MeToo = Salem Witch trials 2.0

Summary: #MeToo is America having another of our too-frequent bouts of mass hysteria. See the similarities between Salem and now, showing how little we learned from our mistakes in 1692.

“{History repeats itself} the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
— By Karl Marx in The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte.

Salem Witch Trial by William A. Crafts (1876)
Salem Witch Trial by William A. Crafts (1876).

That was then …

The Salem Witch trials were an episode of mass hysteria in colonial America, a paradigmatic example of out-of-control extremism, false accusations, by-products of social anxiety, and lapses in due process. We have had many since, most recently about Satanic Ritual Abuse. (and before that, the McCarthy-era commie hunts).

In January of 1692, Reverend Parris’ daughter Elizabeth (age 9) and niece Abigail Williams (11) started having fits. They screamed, threw things, made strange sounds and twisted themselves into strange positions. When questioned, the girls blamed three women for afflicting them: Tituba (the Parris’ slave, brought from Barbados), Sarah Good (a bad-tempered beggar), and Sarah Osborne (an elderly poor woman, scorned for her romantic involvement with an indentured servant). Other girls and young women began experiencing such behaviors, among them their friend (Ann Putnam, Jr., 11), her mother, her cousin (Mary Walcott), and the Putnams’ servant (Mercy Lewis).

Most of the accused belonged to the Putnam faction of Salem Village, foes of the Parris faction. As the Britannica says

“On May 27, 1692, after weeks of informal hearings accompanied by imprisonments, Sir William Phips, the governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, interceded and ordered the convening of an official Court of Oyer (“to hear”) and Terminer (“to decide”) in Salem Town. Presided over by William Stoughton, the colony’s lieutenant governor, the court consisted of seven judges. The accused were forced to defend themselves without aid of counsel. Most damning for them was the admission of “spectral evidence” – that is, claims by the victims that they had seen and been attacked (pinched, bitten, contorted) by spectres of the accused, whose forms Satan allegedly had assumed to work his evil.

“Even as the accused testified on the witness stand, the girls and young women who had accused them writhed, whimpered, and babbled in the gallery, seemingly providing evidence of the spectre’s demonic presence. …

“Many in the community who viewed the unfolding events as travesties remained mute, afraid that they would be punished for raising objections to the proceedings by being accused of witchcraft themselves.”

The girls’ actions mirrored those of their society, in extreme form. Then, as now, girls see (as the young often do) how to capitalize on the political needs of their leaders. Naturally they exercise this power for private gains. Being young teens, their goals are frivolous. Being children, their unsupervised dynamics resemble those of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Then as now, the guilt from the damage they do lies with the adults, not the children.

But in 1692 their trials at least followed the forms of their time. However nuts, they were not massive violations of their procedural norms – and ours. The accused were indicted by grand juries and tried in open court. Prosecutors had to prove their case “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The accused had a right to confront their accusers, and call witnesses in their own defense.

This is now, the eternal recurrence (because we do not learn)

Dennis and Keith Bailey

Flash forward to our time. Here is a report by Chadwick Moore (editor-in-chief) at Dangerous. It is unverified, but an easily believable tale of our time. It has the commonplace gross overreaction by teachers and police, and gang-like bullying by children. Also note the similarities to Salem in 1692.

“According to Keith and his family, it all started a week ago when Keith and his friends were sitting around his house talking about online anonymity. Keith decided to change his Snapchat avatar into a black Bitmoji character. One of his friends, a girl, immediately noticed and within minutes told him he needed to change it back. She said it was insensitive and racist for a white person to use a black character as an avatar. Keith, stubborn as any eighth grader, laughed it off and said he wasn’t going to change it.

“The next day at school the girl, according to Keith, then started telling everyone he was a racist. The harassment and accusations persisted for days. Other students began threatening to beat up Keith, saying they were going to jump him after school for being ‘racist.’ Then the girl and three other female classmates took it to the next level, appearing to take a page from the Feinstein handbook on how to destroy your political enemies, they appeared before the vice principal to accuse Keith of sexual harassment and assault stemming back to the summer.

