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Since its almost Halloween I think it would be fun to discuss the most well known Witch Trials in American history.
Well, for one thing, no witches were actually burned AT sal- blahblahblah historical trivia which no one, including me, cares about.
Fascinating subject. Same things that caused Mccarthyism, the pedophile scare, and countless other instances of paranoia caused them, from what I understand. Nowadays we're repeating that with some of the Muslim persecution in America, but luckily that's relatively low-key.
edited 13th Sep '11 5:06:38 PM by YoungMachete
A glimpse of what was to come. A shitty part of pre-US history of North America. A really, spectacularly stupid episode. Etc...
Also, few people were actually burned. Don't know why they think everyone was. It was mostly hangings and one well known pressing.
Also, a great example of how fear can override both common and moral sense. And it's almost exactly parallel with Mc Carthyism.
If I remember it got started because some bimbos were doing fortune telling by a slave which was not allowed in the colony.They afterwards were claiming that spirits were attacking them and the rest is history.Personally I think these little bimbos were pretending to be bewitched just because they were bored or they didn't want to get in trouble for doing witchcraft.
Also as I remember the witch trials were also a good excuse to go against one's neighbor or to get rid of someone you don't like.
Calling someone bimbos doesn't exactly make your argument look good, Joyflower. Not to mention, in a repressive society such as theirs, just holding hands with a boy made you a bimbo.
That said, I think they got a bit addicted to the power they were suddenly granted. Young girls back then didn't really have a say in anything, but finding out that they suddenly have the power to get someone arrested/in trouble/brought down/whatever way you want to say it, has to feel incredibly empowering. It went straight to their heads, and eventually it stopped when they accused some judge's wife in a poorly thought out move.
A lot of the accused were very good members of the community which should have ringed some alarms that just maybe this thing was being used to ruin people because someone really hated them or had an agenda with them.
I wasn't calling them bimbos because they were slutty or anything but I was calling them out because they lied about the situation.I am not feeling any sympathy for those girls because of the mess they started and espically when I learned some of them confessed that they lied about it.
edited 13th Sep '11 6:23:58 PM by joyflower
I knew who made this thread before I clicked it.
I think Aceof Spades has pretty much hit the nail on the head. The trials are a great example of how irrational people can be, especially when frightened. It shares a lot of elements in common with the Red Scares and Mc Carthyism. The episode is a very good example of mass hysteria in action.
I feel a lot more sympathy for the girls involved than those who prosecuted them, but I can understand why they did what they did.
edited 13th Sep '11 6:27:45 PM by Pentadragon
I remember reading somewhere that there was a theory that some part of the hysteria could have been attributed to some of the townsfolk unwittingly consuming grains contaminated with ergot fungi.
First things first they were doing something they weren't supposed to do and they had their slave Tishiba who helped them do fortunate telling when it was forbidden and then they accuse her of being a witch.I think the slave woman made up the fact that she was a witch just so she could get off easier.I lose sympathy when some of the girls confessed that they lied about it.
edited 13th Sep '11 6:33:06 PM by joyflower
I am no expert, but that is what happened in the play The Crucible, and I know that Miller (that was the author's name, right?) took some liberties with the historical story. Was there a slave called Tituba in real life?
edited 13th Sep '11 7:35:33 PM by LoniJay
There was a slave and if I was her I would not have granted the girls' desire to do fortune telling espically with the fact that I could brutally punished for it.They quickly blamed her for being a witch even though it was them that wanted her to do the fortune telling.Tishibia confessed to being a witch but I would take her confession with a grain of salt.
That.. didn't really answer my question.
There was a slave in real life called Tituba and she was also a major factor in the start of the trial.Because her testimony said that there were other witches as well which signaled that there might be others who were secretly witches.
There was a slave woman called Tituba. As for the fortune telling; people got bored. They also claimed anything odd or strange happening was witchcraft. In any case, Tituba had less power than those girls; if they wanted fortune telling to amuse themselves than that's what they got. They were the ones in charge in that situation, not her.
That's my major gripe is they were doing something that they were forbidden to do and I have a feeling they made up being possessed in order not to get in trouble.
edited 13th Sep '11 7:55:28 PM by joyflower
An earlier comment seemed to imply that it's incorrect to think many witches were executed by burning and that more common methods were hanging and pressing. If you're just referring specifically to America then, yes, execution was by hanging. I don't think pressing was specifically an execution method for witchcraft, it was something like a punishment for refusing to testify but I'll stand corrected on that. But in Europe and the British Isles burning was a popular method of execution. If you were lucky you got strangled first, or had a friend who was able to slip you a sedative.
I wonder how many people's knowledge of the Salem witch hunts comes primarily from Halloween documentary specials and studying 'The Crucible' in high school. I know that's how I got mine. (I come from a country without a history of organised witch-hunting and persecution.)
edited 13th Sep '11 8:00:09 PM by raisingirl83
As opposed to what? Actually being possessed? Being a Witch myself, I'm really interested to know what you think was really going on in Salem.
It was mass hysteria that people took advantage of in order to get even with someone or wreck their lives because they wanted to get their land.I think the other half is that people's superstitions got the better of them and made them frantic.
It's not a damn feeling, Joyflower, that's pretty much exactly what happened. Newsflash; teenage girls and children lie to get out of trouble, and they did it as much then as they do now. Then they discovered they now had all this power over other people, and it spun out of control. And then other people figured they could get their neighbor's property or get rid of that cranky old lady that was slightly strange.
Hell, read that book by Hawthorne; that's a good account of what happened.
@Raisingirl; that's exactly what happened in the Salem Witch trials. Hangings. And one guy got pressed with giant stones because he wouldn't admit to being a witch. Not confessing ensured that his sons inherited his stuff instead of it getting passed to the state or whatever. Hanging seemed to be the usual punishment in America in those days.
Salem is what happens when the riff-raff organise themselves into a society. But yeah, they were exactly like the whole Red Scare stuff.
I vaguely recall reading that the women who were most likely to be executed as witches were ones who, in one way or another, violated gender norms.
edited 14th Sep '11 3:28:12 AM by feotakahari
I'm still amused that there really was a guy named Increase.
I say it was the right thing to do, because there are no witches now, they musy have been nipped at the bud then. Obviously.
Yeah, there's not much to discuss. Mass hysteria, moral panic, the usual.
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