Modern-Day Witch Hunts

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Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God's fingers? I'll tell you what's walking Salem-vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common vengeance writes the law! (p73, The Crucible)

Arthur Miller's classic play, The Crucible, is about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth century Salem, Massachusetts. What starts with several girls practicing European white magic in the woods escalates to a massive hysteria, with the "afflicted" girls falsely accusing even the respected women in the community of being witches. Eager to "utterly crush the servants of the devil", church leaders and townspeople insist on trying the accused. The punishment for failing to confess to witchcraft is death by hanging. In the end, many are hanged for imaginary crimes, for which no actual proof is ever presented, the only evidence being the word of a handful of girls.

Miller wrote The Crucible as a parallel to the anticommunist hysteria in the 1940's. It may also be seen as a mirror to Hitler's Germany, and the pseudo-science of the time which dictated "purity". Today, however, The Crucible shows a resemblance to an entirely different kind of social hysteria. Accusations of sexual-abuse against child-care providers and others are now sometimes referred to as "witch hunts" when the accusers are suspected of lying, as in Miller's play. Children's advocates will of course tell us that we must believe children's claims of abuse, because, tragically, it does occur. However, a recent trend has shown that more and more accusations are false, and even when the accused are found innocent, their lives can be changed forever. This paper will examine the similarities between Miller's The Crucible, and the sexual-abuse "witch hunts" of today.

Gordon Waugh, member of Casualties Of Sexual Allegations (COSA) writes: …many people now...
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