Witchfinders

The anthology progresses. Six stories from six authors so far and there’s time for more. It’s keeping me busy.

Anyway, even though it’s a Halloween anthology, it’s not what this post is about. This is about the witchfinder mentality.

In the mid 1600s, in the UK, most of Europe and even in rebel colonist land in the USA, if you were accused of witchcraft you were guilty.

The hysteria about witches meant that once accused, you were, basically, fucked. Trials were based on the presumption of guilt. Torture was used to obtain confessions and if you think waterboarding was bad, believe me, what these accused went through makes waterboarding look like a relaxation method.

You would be accused of sailing in sieves and flying on brooms and you had to prove you didn’t do it. How the hell do you prove you didn’t do something? How do you prove that the sudden death of your neighbour’s cows or sheep was nothing to do with you? It’s the ‘teapot orbiting Betelgeuse’ fallacy. I’m pretty damn sure it’s not there but I can’t definitively prove it. I’ve never tried, in fact, because I don’t actually care what’s orbiting Betelgeuse as long as it’s not me.

Modern science can’t prove a negative. What the hell chance did a 1600s peasant have?

They didn’t have to prove you did it. You had to prove you didn’t. In those days, roughly a century before Van Leeuwenhoek’s invention of the microscope, how do you prove it was a disease that killed the animals, and not your evil magical jiggery-pokery? It was simply not possible. Once accused, you had no way out.

Then you had the mob. The masses were primed to hate witches by the King James version of the Bible which included the new line ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’. It’s not in earlier versions. Mid 1600s, if you didn’t go to Church you were a reviled heathen. So you’d go whether you believed or not. And there really wasn’t much else in the way of education going on for most people at that time. Other than how to milk cows or plough a straight line of course.

Lucky for me, in the event the silly buggers out there ever vote the Greens into power, I can do both those things and also use a scythe and set a snare.

Hey, it’s [the current year] so we’ve outgrown childish tantrum-hate and automatically believing accusations against people we don’t like, haven’t we? Or have we?

I have very limited understanding of American politics. It confuses me that their right side is red and the left is blue because it used to be the other way around in the UK before we switched to communist and ultra-communist options. Now we have red and very-red options here.

I don’t know how Donnie Trumpton became president when most of his own party and all of the other party seem to hate his guts. But he did, against massive odds, and I have to give him kudos for that.

I live near Balmedie in Scotland where there is a Trump golf course and the locals are not happy about it. It’s been an object lesson in the arrogant fuckwittery of the very rich and he is not well liked in this part of Scotland because of it. We don’t actually care about American politics. He might be the best or worst president the USA ever had but here, his people have been behaving like utter bastards for decades and we blame him.

Anyway. Maybe he’s actually a nice guy. I’ve never met him and most likely never will so it’s benefit of the doubt time.

He has been nominating judges for the US version of the High Court in the UK. It’s his right as president as far as I understand it.

He nominated a guy called Kavanaugh. The left don’t like him. Well, they wouldn’t, naturally. So they sent in an accusation that he did some kind of sexual assault at a party when he was in high school. The accuser can’t remember the date or even the city it happened in and both the ‘witnesses’ she named deny seeing anything. One has no memory of the event and the other denies being at a party with her.

Yet all over the Internet, people are believing her unconditionally.

I have known, online and in real life, people who were abused sexually. So many that I have wondered if I was the only butt-ugly child it didn’t happen to. A co-worker in Local Shop had to take time off to testify at a trial of his abuser.

They all had one thing in common. An absolutely precise memory of what happened and when, and who was there. Some things you do not forget.

There are things that happened in my life that I will never forget. None of them, fortunately, involved a trauma such as sexual assault but if it had happened I am sure I’d recall every detail.

I cannot accept this accusation at face value. It goes against everything I have ever heard from genuine victims of such assaults and there have been many. So very many. And it’s too convenient, an anti-Trump accuser of a Trump nominee. Who can’t remember where or when it happened.

Now there’s another one. Her best friend has no recollection of the event and states she had heard nothing about it before. None of their ‘witnesses’ remember anything at all. The claim is that Kavanaugh waved his dick in front of this woman’s face in college.

If I had been at a party where that happened, no matter how smashed I was, I’d remember it. And I was pretty smashed but I remember the time someone set fire to an empty toilet roll tube in the toilet and filled the place with smoke and caused quite a panic (possibly because it was me) and also the time a girl hid in my room with me because her abusive boyfriend was outside (that one wasn’t my fault).

Some things burn into your memory even when drunk. Those I just mentioned were pretty damn trivial compared to being sexually assaulted. If that had happened to me I am sure I could relate the place precisely and the time down to the second and who was there down to their goddamn blood group. Most of the real victims I have met could do most of this.

Yet the mob accept the accusation with no trial and no word from the accused, no more ‘innocent until proven guilty’. We are back to Witchfinder mentality. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.  Let’s have a trial. Oh, too late for that, he’s guilty because the mob says so.

At the same time, paedos and actual convicted rapists are getting a free pass.

Is anyone else wondering about this discrepancy?

28 thoughts on “Witchfinders

      • How does it not apply? They do it all of the time. And I as a moderator at least have to abide by Forum Rules.
        Needless to say I often don’t do very well. The more kind people barely keep their heads above water, although they do tend to be more articulate. Which could well be part of the problem.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Property rights trump free speech. If you own the forum or blog, you get to decide what the rules are and whether you will allow people to say what they want. People do not have a the right of free speech on private property. Imagine someone coming into your living room and insulting you and your family. You would rightly show them the door. Same applies here.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I would like to agree. But I am only a moderator. I don’t own the Site.

