Two points worth noting.
The Great Day-Care Sexual-Abuse Panic
The blunt fact is that the “satanic” day-care ritual-abuse cases of the 1980s and early ’90s were our contemporary version of the Salem witch trials of the 1690s; and since human nature tends to be immutable, they featured many of the same symptoms across the centuries: mass hysteria, impressionable and unreliable child-witnesses, prosecutorial zeal and abuse, a mob tendency to prey on the hapless and defenseless. The devil in Massachusetts took the form of religious belief in malevolent spirits; in California and in Texas, Illinois, Florida, and elsewhere the frenzy was sanctioned by public credulity, police and judicial misconduct, sensational journalism, and a ritual conviction, among certain therapists, social workers, and polemicists, that children never lie. And as happens when such episodes explode and blight the landscape, they are quickly and efficiently tossed down the memory hole.
1. The media, which is forever rehashing the "Red Scare" of the 1950s, is curiously uninterested in examining this more recent paranoid episode.
2. This is a timely reminder that outrage mobs are dangerous. Once they get going, rational thinking gets tossed aside. When someone starts to gin one up, it is always worthwhile to remember McLuhan's point:
Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.