Civil Liberties

Witchfinders

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According to the BBC,

Italian police want to set up a special unit to tackle the growth of new religious sects, particularly a violent new breed of home-grown Satanists.

The new police squad would include psychologists, as well as a priest who is an expert on the occult.

It would co-ordinate—nationwide—investigations into potentially dangerous religious movements.

The move follows a spate of high profile, gruesome murders blamed on a new generation of Satanists.

The article points out that the proposal "follows a spate of high profile, gruesome murders blamed on a new generation of Satanists." But as far as I can tell, the "new generation" consists of one miniscule sect cum metal band whose leader has already been imprisoned. Indeed, the BBC report eventually notes that

Experts say the number of Satanists in Italy is tiny—and the product as much of youthful alienation as of any more traditional religious conviction.

But more than a million Italians belong to other minority religions, and some experts are worried that the new police squad could target members of them as well—even though, despite their perhaps strange beliefs, they are entirely harmless.

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  1. DETHKLOCK! DETHKLOCK! DETHKLOCK! DETHKLOCK!

  2. “Italian police want to set up a special unit to tackle the growth of new religious sects, particularly a violent new breed of home-grown Satanists. The new police squad would include psychologists, as well as a priest who is an expert on the occult.”

    This sounds like the greatest direct-to-video movie ever made. Unrated! Italian boobies!

  3. Car chases with miniature cars!

  4. despite their perhaps strange beliefs

    Oh, those wacky minority religions! What kind of loony believes in Buddhism when normal people believe that a guy who died two thousand years ago came back to life and ascended bodily into heaven so that I can now eat him in convenient wafer form?

  5. Plus let’s not ignore the fact that in order to be a true Satanist, you have to be a lapsed Christian…

    Those of us who are pagans really couldn’t give a shit about Satan. Totally different tradition.

  6. Seems to me, this goes in the same category as scientology. Let people believe whatever they want, but if their beliefs involve what we as society choose to call felonies, take a nice close look.

  7. If she weighs the same as a duck, she’s a witch.

  8. Wasn’t the whole Satanist Paranoia thing like totaly 80’s. I thought it went out of style with linen suits, memphis graphic design, and Sylvester Stallone movies! Sure, there was some paranoia about “ritual satanic abuse” in the early 90s, but that was more a sub-genre of the whole “repressed memories of abuse” than an actual meme in itself.

    But it is totally cool to see that the Italians are basing government policy on Jack Chick rants!

    Those of us who are pagans really couldn’t give a shit about Satan. Totally different tradition.

    When you start sacrificing your children on the solstice, you can properly call yourself a pagan. If not, all you neo-pagan half-steppers are just really being “New Age”! 🙂

  9. Rex,

    Linen suits are out?? Crap.

  10. Maybe next they’ll do something about these rampant bear attacks.

  11. Timothy,

    Well, she turned me into a newt.

    I got better.

  12. Satanists aside, it’s not a bad idea to have a police force dedicated to stuff like that. Arizona has about 10000 polygamists in one town who do all kinds of illegal stuff, from welfare fraud to sexually abusing minors. They are a hard nut to crack too.

    Fact is that there are a lot of really small religions that could use some more light shined in their direction for the best of reasons.

  13. Toxicroach,

    If they would stop telling the government who they are married to, and the government would stop worring about that item, they could concentrate on real crime and stuff.

  14. Rex,

    The pagans sacrificed captured enemy soldiers at the solstice.

    You’re thinking of the Carthaginians.

  15. joe,

    Didn’t they sing the theme song to the TV show “Friends”?

  16. This is Italy we’re talking about. Very Catholic.
    To be Episcopalian is to be a Satanist in their eyes. To skip church because of the flu means you’ve slipped to the dark side. Consuming less than five pounds of pasta in one sitting indicates that the devil has occupied you.

    If you are from Sicily, you may not be evil, but they are watching you closely.

  17. Wasn’t the whole Satanist Paranoia thing like totaly 80’s. I thought it went out of style with linen suits, memphis graphic design, and Sylvester Stallone movies!

