of animals and human beings.
- Seven children between 5 and 7 who claimed that at a day-care in Fort Bragg run by a church they were forced to drink blood and urine, witnessed the killing of dogs and cats and one infant, "saw things and possibly animals" suspended from the ceiling, and were injected and then photographed in sexual acts. Black candles and pentagrams were observed.
- Two children, 13 and 8, claimed to have been injected with drugs and photographed having sex with adults chanting in black robes, and to have witnessed the murder of a small child. Room was lit with black candles, and eldest child claimed room "really stunk."
Like Pepinsky suggested, it's crazy-making to see this stuff when the same material is there for others to see, yet all most see are people who must be crazy or uneducated making impossible claims for a phenomenon long since debunked by respectable and well-funded institutions such as FMSF and CSICOP. (And let's acknowledge this: sometimes all the crazy-making makes us see things that really aren't there. When this happens and we know it, we need to act like we know it and revise our judgement.) But the phenomenon, like so many others that aren't supposed to exist yet do, like unaccounted for cattle mutilations, never went away. The abuse continued, but below the surface of general perception. And as anyone who's paid attention to even the mainstream news should know, the surface of perception has been broken again and again this year.
But this time, maybe, it's different. There will be no Geraldo specials, no Oprah, no hyperbolic evangelism and hysteria about black-clad teens. (Though, on the other hand, there is still Ted Gunderson.) This time it doesn't sound so incredible to suggest that "there might be such a thing as people in high positions, maybe even including presidents, who maybe occasionally even killed and ate people and got away with it." This time it makes a certain kind of sense, because we have something approaching a hermeneutic to interpret occult politics' intersections of power and perversion.
One other difference: this time, there seems less a regard on the side of the High Perps for maintaining appearances. The mask slips more readily, even proudly. And one of the things these days I'm not crazy about is the implication of that.