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(Mental Floss)   Hey ladies, ever wonder what your chances would have been like in Salem back in 1692 if you'd been accused of being a witch? Let's just put it this way...we hope you weigh more than a duck   (mentalfloss.com) divider line 34
    More: Scary, Hey Ladies, female friends  
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11106 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 Mar 2014 at 11:56 AM (42 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-03-02 01:02:43 PM  
4 votes:
I am descended from many of the "witches" accused at the Salem Witchcraft Trials, and also their stupid accusers. There are over 100 people connected with Salem Village in my family tree at the moment. Many of those have birth-death dates that stop at or run over 1692. My family was there in large numbers.

For starters, the great New England Divine, Cotton Mather is a cousin. I know Cotton, Increase, Richard and Thomas Mather (my ancestor). Mather was a well-educated Puritan who could be quite learned and wise and quite foolish and ignorant, often at the same time. My education was much like his--a university man from a background of simple-minded self-righteous or genuinely good Christians and hicks.

Attendance at a fundamentalist Sunday School and Church despite being a child-hood member of respectable liberal congregation formed my mind and my experiences in ways that are quite rare. I'm an insider-outsider socially and intellectually. I'm a liberal and a skeptic and an atheist with a lot of theological training. Verily, Christians are a scandal to the Heathen, and I am that Heathan. I know them inside-out and outside-in due to quirks in my history, family history and the world's history.

I am descended from some of the "witches" hanged; some accused who escaped hanging; and some relations who sued for damages and got them. I am descended from their accusers, family, friends, neighbours and clergy.

It suffices to look at the death date to know there are witches:

Mary Town Eastery, hanged 22 Sept 1692, Gallow's Hill;
Rebecca Towne Nurse, 19 July 1692
Rev. George Burroughs, hanged 19 August 1692 (yes, a clergyman! hanged as a witch), 1692

Others were accused but survived, some escaped, some were found not guilty, some were pardoned, some died in prison. I simply don't have time to identify every single person, so look on these names as a random list of high lights and low lights.

The hanged, those who died in prison:

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/salem/asal_de.htm

A more general lsit:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_of_the_Salem_witch_trial s

I am also descended from the Lewises (Mercy Lewis was one of the girls "afflicted by witchcraft", the Kinneys, and other families who testified against the witches.

If you look at the list of evidences that show you might be a witch you may be struck by one thing: some or all of them might apply to anybody. For example, as Saint Paul put it "all have sinned". Every Christian has violated the rules of conduct of Christianity and the Bible. The most pious and righteous are sinners.

Also, they are a survey of the marginalized. Rich and poor, old and young, women, midwifes, people who dauble in fortune-telling, those without friends and family, those who are envied and those who are despised.

1692 was a very bad year. The weather was disastrous and crops failed. The Pilgrims were under considerable duress. What is worse a great natural disaster such as is often attributed to the wrath of God had struck down the town of Port Royal in Jamaica. The Salem Village people were deeply and personally connected to this southern port because of trade and family connections. They were very upset that God would do such a thing and needed explanations. Naturally they blamed the victims and anybody else they could find rather than blame themselves or God.

Note that all three of these factors are still alive and kicking today. The pious still blame the victims for natural disaster (see Pat Robertson for details of the Pact with the Devil signed by the Haitians decades ago--he seems to have watched a lot of racially charged 1920s and 1930s American zombie movies). The pious still interpret bad luck as God's wrath and good luck as God's blessing (as Job's Comforters do in the Book of Job).

Why am I a liberal? Because my ancestors were witches, heretics, Quakers and Roman Catholics. Because my ancestors were Puritans and xenophobic fundies. Because I have learned the same lessons that history teaches us about "conservatism" and "tradition" and "family values" and "religion" first hand as a child, youth and adult. Because I read a lot of both formal and informal documents ranging from scholarly works to comic strips.

I understand the way the human mind and human societies work well enough to be skeptical about piety and righteousness, patriotism and even sin.

God save us everyone, and if he is otherwise engaged, let's hope for reason and compassion to catch up with our folly and malice before we do too much damage.
2014-03-02 12:12:29 PM  
4 votes:
Remember: The Puritans did not come to the New World for religious freedom. They came here because the rest of Europe had enough of their pious wankery.

/We should have let the natives wipe them out in the Pequot War.
2014-03-02 09:03:00 AM  
4 votes:
It sounds to me like if you had anything anybody wanted, or were poor and dependent upon the community or believed in the wrong god then an organized group of holier than thou rich old white men would fark your shiat up by accusing you of 'congress with teh debbil'. After 300+ years we now call that group of old white men 'Congress'
2014-03-02 02:23:51 PM  
3 votes:
Satan sounds like a cool dude whereas Jesus is just a paranoid dickhole.
2014-03-02 12:13:14 PM  
3 votes:

Benevolent Misanthrope: 1. Be a woman.

