Saturday, August 13, 2016

Good Riddance To Bad Rubbish

Work has been taking a lot out of me physically and mentally, leaving me with little desire to create and write. In short, the soundtrack in my head has been Slough Feg's "Psionic Illuminations" and occasionally Blue Oyster Cult's "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" played on one continuous loop for the past couple of weeks.  However, the following topic made me sit up and take notice because it's a milestone in the history of the hobby, especially for those of us who started rolling our polyhedrals in the early and mid 1980s. What I'm talking about is the sentencing of Thomas Radecki, one of several individuals who were a scourge and pox on gamers during the satanic panic of those days.

Radecki permanently surrendered his license back in 2012 after he was accused of trading psychiatric drugs in exchange for sexual favors. I'm not going to get into the foul details of this blackguard's misdeeds; you can read those for yourself in the links above. As an individual who has been counseled by a number of upstanding and excellent caregivers in the mental health field I'm disgusted that Radecki betrayed the trust and violated the human rights of his patients for his own sick gain. Thinking of him makes me throw up a little in my mouth even as I write this.

I find it odd and ironic that the 70-year-old Radecki's sentencing to 10-22 years in prison intersects with discussion of the satanic panic and its effects on several popular RPG forums. Why people found it necessary - let alone desirable - to dredge up memories of a terrible time in a lot of gamers' lives, I don't know. Then again, the Internet is a weird place where a lot of people seem to take pleasure in others' suffering.

I was fortunate in that I didn't suffer many (if any) terrible effects from the satanic panic. I lived out in the boonies of northwestern Iowa and kept my gaming to myself; I didn't try to share it with anyone until high school, whereupon I received some pointed teasing from some classmates because they didn't understand it. Other gamers had it much, much worse, not only at the hands of their classmates, but also from "concerned" parents, relatives, and other figures of authority. I use the threat quotes because in some cases the "concern" about "satanic influences" was just another excuse to enact spiritual, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse upon the victim.

This karmic smackdown has been a long, long time coming thanks to the slow-turning wheels of our overloaded and oft-abused justice system. It comes as cold comfort to me - as I'm sure it does for the victims of his direct abuse - that Radecki is finally getting what he deserves only because patience is not one of my virtues. Some figures of the satanic panic have experienced a merciful fade from relevance and prominence, while others remain due to the tenacity of their ignorant beliefs. While the court of law has proven one cannot libel or slander the dead, I won't even bother to speak in detail about Sean Sellers and Patricia Pulling, each deceased now 20 years. Doing so won't undo the harm they did, nor will it affect their ultimate fate.

Having written this, I can honestly say I feel a little better. Hopefully this turn of events brings us closer to ending this painful chapter of our hobby's history and gives closure to those afflicted by it.

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