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The sharing of a series of videos involving allegations of extreme sexual abuse of at least 2 children, has prompted a form of online vigilantism, the ramifications of which has yet to be fully understood.
The clips of a poor innocent boy and girl being encouraged to discuss so called “satanic ritual abuse” sessions that allegedly took place in Hampstead, London, are currently being paraded around blogs, forums, and social media accounts, by a wave of self-styled justice and truth seekers.
Are the “security services involved?” asks the Aanirfan Blog, which proceeds to list the allegations, before linking them to a string of historical cases that for the most part were shown to be baseless.
Abuse is alleged to have taken place at locations as absurd as an “American fast-food restaurant,” which the children named as “McDonalds,” with UK chain “Pizza Express,” and “all the cafés” lumped in as well. That’s without mentioning “all the shopkeepers,” being involved.
A school where the children attended is said to be a hub of activity. At the nearby church they were allegedly forced to partake in the murder of babies by their teachers and estranged father. They were abused, made to drink the blood of the dead, and danced on decomposed baby skulls.
The videos although shared recently, were taken some time ago and the children have since been taken off the mother, who helped record them with her male partner, who has since believed to have gone walkabouts.
A Change.org petition that seems to have taken the allegations at face value, calls for the children to be returned to the mother and their Russian family.
The Tap Blog agrees, and asserts that “anybody who watches these privately taken videos is convinced,” that a powerful paedophile ring is at work … I’m not!
What I am convinced of is that in a post Jimmy Savile world – where justified distrust of state institutions reigns supreme – a void has opened up in to which vigilantism has filled.
Savile was a monster, as are the gambit of celebrities and other high profile people convicted of abuse in the past couple of years. The state and society as a whole, have a lot to answer for – how did they allow this to happen? It’s only natural that the average everyday citizen has less faith in the authorities than they’ve ever had. How are we supposed to feel when psychopaths, liars and spineless head turners, are exposed so overtly?
Congruently, the rise of social media, citizen journalism, or what we might call “alternative media,” has allowed everyone to have a voice. Individuals are more empowered now than they’ve ever been, in their ability to share ideas and information. This is extremely beneficial if one subscribes to concepts of freedom or democracy.
However with our new found power to have our voices heard also comes great responsibility. Comments we may have made flippantly down the pub to a handful of friends and acquaintances, can now be seen by thousands of people on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.
What’s concerning about this story is not that people wish to help two innocent children who may have been abused, but that they would so blindly believe and share anything and everything written about the case. That they would believe the videos completely and literally. That they would name names, single out locations, and plaster the videos themselves all over the web!
Although there is certainly a debate to be had about the secret family courts and some of the practises of social services in this country, there are legitimate reasons why cases involving children, especially abuse, are restricted from public perusal.
Whatever may have happened to these children, how are they going to feel when in a few years they Google their names and see their faces crudely cropped for dramatic effect on some paranoid and hysterical article? With hordes of people commenting with their armchair expertise?
Clouding Real Abuse
In the aforementioned Aanirfan blog post the author tenuously links to a “satanic ritual abuse” case from the 80s in the US state of Minnesota. Several children made allegations against an unrelated man and their parents. The man confessed and then identified a number of the children’s parents as perpetrators. Ultimately twenty-four adults were charged with child abuse though only three went to trial with two acquittals and one conviction.
What was a sickening but relatively straightforward abuse case, snowballed in to a hysteria about a giant satanic ring. The Attorney General’s Office concluded that the investigation by the local police was so poor and confused, that it had destroyed the opportunity to properly investigate. Judge Antonin Scalia said the coercive techniques used by the investigators damaged the credibility of the allegations and although “some sexual abuse took place … there is no reason to believe it was as widespread as charged.”
(In other words the hysteria clouded the real abuse that took place).
The infamous McMartin preschool case, which ran through the 80s was similarly ruined by the hysterical responses of both the social workers, investigators and the media. Suggestive interview techniques prompted the children to make up absurd stories like seeing witches fly, and accuse people nowhere near the scene of being involved, like celebrity Chuck Norris. Secret tunnels and other locations where the abuse was supposed to have taken place were all ruled out. After a record $15 million trial concluded in 1990, all charges were dropped and at least one victim admitted they made up their story.
Satanic Panic then jumped to the UK in 1990 when five families in Rochdale were wrongly torn apart when it was alleged children were being abused by a satanic ring. Paranoid social workers, in part working from NSCPCC guidelines on unfounded “satanic ritual abuse,” had convinced themselves that satanists were operating in Manchester. Video tapes of interviews that were eventually released showed how the social workers coerced the children to make up the stories, and even with no evidence they ran with the case.
Allegations ranged from the sacrifice of human babies and robed devil worship to locking the children in cages and caves. None of the claims were ever proven, and all of the children were eventually returned to their families, 10 years later in the worst case. Many of the alleged victims later spoke out in a documentary about the very real abuse they suffered when being forced to undergo “medical examinations” after being physically removed from their families by police.
In today’s online world of trutherism the Hollie Greig case is perhaps more well known. This was the story of a down syndrome girl who was allegedly abused for over a decade by a gang of paedophiles, reaching the top levels of the Scottish establishment. Well-meaning internet activists launched the “Google Hollie Greig” campaign and some even took to the streets to protest the stomach churning crimes of the elite.
Names and locations were named (even when they didn’t exist), as were other victims who vehemently denied being abused. The story quickly morphed in to whatever the current alternative media celebrity wanted it to be, including satanism, but ultimately no solid evidence ever emerged.
Some medical records could be interpreted as evidence of abuse in some form, but at this point the case is so clouded in unsubstantiated nonsense that nobody is ever going to take it seriously again.
Another Case Ruined?
We’re entering in to a new world, where cases like that of the two children are going to be blown up on the internet much more regularly, because it’s so easy to do so. Somebody claiming to be the father is posting on the videos to try and clear his name, and the videos themselves were likely put up with the mother’s permission to get people on her side.
Legal steps had already been taken before they were uploaded, suggesting the current hysteria is too late to impact the initial court action itself, as the children are already in care.
That fact alone should suggest that the authorities believe that yes, some form of abuse had taken place. Whether this was from the father, or the mother and her partner, or a combination of the them all – neither you or I are in a position to know or find out. Speculating or literally believing there are baby skulls stacked up in a church in the middle of North London, achieves absolutely nothing.
While on paper I am not opposed to vigilantism or independent research when there is solid grounds to believe the state has failed, this comes with the caveat that the vigilante or researcher has to demonstrate they can tackle the situation with impeccable standards. Shock and awe blog posts, or blindly sharing videos of the poor children on Facebook to spark discussions about how David Icke was right all along, is NOT how it’s done. In fact it’s the perfect excuse for tighter internet regulations and even more secretive court proceedings!
In many ways the internet has made us more free than we’ve ever been before, but are we mature enough to accept the responsibilities that go along with that?
This story suggests we’re not.