“Keith had been friends with two of the girls. They attended youth group together at their church. ‘They hang out all the time. If he had been maliciously touching them since back in the summer, then they wouldn’t be going out of their way to walk by our house to go to school together. They go to youth group together, they carpool together. To any reasonable person, I’d think that these allegations would be obviously ridiculous, but apparently there aren’t any reasonable people anymore,’ Dennis says.

“Keith is an A and B student, plays football, takes advanced math classes, is well-liked by his teachers, and loves attending church. …

“{He} was summoned by administrators into the vice principal’s office at a Colorado Springs, Colo. middle school. He was confused and shaken. …For over two hours on Wednesday afternoon, alone in her office, the vice principal grilled Keith. ‘He said they kept asking him the same things over and over. They were just intimidating him, asking him the same thing in different ways, asking what he did to these girls and why he did it to them. ‘Why did you do it, what did you do, when did you do it,’ Keith’s father, Dennis Bailey, says. ‘They were vague the whole time. They never asked anything specific.’

Only after the two-hour inquisition did the school phone Keith’s parents to let them know he was being suspended. But before they did that, they called the police. By the time Keith’s father showed up at the school, his son was being cuffed and put into the back of a police car as a crowd of students stood by ogling the scene. …

“’He was crying when they arrested him. We’ve never been close to anything like this. We don’t know anybody criminal. It’s not something we ever thought we’d have to do deal with,’ Dennis, 32, who works as a plumber, says. ‘I think the whole political climate is what is motivating this. Anytime you disagree with somebody, now you accuse them of sexual assault and automatically they’re a victim and you’re a monster. It’s so highly publicized now, that’s just the answer.’

“After the arrest, Dennis stayed back at the school while his son was taken to the police station to be finger-printed and have his mug shot taken. But neither school administrators nor the police would tell Keith or his parents the exact nature of the allegations. He was charged with unlawful sexual conduct and harassment, which comes with a maximum sentence of two years in a juvenile detention center, and the family must wait until a court date on Oct. 27 to learn what, exactly, the girls claim Keith did to them. But a clue emerged the night before when one of the girls’ parents phoned the Baileys.

“‘Her mother gave us a call and said she just found out that Keith had been inappropriately touching her daughter and she just wanted to let us know. She said, “I know Keith is a good kid, maybe he just went down the wrong path.” She obviously believed her daughter. But she said it happened at the football game last week. The problem with that is, my wife was at the football game the whole time. My son was there with his girlfriend and my wife didn’t want him unattended, so she had eyes on him the whole time. My wife tells this girl’s mother, “that’s funny, I was there watching the whole time, he didn’t leave my sight and he was nowhere near your daughter,”’ Dennis recalls. ‘He was hanging out with his girlfriend, he wasn’t running around molesting other girls.’ The mother then changed the story, saying it must have been a different football game.

“The Baileys have met with a lawyer and started a legal defense fund for their son. After Keith’s five day school suspension is up, the school has the option to extend it another five days, or to expel Keith entirely. But after the humiliation Keith suffered, his parents are already looking to enroll him in a new school. The other students, they say, already assume he is guilty after watching him put in the back of a police car.

“‘It blew my mind. My son is not even mature enough to have done anything like that maliciously. I don’t think it’s in his realm of mental capacity at this point in his life. That they are demonizing him as some sort of malicious predator blows my mind. I don’t even think his mind is capable of being predatory,’ Dennis says.

‘The Crucible’-like scenario has the Bailey’s reeling. ‘We are all on edge. I’m furious personally. I’m furious at these kids, and at their parents for allowing them to do something like this. I’m furious at the school for not even seeming like they are giving him a chance to defend himself, and the way they tried to intimidate him. It seems really shady how they wouldn’t call us until two hours after they started interrogating him,’ Dennis says.

