Reporters consumed by “vampire” case

Evan Francis Brown, a 20-year-old from Gadsden, Alabama, is accused of branding a 17-year-old with a “V.” For “vampire.”

Newspaper readers (and journalists) are perennially intrigued by the extremes of human behavior. That’s one way to explain how Evan Francis Brown caught the eye of several Alabama-area reporters. Last October, Brown allegedly tied up a 17-year-old boy and burned a “V” into his forehead with a heated kitchen utensil. Police arrested Brown, who apparently told them that he is a vampire, goes by the name “Vamp,” and considers himself a Satanist. Brown’s case heads to an Alabama Grand Jury in March.

In almost any other instance, a second-degree assault case would not make the local papers, let alone the national news. But American audiences seem to like a little “oddball story,” something that makes them raise their eyebrows or shake their heads. All Brown had to do was say the magic words: “vampire” and “Satanism.” That got him the headlines.

Of course, nobody seriously believes Brown is a vampire. However, to judge by some comments, people do think his actions are the fault of popular vampire fiction, particularly Twilight. (Kudos to the one person who pointed out the millions of other Twilight fans who do not assault people.) Typically it takes more than gazing upon the twinkly form of Edward Cullen to make someone burn a “V” into another person’s skin. What it takes is a history of mental imbalance — a prospect curiously overlooked by much of the reporting, so far.

More distressingly, reporters are playing up the Satanist angle. Maybe they aren’t aware that violence against others goes against the Church of Satan’s ideals:

What is truly dangerous, what allows people to murder innocents, what some people have labeled “evil” is actually an extreme self-righteousness. Not self-interest or self-gratification, as Satanism advocates. Those who give themselves permission to hurt others have to be able to feel they’re justified, anointed in their feelings of “I deserve this,” “I’ve been deprived,” or “I’ve been hurt.” A deep lack of empathy, a short-sightedness and an intense self-righteousness—that’s where those empty eyes come from. Our society cannot afford avenues for that kind of mass self-delusion anymore. It’s against the very basics of Satanism to allow yourself to feel that kind of self-righteous indignation.

This is another case in which Satanists are painted with a criminal brush, just because one criminal claims he is a Satanist. Remember, this is someone who also says he is a vampire. Arguably, he doesn’t know what he is. Journalists should consider being more thoughtful about which of his statements should be reported as facts in their articles. Brown, more likely, is someone who is struggling with mental-health issues. Parading him around as the freak of the week is not likely to help him in any way, nor anyone else struggling with violent urges.

Culturally, I find it interesting that so many people who decry the popularity of vampire fiction would take the time to read — let alone comment on — a newspaper article that essentially is a form of vampire fiction. Clearly these stories have a hold on us. That’s fine, but they need to be reported in a more responsible way, if they’re going to be reported at all.

Have you ever known anyone who claimed to be a vampire or other fantasy figure? Did you take them seriously? Share your stories in the comments.


7 responses to “Reporters consumed by “vampire” case

  1. Coincidentally, my signature on several social networking sites is… “There is one thing about the Internet that I cannot stomach; all the damn Sanguine and Psychic Vampyres!” – Old Fart, Santa Carla, Carlifornia, USA. LOL!!!

    There is a psy…chological condition called Clinical Lycanthropy, whereby some people think they are an aminal or a shapeshifter. Sicentists believe that this is due to a distortion in the section of the brain that controls perception.

    The first time I recall seeing the term of Psychic Vampire was in Anton Le Vays (excuse my spelling) Satanic Bible. However, when I was a teenager and interested in the Goth scene, 1990s, I do not recall anybody claiming to be a Sanguine and/or Psychic Vampire. However, is it coincidence that this psychic and sanguine vampire phenon has really taken off since Buffy, Angel, Underworld, Blade, etc? Vampires and Lycans are “cool” and possibly the latest fad. I don’t believe that anyone has a biological need to drink blood or can drain people of pyschic energy. Call me a cynic, but I think it really boils down to attention seeking and little sense of scientific substance.

