Daily Kos: They Mostly Come at Night ... Mostly

Nothingd fits better an "end of the world" mood like scary science! And Darksyde is a master at it. -- law

They Mostly Come at Night ... Mostly
by DarkSyde
Sat Oct 8th, 2005 at 23:00:44 CDT

Tis the witching hour again and time for some more scary science ...

Laying in bed on a pitch dark night, softly growling mares in the dim light,
Can't move, But I hear the sound, as the tiny feet penetrate the silence all around
Eyes glued tight, demon's alight, clawed hands plucking chords of deep inner fright,
Now one crawls on my chest in the pitch dark night ...

The concept of a Daemon, daimon, djiin, sometimes dæmon, is as old as the written word, and the term "demon" seems to have equally ancient origins: The Proto-Indo-European word deivos was originally a reference to "celestial".

But whatever the origin in the mists of prehistory, Demons have a long and illustrious place in every culture on earth. There have been plenty of blood sacrifices to them on every continent, ceremonies and rites so hideous they shame us with their barbaric cruelty. Yet the idea persist even in our modern world in so many forms, both subtle and conspicuous.

Two commonly reported archetypical night demons: The vague hairy monster shrouded in darkness from childhood; the visit from an inquisitive alien. Fear of monsters in the dark likely evolved early on in hominid children to keep them from wandering off at night and encountering very real nocturnal monsters waiting at the periphery of camp for a soft tasty, snack

Among the early Greek philosophers, demons were seen as neither good nor evil. But with the dawn of the Christian Era, demons in the West became decidedly less impartial, markedly more iniquitous. These are Hell's Demons, Satan's minions, the type you and I are familiar with through pop culture and deep sociological reinforcement. And perhaps the most famous demons among westernized civilization over the last one-thousand years, were those who corrupted men and women at night, and enlisted them on behalf of the Dark Forces. Here there be witches and warlocks ...

The original Judaic faith had quite a collection of demons for an allegedly monotheistic religion. And the derivative Christian faith carried that over into their own beliefs. At first Christians were on the persecution end of various forms of torture and execution. They preached loudly against such practices. But the embers of Rome were barely cool when Christians took over the relics of that empire and changed their tune. For the next one thousand years Christians engaged in the same kind of activity, mostly against rival beliefs, with Islam joining in the fun and games before the advent of the first millennium.

But as the Crusades drew to a close, the Catholic Church began to focus more on their own fiefdoms in medieval Europe and the first Inquisition was born followed unexpectedly by a second in Spain: No one expects the Spanish Inquisition! One subsequent outgrowth of that deplorable period was the Great Witch Hunts.

To assist accused witches in confessing their sins and revealing members of the coven, to help flip them against others of their dark kind, the Inquisitors used a number of beastly methods: Usually with the single restriction that they couldn't break the skin. Stabbing, cutting, impaling, not allowed. It was considered too cruel. But burns, crushing, and inserting all manner of instruments into existing body cavities was fair play according to the Merciful Holy Church...

The interrogation was usually carried out by men approved by the Church. The medieval equivalent of cronies or young bucks looking to make their bones granted a witch-hunting license so to speak. These were often young, celibate, sexually repressed priests ... who tended for some 'unknown' reason to focus on the carnal aspect of the witch phenomena. Pubic hair was shaved away so that these holy warriors could carefully scrutinize the genitalia for Devil's marks; a mole, a birth mark, it might take a lot of looking ... and maybe a little fondling. If no marks were found it was often declared the devil's marks were there, but rendered invisible through some black magic. This was evidence that the accused was not just a witch, but a powerful and able witch in direct service of Satan. There are endless examples of similar 'reasoning' among the interrogators as ridiculous as the classic Monty Python line "She turned me into a Newt! ... I got better ..."

"So ... if she weighs less than a duck ... then ... she's a WITCH!"