“He sees the whole terrifying situation as trickling down from the way all the adults on television appear to be treating each other these days. ‘What 13 year old girl doesn’t love drama? I imagine that’s all they see it as. Let’s stir up some drama. What they don’t realize is now he is facing criminal charges. I hope these girls did this without truly understanding the repercussions of their actions. I think the #metoo thing has gotten played out so much, that they see it as a way to get what they want. It’s a quick way to demonize somebody. I hope they didn’t foresee what the actual ramifications would be.'”

This closely resembles episodes from past mass hysterias. Young girls picking on peers outside the in-group, with heterodox opinions. Credulous authorities grossly overreacting.

“History never repeats itself but it rhymes.”
— An aphorism of unknown origin, falsely attributed to Mark Twain (see Quote Investigator).

Hysteria
Do Not Think!

How did it end?

The governor’s wife, Lady Mary Phips, was “called out upon” (accused). The governor immediately withdrew support for the trials, and began the process of ending them.

Similarly, the #MeHysteria is fun for the Left. But eventually the accusations will burn out of control, and “people of name” will be accused. The successfully protected Bill Clinton from the accusations of sexual assault, and Hillary from accusations of abetting his crimes. I doubt they can do so again, in this climate. I believe they will instead call off the campaign.

Results of the hysteria

“More than once, it has been said that the Salem witchcraft {trial} was the rock on which the theocracy shattered.”
— By George Lincoln Burr (Editor) in Narratives of the New England Witchcraft Cases (1914).

We can only guess at the results of the last bout of mass hysteria in America. Perhaps MeToo will be the peak of the radical feminism movement, as the Salem Witch Trials were for the New England theocracy.

That’s the small outcome. MeToo might radicalize large numbers of young men, as they realize that our society’s goals are not theirs. And that America considers them fodder, to be burned for greater goals.

How common are false accusations of sexual misbehavior and crimes?

It is hidden knowledge (because it ruins the narrative), but false rape accusations are common. So how much more common are false claims the less-serious forms of sexual misbehavior that comprise much of the MeToo movement? Probably much more common, but it will be a long time until reliable research delivers answers.

Other posts in this series

  1. MeToo = Salem Witch trials 2.0 — see the similarities.
  2. Hidden knowledge: false rape accusations are common.
  3. The astounding story of false rape accusations in England.

For More Information

Hat tip on the Huffington tweet to Dalrock, from this typically insightful post: Sisters aren’t about to do it for themselves.

Ideas! For shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about society and gender issuesabout feminism, about sexual assaultabout rape, about MeToo, and especially these…

  1. Weaponizing claims of sexual harassment for political gain.
  2. Worrying while the harassment fires burn out of control.
  3. Second thoughts about romance in the #MeToo age.
  4. The amazing numbers behind the #MeToo movement!
  5. News from the front lines as the meToo madness spreads.
  6. Look beyond the stories to see how we define harassment.
  7. MeToo discovers that there is always a counter-revolution.
Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women
Available at Amazon.

A counterpoint to the Feminist Revolution

Well worth reading: Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women (1995). From the publisher…

“Philosophy professor Christina Sommers has exposed a disturbing development: how a group of zealots, claiming to speak for all women, are promoting a dangerous new agenda that threatens our most cherished ideals and sets women against men in all spheres of life. In case after case, Sommers shows how these extremists have propped up their arguments with highly questionable but well-funded research, presenting inflammatory and often inaccurate information and stifling any semblance of free and open scrutiny.

“Trumpeted as orthodoxy, the resulting ‘findings’ on everything from rape to domestic abuse to economic bias to the supposed crisis in girls’ self-esteem perpetuate a view of women as victims of the ‘patriarchy’.

