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Salem witchcraft trials todayDo you think a tragedy like the Salem witchcraft trials...

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atropiano | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 16, 2008 at 6:21 PM via web

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Salem witchcraft trials today

Do you think a tragedy like the Salem witchcraft trials could occur today?  Why?

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 17, 2008 at 4:42 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes.  See discussion already established on this topic:

http://www.enotes.com/crucible/group/discuss/what-types-situations-could-cause-contemporar-11929

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lrothman | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 17, 2008 at 4:46 PM (Answer #3)

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Yes.  See discussion already established on this topic:

http://www.enotes.com/crucible/group/discuss/what-types-situations-could-cause-contemporar-11929

Thanks, but that page is no longer found:

We're sorry, the page you requested could not be found.

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lizbv | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 19, 2008 at 2:35 PM (Answer #4)

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I don't necessarily think it could happen today, but it definitely is still happening foreign countries.  The link below is to an article regardig witch camps in Kenya, in which women (mostly older, widowed women or "old maids") are kept to be sheltered from their villages from which they have been cast out for "witchcraft".

http://ionglobaltrends.blogspot.com/2008/12/ghana-ghanas-witch-camps.html

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted December 20, 2008 at 1:50 PM (Answer #5)

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In repsonse to #3 - try copying and pasting the link in your browser.  For some reason, clicking on it doesn't work!

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alohaspirit | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted December 28, 2008 at 12:37 PM (Answer #6)

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I do not think the same exact thing will happen, not at least in developed free countries, but the idea behind salem witch trials is all around us: paranoia.  Our country has gone through its own type of witch hunt within the last few years.  The Patriot Act was a way to hunt down terrorists and then send them to be tortured.  Many innocent people were rounded up during the first years of the Patriot Act and send to Gitmo, later our government realized they were innocent, that is humilating.  McCarthy era during the Cold War was another from of witch hunt in our more recent American history.  The idea of the goverment creating a state of paranoia is not a forgotten concept.

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 28, 2008 at 8:56 PM (Answer #7)

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I read an article a few years ago that came from Kenya.  Hundreds of people had been slaughtered for being "witches"; apparently, sickness had been running rampant through the villages, people got paranoid, and mass hysteria took over.  Government troops were sent in to control the situation.  So things like the Salem witch trials do still occur; in this case, superstition, ignorance in regards to modern medicine, and probably racial tensions sparked it.

More practically, when teaching "The Crucible" to my students, I always try to connect it to a personal level.  I doubt they are going to call anyone out for being a witch, but how do we respond when we feel excluded, jealous, insecure, guilty for wrongdoing, or defensive?  We often lash out at others, placing the blame elsewhere so that we don't have to pay the consequence or own up to our weaknesses.  On that level, the play, on a small scale, is applicable every day.

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 19, 2009 at 12:25 AM (Answer #8)

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Salem witchcraft trials today

Do you think a tragedy like the Salem witchcraft trials could occur today?  Why?

No, they could not occur today--at least not in the United States. The tragedy in Salem happened because Massachusetts was a theocracy. There was no separation of church and state. A sin in the church was a crime in society. For instance, John committed adultery, a sin; in the theocracy of Massachusetts, adultery was also a crime which could be punished by death. The tragedy of the witch trials was possible in Salem because the church was also the government. When cries of witchcraft rang out, it became a legal matter, as well as a spiritual one.

Also, scientific knowledge is much more advanced now in contrast with that of 17th century Salem. Much of what the people of Salem believed we now understand was based on ignorance.

The tragedy of Salem could be repeated today only in a country which happened to be a theocracy and whose citizens were completely cut off from history and the sciences.

 

 

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 19, 2009 at 9:07 PM (Answer #9)

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I think one only needs to look at sensationalized cases like that of the West Memphis Three (www.wm3.org), where a teenager who practiced Wicca was accused and convicted of  a 'satanic cult murder' based on a coerced confession and complete lack of physical evidence, or that of Kerri Patavino, a school bus driver who was accused of having sex with a minor but whose beliefs in the occult and Wicca were played up to a ludicrous level in the media, to see that yes, indeed, witch hunts still occur and that practitioners of modern witchcraft are often the target of harassment and discrimination.

