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In 1995, actor James Woods starred in Indictment: The McMartin Preschool Trial, an HBO movie about Virginia McMartin, Ray Buckey, and others who were wrongfully accused of operating a Satanic pedophile ring out of their Manhattan Beach, California, daycare. He played defense attorney Danny Davis, who smartly realized that the children had been manipulated by employees of the Children's Institute International into making up patently absurd and impossible stories of abuse, air travel and underground tunnels. It is an excellent movie, which you can actually watch on YouTube if you are so inclined.


This week, in the year of our lord 2018, Mr. Woods -- who in real life is not quite as clever as the man he portrayed in that movie -- tweeted out an enraging-looking poster found in Oregon, advocating for pedophilia. However, this enraging poster was likely not made by actual advocates of pedophilia, but rather as part of a campaign from 4Chan trolls on a mission to associate pedophilia with LGBTQ advocacy.


This, as we all know, has been an ongoing mission with these people. Rather than any sincere concern over pedophilia -- which is a real thing, and there is a guy running for office advocating legalizing it right now -- right-wing trolls like those found in 4chan and 8chan, like rape advocate Mike Cernovich and Pizzagate idiot Jack Posobiec, see these wrongful accusations as a way to "punish" the left for having accused them and people like them of being racist and sexist, etc. They are freakishly honest about this. As one 4chan user put it, "If they get to take scalps for someone making racist jokes, we get to take scalps for them making pedophilia jokes." But while making fun of black people probably makes you racist, making fun of pedophilia might not make you a pedophile!

For Cernovich, this likely goes further. As you may know, he was previously charged with rape and got the charges reduced after intimidating a witness into changing their testimony -- and claims he was "falsely accused." He wrote a list of tips to avoid false rape accusations, which included taping sexual encounters without the consent of the woman involved. So not only does he believe that liberals go around falsely accusing people of racism, he also believes that women go around falsely accusing men of rape. You know, for fun.



This is far from the first "psy-ops" campaign from 4chan, but it's the closest they've come to being successful. Their previous scams have included things like posing as black women on Twitter and trying to start a campaign to #EndFathersDay and say other ridiculous things in hopes that people would then share their opinion that "the SJWs have finally gone too far!" These campaigns, however disgusting, have usually been swiftly identified as 4chan trolls. Although those in the know are aware of what is going on, it's easy for big corporations like Disney to get hoodwinked. It's also surprisingly easy to get people who are less aware to go along with this kind of bullshit.

Outside of the occasional acknowledgement of McMartin or the West Memphis Three -- the subjects of the HBO documentary trilogy Paradise Lost -- this is a period of American history that is often glossed over. And with good reason, as it is pretty freaking embarrassing for everyone involved.

While we'd like to think it was just "religious nuts" going wild over these allegations, it wasn't. It was our justice system. And, unfortunately, it was a few people on our side as well. Gloria Steinem helped fund the excavation of the so-called "tunnels" underneath McMartin, and was a big supporter of the "recovered memories" movement, making appearances with Dr. Bennett Braun, a doctor at Rush Memorial Hospital in Chicago who was later successfully sued for $10.6 million by a patient he had manipulated into producing these "memories." Ms. Magazine, in 1993, published a cover article titled "BELIEVE IT! Cult Ritual Abuse Exists."

Millions of people across the country bought copies of books purporting to be "memoirs" of those with recovered memories of Satanic Ritual Abuse, like Michelle Remembers and Satan's Underground, both of which were later revealed to be hoaxes. The woman who wrote Satan's Underground, Laurel Rose Willson, also later pretended to be Holocaust survivor "Laura Grabowski." Those same people watched talk show after talk show featuring people, mostly women, coming forward with these outlandish tales -- many of them later found to have been abused, drugged and manipulated by fame-hungry psychologists. Geraldo did a now-notorious hour and a half long investigation into it. Oprah invited the authors of Michelle Remembers, psychologist Lawrence Pazder and his patient/wife Michelle Smith, to come on her show, along with others who claimed to be victims of SRA, taking them all very, very seriously.


