Long before the age of the Internet and the fleeting spasms of mass hysteria that came with it (Remember Jade Helm? Pizzagate?), and going back to the late 20th century, when irrational fears moved slower and lasted longer, there was Satan.
The “satanic panic,” some call it now. It began some time in the 1980s, when newscasters and fundamentalist Christian cartoons warned of the evils of the role-playing game “Dungeons & Dragons,” and stretched into the 1990s, when police and psychiatrists saw thousands of unfounded accusations of ritualistic sex abuse and children were seized from British parents accused of devil worship.
One case still stands out.
“This country hasn’t seen anything like it since the Salem witch trials,” Texas Monthly wrote in 1994, in a profile of Austin day-care operators Dan and Fran Keller, who had been thrown in prison two years earlier.