February 10 , 2014
Part B: Lecture 1
Topic: The Demonic Perspective on Crime and Deviance
1. The case of the Brookfield Demons: A fight broke out between two young men (Alan
bono, Johnson, two teenage sisters and girl friend) went over to Bono’s house to fix a
radio. Bono was drinking and started talking rudely in front of the girls. The friends
fought and a knife came out from Johnson. Johnson had stabbed Bono to death. Johnson
stood trial and it was uniquely tragic because e was not typical murderer. All American
small town boy, nice guy, win news paper boy of the year award etc. Case especially
dramatic because Johnson’s lawyers on his behalf pleaded not guilty and without
challenging the facts, they fought he should not be held criminally responsible because at
the time of the fight, he was possessed by demons.- house was haunted. Unprecedented
plea of not guilty by virtue of possession by the devil. first-degree manslaughter, and was
sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison, of which he served 5.
2. Abigail Dartana patricide case: 14 year old girl killed her father. Lawyer claimed she had
become possessed because of her great fondness of Motley Crew- devils influence.
Lawyers said it was nonsense and said she killed her father because her father had
targeted her as a victim of sexual abuse constantly. She testified that when he approached
her on this occasion she decided it was enough and decided to kill him. Judge said her
explanation of her actions made sense and she was found NOT GUILTY BY REASON
OF SELF DEFENSE.
3. Marilyn Manson
4. *Judas Priest: battle broke out in civil court with families of both teens filing suit against
band and producers, claiming that satanic messages had been in music. Court was in
support of band and producers.
a. In the past things like catching butterflies, motorcycling, arcades, horse racing etc
were considered to bring you in company of the devil. Belief that popular culture
leads us to criminality through the devil.
5. *Guy Lamphear (1921) The Modern Dance:
“The average minister knows the moral lapses and spiritual death are traceable too
often to the ballroom and that modern dance is the prolific source of domestic
dissatisfaction...[and] the nursery of the divorce court, and that as a social
influence it weakens and destroys the best safeguards of virtue and purity.”
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o Beliefs like this had great influence on policies eg. House of unwed
mothers can not be placed by dance hall because devil would travel from
dance hall to house of unwed mothers and pollute the souls of mothers and
6. *Frederick Wertham (1954) Seduction of the Innocent; U.S. Senate Committee (Estes
a. esteemed psychiatrist claimed strong link between delinquency and comic books
because contain satanic teachings. The committee investigated and ushered into
being the banning of crime comics. We still see this section in the code, which
testifies that these beliefs still find expression in our criminal code even though
we think we are far from the times of “the devil made him do it”.
Historians break down the Breakthrough into secular/naturalistic explanations (15th-19th
centuries) of criminality
(i) forces of secularization- unitary Christianity under Protestantism
(ii) spread of economic rationality- Under Catholicism
(iii) 18 century Enlightenment- promise of reason, Human beings masters of own destiny
and can control our fate
(iv) modern sciences/technology-
All of these movements have contributed to the secularization of our society.
Understand what came before now, also it is hardly the case that currently there is no support
anywhere of the occurrence of demonic crime- demonic influence of first crime. 3. Some have
argued that some of the things we believe in today that we hold to be self evident naively could
be seen as evidence of durability of the demonic perspective on crime.
Oldest of all known perspectives on crime/deviance. It suggests that we search for:
(i) cause/cure of crime - realm of supernatural
crime=sincrime deviance and delinquency are not sections of study because the human world
is all tested by the supernatural forces of good and evil.
(ii) drawn into crime through If people succumb to evil then they do so through temptation:
(a) Temptation-Adam and Eve is prototype of this, therefore all of humankind
is weaken and are forever susceptible to evil and the devil. And the ever
presence of the temptation we have to fight a constant battle to stay on the
straight path. Human beings afforded some measure of agency and not
seen as completely passive. Although have agency we are still seen as
weakened and susceptible. In Salem those who had choice would be
(b) Possession- second route of crime. Possessed person taken over by the
devil. They become incapable of saying no. Stripped of agency, not
responsive, can’t choose between good and evil. Presumption of innocence
possible. Powerless and so Salem decided they need counselling.
