UNBOUND

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Show Notes - Episode 34

October 11, 2020

Sources:
https://historyofmassachusetts.org/salem-witch-trials-victims/

https://www.legendsofamerica.com/ma-putnam/

https://sites.google.com/a/email.cpcc.edu/the-salem-witch-trials/timeline

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Proctor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giles_Corey

http://88617866nhd.weebly.com/the-afflicted-girls.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Good

https://www.salemweb.com/memorial/chronology.php

 

The Salem witch trials were primarily about two things: fear and opportunism

 

The Timeline

 

1692

January 20 - Elizabeth Parris (9) Abigail Williams (11) began exhibiting “strange behaviors” that included shouting blasphemies, seizures, and going in and out of trance-like states. Within a very short window, several other girls began presenting with similar behaviors. They would come to be part of a dubious sorority monikered “The Afflicted Girls.”

 

So who were the afflicted girls of Salem?

 

All of the Afflicted Girls:
http://88617866nhd.weebly.com/the-afflicted-girls.html reblogged from

http://staging.salem.lib.virginia.edu (Defunct)

 

Childhood trauma played a big role in which of the girls in the village would be deemed “afflicted.”

Sarah Churchill

Accused George Jacobs whom it was later discovered had a history of abusing her

Elizabeth Hubbard:

"Elizabeth Hubbard was seventeen in the spring of 1692 when she and three other girls started accusing people of witchcraft. Like many of the other "afflicted" girls in Salem Village, she was an orphan and lived with her great-aunt and uncle, Dr. William Giggs. Elizabeth played an active role throughout the trials as one of the leading accusers. Her afflictions, fits, trances and testimony all contributed to the conviction and execution of many of the nineteen executed innocent people."

 

Mercy Lewis:

"Mercy Lewis Born in Falmouth, Maine in 1675, Mercy Lewis lost both her parents to Indian attacks and became an orphan at a young age. Mercy herself became one of the most consistent and vocal accusers during the 1692 witchcraft trials in Salem.” By all accounts, she was a trauma victim and succumbed to PTSD.

Elizabeth Parris:

"At nine years old, Elizabeth Parris, daughter of Salem Village minister Rev. Samuel Parris, played a key role in the beginnings of the witchcraft trials. Curious to know her future marital status, Elizabeth, together with her cousin Abigail Williams, cautiously experimented with fortune telling. Her behavior led to the first three accusations of so-called witches. Trying to shield the involvement of his immediate family, the Rev. Samuel Parris, took Abigail from home and placed her in the home of Stephen Sewall in Salem. She could not have predicted that these innocent attempts at predicting the future would lead to the largest and most deadly witch-hunt in American history."

Ann Putnam Jr.:

"Ann Putnam, Jr. played a crucial role in the witchcraft trials of 1692. She was twelve years old at the time, and she was one of the first to join Betty Parris and Abigail Williams as an "afflicted child." Though she is easily despised for her role as one of the most persistent accusers in the trials, it is important to view her in the context of her socially prominent family. Her mother was also “afflicted,” and her father and many other Putnams gave testimony against the accused during the trials. When attempting to make a judgment on Ann, it is important to remember that she was very young and impressionable and thus easily influenced by her parents and other adults. Fourteen years later she admitted that she had lied, deluded by the Devil."

Mary Warren

Known most for her accusation of John and Elizabeth Proctor on the heels of her own confession. If you want to believe Arthur Miller, she and John Proctor had a thing for each-other but history is a little vague on that line.

Mary Walcott

Mary Walcott, the daughter of Jonathan Walcott, commander of the Village militia and the brother-in-law of Thomas Putnam, was a key accuser in the Salem Witch Trials. Walcott was closely related to the Putnam family; her aunt was Ann Putnam,Sr. and her cousin was Ann Putnam, Jr.

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams was one of the main accusers in the Salem Witch trials. The 11-year-old niece of Reverend Samuel Parris showed signs of fits and hysterics in mid-January 1692. She and her 9-year-old cousin Betty were the first two afflicted girls in Salem Village. Abigail gave formal testimony at 7 cases, and she was involved in as many as 17 capital cases."

Susanna Sheldon

Sarah Bibber

Elizabeth Booth

 

Mid-February – Unable to find an actual cause, attending “physicians” settle on a diagnosis of Satanic influence for what was wrong with the girls.