Aaaaaaand, we're done. Women are the Debbil and deserve anything that happens to them. That hasn't changed much in the US. You have no idea how refreshing it is to live in a place where that particular part of the "women are lesser" idea never took root.


What place is that? I would like to go to there, please.
2014-03-02 01:48:41 PM  
2 votes:
12 out of 16!


www.mahurangi.org.nz
2014-03-02 01:10:24 PM  
2 votes:

iheartscotch: Pretty much anybody who got accused was toast. I'm not familiar with any cases where the accused was found innocent. A few people never confessed their witchery; they just got tortured to death. One guy was even crushed in a questioning technique called "pressing". They put stones on your chest till you talked. If memory serves; the whole thing was set into motion by a group of young girls.


Giles Corey, who pretty much showed he had stones bigger than anything they laid on him by saying, "more weight"
2014-03-02 12:59:13 PM  
2 votes:
The DSM is the new guidebook for witch hunts.
2014-03-02 12:47:28 PM  
2 votes:

Pincy: mekki: Mind you, how twisted were those kids running around accusing people of being witches for kicks and giggles.

Kids will be kids.  It's the adults who are the twisted ones for actually believing them.


Thing is how many did actually believe them and how many were, "My next door neighbor has a great piece of land that I want. How do I get rid of him so I can take it....Oh, Sally. Sally, didn't you see Mr. Goode consort with the devil yesterday. You did, didn't you. Say that you did. Good, now let's go and tell the Justice of the Peace."

Most of these accusations were really political plays. You can't out and out murder your neighbor. That's against the law and will leave you swinging from the nearest oak. But you can accuse him or her of being a witch and let the law get rid of them for you.
2014-03-02 12:30:17 PM  
2 votes:

TheHighlandHowler: Some theories attribute the affliction to Toxoplasma gondii. See Occam.



I've heard theories that they were hallucinating because of ergot poisoning.

It wasn't just women who were killed, either. Don't forget about Giles Corey.
2014-03-02 12:28:28 PM  
2 votes:
Spend some time on Reddit, you can see how easily mob behavior develops.
2014-03-02 06:45:32 PM  
1 votes:
CSS---

I descend  from a woman named Mary Barker who was accused of witchcraft during the 1692 hysteria. She was found not guilty. However her trial transcripts are quite fascinating:

                    http://salem.lib.virginia.edu/texts/tei/BoySal1R?div_id=n8

I've been in touch with some of my distant relatives and  I find it  amusing  that quite a few of us are either agnostic / atheist  or practice "Ye Olde Wayes"

/ CSS
                       The irony of Salem was that it was christians accusing other christians of witchcraft.
2014-03-02 03:31:34 PM  
1 votes:

iheartscotch: Pretty much anybody who got accused was toast. I'm not familiar with any cases where the accused was found innocent. A few people never confessed their witchery; they just got tortured to death. One guy was even crushed in a questioning technique called "pressing". They put stones on your chest till you talked. If memory serves; the whole thing was set into motion by a group of young girls.


Giles Corey (sp?) The last time they asked him to confess before he died from being crushed to death he replied MORE STONES.


Confessing would save you from being tortured to death but the church would collect your entire estate if you confessed and your entire family would be outcasts. So there was good reason not to confess.

Then just as now follow the money.
2014-03-02 02:35:06 PM  
1 votes:
Jon Stewart had a guest on about a month ago who went through all the court records from all the witch trials and it turns out 98% of them were simply fined, with some being forced to move from the community. Sure, lots of people were accused, but there was never a "water test" or anything, and the only recorded execution was a hanging. They kept very detailed notes about the trials because it was a real court, it's just that the story of what happened to witches is a lot juicer than reality.
2014-03-02 02:26:30 PM  
1 votes:
static.fjcdn.com
2014-03-02 02:09:15 PM  
1 votes:
Modern-day "witch hunts" aka moral panics

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-care_sex-abuse_hysteria

And

of course, good ol' tail-gunner Joe

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_McCarthy

Human beings can be such bastards.
2014-03-02 01:45:32 PM  
1 votes:
brantgoose:

It suffices to look at the death date to know there are witches:

Mary Town Eastery, hanged 22 Sept 1692, Gallow's Hill;
Rebecca Towne Nurse, 19 July 1692
Rev. George Burroughs, hanged 19 August 1692 (yes, a clergyman! hanged as a witch), 1692


Hanging was actually the more merciful thing they did to those accused of witchcraft. One method of execution was "Pressing", where the victim was restrained to the ground and stone after stone was piled on top of them one at a time until they were eventually squished to death.