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(iii) Cosmic consequences If they do not tend vigorously to those being possessed or tested,
the consequences to not responding to these cases then there would be cosmic consequences. It is
not simply the individual victim who had been hurt (person stabbed) because each act of crime
was seen as a transgression against God and Cosmos itself- plants, animals, humans. Crime was
seen as bringing forth cosmos disruption that would not be restored until the bad behaviour was
properly responded to. Peace will not exist until guilty party pays the price for consorting with
(iv) Implications for recognition of criminals Important for societies who believed in this to
identify the perpetrators of such deviance. Raymond Verdier:
Researcher: Raymond Verdier - identifying demonic deviance among Kabre tribe of northern
“Trial by ordeal” - reading of supernatural signs
“Trial by battle” - justice of God mirrored in natural events
justice of human beings have to always reflect justice of God. A public trial judged by
tribunal of elders who listen to disputes and settle disputes. Doing so is difficult because judging
a member who cast an evil eye that killed another’s cow. Diviners with a third eye who can intuit
whether or not there were evil or demonic spells was used as an expert for valuable assistance.
Judge if were able to remain in the community or banished. They played a very important role
that was very damaging. If opinion of diviner was denied by accused then tribunal judge would
have to consult God directly. Therefore, subject accused to painful “Trial by Ordeal”. If accused
survived the ordeal, then obviously saved him and if accused died then God sought rightly to kill
him. Eg. Plunge hand into pan of blazing oil and retrieve iron ring without getting burnt.
Supernatural signs provided by God to separate good from bad, polluted by Pure etc.
Identification strategies was far more important to do God’s will than and not suffer
consequences of not responding to wrong doing than the preservation of the Human body.
Human body not seen as sacred but just a vessel for the soul. “trial by battle” confined to lower
class and had the same ideology behind it. The Good would emerge victorious (jousting knight).
Diagnosing the Devil: Salem witch trials of 1692
girls playing with slave from Barbados who was skilled in magic. By the end 33 people died.
Nobody knows the truth of what happened. What was alleged in trial is that they were taken over
by demons and scream profanities and convulse and scanter like animals. People of Salem
demanded to know who and so girls started naming names. They were convicted and killed. But
magic had been unleashed and babies started dying and animals disappearing. The search for
more witches continued and girls named more people. And more people killed.
Tituba- colored and strange
Sara Good- smoked – villiage hag
Sara Osborne- lived with a guy without being married to him
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Types of evidence placed against witchcraft accused: How to sort out evidence that they
had conspired with devil
a. Trial by clever test- accuse witches would be asked to say the Lords prayer in public – Logic
was that witches say this prayer backwards and so any slip of the tongue or mistake would be
attributed to the Satan’s tongue
b. Testimony of those who attributed their bad fortunes to demonic activities of accused
c. Physical marks of the devil- warts, moles, scars- sources of which the devil entered
d. Confessions of guilt- quite rare but those who confessed were sparred the gallows and allowed
to repent and seen to be seeking forgiveness and capable of salvation.
e. **Spectral evidence- Most common form of evidence and most credible. Reports of witnesses
that person accused had been seen in form of floating spectral or ghostly form. Seen as credible
because devil could not assume the form of an innocent person. So if one said that they saw a
spectral of you floating about, it was assumed there was collaboration with Satan. This seen as
Central tool at this time, which was anchored in a wider belief system.
Once person judged as guilty, there was a system of punishment deployed. At this time
society did not differentiate the punishment with the crime committed. All considered to be
demonically inspired acts that were deserving of the same control mechanisms. Which was a
religiously administered performance of punishments that was designed to rid the body of traces
of the deveil and restore the body of the community as a whole back to the divine.
Strategy of control: religious administered ritual of public punishment
Purge body of sinner of traces of the devil
Restore body of community as a whole to its proper relationship to God
Ritualistic function- punishment had this ritualistic function
Ritual: A highly patterned action, which connects people to a mythic sense of what things
are/ought to be
Rituals of punishment committed to remind participants of:
supreme reality of God’s will
restore humans to their proper relationship as servants of the Divine
Reign of medieval Christianity obedience to God =obedience to Church/priests
Four types of measures taken to enact the obedience to Church:
A. Preventative measures:
Papal Index of Prohibited Books- listing of books that were avoided or else should would
be polluted by exposing your eyes to devilish matter
apotropaic rituals- rituals that developed in an attempt to avoid the polluted spirit of a un-
contrite criminal or sinner who was executed from harming the community even after his
death. Accompanied the use of the death penalty. What do we do with a sinner who had
not repented? Burying murderer was out of the question because they would poison the
fertility of the earth. Therefore he would hang at gallows until his body decayed and evil
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spirit left body. Another example is burning at the stake, which acted as a strong image of
hell in society and reminding people of the need to stay on the path of good.
B. Reactive measures:
a. Medieval Europe - “heretics” - feed on pork people who did not believe in Jesus like
Jews would be fed pork forcibly.
b. American colonies - “scold’s bridle” practiced on women, which was an iron cage put
over the head and a fork plate that entered the mouth an