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The Salem Witch Trials and Slender Man *

Two young girls, aged 9 and 11, are having fits that are not epilepsy. Then a 12-year-old and a 17-year-old are afflicted. It is judged that they have been bewitched. An investigation is launched to find the witches who cast the spell. The usual suspects are rounded up and questioned. Some die in custody including a baby born to Sarah Good. A trial is begun. Giles Corey refuses to enter a plea. In the modern day, when this happens, a judge will enter a "not guilty" plea on behalf of the defendant, but no such option exists in the law as yet. In order to force Giles to make a plea, the court has him "pressed". That is... progressively larger stones are placed on his chest until he speaks, or he is crushed to death. It takes Giles 2 days to die. Sarah Good is a homeless woman who walks from house to house begging for charity. When she is refused she walks away muttering to herself. When accused of casting spells, she says she was only reciting her (Bible) Commandments. When the court asks her to recite her Commandments, she stumbles through part of a Psalm. She has told a fatal lie. Out of 72 accused witches, 19 are found guilty, 14 of them are women. They all hang for the crime of witchcraft. [1][2][3] [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There are a lot of directions I can go with the Salem Witch Trials. Was it simple hysteria? That is an interesting word, "hysteria". It is a Latin word that refers to a woman's womb. It was once believed that a woman's volatile moods centered on disturbances within her womb. Nowadays, it means uncontrollable panic. I don't think the court panicked. It took months to conduct the investigations and with a new King and Queen taking the throne (William and Mary) the court waited for new government representatives to arrive. No one was ever burned at the stake, but people did believe in possession and in "The Walking Dead," the zombies, not the TV series. Those were frightening times and it hasn't improved much today. In the summer of 2014, two 12-year-old girls lured their friend into the woods and stabbed her 19 times. They believed that offering their friend up as a sacrifice would cause "Slender Man" to appear. (Their friend lived.... just barely.) "Slender Man" is a fictional Internet character whose image appears in unexpected places and is a little freaky-looking. When I was a kid I would see graffiti declaring that "Kilroy was here." It was usually accompanied by the drawing of a man with a long nose peering over a wall. I never thought of him as real, though.

FYI, as of this writing (December 2015) the trial has been postponed awaiting a decision on whether a 12-year-old can be tried as an adult, but the law in that state is clear.... in a murder case... yes. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12]

Waving the Bloody Shirt and Whitfield's Shirt Cuffs!

King William the 3rd of England and his wife, Queen Mary the 2nd have taken the Throne of England and chased out the former King James the 2nd. But King James was also King of Scotland and a number of clans rebelled in support of King James. Once King James escaped to France, the handwriting was on the wall. King William gave the Scots the opportunity to pledge loyalty to him and if they did he would grant them a pardon for rebelling. The one holdout was Alastair Maclain, chief of the MacDonald clan. Maclain intended to wait until the deadline and then submit. However, when he showed up, the official said he wasn't authorized to accept such an oath of loyalty. Maclain headed out to another town to declare his clan's loyalty to the King, but a snow storm delayed them well past the deadline. Nevertheless, Maclain had the impression that a little late was good enough. No one said otherwise. He gave his oath to the second official and then returned to Glenncoe. The Campbell clan was a long-time enemy of the MacDonalds and one morning, the Campbells rose early and massacred the MacDonalds. In the hands of the Campbells was a writ of permission from the King. Apparently, a little late was too late as far as the King was concerned. It was a brutal and bloody message. A few of the MacDonald clan wives managed to escape. They wanted revenge so they "waved the bloody shirts" of their dead husbands to rouse the clans to action. [13] [14]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It seems strange to wave the clothing of the dead to inspire the troops, but this was more common than one might think, or want to talk about, but we are going to talk about it anyway. When the American Colonies were burdened under the Stamp Act, they sent two people to England to protest: Benjamin Franklin and Reverend George Whitfield. When Whitfield returned, he made it clear that revolution was coming. Had he lived he would have been an inspirational leader but he died in 1770 and was buried in a crypt under his pulpit. Nevertheless, when the American Revolution got started, the men who remembered him, visited his crypt, opening it and took pieces of his clothing... apparently as inspirational relics. Many churches have holy relics and when George Whitfield had himself buried under his pulpit, he was making himself into a holy relic. This need for relics extends to the gift shop of the Freedom Tower in New York, the site where the Twin Towers once stood. Crass as it might seem, you know darn well that if they thought they could get away with it, the gift shop would be selling chunks of the Twin Towers there. I don't know why human beings have this need, but we do. We are more embarrassed by it nowadays, but the feeling remains. [15] [16]

