Talk:Historical parallels to present day reality

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  • Witches' Sabbat - no evidence of => 'pedophile rings', perhaps
  • "Uncurability" - there was no cure for witchcraft => sex offender registry; sex offenders have unchanging natures, once a predator, always a predator

If one draws the parallel between witches and 'sexual predators':

  • The diabolical mark/pack and the alleged sexual relationship with a demon => idea of abusers being previously abused themselves (which leads back to the 'uncurability' idea - its a disease/affliction, not a preference)
  • Possession of elements necessary for the practice of black magic => one who views child pornography will inevitably rape/murder/etc
  • Careful study.PNG
    Exponential rise in CP sentences and convictions since early 90s, coupled with the voodoo-like rhetoric of harming or abusing a child by merely viewing an image.

A consideration of McCarthyism might be useful as well, since it is a more modern incarnation of the witch hunt:

  • Character assassinations (though usually no political motivation now; loss of employment)
  • Guilt by association/possession (possession of anything questionable - cp, cl literature, etc; I remember reading one McCarthy trial where possession of 'Das Kapital' played an important role in a conviction)
  • Fear mongering to further one's one career

I based a lot of the witch stuff off of the wikipedia article , but I have a couple published sources on hand (for witches and McCarthy) that I can quote when I have the time... probably a week or two.

This all sounds very appropriate. If you don't get around to doing it, at least it's here. The Admins 22:03, 31 May 2009 (UTC)


General remarks: There are certainly a lot of differences between the two examples, most importantly, perhaps, in magnitude - death is rare and we don't (I think...) have a "House Un-American Sexualities Committee." What's pertinent is the hysteria... witch-hunts of the past are laughed at because of their fanaticism and irrationality... and this witch-hunt shares many of the same characteristics as those of the past.


From: Henningsen, Gustav (November 1980). "The Greatest Witch-Trial of All: Navarre, 1609-14". History Today 30 (11): 36–39.

Lynching/vigilante justice

Compare to violence against/hatred towards 'sex offenders', alleged 'pedophiles' (PJ), advocates

If the Devil was not at work in the green and pleasant Baque country, what had caused the panic about witches there during the 1600s? The detailed reports filed by Salazar during his visitation of 1611 make it possible to reconstruct with exactitude the genesis and progress of a witchcraze - something that historians have been unable to do for other areas. In the northern part of Navarre, where the witch panic spread during the winter of 1610-11, Salazar noted that all those under suspicion were in danger of being lynched: stones were thrown at them, bonfires were lit around their houses, and some had their houses pulled down around their ears. The village people resorted to every possible form of torture in order to force a confession: some were tied to trees and made to stand out through the cold winter nights; others were made to stand with their feet in water until it froze around them; others again were let down naked on ropes from bridges and ducked several times to the bottom of icy cold rivers. In some places people dragged the 'witches' out of their houses and tied them one after another with their legs between the rungs of a long ladder and made them walk around with the ladder all night to the accompaniment of shouts and cries and lights in the streets while a thousand insults were hurled at them. The popular violence in the mountains of Navarre claimed several lives that winter. [38]

Myth - creation of a monster/boogeyman

Compare to 'pedophile rings', the 'imperialism' highlighted in Uncommon Sense 2, pedopanic in general

But Salazar did not only record; he also sought to explain. He wished to understand this sudden panic - for sudden it certainly was - and one of the most astonishing results of his investigations was that, before the spread of the persecutions, the witch sect was completely unknown among the Basques.
There had been local notions about isolated village witches who were able to harm their neighbours by cursing them, but no one had heard anything about the witches having a secret organisation and nocturnal gatherings; indeed, old people said bluntly that they had not even known what a witches' sabbath was. They only found the truth in 1609, when Judge Pierre de Lancre, from the parlement of Bordeaux, condemned to death about 100 witches from the Pays de Labourd, on the French side of the Pyrenes. The witchcraze had already been in existence there for a couple of years, but it was not until 1906 that it spread into Spain, and then to only five or six small towns near the border. Knowledge of the witch sect came to these towns through various channels: through rumours from France, through people who had traveled up to Bayonne to see the burning of the French witches, and finally through sermons preached by the local priests who had actually been encouraged by the Inquisition to expose the supposed witches in their congregations. [38]
There were neither witches nor bewitched in a village until they were talked and written about. [39]