    Satan, like Rocky, always has another comeback in him…Rocky Balboa (2006)

  18. The pagans sacrificed captured enemy soldiers at the solstice.

    I know you have a problem with nuance, but I’m pretty sure that not all pagans did that, and that some of them sacrificed their children.

  19. Actually, Jeff, Italians are a pretty nonreligious bunch these days. But, yeah, the Catholic Church is definitely the church they don’t go to.

    But, boy howdy now, those old Italian women praying and lighting candles every day make Americans look like a bunch of heathens.

  20. It’s not about who they are married to. I could give a crap if a dude marries to women, in and of itself.

    It’s the raping 13 year old girls thing that makes me mad.

  21. You people laugh but I’ve busted up enough cults to know these people can be dangerous.

    But I don’t need no psychologists or priests. I’ve got everything I need right here (fondles shotgun).

  22. Um, isn’t all/most of the stuff you guys are griping about already illegal (and wrong) no matter if any faith is involved?

  23. Wasn’t the whole Satanist Paranoia thing like totaly 80’s.

    For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satanic_Panic Also, Michael Shermer has an excellent run-down on the phenomenon in his book “Why People Believe Weird Things” as does Carl Sagan in “The Demon Haunted World.”

    This whole thing would be hilarious if a lot people hadn’t been humiliated, financially ruined, and/or imprisoned thanks to a bunch of gung-ho cops looking for a promotion-securing bust, fundamentalist preachers out to scare their dim-witted flocks with, and “repressed memory syndrome” charlatans out to make a dishonest buck on childish fabrications.

    The same thing going to happen here. The cops are going to want to make arrests, the Padre is going to see agents of the Antichrist behind every bush and tree, and the psychologists will no doubt convince otherwise normal people that they are actually victims or members of some sort of massive Satanic conspiracy that doesn’t really exist.

    This will not end well.

  24. But I don’t need no psychologists or priests. I’ve got everything I need right here (fondles shotgun).

    Of course, this is just before you run into the creatures composed of “non-terrene matter” and can only score one or two points of damage.

    Therefore it’s always a good idea to keep a latin-reading professor around with high Magic Points (not to mention high Sanity) to sling the binding spells and create Elder Signs.

    Either way, you’re PC is just going to become Outer God Chow or end up gibbering their life away in rubber room, wearing a straight jacket.

  25. We probably shouldn’t pick on the Italians that much. After all, In the ’80s America had a paramilitary force dedicated to tracking down a threat just as ridiculous.

  26. Aren’t Catholics all a bunch of sorcerers and whatnot? I remember learning that they met with Jews in secret underground caverns to drink the blood of proper Christian babies as they sang the praises of that wizard who heads up the Catholic church.

  27. This sounds like the greatest direct-to-video movie ever made. Unrated! Italian boobies!

    Man, I can already see the DVD case! The title is Il Satano! in a red, drippy-looking font. And the killer always wears black gloves for some reason.

    Aren’t Catholics all a bunch of sorcerers and whatnot? I remember learning that they met with Jews in secret underground caverns to drink the blood of proper Christian babies as they sang the praises of that wizard who heads up the Catholic church.

    With a fish fry immediately following.

  28. THAT (REAL) OLD TIME RELIGION
    Chorus:
    Give me that Old Time Religion,
    Give me that Old Time Religion,
    Give me that Old Time Religion …
    It’s good enough for me!

    We will worship Aphrodite,
    ‘Though she’s kind of wild and flighty –
    We will see her in her ‘nighty
    And that’s good enough for me!

    We’ll sing praises to Apollo;
    Where the Sun God leads we’ll follow
    (‘Though his head’s a little hollow) –
    He’s good enough for me!

    With the aid of my athame
    I can throw a “double-whammy”
    (And can slice and dice salami!)
    So it’s good enough for me.

    Let us raise a toast to Bachus,
    We will raise a royal ruckus,
    Then we’ll lay us down and fuck us –
    That’s good enough for me.