Late February – Rev. Samuel Parris makes a call for fasting and prayer to rid the town of the evil that had settled there. In an effort to expose Salem's "witches", John Indian took it upon himself, with the help of Mary Sibley, to make a “witch cake” that included, among other things, some of the afflicted girls' urine. The house servant Tituba was tasked with doing the actual baking. The idea was that the cake would reveal who the witches were, but of course it didn't work. So they fought witchcraft with witchcraft but no one seemed to mind in this instance.

The girls name three women as sources for their affliction out of fear and under duress. They included Tituba (house servant with clear ties to Caribbean witchcraft), Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne.

Osborne and Good maintain innocence. Tituba was more outspoken and said that she often saw the devil in the form of a pig and sometimes a dog. She also fanned the flames of panic by testifying to a network of witches having infiltrated Salem.

On March 1, Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne are examined by Magistrates John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin. Only Tituba confessed to practicing witchcraft.

Over the next few weeks, things began to snowball and true hysteria began to grow. Other townspeople began coming forward testifying that they had also suffered harm or were having hallucinations that involved spectral manifestations of some of the other people in the community.

Fear spread like wildfire among the populace, but some would also figure out ways to capitalize on the panic.

Here's a brief synopsis of the events of the next few months:

March 12 - Martha Corey is accused of witchcraft... by her husband!

March 19 - Rebecca Nurse is accused

March 21 - Martha Corey examined before Hathorne and Corwin.

March 24 - Rebecca Nurse examined before the Magistrates

March 28 - Elizabeth Proctor is accused of witchcraft

April 3 - Sarah Cloyce, sister of Rebecca Nurse is accused

April 11- Elizabeth Proctor and Sarah Cloyce are examined not just before the magistrates, but also Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth, and Captain Samuel Sewall. John Proctor is also accused and imprisoned as a result of the examination

April 19 - Abigail Hobbs, Giles Corey, Bridget Bishop, and Mary Warren are all examined. Abigail Hobbs confesses under duress.

April 22 - A large group of settlers including Nehemiah Abbott, Edward and Sarah Bishop, William and Deliverance Hobbs, Mary Black, Mary Easty, Mary English, and Sarah Wildes, are all examined before Hathorne and Corwin. Nehemiah Abbott is cleared. The rest are held to await trial.

May 2 - Sarah Morey, Dorcas Hoar, Susannah Martin, and Lydia Dustin are all examined by Hathorne and Corwin.

May 4 - George Burroughs is arrested in Wells, Maine.

May 9 - Burroughs is examined by the growing tribunal of Hathorne, Corwin, Sewall, and Stoughton, along with Sarah Churchill, one of the “afflicted girls.”

May 10 - George Jacobs, Sr. and his granddaughter Margaret are examined. Margaret confesses and implicates her grandfather as well as George Burroughs. It's on this day that Sarah Osborne would die in prison in Boston.

Margaret Jacobs: "... They told me if I would not confess I should be put down into the dungeon and would be hanged, but if I would confess I should save my life."

May 14 - Sir William Phips arrives from England as colonial governor of Massachusetts.

May 18 - Mary Easty is released but quickly re-arrested as a result of public outcry

May 27 - Governor Phips sets up the Court of Oyer and Terminer with the sole purpose of trying witchcraft cases. The court was benched by a panel of magistrates:

Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton

Bartholomew Gedney

Nathaniel Saltonstall

Peter Sergeant

W. S. Winthrop

Samuel Sewall

John Richards

John Hathorne

Jonathan Corwin

Judgments were based on intangible “proofs” that all fell under the cover of “spectral evidence.” Spectral evidence included things like a direct confession, “witchmarks” (moles – they had moles) and the imaginations of the “afflicted girls.” It also included alleged Satanic manifestations that took on the likenesses of townspeople or directly possessed people to do the devil's bid.

May 31 - Martha Carrier, Wilmott Redd, John Alden, Elizabeth Howe, and Phillip English are all examined

June 2 - Initial session of the Court of Oyer and Terminer. Bridget Bishop is first to be convicted and sentenced to death

June 10 - Bridget Bishop is hanged in Salem, making her the first official victim of the Salem witch trials. After her execution, accusations of witchcraft in Salem escalated.

