Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Mail-Order Fun

I keep forgetting to mention this, but I was overcome by curiosity the other day and ordered a copy of Pat Pulling's immortal fear-mongering classic "The Devil's Web - Who is Stalking Your Children for Satan?" Pulling, who passed away around 10 years ago, was the founder of B.A.D.D., or Bothered About Dungeons and Dragons, an apparently now-defunct organization the set out to prove that D&D plays were not only nerds, but also agents of Satan! Hey man, I've DMed before, so I guess that also means I sacrifice giraffes and eat babies in the name of Baal.

In reality her story was a sad one - Her son, Irving, committed suicide in 1982 when he was still just a high school kid. Looking for something to blame for her son's death, Pulling focused in on his interest in D&D and ultimately brought lawsuits against both his high school (because it had a D&D club) and TSR Inc., the company that was producing the game at the time. (TSR was absorbed into Wizards of the Coast Inc. a few years ago. That's the company that makes the [also apparently evil*] card game Magic: The Gathering.) Ultimately she founded B.A.D.D. to pontificate about the game, and shortly thereafter she wrote "The Devil's Web". Somehow she managed to pass herself off as some sort of expert on the occult despite the fact that she was apparently making it up as she went along. She reportedly thought "The Necronomicon" of H.P. Lovecraft and "Evil Dead" fame was a real grimoire, and her command of even basic mathematics was shaky at best. (She once declared that since 4% of adults and 4% of children in America were Satanists, that meant that 8% of the country was Satanist. How she arrived at even the 4% figure is a mystery.)

In any event, I'll have her book soon and I look forward to giving it the old go-through. For slightly more balanced overviews of the ol' Satanic Panic, I recommend the definitive work on the subject, "Satanic Panic - The Creation of a Contemporary Legend" by Jeffrey S. Victor and, to lesser extent, "Smoke and Mirrors: The Devastating Effect of False Sexual Abuse Claims" by Terrence W. Campbell. Campbell's book is very interesting but devotes only a couple of chapters to the cult scare.

*Pogs (Remember pogs?) are also evil, according to the linked source.

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