On September 14, 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an op-ed piece titled, Don’t let your children grow up to be…” by an anonymous writer identified only with the explanation, “Dateline D.C. is written by a Washington-based British journalist and political observer.”
This article is being circulated around the vampiric community blogosphere, probably giving it more free PR and linkbacks than it deserves. The anonymous op-ed columnist writes a preposterous piece of fear-mongering nonsense, purporting that young people going to college are at risk of being “recruited” by evil, mind-controlling “cults.” His/her examples of such sinister groups include eco-terrorist groups (the kind that, gasp, liberate test animals from labs) and…”Vampyre cults.” Below is an excerpt from the column (note the hypothetical victim’s name–“Rosemary” as in Rosemary’s Baby).
Rosemary was lucky. She could have been recruited by a “vampyre” cult. Vampires, as we call them, are now active in the vicinity of several campuses. They recruit the Rosemarys of the world into their “vampyre” families.
This is not a replay of Bram Stoker’s Victorian world of blood drinking, nor in the mewlings of Southern ladies turned writer in the past decade or so. We can’t even blame television, because we are facing a 21st-century perversion using AIDS/HIV avoidance as the hook.
Naturally, hormones rage out of control in young people and an older pair or a trio are the leaders and will recruit seven or eight young women and half as many young males. The young ones will all work as messengers, clerks or shop assistants and their money will be pooled by the elders.
The group is sexually active with one another but with no one outside the group — thus they believe there can be as much sexual activity as they can handle without fear of AIDS/HIV.
And, of course, there has to be a ritual. There’s blood drinking — cranberry juice or, at worst, packaged blood from transfusion kits. Vampire fangs can be inserted over teeth. Contact lenses are used to change eye color. And photographs can make these sordid rituals and couplings look and feel excitingly exclusive — and become very expensive.
Debt and strange experiences build up and help to ensure that the Rosemarys won’t return very quickly to a more normal society.
Police and educational departments in several major East and West coast cities won’t comment. But high school teachers know that recruiting for “vampyre” families starts as early as age 12.
I’d like to think that this anonymous writer was trying to write satire–the claims made are certainly outrageous enough. I can’t be sure of that, however–this scenario reads like something right out of Chick Comics, and those were dead serious. It doesn’t seem to occur to the columnist that if “police and educational departments…won’t comment” there is probably a good reason for their silence: namely, that the question is too stupid to dignify with an answer. But as we all know, there are far too many people out there who are gullible and superstitious enough to see “evil cults” behind every tree.
I wrote a response to the newspaper, but had to trim it down to fit their 200-word maximum limit. Here is my reply:
I was appalled by the anonymous editorial piece that you saw fit to publish under the title, “Don’t let your kids grow up to be…” dated Sunday, September 14, 2008. Opinions are one thing, but even op-ed columnists should be compelled to check their facts.
For the record: there are no “vampyre cults” recruiting college students, high school students, or 12-year-olds. Everything the anonymous writer claimed is utter and absolute nonsense. Real vampires are law-abiding and solitary people who don’t have the slightest wish to “recruit followers” or even be known for what they are. In fact, they’re generally very difficult to locate or contact, since they’re used to being treated with suspicion, contempt and outright abuse. There is a loosely linked, scattered and highly diverse “vampire community,” but it could not by any stretch of the imagination be called “a cult.” Real vampires are far too busy struggling with their own unique health issues and needs as they hold down jobs, maintain relationships and raise families to “recruit” anybody. I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve been part of this community for more than ten years.
You’re welcome to check my websites for factual information about real vampires.
Inanna Arthen, M.Div
Owner, By Light Unseen Media
(my address and phone number, as requested to “verify” the letter)
I doubt they’ll print my letter or take it seriously, but I sent it. If you’d like to respond to this column, see the Tribune-Review’s Guidelines for letters to the editor with snail-mail and e-mail addresses.