“Moreover, these arguments and the supposed facts on which they are based have had enormous influence beyond the academy, where they have shaken the foundations of our educational, scientific, and legal institutions and have fostered resentment and alienation in our private lives. Despite its current dominance, Sommers maintains, such a breed of feminism is at odds with the real aspirations and values of most American women and undermines the cause of true equality. Who Stole Feminism? is a call to arms that will enrage or inspire, but cannot be ignored.”

 

23 thoughts on “MeToo = Salem Witch trials 2.0

    1. I could only find rehashes of the same story, bad plagiarism at that.

      However there is a fund me site.

      Being a minor, there will be minimum public information by law.

      Larry could you find out if this story is true and not a scam? It is beyond my www abilities.

    2. John,

      I looked but was unable to find anything. Hence I described this as “unverified.”

      See my comment to Zander above.

    3. 7ander,

      Me too. As I said, this is “unverified.” All we know is that this story is similar to the many other (validated) stories of school and police over-reaction with children, and plausible in its description of gang dynamics.

      Unfortunately, there is no institutional resource that checks such websites for accuracy. All we have are Leftists screaming that conservative websites are all wrong, and vice versa.

  1. in other relevant news: Justice is rarely this poetic.

    Asia Argento After the Weinstein scandal in 2017, she became a leader of the “#MeToo” women’s rights movement.

    Asia Argento Threatens Rose McGowan With Legal Action” in Variety. Excerpt:

    “Asia Argento is threatening legal action against Rose McGowan. On Twitter, Argento gave McGowan 24 hours to retract claims she made detailing how she discovered that Argento had reportedly paid off actor Jimmy Bennett, who alleges the actress assaulted him when he was 17 years old. …McGowan said that her partner, told her that Argento said she had slept with Bennett when he was underage and that she had been receiving unsolicited nude photos of Bennett since he was 12 years old.”

    Asia Argento, a #MeToo Leader, Made a Deal With Her Own Accuser” in the NYT, 19 August 2018. Opening:

    “The Italian actress and director Asia Argento was among the first women in the movie business to publicly accuse the producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. She became a leading figure in the #MeToo movement. …

    “But in the months that followed her revelations about Mr. Weinstein last October, Ms. Argento quietly arranged to pay $380,000 to her own accuser: Jimmy Bennett, a young actor and rock musician who said she had sexually assaulted him in a California hotel room years earlier, when he was only two months past his 17th birthday. She was 37. The age of consent in California is 18. That claim and the subsequent arrangement for payments are laid out in documents between lawyers for Ms. Argento and Mr. Bennett, a former child actor who once played her son in a movie.

    “The documents, which were sent to The New York Times through encrypted email by an unidentified party, include a selfie dated May 9, 2013, of the two lying in bed. As part of the agreement, Mr. Bennett, who is now 22, gave the photograph and its copyright to Ms. Argento, now 42. Three people familiar with the case said the documents were authentic.”

    Asia Argento called actor who accused her of sexual assault ‘my son, my love’ on Instagram” – Yahoo News, 20 August.

    Asia Argento, after initially denying ever having sex with this kid, now flips the script and says, No, he raped ME!Asia Argento, facing sheriff’s investigation, now says teenage actor sexually attacked her” in the LAT, 5 September 2018.

    She is one of many shitheads — way too many shitheads — who never shuts the hell up about “privilege” yet was born reeking of it.

    1. Asta,

      That is a great story. Thanks for posting it. I added larger excerpts to your comment, with citations for the story — to get more attention to it.

  2. FM wrote:

    “But eventually the accusations will burn out of control, and “people of name” will be accused. The successfully protected Bill Clinton from the accusations of sexual assault, and Hillary from accusations of abetting his crimes. I doubt they can do so again, in this climate. I believe they will instead cal off the campaign.”

    I think it’s interesting to observe that Al Franken’s враг народа-ification did *not* cause the sort of backlash you envision. I guess he wasn’t important enough, but Serious People had been floating him as a VP pick (hence potential successor) for Hillary in 2016.