    It was good enough for Buddha,
    As a god he kinda cute-a,
    And he comes in brass or pewta’
    So he’s good enough for me!

    Well the Christians all are humming
    ‘Cause they say their God is coming;
    Our God came three times this evening;
    That’s good enough for me.

    Uncle Crowley was a dreamer
    At the Abbey of Thelema
    But his magic is a screamer,
    So it’s good enough for me.

    When the clouds they are a’rumbling
    And the thunder is a’grumbling,
    Then it’s Crowley that you’re mumbling,
    And it’s good enough for me!

    We will worship Great Cthulhu,
    We will worship Great Cthulhu,
    And we’ll feed him Mr. Sulu
    ‘Cause that’s good enough for me!

    It was good enough for Dagan,
    A conservative old pagan,
    Who still votes for Ronald Reagan,
    But he’s good enough for me!

    Well I’m tired of Ronald Reagan,
    He’s too square to be a pagan,
    Let’s all vote for Carl Sagan!
    He’s good enough for me.

    We all worshipped Dionysus
    ‘Till we ran into a crisis –
    The bar had raised its prices;
    That’s not good enough for me.

    We will worship like the Druids
    And drink strange, fermented fluids
    And run naked through the woods
    ‘Cause that’s good enough for me!

    We will go and sing “Hosanna”
    To our good ol’ pal, Gotamma.
    He will never flim or flam ya’,
    And that’s good enough for me!

    It was good enough for Isis,
    ‘Cause she comes through in a crisis
    And she’s never raised her prices
    So she’s good enough for me.

    There are some that call it folly
    When we worship Mother Kali.
    She may not be very jolly
    But she’s good enough for me.

    Shall we sing in praise of Loki,
    Though he left poor Midgard smokey?
    Oh, his sense of humor’s hokey,
    But he’s good enough for me.

    It was good enough for Loki,
    The old Norse god of chaos,
    Which is why this verse doesn’t rhyme or scan,
    But it’s good enough for me!

    Montezuma liked to start out
    Rites by carrying a part out
    That would really tear your heart out,
    But it’s good enough for me!

    It was good enough for Odin
    Though the tremblin’ got forbodin’
    Then the giants finally strode in,
    But it’s good enough for me.

    There’s that lusty old Priapus –
    He’s just itching to unwrap us.
    (He’d do more to us than tap us
    And that’s good enough for me!)

    Shall we sing a verse for Thor,
    Though he leaves the maidens sore?
    They always come back for more,
    So he’s good enough for me!

    It was good enough for Venus,
    Of the Gods she is the meanest
    And she bit me on my … elbow
    But she’s good enough for me!

    There are those who practice Voodoo,
    There are those who practice Voodoo,
    I know I do, I hope you do –
    It’s good enough for me.

    Meeting at the Witching Hour
    By the Bud and Branch and Flower
    Folks are raising up the power
    And that’s where I want to be.

  29. Fact is that there are a lot of really small religions that could use some more light shined in their direction for the best of reasons.

    First they came for the minority religions and I didn’t speak up…Then they came for the minority political parties and there was no one to speak up for me.

    Lots of terrible things are done for “the best of reasons.”

  30. We will follow Zarathustra
    Zarathustra, like we use’ta
    I’m a Zarathustra booster
    And that’s good enough for me!

  31. Oh come on. There’s a big honking difference between religious persecution and looking into the very real crimes committed by fringe groups.

    I realize this is a libertarian website and all, and that a lot of groups are harmless, but the fact remains that quite a few fringe religious groups regularly do nasty crap and present a different set of challenges to investigate. Scientology used to harass its opponents in illegal ways all the time. Maybe it still does. The Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints marries off little girls. The Catholic Church engaged in a decade long coverup of pedophilia.

    So it ain’t necessarily a bad idea. And comparing it to the frikking holocaust or the soviet gulag is proof of Godwin’s Law, not a valid point. I realize this is a libertarian website and all, but law enforcement is actually one of those things that the government is responsible for.

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