June 29-30 - Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Wildes, Susannah Martin, Elizabeth Howe and Sarah Good are tried and sentenced to death

Dorothy Good

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothy_Good

Dorothy Good was the daughter of William and Sarah Good. Dorothy was accused along with her mother at the age of FOUR. “She was interrogated by the local magistrates, confessed to being a witch and purportedly claimed she had seen her mother consorting with the devil. Mary Walcott and Ann Putnam Jr. claimed the child was deranged and repeatedly bit them as if she were an animal. [She] received a brief hearing in which the accusers repeatedly complained of bites on their arms. She was sent to jail, becoming, at age five, the youngest person to be jailed during the Salem witch trials. Two days later, she was visited by Salem officials. She claimed she owned a snake given to her by her mother that talked to her and sucked blood from her finger. The officials took this to mean it was her "familiar", which is defined as a witch's spiritual servant in human form. Dorothy was in custody from March 24, 1692, until she was released on bond for £50 on December 10, 1692. She was never indicted or tried.”

Mid-July - Joseph Ballard of Andover enlists the aid of the afflicted girls and sparked the lesser-known, but definitely significant Andover witch hunt. He had become convinced that witches were responsible for various issues, problems, and strokes of bad luck that he had suffered.

July 19

Rebecca Nurse, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin, Sarah Wildes, and Sarah Good are all executed on the darkest day of the Salem witch hysteria. This, I think, is where the powers that be really developed a bloodlust and went on the warpath.

August 2-6 – Six more people are tried and convicted: George Jacobs, Sr., George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, John Willard , and John and Elizabeth Proctor

August 19 - George Jacobs, Sr., George Burroughs, Martha Carrier, John Willard, and John Proctor are hanged on Gallows Hill.

September 9 - Martha Corey, Alice Parker, Mary Easty, Ann Pudeator, Mary Bradbury and Dorcas Hoar are tried and sentenced to death

September 17 - Margaret Scott, Samuel Wardwell, Wilmott Redd, Mary Parker, Rebecca Eames, Abigail Faulkner, Ann Foster, Mary Lacy, and Abigail Hobbs are tried and sentenced to death

September 19 - Giles Corey is pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea, but there is more to his story

September 21 - Dorcas Hoar confesses and her execution is delayed

September 22 - Martha Corey, Mary Easty, Margaret Scott, Alice Parker, Wilmott Redd, Ann Pudeator, Mary Parker, and Samuel Wardwell are all hanged.

Early October - After 20 people are executed in the Salem witch hunt, Thomas Brattle writes a letter decrying the trials. His words gain the attention of Governor Phips, who then deems spectral evidence as inadmissible and no longer allowed as part of any case in the witch trials

October 29 - Governor Phips dissolves the Court of Oyer and Terminer recognizing its abyssmal failure

November 25 - The General Court of the colony creates the Superior Court and tasks it with trying the remaining witchcraft cases. These remaining cases would be heard in in May of 1693. There were zero convictions in this string of trials.


The Putnams: America's first crime family

The Putnam Family – Affluent by puritan standards, at least enough so to be able to make personal loans and control other aspects of the local economy. They were committed, however, to living a puritan lifestyle, but having more money than average and understanding the power that comes with being a “have” over a “have not” can make a person (or family) very protective of their interests.

The Putnams and the Porters – The porters had a more capitalistic view of life than most puritans. Their wealth increased to to the point where they had a lot of control over the local economy and traditionalists like the Putnams started losing ground.

It would be the Putnams who would be ultimately responsible for no small number of the incidents revolving around the Salem witch trials. They had a lot of grudges to settle. The Putnams, along with other less influential people in Salem, decided to capitalize on the panic and use accusations of witchcraft to settle personal disputes.

Rebecca Nurse – Rebecca and Francis Nurse had a long-standing feud with the Putnam family over land boundaries. The Putnams were Rebecca's primary accusers and when the jury found her not guilty, the “afflicted girls” threw a fit. The jury reconsidered and found Rebecca Nurse guilty. She was executed on July 19, 1692. Sounds a bit co-conspiratorial, does it not?

Sara Wildes – Married John Wildes in 1663. She had a bit of a reputation and had even been accused of heinous crimes like consensual sex out of wedlock and... wearing a silk scarf. John Gould and Mary Gould Reddington were the children of Wilde's deceased first wife and never liked Sara Wildes. So what did they do? They quite literally put a contract out on her and enlisted the aid of what was really starting to look like America's first Mafia family: The Vengeful Putnams of Salem Village to take her down in court.

That's right... they conspired with the Putnams to accuse Sara Wildes of witchcraft. The families were close friends and the Putnams used their influence to send another innocent person (at least in the eyes of reason) to the gallows. This one actually snowballed a bit.