    1. SF Licht,

      “Al Franken’s враг народа-ification did *not* cause the sort of backlash you envision.”

      Because the MeToo accusations have not yet “burned out of control.” Also because Al Franken is (despite leftists’ dream of having him as Hillary’s VP) not a major national figure.

  3. I can personally relate to this. Now a senior, I remember a visit, when I was a teenager to my uncle’s house about 2½ hours away by car. After greeting my aunt and uncle, I went with my female cousins to their backyard where we talked for a short while and then went inside for dinner. The next morning the atmosphere was ice cold and none of the visitors knew why. Finally, after we left, I found out from my grandmother that the girls had accused me of sexually molesting them. Relations were icy for a number of years, but I invited my aunt and uncle anyway to my wedding. They came and relations were friendly. Obviously, at some point, my cousins must have told the truth.

    So I certainly can sympathize with men and boys being falsely accused of the same crime.

  4. This is a verified story about #MeeToo, which should suffice to prove the point that it is a witchhunt:

    Ian Buruma, the former editor-in-chief of the New York Review of Books who was forced out of the job on Wednesday amid a row over his editorial judgment relating to #MeToo, has complained of being “publicly pilloried” and “convicted on Twitter”.

    Ex-New York Review of Books editor: I was ‘convicted on Twitter’ over essay” in The Guardian — “Publication remains silent over rift with Ian Buruma, who faced criticism over his editorial decisions on #MeToo movement.”
    .
    .
    Ed note: the essay in the NYRB that got him ejected was “Reflections from a Hashtag” by Jian Ghomeshi in the 11 October 2018 issue. The author was accused, and found innocent of all charges.

    1. Duncan,

      Thanks for mentioning that! I added a fuller cite, with a link to the essay that got him ejected (for being insufficiently Leftist).

      I’ve read the NYRB for many years, and have cited scores of their articles on the FM website. But in the past year it has become quite doctrinaire Leftist (also with frequent factual errors, quite unusual before). And imo, much less interesting. I flip thru it without reading much.

    2. Duncan,

      I read the two interviews with Buruma at N (mentioned in The Guardian article): after the shunning, before (when he was in a state of grace). They’re even more interesting. I find it difficult to have much sympathy for him, as I get the impression that he has approved of such treatment when inflicted on those deserving of it — conservatives. It is unjust when done to one of the elect — a good leftist, like him.

      He had an errant impulse to publish something from someone designated as doubleplusungood. He should have known how his fellow leftists would react. After all, this is exactly what many conservatives have experienced.

      ‘They go far, they are digging through everything I have ever written for proof that I hate women. I don’t read it all, because I don’t want to get depressed, but I do hear about it.’ {From the second interview}

      Also see this from the long interview. He knows that the unpeople are not allowed to have their stories told.

      Q: “Will the works of right-wing propagandists such as Jordan Peterson and Steve Bannon be discussed in The New York Review of Books?”

      A: “In any case, we make room for stories about the breeding ground of such ideas. You must always weigh up what is worthwhile and what is not. We wrote online about Jordan Peterson. And this week the documentary was mentioned by Dinesh d’Souza at the editorial office. His movie Death of a Nation: Can We Save America a Second Time? there is vigorous propaganda that goes on as a cake for some Republicans. According to him, the Democrats are the Nazis of this time. Do you have to pay attention to that? You can bring it up in a critical article, but you should not make it more important than it is, namely a totally unsuccessful film and a nonsense story.”

  5. I think what amazes me is how we men just hand em the metaphorical knife they use to cut our throats. This is no different than all the other PC hysteria. Short term gain (if any) for long term damage and political and social suicide.

    1. Gute,

      Your comment goes to the heart of this: the meToo hysteria (like feminism in general) requires men’s assent (as the ancient rule says, silence means assent). If at some point in the future, a significant fraction of men believe that society is rigged against them — then we will have serious social turmoil.