Pat Burgus, the woman who sued Dr. Bennett Braun for $10.6 million, had initially sought therapy after a failed pregnancy. Because she referred to herself and the baby as "we," her therapist at the time decided she must have multiple personalities and began hypnotizing her and naming her various moods. Being in a fragile state, she ended up going along with it, trying to please the therapist. Convinced that she had multiple personalities, she sought treatment from Dr. Braun, who was then the leading expert on the diagnosis.

Soon Pat was talking about her family's involvement in a satanic cult that dated back to the 17th century. As a "high priestess" for a nine-state region, she claimed to have tortured, raped, murdered, and cannibalized 2,000 children a year while her husband was at work. She claimed to have taught John and Mikey [her children] how to commit human sacrifice while they were toddlers. She claimed to have been raped by panthers, tigers, and gorillas at the zoo while cult members watched. She claimed to have been buried alive on numerous occasions. She even claimed to have had sex with President Kennedy.

Another patient of Braun's, Mary Shanley -- who was featured with Burgus in the most enraging Frontline documentary you will ever see -- was led to believe that she was a "fifth generation cultist" and had not only been the victim of Satanic Ritual Abuse herself, but had also abused her own children and repressed the memories of that. This abuse all happened at Rush Hospital, in Chicago, one of the most well-respected hospitals in the world. Not only did Dr. Braun never go to jail for the horrible things he did to these women, he is still practicing psychiatry in Butte, Montana.

At the time, no one prominent came forward to say "Hey, wait a minute. This is fucking ridiculous and also completely impossible." People just went right along with it. The media just went right along with it. You can never, ever take for granted the bullshit people will fall for.

As most of us know by now, the FBI published the results of a long-term investigation into the theory that there were satanic pedophile rings ritually abusing children in 1992, and found that there was nothing to it. Between that, the greater understanding that both adults and children could be rather easily manipulated into "remembering" things that never really happened, and the belief in the innocence of the West Memphis Three (who were not released from jail until 2011), the moral panic gradually faded away. But not before it ruined a fuckton of people's lives. Families were torn apart, innocent people went to jail, and vulnerable people and children were tricked into believing horrible things had happened to them when they didn't.

These days, in addition to the disingenuous trolls, there are lots of people out there claiming the same kinds of things Burgus and Shanley were led to believe about themselves. Notably, Roseanne's friend Cathy O'Brien, who believes she was a mind-controlled CIA sex slave and that Robert Byrd carved a "witch face" into her vagina, and Sara Ruth Ashcraft, who claims to have been mind-controlled by an ancient cult called the "Hivites," and to have been molested by Tom Hanks as a child -- some bullshit which, just last week, led to YouTube being overrun with videos accusing him of such. She's been making this ridiculous claim for a while, but it's picking up right now because of both QAnon and this troll bullshit.

The fact that people are going along with the rantings of an obviously disturbed woman in order to "own the libs" should scare us all. This is the last thing we want to relive as a culture, and to attempt to resurrect it because they are mad that people call them racists for saying racist things, or what have you, is absolutely sick. It is also pretty sick to use people with obvious mental illness issues to further this bullshit.

This cannot be handled gently, it can't be brushed off as "Oh, hey, look at those weirdos." This cannot be presented in a "balanced, let's not out and out say they are liars or trolls" way. It must be nipped in the bud. Those who make these accusations need to be sued for libel -- including Ashcraft, for her own good. Comedian Vic Berger is looking into suing Mike Cernovich for libel for calling him a pedophile, and that's a great first step. Unless these people are absolutely forced to stop pulling this shit, it's only going to get worse. We know this from experience. We have seen this before and we must never, ever allow it to happen again.

[Buzzfeed]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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