John Wildes had a daughter from a previous marriage and she along with her husband (Sarah and Edward Bishop), were arrested as well, along with John’s other daughter, Phoebe Wildes. But it would be Sarah who would meet her untimely end on July 19, 1692 after a trial that was literally minutes long.

Bridget Bishop, the first person executed during the hysteria, also had a tainted reputation. The lesson learned here is that if you were female and liked sex but didn't like the idea of settling down, you would probably not survive the Salem witch trials.

Rev. George Burroughs – Became the new minister in Salem Village in 1680. There was so much disagreement among the villagers as to who actually wanted him there, he didn't always get paid his salary. This forced him to take out a few loans along the way and who do you think he borrowed money from one time too often? You guessed it – the Putnams!

The Putnam family sued Burroughs for unpaid debts and once they figured out that you really can't draw blood from a stone, they did what they did best: they accused him of witchcraft and since he already had a tidy quorum of villagers who disliked him, it wasn't difficult cinching a conviction. He had already lit out of town because they stopped paying him altogether so these people followed him to MAINE and dragged him back to Salem for trial. He was convicted and hanged on August 19, 1692.

John Willard - Deputy constable in Salem during the period of the Salem Witch Trials and one of the first to speak against the witch trials. It was part of his responsibility to round up and arrest accused witches, but he was cursed with something that just doesn't bode well under these kinds of circumstances: a rational mind. He found it very unlikely that this one New England town could have, in such short order, descended into a pit of devil-worshipping, spell-casting, cauldron stirring demoniacs and eventually refused to be part of the hysteria. He quit his job with no mapped out way of maintaining his livelihood in protest. He opted for personal struggle over selling out to the hysteria.

So of course, the Putnams HAD TO step in.

Willard was accused of witchcraft by Ann Putnam, Jr. She also accused him of beating her baby sister to death. These accusations went nowhere in the beginning, but the Putnams had a loud voice, and all of a sudden – as if by magic – suspicions started to kindle.

Willard wound up being accused a second time by Bray Wilkins (his wife's grandfather) claiming that Willard gave him the “evil eye” and caused him to fall ill. Days later, Bray’s grandson, Daniel Wilkins, was found dead. He had been badly beaten. Now, any fool could see that this was the result of some personal gripe, but if you were a litigator in Salem in 1692, the forensic report looked more like this one:

to the best of our judgments we cannot but apprehend but that he dyed an unnatural death by sume cruell hands of witchcraft or diabolicall act…”

Willard had already fled the village when his arrest warrant was issued. He was tracked down in Nashua, NH where he was arrested and brought back to Salem to stand trial.

During his examination at Beadle’s Tavern in Salem town, the incident with Bray Wilkins and Daniel Wilkins was brought up and the Wilkins family also accused Willard of beating his wife.”

Several “confessed witches” testified against Willard but it was one of the afflicted girls: Ann Putnam, Jr., whose testimony would seal his fate. She testified to being able to see the ghosts of the “many people” Willard had allegedly killed. John Willard was brought to trial on August 5 and executed on August 19, 1692.” I have no doubt that this guy was a bad dude and that he probably did kill Daniel Wilkins, but here's the thing: it's difficult in 1692 Salem to get a murder conviction based on forensic evidence but it's easy as pie to get one when you start crying “witchcraft!”

Incidentally, two dogs were also killed during the hysteria for giving people the “evil eye.” One was shot, the other hanged.

George Jacobs Sr – Accused of witchcraft by several people including his own granddaughter, Margaret Jacobs. He was not exactly a believer and, by all accounts, only attended church because owning land in Salem was predicated on church membership. See how well things work in a theocracy? He was also vocal about his dislike of the Salem witch trials.

His first accusation came from his servant, Sarah Churchill who clearly had some kind of personal gripe because she didn't stop there. She also accused Margaret Jacobs in an odd what-goes-around-comes-around turn of events, but in this instance, the focus remained on Jacobs. At his trial, the Putnams came out in force and almost every member of the family testified against him. So of course he was found guilty and was also executed on August 19, 1692. That took one more person out of the way of the Putnam family.

Giles Corey – Seemed to have on-again-off-again squabbles with the Putnam family, but in the end, he died under torture. Corey was not a nice person and while he is often lauded as a hero, the story one gets during a walking tour in Salem and the actual facts have a tad bit of disparity. His arrest WAS on an accusation of witchcraft, but that was just a front. Years earlier, Giles Corey beat an indentured servant, Jacob Goodale or Goodell so severely that Goodale eventually died. The servant's crime: theft against Corey's brother in law.