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1692, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Sarah Good - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “Good was pregnant at the time of her arrest and gave birth to an infant in her cell in the jail in Ipswich. The infant died before her mother was hanged.”
  2. Giles Corey (Salem witch trials) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “He was subjected to pressing in an effort to force him to plead — the only example of such a sanction in American history — but instead died after two days of torture.”
  3. Peine forte et dure - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “Peine forte et dure (Law French for 'hard and forceful punishment') was a method of torture formerly used in the common law legal system, in which a defendant who refused to plead ('stood mute') would be subjected to having heavier and heavier stones placed upon his or her chest until a plea was entered, or the defendant died.”
  4. The Crucible Summary by Shmoop (Comedy). YouTube.com (Dec 11, 2013). Retrieved on 10 December 2015. “The broken-hearted Abigail takes her revenge. You might never want to break-up with someone again after this video, so make sure the next person is the right one!”
  5. Petitions relating to the trial of Rebecca Nurse for witchcraft. law2.umkc.edu (March 1, 1692). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “
    (H) what is it that you say when you goe muttering away from persons houses
    (g) if I must tell I will tell
    (H) doe tell us then
    (g) if I must tell I will tell, it is the commandments I may say my commandments I hope
    (H) what commandment is it”
  6. Who is Slender Man?. 20/20 - ABC News - YouTube (2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “The Slender Man (also referred to as Slenderman) is a fictional supernatural character that originated as an Internet meme created by Something Awful forums user Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. 'Victor Surge') when he posted two alleged photos of the creature in 2009.”
  7. Waukesha stabbing victim upgraded to fair condition. jsonline.com (June 4, 2014). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier have been charged with first-degree attempted homicide in the case and are being held on $500,000 bail in a secure detention facility in West Bend.”
  8. UPDATE: Appeals court to decide status of girls accused in stabbing. nbc15.com (September 30, 2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “A decision isn't expected until early next year on whether two 13-year-old Wisconsin girls should be tried as adults on charges of attempting to kill a classmate.”
  9. Anissa Weier's brother claims she loved Slender Man figure. Daily Mail Online (June 3, 2014). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “The elder brother of a school girl accused of brutally stabbing a classmate to pay homage to an eerie horror story character has said his little sister could not tell the difference between, 'dreams and reality'.”
  10. Hysteric - definition of hysteric (2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “from Latin hystericus literally: of the womb, from Greek husterikos, from hustera the womb; from the belief that hysteria in women originated in disorders of the womb”
  11. Lawyer of Slender Man Stabbing Suspect to Ask for Mental Evaluation. NBC News (June 11, 2014). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “Investigators say she was held down by one of the alleged attackers and brutally stabbed on her arms, legs and torso by the other girls in a wooded area of Waukesha.”
  12. Teen girls plead not guilty in Slender Man stabbing case. Fox News (An Associated Press story) (August 21, 2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “Investigators have said the two plotted for months to lure their friend Payton Leutner into the woods after a sleepover. They intended to kill her, police say, to win the favor of Slender Man, described as an unnaturally tall and thin man who wears a dark suit and has no visible facial features. Slender Man stories have proliferated online in recent years.”
  13. Words from History (PDF), Books on Words, Houghton Mifflin. “After the massacre, so goes the tale, those wives who survived displayed the bloody shirts of their stabbed husbands to arouse compassion and spur on vengeance. This may be the origin of “to wave the bloody shirt,” meaning to rouse, deliberately, a passion for revenge.” 
  14. Massacre of Glencoe - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “On 31 December 1691 MacIain travelled to Fort William to ask the governor, Colonel Hill, to administer the required oath, but Hill demurred on the grounds that he was not authorised to receive it. He instructed MacIain to proceed quickly to Inveraray to make his oath before Sir Colin Campbell, sheriff of Argyll. Hill gave Maclain a letter of protection and a letter to Sir Colin asking that he receive Maclain's oath since Maclain had come to him within the allotted time. Hill also reassured MacIain that no action would be taken against him without him having the opportunity to make his case before the King or the King's privy council.”
  15. George Whitefield - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “Whitefield died in the parsonage of Old South Presbyterian Church, Newburyport, Massachusetts, on September 30, 1770, and was buried, according to his wishes, in a crypt under the pulpit of this church. A bust of Whitefield is in the collection of the Gloucester City Museum & Art Gallery.”
  16. There are over 40,000 preachers ready to stand against the government. Glenn Beck (Jun 9, 2015). Retrieved on 11 December 2015. “So when he died in 1770, which was the end of the Great Awakening, at his death, he was buried at a church in Newbury Port, Massachusetts. When George Washington sent the first expedition out to start the American Revolution, it was to Quebec in 1775. That expedition going out of Massachusetts stopped at the church at Newbury Port, where Whitfield was buried. They went inside. They had a sermon. After the sermon, they lifted the top the sepulcher, and the soldiers all reached in and cut off a piece of Whitfield’s robe to take with them into battle. Because he’s the father of the military.”

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