    Several of the so called PSI and Blood Vampires and/or Lycans that I have encountered seem to have mental health issues of some kind or another. (Hey, I am no one to talk!) Whereas some may be totally sane and happy, a number have admited to having mental health issues or have displayed classic symptons of mental ill health. But rather than seek help for their mental distress, they blame it on sucking up “bad energy” or some other nonsense. One individual was clearly suffering from PTSD after a car accident and was nothing whatsoever to him with him sucking up bad energies!

    I have got into some quite heated debates with so called Vampires and Lycans on certain alternative social networking sites.

    From a mental health point of view, one should take them seriously and see whether there is a mental health issue or trama which has caused delusions and misperceptions. However, I don’t believe in literal vamires or lycans.

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  3. These sorts of things always seem to crop up at certain periods in history – particularly when poverty levels increase and subsistence levels decrease. The werewolf period in 14th-15th century France was like this. There was a period of this sort of thing happening in Ireland, as well. Then, the patterns were not egged on by the media, but by a kind of social hysteria by word of mouth. Many of the people who were tried as werewolves in France were described as poor, living in the wild and having no education whatsoever. In fact, a few of them were described as ‘idiots’.

    Today is different. Today, we not only have increasing levels of poverty, ill-education systems and questionable food to eat, but we live in a toxic environment full of chemicals and heavy-metals that tend to do weird things to the body, as well as the brain and consequently, the mind. Our food and water is full of these chemicals and heavy metals. Our soils are full of them from the practice of fracking wells.

    We are becoming severely over-populated, which in itself causes several psycho-social abnormalities and issues. We are caught between the world of the virtual and the world of the literal, living in both, which blurs the line between reality and fantasy. In addition, there has been a noticeable rise in several types of neurologically degenerative diseases, such OCD, autism, bi-polar disorder, and Tourettes. There have also been a distinct increase in glandular/endochrine disorders, like hyper- and hypo-thyroidism. Endochrine system disorders affect the neurological processes and cause some very bizarre behaviors that are similar to paranoia, schizophrenia, obsessiveness, etc. Our mental health, as well as our bodily health is being eroded away by these chemicals and the diseases they are exacerbating. All of this is a volatile brew when combined with the current media hype and ‘glorification’ of vampires, and weres.

    Neuro-psychological disorders are a large part and parcel of the were phenomenon, which actually has it’s roots in shamanism, going back a long way. Mircea Eliade in “Shamanism: Archaic States of Ecstasy” states that many shamans and their apprentices showed signs of neurological problems, such as epilepsy. They had to ‘cure’ themselves of these things or master the depredations of these diseases, in order to become a shaman. He also linked some of these issues to the severely cold climes of the North, where shamanism was generally practiced.

    At the rate we’re going, I think this pattern is going to repeat itself and bizarre behaviors like this may become more frequent. It has nothing to do with backwards lyrics, satanism or any of the other things that usually get blamed – but our environment, our food and water – in my opinion.

    Added to these things: yes, there are psycho-physiological diseases that can be caused by insect bites and the toxins that attack the brain from those bites. As we grow more numerous and spread out, we are encroaching upon the domains of these insects and find ourselves living with them. They do cause problems with proprioception as well as perception, and other mental abnormalities. It would seem to be a whole mixed bag of things that is causing this sort of thing. I don’t think you can put your finger on any one thing but have to look at the big picture.

    • Rayvn, thanks so much for this smart comment. Obviously a lot of complicated factors go into whether or not someone winds up identifying with a non-human persona from myth or fantasy. And sometimes these things change with the eras, other times they are old/perennial, as with werewolves, vampires, etc.

