Monday, July 23, 2007

on witchhunts

I was reading this post on Orcinus (and you don't have Orcinus in your daily reading rounds, you *really* should), and it got me thinking.

There are certain moments in history that we use as "lessons" for the modern day (whether one can actually use history in this way is not something I'm dealing with here). There's WWII and the need to stand up against evil, for instance. The siege of Troy, and the lesson of trusting enemies bearing gifts. There's the Holocaust and the "banality of evil."

One important historical lesson is that of witch-burning, in the Inquisition and in Salem, Massachusetts. There's a lesson there about hurting others in the name of superstition, about letting fear take hold of a society and allowing fear to cloud our reason, and about recognizing the good in others.

I wonder, though: if you actually believe in witches and sorcery and the need to combat them, with deadly force if necessary, what's the lesson of the Salem witchtrials?

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