Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Damn, but it’s been awhile since I did one of these “Trash Literature” columns — a good few years, in fact. A brief skim through this site’s contents shows the last one to be a review of Peter Sotos’ “Tool.,” so I’m not sure whether or not freelance investigative journalist Joseph L. Flatley is going to consider himself to be in distinguished company now that he’s “next up” in the queue, but — things are what they are, right? And since Flatley was amenable to my “outreach” efforts after I heard his interview with Pearse Redmond on Porkins Policy Radio (a show that, full disclosure, I’ve also been a guest on a couple of times), once I got my copy of his latest book, Stan Goes To The Mind Control Convention — subtitled Manchurian Candidates, Recovered Memories, And The Dark Side Of Conspiracy Culture (And Other Stories) — I got right down to the business of critically analyzing it with an eye towards an eventual (as in, this) review, and was entirely unsurprised to find myself devouring it as eagerly as I was expecting it to, which is to say : I read the whole thing in one (admittedly extended) sitting. And ya know what? I feel pretty safe in betting that, should you purchase it, you’re likely to do the same.

What’s loosely-termed “conspiracy theory” is everywhere these days, of course, but Flatley makes it clear in his introduction that he’s not the sort to lump ’em all together. Many perfectly reasonable folks find plenty of holes in the official narratives of the major assassinations of the 1960s, for instance, but if you believe that Hillary Clinton runs a world-wide Satanic child abuse/sacrifice ring from the basement of a Washington, D.C. pizza parlor that actually has no basement, well — you’re either crazy, stupid, or (most likely) both. The much-reviled “mainstream media” packages every “conspiracy nut” in a tidy package, but there really is a qualitative difference between the research of, say, the late, great Mae Brussell, and the mouth-foaming hucksterism of professional grifter Alex Jones. Flatley gets this, and proceeds in his investigative work with that premise in mind.

That work, of course, takes him to some interesting and, frankly, disturbing places, and while the “Other Stories” that make up the back third (or so) of the book are uniformly enlightening and well worth a read (my favorite being Flatley’s dipping of his toes into the internet cesspool of those who believe the Boston Marathon bombing was a staged incident played out by so-called “crisis actors” — probably second only to Sandy Hook “Trutherism” in terms of being the most offensive “alternate history” out there), it’s his main expose of the shadowy netherworld of “Satanic Ritual Abuse” and “recovered memories” that most directly hammers home the real danger so many of these bogus beliefs represent.

Yeah, I know, I know — I thought that the wave of the so-called “Satanic Panic” that crested in the 1980s with the collapse of one bogus prosecution after another (the most infamous being the McMartin preschool case) had pretty well retreated by now, but dubious “therapists” have kept its basic precepts alive and unwell into the current century — and, perhaps surprisingly, not all of them have slithered out from underneath the mildewed rock of “Christian counseling.” In fact, some of these folks are even — don’t ask me how or why — generally respected in their field for having duped gullible patients into believing that they were subject to unconscionable physical, emotional, psychological, and sexual abuse at the hands of shadowy devil-worshiping cults when they were kids. The fact that they can’t remember any of this shit. or that their “memories” only emerged under the “guidance” provided by hypnosis, or that the details of their accounts often vary wildly with each telling — well, that doesn’t really matter when there’s money to be made.

And, rest assured, there is money to be made. In fact, this is a fairly lucrative little “cottage industry,” especially for the likes of fraudsters such as Colin Ross, a shrink who was preying upon vulnerable women with fanciful tales of their “ritual abuse” in his home country of Canada until his peculiar brand of “therapy” came to the attention of local licensing boards — at which point he simply picked up stakes and moved down to Texas, where his outlandish methods and dubious conclusions do much to re-affirm the conspiratorial beliefs of a certain subset of that state’s evangelical population. Hell, he’s even something of a “rock star” in the “recovered memory movement,” despite the fact that there are a good few one-time patients who are more than willing to blow the whistle on the real manipulation and abuse they’ve suffered — at his hands.

It’s a tangled web that Flatley is tugging at, and a pretty damn incestuous one with many of the same names popping up over and over (and over) again, but he writes in a clear, engaging, “non-flashy” style that draws you in to both his process and his findings, the end result being a breezy, uptempo read about some decidedly heavy subject matter. Needless to say, authors of self-published labors of love such as this one rely on the support of their readership to literally put food in their mouth and keep a roof over their head, and at $12 (or, if you prefer, $4.99 as a Kindle “e-book”), Satan Goes To The Mind Control Convention is a steal the likes of which Beelzebub himself would no doubt approve of. Find out more by going to Flatley’s website,