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hi1954 | Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted August 19, 2009 at 11:40 PM (Answer #10)

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We may not be hunting witches per se here in America today, but we obviously still have "witch-hunts."  Like the McCarthyism which inspired the Crucuble, they tend to be political today, or simply directed at some topic or group of persons some local authority dislikes.  But it is a mistake to think that one needs a theocracy or some kind of undeveloped country to have something on this order.  Massachusetts in 1692 was not a theocracy any longer, and the courts were secular, not church-run.  There had been witch-trials in other colonies including Virginia, which was far from a theocracy.  Witch trials continued here in the United States until well into the 19th century, and thousands were burned at the stake in Europe during the same era.  What we definitely still have is the use of propaganda and invective to accuse those whom we disagree with.  President Clinton hounded for a personal impropriety with a consenting adult,  the Memphis trio mentioned above, the same old persecution of blacks or Jews or people with Arabic names, etc. all come to mind.  Not to mention the use we'll probably be seeing soon of the term "homegrown terrorists" to describe anyone who deviates from the social norm.

The very concepts we think of today about the Salem trials are in themselves misleading.  Most people think of the incident as being these girls getting attention, of the clergy exploiting the trials.  Thomas Hutchinson in 1750 wrote that he believed the incident to be nothing but "fraud and imposture," but admits that those with personal knowledge still alive in the area still didn't know what to make of it all.  The view we have today derives from the Rev. Charles Wentworth Upham's books of the 19th century, in which he got most of his facts wrong.  The idea that the clergy were responsible for the hysteria compounded by local fueds was his idea, and one he backs with much erroneous material and the setting forth of several alternative theories.  George Bancroft adopted this conspiratorial view from Upham in his monumental work History of the United States of America.  The problem is that all this boils down to the writings of Robert Calef, a man who claimed that his writings helped end the trials (they were too late to have any bearing on the cases) and who quite bluntly lied about almost everything he wrote.  Our very viewpoint today about the trials is a testimony to the fact that we believe what we're told to believe, for the most part.

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 20, 2009 at 2:45 AM (Answer #11)

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Absolutely. I think it occurs when a group gets together and decides they don't like "change" in whatever form it comes. So they act as one and target the group or an individual in that group. We saw that in the "Swift Boat" veterans against John Kerry. The current political climate in Iran has some characteristics of the Salem Witch Hunts in that anyone who is for change is automatically characterized as evil and influenced by western thought.

The mass hysteria that occurred regarding the witchcraft in Salem was whipped up by frightened persons who did not know what to make of the symptoms displayed by the girls. Rev. Charles Wentworth Upham was the accepted expert of the day, (in the mid-1800s when the Salem Witch trials happened in the 1680s) and he got most of his factual information wrong. He may have been the first conspiracy theorist in America.

The idea that the public can be influenced by innuendo, outright lies, and twisted presentation of skewed facts is very much at the heart of the play The Crucible, which itself was aimed directly at the McCarthy tactics of destoying anyone who appeared to be "unAmerican." or unpatriotic.

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appletrees | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted August 23, 2009 at 3:18 PM (Answer #12)

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Absolutely. I think it occurs when a group gets together and decides they don't like "change" in whatever form it comes. So they act as one and target the group or an individual in that group. We saw that in the "Swift Boat" veterans against John Kerry. The current political climate in Iran has some characteristics of the Salem Witch Hunts in that anyone who is for change is automatically characterized as evil and influenced by western thought.

The mass hysteria that occurred regarding the witchcraft in Salem was whipped up by frightened persons who did not know what to make of the symptoms displayed by the girls. Rev. Charles Wentworth Upham was the accepted expert of the day, (in the mid-1800s when the Salem Witch trials happened in the 1680s) and he got most of his factual information wrong. He may have been the first conspiracy theorist in America.

The idea that the public can be influenced by innuendo, outright lies, and twisted presentation of skewed facts is very much at the heart of the play The Crucible, which itself was aimed directly at the McCarthy tactics of destoying anyone who appeared to be "unAmerican." or unpatriotic.

Another example of a modern way witch hunt is the scandals involving day care centers whose owners and operators were accused of sexually molesting children, based on the testimony of children who were counseled and coached by counselors who used suggestive techniques to get children to indict their caretakers. It took many years to prove the innocence of these people and some of them were in prison for years. The tendency to believe children (who find it very easy to lie or believe fantasy stories) who accuse adults parallels the Salem situation very closely.

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drxcreatures | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 10, 2012 at 12:22 PM (Answer #13)

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It does happen in the USA nowadays. I know of one that did and if that happened, then more still do. There may be very little 'torture' and no killing but, that is due to such things being against the law now. We don't read about these things because who wants to come forward and admit they were accompanying traumatic abuse? The accused 'witch' (victim) is too brainwashed and afraid to do it themselves.

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