Saturday, January 16, 2010

Witch Finder Seeks Promotion.

Back in July I argued that the Satanic Ritual Abuse scare of the 1980s and 90s was not merely a metaphorical revival of medieval witch hunts but a direct descendant of them, and that the SRA cases were by and large concentrated in areas settled by the groups (puritans particularly) who had been most obsessed with catching witches hundreds of years ago.

The most famous witch trials in North America were of course those of Salem in the original puritan colony Massachusetts. So it is perhaps not a surprise to learn that one of the two candidates for the state's senate seat left vacant by Ted Kennedy's death, was a leading witch hunter who happily destroyed the lives of wholly innocent people.

Martha Coakley* does appear to be tanking in the polls, which for a Democrat in Massachusetts is extraordinary, but not for any reasons to do with her behaviour in persecuting people accused of satanism. It just seems extraordinary to me that the people involved in these kinds of ridiculous prosecutions are not only not laughed out of polite society but are actually considered serious candidates for higher office.

* Her involvement in the 1997 prosecution of Louise Woodward certainly makes me rethink my previous assessment of that case, which I had assumed the British media were spinning as an "innocent abroad" case but now think she may have actually been innocent.


Mark Wadsworth said...

It's a power thing. Some people are natural bullies and enjoy persecuting people. Most people jsut go along with the Witchfinder for the reasons outlined by Leg-Iron. So being a politician is an ideal job for a Witchfinder.

Ross said...

"Some people are natural bullies and enjoy persecuting people"

Yes but why does the bullying instinct manifest itself in public witch hunts in some times and places but not in others?