            Don’t ask me for why I do this because I don’t bloody well know. Perhaps I was beguiled into thinking that I had more autonomy than I actually have. And perhaps I thought that my opinion would rule. Well, I got that one wrong, so now it is shit or bust.
            I stay and do this because it is important to me that I should be fair. That I should be able to read the shit and unkindness and still not judge.
            Try that one for size. It is mortal hard sometimes.

            Liked by 1 person

        • You’re both right. The owner of the site decides who is and is not welcome. But that power is in the admin, not the moderators.

          I was a moderator on a writing site for a while. The members were mostly well behaved but we did have the occasional pest. As moderator I couldn’t block them, just try to reason with them. If that failed I’d pass the matter on to the admins who would decide what to do about it.

          That site had (probably still has) excellent and approachable admin and as I said, very few real pests. The moderators were sort-of deputies, we had a few forums each to keep an eye on because the admins couldn’t watch everything. We only passed a matter to admin if we couldn’t resolve it ourselves.

          There were very, very few bans. But there were some. Free speech does not apply on private property – perhaps more accurately, the pests were free to spout their bile somewhere else, but not on that site.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t think anything you did some 40 odd years ago has any bearing on the adult he has become. Copping a feel or trying it on is part of finding boundaries and the claim being made is so insignificant as to be laughable.

    Though I have no proof, my gut tells me there’s more to the story. Could it be she had the hots for him and was rejected?

    I see today they’ve dragged out yet another claim against the man, but what the hell, their goal is to stop a deep conservative from getting on to the Supreme Court.

    Re this business of witches, what you say is of course perfectly correct, however there are several cases where a female was accused of witchcraft in order to hide other secrets, such as illicit affairs. And don’t forget it wasn’t always women; guy’s were gotten rid of, at least once so another could get his land, or even his wife.

    One thing that stuck was the increase in claims of witchcraft throughout Europe during their little ice age. Did a heap of research at the time (when I was into this stuff) and was satisfied the claims were correct.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Ice_Age

    I’ve even gotten off my butt and travelled to Dunning to visit the site where Maggie Wall was burned alive whilst tied to a stake.

    https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/monument-for-a-witch-called-maggie-wall

    The cairn was erected by the locals, probably because of the disgust they felt and the cross added, with due ceremony, to stop the so called presence.

    There’s nothing there now, the site’s clean, however some individuals do leave silver like coins wedged between the stones.

    I believe they are collected and given to the local church. Daft really as none of the little coins, 10, 20 or 50p have any trace of silver in them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The increase in witchcraft during the Little Ice Age was mentioned in a story I wrote once. It was the last one in Treeskull Stories. I had no prior knowledge, it was a coincidence.

      Oddly enough though, the one I have for this next anthology concerns a curse left by a hanged witch. I hope this one has no links to reality because the gallows stone concerned is actually part of the house I’m currently renting!

      I think the last UK coin to have silver in it was the old half-crown, and that stopped being made of silver even before it was replaced by this modern crap.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. What always amazes me is how genuine victims of sexual assaults aren’t up in arms about these kind of accusations, which, to my mind, only serve to diminish the hurt and pain that they – the genuine victims – have had to endure both at the time of the assault and afterwards. As you say, Leggy, I doubt that there’s a single genuine victim who couldn’t remember every last detail of that unpleasant episode in their lives. In fact, forgetting it – or trying to – and moving on with their lives is probably one of the greatest challenges they face after the event.

    Vague, historical, did-he-or-didn’t-he claims like this may titillate the salacious newspaper-reading public and sell a few papers, but to call something as essentially harmless, albeit unpleasant, as willy-flashing an actual “sexual assault,” merely serves to entrench in the public’s mind the idea that sexual assault in and of itself is just a silly little minor thing when, in reality, it’s a vicious and nasty crime of violence which should be treated as such. To minimise it in this way in order to achieve (or prevent) a political objective is evidence of a new low in the moral and ethical standards of major politicians and political groups the world over. Shame on them, and a pox on all their houses, to boot!

    Liked by 1 person

    • False allegations also mean that real accusations are doubted. Sure, the onus is (or should be) on the accuser to provide evidence of the accusation but having experienced a series of fake accusations, the investigators eventually start every case with the assumption that the accuser is lying. That makes it so much harder for a real victim to prove their case – and when they hear about the gruelling questioning earlier cases involved, they are deterred from talking to the investigators in the first place.

      These unfounded allegations are a real danger to those who are genuine victims. The ‘believe all accusations’ crowd have no idea how much harm they are doing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As a young man, I once had a total stranger try to assault me in our local cinema.Engrossed in the film I became aware that there was a hand on my thigh, gradually moving higher up my leg.At first I was puzzled as to what was going on and glancing round I saw it was an older man trying it on.Without thinking about it I pushed upwards with my leg trapping his hand under the cast iron frame of the seat and pushed as hard as I could.I had the great satisfaction of hearing something crack and a muffled cry. He let go and disappeared out of the cinema .As far as I know I have never seen him again.I did not report this because the matter had been dealt with and he was unlikely to try again. This happened nearly 60 years ago, but is still relatively fresh in my memory. No, if you have been seriously assaulted, you do not forget the details.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “… in the event the silly buggers out there ever vote the Greens into power, I can do both those things and also use a scythe and set a snare…

    The latter two talents could be used to deal with the Greens, in that instance.

    Like

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