Now, the popular story is one of the tragic hero who refuses to confess to witchcraft. The real reason Giles Corey was tortured to death was for failing to become an informant. He did refuse to enter a plea of witchcraft which led to the use of torture, but, it was his LOYALTY to the Putnams and his refusal to give up the name of a witness to some of Thomas Putnam's more unsavory behavior during land disputes – a farmer whose identity is still unknown that really did him in. When asked repeatedly for the name, Corey's only response was his iconic call for “more weight” which was really just Puritan-ese for “fuck you!” He didn't die denying that he was a witch. He died in an effort to maintain his family's control over their land. Without a conviction, it would be difficult for anyone to seize or lay claim to it. It took him 3 days to die and he succumbed to his torture on Sept. 19, 1692

Corey DID get caught up in the hysteria and actually accused his own wife, Martha, but that backfired when, like in so many other cases, he was arrested and charged with the same crime. The powers that be HID behind the witchcraft charge so they could torture and kill someone with impunity and possibly take his land. He chose to hold his piece and die to prove his loyalty to the Putnams and, hopefully, protect his family land from seizure.

John Proctor – If you've seen or read The Crucible, you already know the name. John Proctor was a wealthy farmer and also an outspoken critic of the Salem witch trials. He lived on the outskirts of town and was also vocal about how he felt about the alleged “afflicted girls” often making statements that were the equivalent of “someone needs to give those brats a good spanking.”

So what did the girls do? They went after his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. She was arrested in April of 1692, after which the girls turned their attention to John. The entire Proctor family was eventually arrested and charged with witchcraft based on nothing but guilt by association.

Proctor saw the witch trials for what they were: a descent into mass religion-fueled hysteria. He contacted the town's governing church in Boston begging for intervention. He wanted them to send delegates to Salem or issue an edict that further trials concerning witchcraft be moved to Boston so some semblance of impartiality and sane legal process could be applied.

His plan worked, to an extent, but he would never live to see the outcome. Proctor was also among those executed on July 19. His other family members either escaped prosecution or were found guilty and later pardoned. This included his wife Elizabeth who only escaped execution because she was pregnant at the time of her conviction.

Martha Carrier - Martha Carrier lived in Andover. She was the wife of Thomas Carrier as well as the niece of Reverend Francis Dane of Andover, a hugely outspoken opponent of the Salem witch trials. Carrier was also the sister of Mary Toothaker of Billerica who had also been accused of witchcraft.

Carrier was was accused by neighbor Benjamin Abbot. After a dispute over land, Abbot almost immediately fell ill and this was used to make the case that she'd put a curse on him. Her children were also accused and were coerced into testifying against her. She was brought to trial on August 5 and executed on August 19, 1692.

 

Other cases of interpersonal unrest:

Ann Pudeator, Wilmot Redd – Described as loud-mouthed and quarrelsome

These women were executed because they had PERSONALITY DISORDERS.

 

Margaret Scott – Left widowed with three children. She was considered a nuisance because she often resorted to panhandling and overwrought begging to get by.

Frequently denounced were women whose behavior or economic circumstances were somehow disturbing to the social order and conventions of the time.” (https://www.salemweb.com/memorial/chronology.php)

 

Actual Witchcraft activity:

Samuel Wardwell – a practitioner of English folk magic

 

The thing that all of these examples have in common is, as mentioned, personal conflicts and dislikes. People were accused for opportunistic reasons or they were accused because they were different or just not liked by a large enough quorum of people who were then able to cinch a conviction. Nothing like pulling out a noose because someone bothers you...

This falls in lock step with the way evangelicals blame everything that they consider to be off-center or outside their own moral cloister as “satanic.” Mental illness, lifestyles that they find questionable or just personally uncomfortable, personal losses and difficulties... they place the blame for it all on Satanic and demonic influence.

And just like with today's televangelists and demon hunters, the underlying motivation behind the Salem witch trials was not ridding the populace from evil, but personal gain. And those motivations ranged from settling old scores to asserting position and power. NONE of it had directly to do with demonic influence.