It's really not surprising that under these conditions the accused fessed up to about anything the torturers wanted. And those accused included children, old men, and mousy housewives, of all economic socio-classes. Accusing an enemy of witchcraft became a great way to address an old grudge or eliminate competition for prized posts, for the affections of a desired maiden, or in reducing rivals in commerce. It was so popular and all sealed with the approval of the Church that an entire profitable industry sprung up around identifying and prosecuting witches. The accused would forfeit their possessions, title to land, and financial assets, to the officials in charge. The loot was split fifty-fifty between Church and State. It was quite a scam. At the height of the great European Witch-hunts around 1600, entire middle class communities were systematically wiped out, whole families from matriarch and patriarch down to infants were burned alive after being tortured. Estimates of the total killed range between forty-thousand and five-million.

The phenomena of demons and nightime visits by curious creatures, often interested in sexual matters, seems to be deeply rooted in the human psyche, including western society today. Satanic Ritual Abuse scares, the alien abductee culture, and the war on drugs, being just a few modern day examples with eerie parallels to the witch hunts. The real potential for hysteria and danger however only occurs when there is an associated threat which is hyped to the point of absurdity, whether real or perceived, and the possibility of profit or power is in the balance. Then the threat is portrayed as so immediate, so all encompassing, and so immorally depraved, it merits waiving all preexisting standards of decency, law, skepticism, and humanity, to combat. And that's the real peril to any society.

The McMartin Preschool in Manhatten, Ca. A routine investigation into child abuse ballooned into a fantastical tale of vast underground labyrinths and monstrous group child pornography sessions, all implied to be a part of an international cult organized around Satanic sacrifices. By the time investigators began to suspect they'd been caught up in the witch-hunt hysteria phenomena, millions of dollars had been spent, hundreds of children were scarred with false memory syndrome, and several teachers were ruined for life..

The one that most distresses me the most at present, and the reason I'm even writing this, concerns the 'War on Terra'. Politicians have longed used fear to switch off our critical thinking skills and push through their own agendas in the ensuing darkness of hysteria. The war in Iraq being a textbook example which was pulled off rather brilliantly in the light of day in a fully modern nation with armies of functioning independent journalists allegedly skeptical enough to fend this very sort of shit off.

Let's get a little clearer perspective on this: In the US, the greatest threat to your life is cardiovascular disease (750,000 deaths/year), followed by cancer (580,000/year), stroke (165,000/year), chronic pulmonary disease (125,000/year), diabetes (74,000/year). All of these conditions can be mitigated by something as simple as moderate exercise, basic check-ups, and a half-way sane diet. An estimated 40,000 people will die in motor vehicle accidents this year and every year and almost 20,000 will be murdered, the majority of those by a family member or longtime acquaintance (All figures are approximate). The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack, even averaging in 9-11, over the last ten years is on about the same order as being stung to death by some kind of bugs; bees, spiders, and so forth. You have a greater chance of being killed by a run of the mill flu or winning a lottery, on average. Hardly a threat so overwhelming we have to bring back the Inquisition to survive it.

And yet BushCo mandates that as part of that war on terra and with the danger so pressing, we absolutely must suspend our most cherished, humane values and allow the highest authorities in the land, who incidentally set themselves up routinely as the paragon of divinely inspired morality, beat, torture, and murder anyone they deem suspect. Or send those they want subjected to especially brutal interrogation overseas to some of the worst regimes on earth. The accused are not charged, there is no trial, and no due process. We're supposed to trust Bush and company as they, and they alone, deem fit to hand down sentence Inquisition style in whatever quantity striking their fancy or serving their agenda: Fuck that and fuck them.

This is a self fulfilling process. For just like those unfortunate victims of the Holy Church five-hundred years ago, our suspected terrorist detainees will say anything to anyone to get the pain to stop. They'll turn on their enemies, their friends, and sooner or later, their own flesh and blood. They'll sign any confession and agree to any terms, if the torture is great enough. The whole thing then feeds on itself, tying up finite resources and scaring the shit out of everyone, providing the age old cover politicians and dictators alike find so useful. And it will keep doing so to the grisly, inevitable end. As it has so many times before in our bloody history as a species. If that isn't a modern day witch-hunt, I don't know what is.

Daily Kos: They Mostly Come at Night ... Mostly


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