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First impressions: the short about the woman in Shanghai whose collection of rubber ducks was mysteriously disappearing.

There's a sort of an in-joke in Terry Pratchett/Discworld communities, based on an incident in canon, that goes "What Duck?" The notion that ducks don't exist, that people seeing them are therefore hallucinating, or else that, like dragons, they also exist in a parallel dimension and pop over to this one at will just to keep us guessing. Just harmless nonsense, but just sometimes....
Having just read the Satanic Panic article, two guarded observations come to mind. (Being mindful of the "try not to refer to current political issues" caveat, I'll try to pick my words carefully.

i) There are so many overtures here of the current social panic verging on hysteria, and its politicisation as part of the "conservative versus liberal" dichotomy in the USA (and increasingly in Britain) concerning the issue of drag artists and trans-sexual people presenting to schoolchildren. The issues, the way it's reported, and the language used to frame the debate. Is it possible these things are cyclical and come and go periodically, and are hyped up for the same reasons? That what's happening today is an echo of the same tensions of thirty years ago, the same preoccupations resurfacing and taking a new mutated form?

ii) A significant part of the 1988 - 1990 hysteria happened in Rochdale. While a sort of sanity prevailed in the end and this was all eventually dismissed as a fantasy that had discredited and embarrassed the authorities and damaged their credibility, Rochdale, and child protection/child abuse, have figured in the news at least twice since, for far more tangible and provable reasons. Firstly, its former MP Cyril Smith (deceased in 2010) was implicated in ongoing and apparently systematic CSA, with implications the local council had colluded in covering up evidence and derailing investigations. (Wikipedia sums up the available evidence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_Smith). Up until the middle 2010's, there is the issue of the "child grooming gangs" that operated in Rochdale, targeting vulnerable children as an organised paedophile ring. (or rings). Again, the more sober accounts suggest that this investigation too was given low priority by the police and was derailed and discredited by local politicians. (Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rochdale_child_sex_abuse_ring).

The obvious question here is - how far back did this go in Rochdale? Were there rumours, whispered stories, a dissatisfaction that the authorities were refusing to believe it was happening, or else actively covering up, and did this feed into the Satanic Panic phenomenon? Perhaps people who were otherwise marginal and disenfranchised saw this as a way of getting some sort of truth out there where it couldn't be ignored, or else were only too willing to believe the more extravagant stories about powerful people and Satanism. After all, you get into positions of power by cutting a deal with the Devil, don't you....
My subscription is active and I wait for the replacements.
Well, I live in another world (Sweden).
The replacement copies can arrive in three days.
I found the SCA 'flap' article very interesting. And yes, I was very aware of the situation at the time.

I wonder why anyone in senior authority didn't question the origins of the supposedly 'trained' experts that 'infiltrated' Child Services? In each incident, the source of the accusations didn't come from the children but the adult interviewers all seemingly from the same organisation - American evangelical Christians. As soon as I read - in the article - that the Evangelical Alliance was involved, I knew how much misinformation would be brought to bear, considering their unsuccessful attempt to 'ban' table-top role playing games.

Ultimately, I think it should be renamed as Cult Child Abuse - because this would also cover abuse committed by a few Christian extremist groups.
I think well meaning and kind people are vulnerable to ideological capture by well organised factions who may well manipulate them into some extreme situations. All they mean to do is give a voice to the unheard and protect the vulnerable but they can end up in some very strange situations. In this case, well organised and funded religious evangelicals were promoting an idea about cult sexual abuse and the social workers did not want to be caught on the wrong side of history being interrogated in court because they didn't act to safeguard the children. And ended up causing harm anyway.
Can't help wondering whether the police response would have been different had it happened post the Savile story breaking? Wasn't Cyril Smith MP for Rochdale as well?
Still laughing at the penis theft article, I prepared to skim classical corner as I normally do, but after the first few lines I decided to read the article completely, in honour of Janet Baldwin.

A very sad and beautiful article written in the worst possible condition a human can be in, well done Barry.
I'm no expert but I've always considered the 'penis theft' nonsense to be inspired - ironically - by machismo culture, in that if a bloke doesn't 'measure up' (in his eyes) then he uses the excuse "Ah, yeah - I did have a big one. A huge one! But some bastard wizard took it and put this acorn in its place!"
I'm no expert but I've always considered the 'penis theft' nonsense to be inspired - ironically - by machismo culture, in that if a bloke doesn't 'measure up' (in his eyes) then he uses the excuse "Ah, yeah - I did have a big one. A huge one! But some bastard wizard took it and put this acorn in its place!"
Before we start feeling superior to those poor gullible Africans, we should remember this is a legend in English folklore too. Reference mediaeval accounts of "the penis tree", where a Witch would house the intimate apparatus stolen from men who displeased her and deserved retribution.
Ah, but that shows a witch and a penis tree.
Where are the victims who've lost said member?