      Women suffragettes made ample use of violence to get the vote. If arouse, women will re-learn about men’s ability to use violence. It won’t be pretty.

      To learn about that lost history, see “Suffragettes, violence and militancy” by Fern Riddell at the British Library, 6 Feb 2018.

    2. Well said Larry about potential blowback. Women use men to keep other men “in line”. They have no idea what could be coming. All the bad ass girl talk, female MMA fighters, women beating up men on TV utopia will hit reality. Not that either one of us condones it we just recognize it.

    3. Gute,

      But there is no organizing basis for opposition to feminism. As Dalrock has documented, the Christian churches are all thoroughly feminist. Most of our institutions are as well. Despite macho libertarians individualist nonsense, individual men cannot opposite such a massive and now victorious movement.

      There is only one institution able to stand against them.

      Conversions to Islam will reshape the West.

  6. Larry,

    American Christian churches, Christian churches in American that handed control over or what? Because the word all is important in this context.

    1. Der Maiden,

      It was a general statement: Christian churches in America have become disciples of feminism. Dalrock looks at conservative protestant churches, among the most conservative in America — and in general deeply feminist. He shows how they radically reinterpret the New Testament to become PC (quite a feat, considering how deeply patriarchal it is).

      The Protestant churches are quite fragmented, so we can only speak in general (i.e., there is wide variation among them). Some, such as the Episcopalian and Quakers, converted to leftism long ago. Seeing how many of the evangelicals have converted is quite a shock.

      “American Christian churches”

      Yes. Here, as the masthead says, the assumption is that we’re discussing American society.

      “Christian churches in American that handed control over or what? ”

      I don’t know what that means.

  7. ““Christian churches in American that handed control over or what?”

    I am referring to Roman Catholic churches and Eastern Orthodox churches, I would include other Christian faiths but I am keeping it simple, where local parish councils or the bishops succumb to outside liberal/socialistic pressure to relax on enforcing little things in church doctrines till the local church is tainted with feminism or worse.

    1. Der Maiden,

      This is outside of my area of knowledge, but my impression is that there was little external pressure applied to US churches. Rather, their ordained leaders converted to feminism during the past two generations.

  8. False accusations are more common than anyone would have us believe. I am writing a novel based on true events that reflects this fact. Also, I just read an article of a Maine woman who was a teacher falsely accused of sex with a student. She has since been acquitted, yet she cannot find better work now than as a waitress for all the negativity surrounding her life. It happens and I’m writing about it. I would be eager to speak with anyone interested in this topic.

    1. Larry,

      I saw that article first. Well written and informative. I have a situation where the accused had been charged but living his life for going on four years. Yet the accusation continued to haunt his living. In light of the #MeToo movement, when the prosecution offered what seemed to be a very good plea deal, he took it. His logic: regardless of the evidence showing his innocence, we live in a very “better safe than sorry” time. He didn’t want to put the fate of his outcome in the hands of strangers who quite possibly could be of this belief. Turns out the plea deal was less than desirable on the back end, and he’s now fighting for an appeal. If it’s granted, he’ll likely fight for a bench trial.

      Anyhow, my point is that the simple accusation in today’s society can ruin people, and it’s worse that we have a “believe her first” mentality when the accused ultimately becomes a victim. I was told by another person following the same case I am that she would rather have 100 innocent men’s lives ruined than for one actual assaulter to go free. She said it’s just something men should expect now, and that, inside, all men need to reevaluate themselves anyhow. I doubt she is the Mind of the Majority, but her one opinion is no less disturbing.

      Side note: It’s interesting that you mention this as Salem 2.0. I am writing my novel in the same vein as the Salem Witch Trials because a local (female) therapist had made a comment to me that she believes these (often false) sexual abuse accusations are much the same.

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