48 HOURS: *Not* Burning the Midnight Oil Doing Homework...
Article ID: 2115
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 8,000
Times Read: 27,354
Author: Peg Aloi [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: January 16th. 1998
Times Viewed: 27,354
The tabloid-style news program known as 48 HOURS presented a show tonight with several loosely-connected segments, all of which dealt with teenage violence and suicide. Some of the stories are well-known from recent news media attention:
- the "conspiracy" shooting in a high school in Pearl, Mississippi, which left two students dead and seven wounded;
- the suicides, both attempted and successful, of a group of teens in Keokuk, Iowa;
- the suspended sentence of two teenagers convicted of brutally murdering 23 cats in an animal shelter.
The program linked these stories with the rise of teens' interest in Satan worship and "the occult." In seedy tabloid style, 48 HOURS merged images of Marilyn Manson with the cover of Anton LaVey's The Satanic Bible. A red, inverted pentagram was shown at least five times. Perhaps most disturbing, the word "Witchcraft" was used in tandem with "Satanism" a number of times. One teenage girl was detained in jail for a month after providing a friend with the bullets he used to shoot himself. Now, while aiding a suicide is a crime in most states, the program attempted to link this girl's "criminal" behavior with her interest in "witchcraft and spells." If this doesn't make every sixteen-year-old with a copy of Scott Cunningham's Witchcraft Today on her bookshelf nervous, I don't know what will!
Many teens these days express interest in alternative spiritual paths. 48 HOURS wants viewers to believe that such an interest will lead to violent behavior. Such vague "connections" make very dangerous information to portray on a supposed "news" show. Many viewers assume (wrongly, unfortunately) that such shows portray only truth and well-documented research. But if the show's "researchers" (and I use the term loosely) were able to dig up a number of websites on Satanism (which they showed in full color), why on earth were they unable to see the many websites devoted to the peaceful, nature-revering religion that is Modern Witchcraft? Perhaps because tree-hugging hippies and candle-burning magicians aren't "sexy journalism, " but troubled teens who turn to Satan are?
It is disappointing that this show made no attempt to link these kids' home lives or with their problems..In keeping with the very American practice of pointing the finger everywhere but at ourselves, these kids were said to be troubled (depressed, psychotic, etc.) because of their involvement with devil worship; as opposed to their being disturbed or unstable before they delved into it! Better to ask what about their lives was so painful or horrible that they would be driven to such extremes?
A kid raised in a supportive, loving environment is not very likely to walk into the school cafeteria with a hunting rifle and start firing. But by equating this kind of behavior with an interest in "the occult, " 48 HOURS sends the message that a teenager interested in pagan religious beliefs is also prone to such behavior. Why no effort was made to distinguish between Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft on the one hand, and Satanism or devil worship on the other, is perplexing to say the least, especially when so much information about modern Witchcraft exists in books, magazines and on the Internet.
Of course, to make the show look "professional, " there was the obligatory "Occult and Ritual Crime Expert" who gives lectures and advises police detectives on these matters. At one point, this "expert" showed a hand symbol, made with the index finger and pinky raised, explaining it was "the horns of the goat, " or a satanic symbol. To anyone who knows sign language, this symbol also means (surprise!) "I love you." So much for expertise...
Of course teenagers are always going to get involved in rebellious beliefs and activities...but the sociopathic, violent acts like the ones mentioned are signs of a profoundly-disturbed individual...an interest in "evil" or "the devil" is merely a symptom of someone who is poorly socialized, not the cause of that poor socialization! Thousands of teens listen to Marilyn Manson's music and don't kill themselves, or their classmates. Blaming a rock star for inciting violent crime is a sad commentary on the state of responsibility and accountability in our nation.
CBS and 48 HOURS have some explaining to do... it is simply unacceptable for a so-called "news" show to make such an ignorant blunder as equating Modern Witchcraft with Satan worship...anyone educated about comparative religions knows this, and CBS should have researched this matter more thoroughly. Instead, this show contained much misleading symbolism and information... taking some horrible crimes and equating them with occult activity, then failing to mention the clear differences between devil worship and Neo-paganism...and this could harm teens who have a legitimate interest in earth-centered spirituality.
| HOW YOU CAN HELP! |
Feel free to tell 48 hours what you think and remember that a quick piece of snail mail has more impact than email, but feel free to do both....
524 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019
Web Site: http://www.cbs.com/news/48hours/
To order a transcript, call: (800) 777-TEXT
To order a videotape, call: (800) 338-4847
Thank you Nitewing for grabbing this contact info for us to share with the community.
also check out Jane's "Pagans and the Press" in our White pages section (thanks Diotima).
Email: [Staff Email]
Media Coordinator - Witches Voice
Location: Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
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