  4. It is very interesting how so many can blithely label others with mental health conditions with no training in the field. I can read a DSM IV myself. This is a much more complex issue than chalking off a large segment of people of all ages as being mentally unstable. That could be said for all those that dwell on always having to make negative comments about the various communities and their beliefs. It is no different than religion and for some it is a spiritual belief system but not the majority.

    There is a cross-over from gamers and those that dwell on darkness feeling their state of being has something to do with that missing the point that it only deals with circadian rythyms for the most part. You have day people and night people. A culture has developed in which the word “vampire” is used loosely and there are those that bring fiction into the mix.

    There are the outsiders on the fringe such as this young man, that go to the extreme most likely by being involved in some local group that emulates fictional vampires. The majority of the actual community don’t drink blood and some that do are getting away from it because of blood borne diseases. Whether it is a real physical fix or a psychological one remains to be seen. Those who are sanguinarian don’t think so and most have donors who are willing to offer small amounts of their blood after thoroughly being tested as well as the receiver. Call it a fetish, call it whatever you wish but it is very presumptuous of anyone to label it a mental health issue when there are millions of people who go to church on Sunday drinking wine or grape juice representing the blood of Christ. Essentially they are saying they are drinking his blood and eating his flesh with the wafers they are given in some denominations. This could be attributed to a mental health condition believing one is drinking some entities blood and eating their flesh as well but it is accepted to be fact. Therefore, many things in the world are relative to point of view and belief system. It would behoove many to try to follow the “Golden Rule” which exists one way or another in six different major religious groups instead of pointing fingers where you should not due to lack of knowledge of the subject.

    Vampirics don’t believe they have a disease (most of them anyway) but are born the way they are and most of what they do is innate. What this young man did is not accepted or condoned in the actual community. Time and time again you see things like this posted and discussed by people who have no understanding and take the worst case scenarious of some impresionable young person who has watched too many vampire movies. Perhaps it was just his particular personality to be rash and impulsive but this does not blanketly put the blame on hundreds of people because someone didn’t use good judgment that may or may not be a member of the actual community. I think we have to get real about it. Look at people who have been in well respected professions and still have committed crimes, does that make everyone of that profession bad or mentally ill? I don’t think so, so discussions like this are nothing more than meant to demean a specific subcultural group who for the most part, remain behind the scenes.

    People in the vampire community are of all faiths, many of them Neo pagan but there are Christians as well and others. Satanists are not a majority and there are a variety of types of those beyond LaVeyan. Much of what he wrote was taken from other’s writings, a well known fact. No one cared about psychic vampires prior because people were more closed off. Since the latter part of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century western culture has become more open with people speaking out about things that were only talked about privately in the past. In my time you heard the word psychic leech rather than vampire. These are all just words and shouldn’t be dissected by so many.

    I don’t think it is the community nor their beliefs but the fact that parents aren’t teaching their kids right and wrong, manners and the difference between fact and fantasy. I know that could be said of the community as far as what is believed but there is no real consensus on that anyway. Most of what these people are acting out come from fictional sources and the people in the community are speaking out because they are tired of being sucked into all of this because of something someone read or some film and are acting it out. This also could be a case of one individual just getting mad and going over board. It doesn’t need to be sliced, diced and dissected to mean he is naturally a bad person because of his beliefs or that anyone else with similar beliefs are mentally impacted.

    • Veronica, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I didn’t mean to imply that Brown is mentally unstable because he calls himself a vampire. I was saying that someone who would commit these acts of violence is likely to be unstable — and that his instability, not his affiliations with Satanism or vampire culture — are to blame for his actions.

  5. Temple of the Vampire is a religious group run by members of the Church of Satan. only adults in the ToV? CoS has kids (harming them through early religion?) if part of members’ families. Temple of Set has (via HPs Lilith Aquino) fomented vampire rites and role-playing. see Michelle Bellanger, Vampire Codex; The Asetian Bible, by Luis Marques, and the Werewolf Bible/Cathedral (another CoS offshoot). Great Martyrdom Cult is expanding.

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