The New York Times profiles Debra and Addie Avery, a mother and daughter who made the news recently for their quest to have Connecticut exonerate the men and women convicted of witchcraft during the 17th century. The article tells how the Averys, who are descended from convicted witch Mary Sanford, were met with an usual amount of hostility over what seemed to be a simple matter.
What passed for due process back then.
“Soon, the Averys’ lobbying attracted the support of other descendants of those who were accused. But critics spoke out, too, lashing out on Internet blogs. Ms. Avery was shaken to read the harsh comments, which reminded her of the mob frenzy that her ancestor faced. ‘The world has changed, but people haven’t,’ she said. Addie said she got a new education when she decided to publicly defend her ancestor. To her mother’s amazement, the attacks didn’t bother the suddenly thick-skinned teenager. ‘There are worse things than mockery,’ Addie said. ‘Now, I’m not afraid to stand up when I see something wrong.'” A syndicated column by Warner Todd Houston (with the oh-so-clever title of “Take Your Apology And…”) seems to encapsulate the kind of “harsh comments” received by the Averys. “We have a busy body mother and wife who is wasting the time of everyone around her over her faux outrage about something that happened in a long lost age … This is the same sort of faux outrage we see from black Americans who want “apologies” or even reparations for slavery … There ain’t any witches being persecuted by the state in 2008 … You should apologize for wasting our time and the tax money used to fund the government that wasted its time on your silly resolution. And you should apologize for forcing us all for taking time away from important matters.” Despite the idealogical resistance to exonerating innocent people, a watered-down resolution, which merely calls the judgments “shocking”, and that no stigma should be attached to their descendants was introduced. It failed to win passage. An outcome that shouldn’t be very surprising, since lawmakers never took this resolution seriously, as evidenced by transcripts from the resolution hearings on the matter. “REP. LAWLOR: You know … this morning, I remembered this great scene from Monty Python, where they grabbed the witch. And if you Google it, if you Google “Monty Python witch trial,” you get to see that scene. There’s– DEBRA AVERY: Yes, about the wood and how wood floats, and, yeah, I’m very familiar with that. REP. LAWLOR: But as funny as it is, it gives you a sense of, you know, looking back, how outrageous it really was because, it’s something.” I’d state that this may be the first time Monty Python has been referenced in a resolution hearing, but I’m sure I would be wrong. Is it important to exonerate people accused of witchcraft 300 years ago? While the Averys aren’t Pagan (that I know of), the issue has become a somewhat contentious one within the modern Pagan community. Some modern Witches feel a sort of spiritual kinship with those persecuted as “witches” hundreds of years ago (a sentiment that has also been attached to modern “witch-trial” victims), others assert that since these men and women weren’t practicing any sort of faith that we would now call Paganism, we should feel no special connection to these “witches” (other than sympathy for the lack of real justice given to them). No matter where one comes down on the issue, it is strange how much hostility and scorn can be released over a resolution that would ultimately cost taxpayers little, and in no way negatively affect any-one’s current lifestyle. Is it the idea of an apology? That it involves “witchcraft”? Whatever the reason, perhaps with real-live witch-killings and persecutions happening right now in places like Africa, India, and Saudi Arabia it wouldn’t be such a bad idea to definitively exclaim that what we did then was barbaric and wrong. That these trials were the mistakes of a fearful and superstitious populace, and the men and women convicted were innocent of the supernatural crimes they were accused of. If we cling to their convictions in this enlightened age, what sort of message does that send to governments and communities who are repeating our mistakes?
Jason Pitzl-Waters http://www.blogger.com/profile/03798973716341545440
And, in, 1963 – New Forest, Hampshire, England. A ‘witch’ was compelled to leave her house because her neighbours genuinely believed in her powers. All of them believed, as implicitly as they believed in their Faith, that the Powers of Darkness were still physically active in the world. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26422359/
And, in 2008 – Church Schools and Faith Schools and in Law (compulsory daily worship: a draconian/discriminatory – opt out clause) in the UK. We still teach children that this may still be so!!! We make a big fuss over Race Hate Crime, but then encourage the ridiculousness (befog or muddle – children or vulnerable) of the above!!!
St Osmund’s School, Dorchester. Dorset. Admission Interview for a place at the School; besides the form – found in photos on this blog, “What does your child think of ‘religion'”? And, “Where does your other child go to school (it looks like you live in a ‘nice’ house, from you address)”? I would say, this is ‘flat out’ discrimination, maybe, even, as bad as that of the ‘Stasi’ State Police in East Germany’s past. I would also claim, that this is an incredibly bad example for our children, but at least we all – now – fully know and realise where bigotry, and discrimination, can so easily begin! We can fully inform our children, if not already informed – by being actually at this interview, and use it as a classic example of our modern day ‘two faced’ (un-self aware or not self-aware adults, which would be bad enough in our children, if they cannot help it) authorities in operation.http://www.stosmunds.dorset.sch.uk/index.htm
Schools breaking ‘admissions law’ (should they have to be told everything? As if, they are the little children, and with all the stress that they have caused parents, esp – from the so called ‘moral and religious communities’ involved with schooling in the UK) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7661554.stm (updated 10/2/2009) Harrow Council – “A mother has pleaded not guilty to lying about her address to gain a place for her five-year-old son at a popular infant school” http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8073532.stm
And, in the future – Modern Day ‘Witchcraft’, of, and: inside: the ‘class divide’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7387997.stm
“Is there more to life than confusion, panic, sex, and then nothing”? Julian Schnabel.
Melvyn Bragg and Gore Vidal http://www.a2mediagroup.com/?c=176&a=22625 “All six year olds are interesting; there aren’t any sixteen year olds that are interesting – they have lost their curiosity due to the education system”.
I would suggest, if we can, and within all our schools: eliminate ‘gently’ most of the inherent (UK) and the pretty ghastly ‘confusion’ element (above), by the introduction of ‘The Proper Structuralized View of the World’ or ‘The Structural World View’ as has been suggested by Professor Richard Dawkins. We may find this will go a long way to solving many of the problems our children and young adults face in today’s world of ‘mass media’ (celebrity worship) and ‘superstition’ (the road to self-harming for children and young adults).
Schools ‘not closing social gap’. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7048753.stm
Witchcraft in Africa http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2008/06/2008625121448147938.html
Letter(s ) – NewScientist. “A.C.Grayling perpetuates the myth that astronomers were burned at the stake by the Catholic Church”.
A.C.Grayling replies: “Start with the burning at the stake of Cecco d’Ascoli in Florence 1327 and proceed through the centuries to the “cleaning-up” of the University of Salamanca 16th century by the Suprema, ‘Council of the Supreme and General Inquisition’. A list of trial names can be compiled from the records that survive”.