The Devil and Mr. Mattox 10 JUNE 2, 1989 BY DEBBIE NATHAN El Paso HAT IN THE WORLD possessed Jim Mattox to appear on the “Geraldo” and “Oprah Winfrey”, shows earlier this month and to take part in hysteria-laden and anti-Semitic discussions of devil worship? From a vantage point that is distant from state capital and Capitol gossip,. it.is difficult to appraise, the claim that Mattox’s upstage media role in the Brownsville/Matamoros cult murder incident is a ploy to boost his ratings for next spring’s gubernatorial primary race against . Ann Richards, who turned in a star TV performance at the Democratic National Convention last summer. Mattox demurs, claiming he appeared on “Oprah” and “Geraldo” because of his sincere desire to warn the public about illegal drug consumerism. But whether cynical or well meant, motives hardly matter. We’re judging mere bad taste here, or mere careerism, or even major trashiness. The fact is that on national TV, in front of millions of viewers, the Texas Attorney General dignified a hodgepodge of kooks: Elmer Gantry-esque fundamentalist Christian revivalists, paranoid crackpots sharing Lyndon LaRouche-style theories that a cabal of international Satanists is out ‘to conquer the world; not to mention incompetent therapists whose “treatment” apparently has created another type of media curiosity: mentally ill people harboring delusions that they are murderers and cannibals. And to top it all off, as Mattox sat on the “Oprah Winfrey” show, one of his fellow panelists casually resurrected the “blood libel” rumor an ages-old accusation that Jews slaughter babies and eat them. Such a line of discussion has little to do with educating the public about UT student Mark Kilroy’s death in Matamoros. You may be snickering. After all, those of us who read the New York Times and tune into NPR and PBS know that the people who killed Kilroy and several other young men were idiosyncratic crazies several of them homosexuals who probably had pathological problems confronting repressed sexuality. We know the, carnage is not the fault of Afro-Caribbean folk religion. We know a little something about Charles Debbie Nathan is a writer living in El Paso. Manson and Jai JoneS that psychopathic charismatics who isolate people; either geographically Or in some violent outlaw world like the drug trade, can get them to adopt all sorts of magical delusions, to commit unspeakably heinods crimes. We don’t use “devil”_ :and “evil” interchangeably; we don’t, for instance, believe some Satan paranoics’ claim that . .1-1edda Nussbaum killed Lisa Steinberg because she was in a satanic cult; neither do we believe that Hedda knew Son of Sam or the Nightstalker; nor that the Nightstalker was in cahoots with Henry Lee Lucas. We don’t believe that our neighborhoods and daycare centers are nests of secret devil worshippers organized into a worldwide network, cornmitting thousands of kidnappings, rapes, and murders with impunity, able to cover up every shred of evidence with the complicity of Satanic FBI agents, cops, judges, politicians, and priests. And we don’t think that exposing what happened in. Matamoros blows the cover of the International Conspiracy. “Geraldo” and “Oprah” may promote such ideas, but they’re just daytime housewife TV, grocery store tabloid grist. Surely no one of any consequence takes such nonsense seriously? Wrong. Plenty of people ‘do people who work in police departments,’ district attorneys’ offices, child protection and mental health agencies. People you might expect would demand evidence for such wild allegations, but who don’t. People who nevertheless have the poWer to foment mindless paranoia, and worse, translate , it into legal actions that deprive citizens of their civil liberties and in disturbingly many instances, their physical freedom as well. An example: Last year, El Paso and: Las Cruces, New Mexico, were the twin sites for presentations by Californian Joan Chris;. tianson, a born-again Christian who travels the country and the trash-TV circuit, claiming to be an escapee from a cell :Of an international, “transgenerational” :Sa 7 tanic cult. Christianson says adults tortured and raped her when she was a small child, impregnated’ her, made her bear four forced her to ritually murder the infants, pass out chunks of their hearts and eat them. A self-admitted former prostitute and drug addict, Christianson claims she “forgot” these events until she received treatment from a ,”Baptist spiritual therapist.” Her presentations typically include descriptions of being forced to have sex with corpses, accounts of mini-crematoria to explain why no evidence of dead babies is found, denunciations of the FBI \(which doesn’t that disbelieVers call San Francisco Police Department cop Sandi Gallant who happens to be a born-again Christian and forther maven in the San Francisco “red squad” intelligence office that used to spy on the Bay Area left. Finally, Christianson issues dire warnings’ about what happens to teenagers who listen to “Satanic” heavy metal rock music. She also passes out material explaining that Satanists are planning to defeat Jesus Christ at His Second Coming, which is supposed to happen any /day now. In El pa w , ‘Christianson’s gasping audiente included mostly high school and Fort Bliss counselors; psychologists; and Texas proteCtion social worker -S. They were offered continuing education credits from the University :of Texas at El Paso for attending the seminar, which was organized by Susana Martinez, a Las Cruces:area assistant district attorney. She had met ‘Christianson earlier in the year at a Texas .DHS child protection conference in Arling.ton where Christianson showed up along with parents Of ‘children in California’s notorious McMartin preschool sex abuse :caii. McMartin investigators talked with Children and came up with fantastic allegations: of ritual: animal sacrifice, abuse in heliCoPte0 and in graveyards with corpses. 13tit no evidence ever .surfaced to support such stories; What was clear was that the children were … coercively interviewed by people ‘convinced of the existence of an !’internatiOn0. Satanic conspiracy.” The case is now falling apart in court, but some of the:parents; still insist devil worshippers Were .. behirid it all, and they travel the cOunt.i -Y. :,.,rhaleing speeches, and showing Satantsin! paignoia films. Though they drop* in uninvited at Arlington, Christianson and her companions got a presentation morn ftoth DHS conference organizers. Martinez, who calls Christianson “brave,” and a “survivor,” says the latter’s claims of ritual torture are “absurd, but so are a whole hell of a lot of other things that happen. And witchcraft has been with
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