One could argue that the afflicted girls had a variety of motivations, some of which could have stemmed from things like food poisoning and epilepsy to acute feelings of boredom and ennui. Whether purposely or not (and I'm of the opinion that little of it was purposeful), this entire thing started as an attention grab by a small group of young girls and escalated into a full-blown hysteria fueled by the cruel, threatening, and fear-driven doctrine of Puritan faith.

These people were taught to fear the forces of Satan from the moment they could understand and there were precious few rational-minded people who could see through the facade. And those who did know better either said and did nothing or spoke up and paid a hefty price for it. Those in power perpetuated the panic while the common folk just sat there waiting and wondering when and if it would be their turn to experience the horror of accusation, trial, and execution.

It's the same stranglehold that evangelicals, particularly those who believe in a more provisional view of salvation, maintain by constantly assaulting people's insecurities when it comes to their eternal souls. It's the motivation behind the countless calls to action to rededicate your life to Christ and live the shackled existence THEY want everyone to live around them.

Witch hysteria is alive and well throughout the world today and is still punishable by death in no small number of countries, especially those under theocratic rule or in cultures where superstition and fear mongering are allowed to go unchecked even in high levels of government.

The devil is, and always has been the biggest scapegoat for people's problems in various religious circles, but Christianity is THE biggest offender. And while the Salem witch trials were a very dark period in our country's history, this sort of thing is far from unique. Satanic panic goes as far back as the Middle Ages. The Inquisition, the “burning times” the publication of the Maleus Malefecarum and more far predate the horror that befell Salem. The Salem witch trials and the Satanic panic are all manifestations of the same dark recesses of our nature, they all attempted to create order through the use of lawlessness hidden behind a facade of righteous intent. They all had the same self-serving motivations.

This kind of hysteria even shows up in secular circles, with the most notable contemporary example being the McCarthy hearings where the devil was replaced by the looming threat of Communism during the Cold War. And it was in response to this that Arthur Miller wrote “The Crucible.” That play was not about the Salem witch trials. It was a warning about what happens when logic and reason are shuttered in favor of mob rule and hysteria.

While we may not be in the practice of hanging people because they looked at us funny anymore, evangelical faith still teaches us to be fearful of opposing views to the point of aggressive resistance and character assassination when our position or opinion or way of doing things is challenged. I was pressured to leave Mission Impossible because of this. That whole situation came to a head with what one can only equate with a muted public lynching of someone who crashed their microculture and tried to make it more inclusive.

If the Salem witch trials were a warning about ourselves and what happens when people become too immersed in religion and abandon concepts like reason and logic in favor of things like “spectral evidence,” we, as a society have done a very poor job of heeding it. Satanic hysteria is alive and well and coursing through the veins of evangelical religion. Spectral evidence still fills the coffers of preachers and other “storytellers” with testimonies of near death experiences that included trips to Hell with the message to the believer that Satan is alive and well and you'd best get your business straight with god. It's the same spectral evidence that charlatans like Bob Larson use to fuel their demonology agendas and causes an RA at the second worst college in America to claim satanic influence over a student because a fuse blows.

And real problems like personality disorders and other forms of mental illness are also spectral evidence of satanic or demonic influences in evangelical circles. It's time to steer our thinking in the direction of reality and understand that we can't blame the devil for every problem or difficulty in our lives. If someone is behaviorally unwell, we have a responsibility as a society to find tangible, effective solutions to those problems. If people disagree, we need to maintain the practice of civil litigation and let preponderance of tangible evidence, fairness, and impartiality govern the outcomes. “Scream until they agree to kill the bad lady” does not work in matters of fairness, law, or justice.

Panic is contagious but the cure is cool-headed reason and rationalization. Satanic panic will always be an issue and it is bound to build to a crescendo again eventually. Here's hoping that the next round still involves things as innocuous as record smashing and throwing away soap, but let's also remember that things like the McMartin preschool hysteria are also the much more harmful outgrowths of situations like these.

For those of us who do try to think rationally and reasonably most of the time, let's just keep our eyes peeled. And let's use our voices if and when we start seeing signs of this kind of religious hysteria cropping up in society. Let's learn more than the average person has from the sheer number of times that religious hysteria has been allowed a foothold in society, and let's continue speaking out against the religious bodies that facilitate and perpetuate the kind of thinking that leads to it. If we can do that, we might just help some more people get their lives back, think a little more clearly about the difference between fantasy and reality, start looking at the actual, tangible sources of the problems and issues they face, and in so doing take one more crucial step in their personal journeys toward getting and staying unbound.