And sicko stuff like this is why we have laws against "cruel and unusual punishment" and a separation between church and state in our Bill of Rights. Next time you hear some crap-for-brains talking about weakening that separation between C&S, take into account that they want to bring back all these sadistic horrors as well, because JAY-ZUSS!
2014-03-02 01:40:36 PM  
1 votes:

Aulus: National Geographic Channel recently had a program on this.  It seems to have largely been the work of one man, the preacher in Salem, who was not all that well liked.  He drummed up the bit about witches on the loose to increase his standing in the community.


popreflection.files.wordpress.com
2014-03-02 01:38:52 PM  
1 votes:
STILL more rational and merciful than the average modern Teabaggers.
2014-03-02 01:28:00 PM  
1 votes:
short of not executing people for these things, we really haven't progressed much since then.
2014-03-02 01:21:21 PM  
1 votes:

OtherLittleGuy: and ended when people of property and power were starting to get accused, and it was beyond all fun and games


Thin the final straw was when they accused the Governor's wife.
2014-03-02 01:14:01 PM  
1 votes:

OtherLittleGuy: cirby: Of course, about one out of six of the accused (and of the executed) was male, and the whole thing was kicked off by a feud between women who were related to each other, but...

..and ended when people of property and power were starting to get accused, and it was beyond all fun and games.

/and it was in modern-day Danvers, aka "Salem Village"


One of the precious bits of information I learned while doing my family tree was that the witch accusations in Boston, MA, ended when one very rich Bostonian was accused and he responded like a gentleman bourgeois by suing his accuser for libel asking 1000 Pounds in damages.

Reason prevails. Or at least the Lord God Mammon. He is, like Jehovah, a God of Gods.

I like to shout JEHOVAH! Just because I can!
2014-03-02 01:09:37 PM  
1 votes:

megarian: I like how they say the daughter "went prematurely insane."


That has a nice Lovecraftian ring to it, "prematurely insane". It suggests that insanity is inevitable but not limited to the middle-aged and elderly.

 ... and then there is his brother,  Absalom Judas Aldwife III, who went prematurely insane and thus can not be counted as a victim of the Eldritch Family Curse ... he was one of the lucky ones.
2014-03-02 12:48:21 PM  
1 votes:
I'm a goner...
2014-03-02 12:42:41 PM  
1 votes:

mekki: Mind you, how twisted were those kids running around accusing people of being witches for kicks and giggles.


Kids will be kids.  It's the adults who are the twisted ones for actually believing them.
2014-03-02 12:41:09 PM  
1 votes:

cynicalbastard: Majick Thise: It sounds to me like if you had anything anybody wanted, or were poor and dependent upon the community or believed in the wrong god then an organized group of holier than thou rich old white men would fark your shiat up by accusing you of 'congress with teh debbil'. After 300+ years we now call that group of old white men 'Congress'

Except that the worst offenders, even in old Salem, for getting women accused of witchcraft were often other women. A lot of what happened there was the end result of a bunch of kids playing what they thought was a really cool practical joke.


Not just other women. Preteens. Kids. (Mind you, how twisted were those kids running around accusing people of being witches for kicks and giggles. All their lives they had been told what to do. And now they had the power to boss around adults. "Oh, it's my bed time, is it. Well, I do believe I saw you consorting with the devil, yesterday. WITCH!"

In the history of accusing people of witches, anyone could accuse of anyone AND anything of being witch. Cats were often accused of being witches right alongside their human counterparts.
2014-03-02 12:37:59 PM  
1 votes:

megarian: I like how they say the daughter "went prematurely insane."


The article says she went "Permanently" insane.

Which, given the circumstances, I could understand.
F42
2014-03-02 12:29:29 PM  
1 votes:
About as much chance as someone today accused of terrorism.
2014-03-02 12:25:49 PM  
1 votes:

Majick Thise: It sounds to me like if you had anything anybody wanted, or were poor and dependent upon the community or believed in the wrong god then an organized group of holier than thou rich old white men would fark your shiat up by accusing you of 'congress with teh debbil'. After 300+ years we now call that group of old white men 'Congress'


Except that the worst offenders, even in old Salem, for getting women accused of witchcraft were often other women. A lot of what happened there was the end result of a bunch of kids playing what they thought was a really cool practical joke.
2014-03-02 12:20:05 PM  
1 votes:
14. Butter or milk has spoiled in your fridge

Exactly how many fridges were around in 1692?

Demonstrative of exactly the kind of journalistic integrity and precision one expects from mentalfloss
2014-03-02 12:10:13 PM  
1 votes:
Well, it's 2014 and many people are convinced that I'm a witch. But they spell it differently.
2014-03-02 12:06:22 PM  
1 votes:
About the same as my chances of getting stoned today in parts of the Middle East, which is why I don't go there.
2014-03-02 10:00:48 AM  
1 votes:
1. Be a woman.

Aaaaaaand, we're done. Women are the Debbil and deserve anything that happens to them. That hasn't changed much in the US. You have no idea how refreshing it is to live in a place where that particular part of the "women are lesser" idea never took root.
2014-03-02 08:52:17 AM  
1 votes:

vudukungfu: All women weight more than a duck, cursemitter.


Well, then when they bind her and throw her in the mill pond she'll sink and drown.  At least her soul will be saved.
 
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