Adverse effects

Role of the "central authorities," adverse effects of hysteria

The principal reason for the brief existence of this dangerous phenomenon was its monstrous form. In some villages it could result in more than half the inhabitants being denounced as witches: children, women and men; young and old; rich and poor; cleric and laity - no social group escaped. Everyone began to accuse everyone else: children even denounced their own parents and vice versa. As people gradually realised that the witchhunt was leading to the complete breakdown of society, they became more willing to settle their differences amicably, out of court. At the local level the epidemic could thus regulate itself. But conciliation might be refused if the central authorities became involved, for they might insist that the legal purge be carried on until all those accused and convicted had been punished. [39]


From: Schrecker, Ellen (1994). The Age Of McCarthyism: A Brief History With Documents. Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0312083491.

Social Stigma/"extra-legal" punishment - subdued form of lynching/vigilantism

Compare to sex offender restrictions and social stigma - I think this is under deliberation in the US===

Even at the height of the McCarthyist furor in the early 1950s, the anti-Communist crusade was relatively mild. Many prosecutions faltered on appeal and only a few foreign-born radicals were actually deported. Only Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were put to death; and, of the roughly 150 people who went to prison, most were released within a year or two. Certainly compared to the horrors of Stalin's Russia, McCarthyism was not a drastic form of political repression. But it was an effective one.
The punishments were primarily economic. People lost their jobs. The official manifestations of McCarthyism -- the public hearings, FBI investigations, and criminal prosecutions -- would not have been as effective had they not been reinforced by the private sector. The political purges were a two-stage process that relied on the imposition of economic sanctions to bolster the political messages conveyed by public officials. The collaboration of private employers with HUAC and the rest of anti-Communist network was necessary both to legitimate the network's activities and to punish the men and women identified as politically undesirable. Without the participation of the private sector, McCarthyism would not have affected the rank-and-file members of the Communist movement nor so effectively stifled political dissent.[86]

Exploitation of fear for personal profit

See PJ, "child advocates," etc.

The spectacular publicity produced by a committee's hearings also bolstered the political careers of its members. HUAC had been an undesirable assignment at the time Represntative Richard Nixon joined the committee in 1947. Six years later, he was vice president and 185 of the 221 Republicans in Congress were clamoring for a berth. [...] The personal ambitions of individual politicians and the political agendas of the Republican party and the anti-Communist network often overlapped. The committee members got publicity and the right-wingers zapped their enemies. [71]

Distortion of rights

Guilt by association/posession - child pornography laws, now for drawings = thoughtcrime; laws target 'pedophilia' instead of protecting rights, etc.

Testimony of Louis Budenz, March 1949 (Schrecker 203):

McGohey [prosecution]: Mr. Budenz, I show you Government's Exhibit 6 for identification and ask you if that is a copy identical to the copy of the book bearing the same name Foundations of Leninism [by Stalin] which you testified yesterday was given to you by Mr. Stachel, the defendant, at or about the time you joined the Communist Party in the fall of 1935?
Budenz: Yes, sir, that is the same edition...
McGohey: And you used this book, did you, in your work as editor of the paper?
Budenz: Yes, sir, constantly...
Crockett [defense]: If the Court please, [...] I object because the use of this document under the circumstances indicated by this is protected so far as my client is concened by the First Amendment of the United States...
The Court: Objection overruled.
[The government seeks to place a copy of The History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in evidence.]
Isserman [defense]: We are putting a book on trial...
The Court: If the contents of this book and these other pamphlets and documents of one kind or another, that were handed around, and people were told to study them and to teach other people what to do, and how they were to go around and do the things that have been testified to here. I can scarcely believe that it is trying a book. It is trying those persons who used the book and other means to allegedly commit a crime, and that is part of the paraphernalia of the crime.

The Federal Loyalty-Security Program: Case 1 (Schrecker 179-182)

The Chairman then read charge No. 6 in which it was alleged that Communist literature was observed in the employee's bookshelves at home and Communist art was seen on the walls of his residence in 1950. Immediately following the reading of the charge, the Chairman stated that:
"The Board is at a lost just to what Communist literature they are referring to."
Counsel for the employee then questioned him concerning his courses in college, and the books which he was there required to read for those courses. In this connection, counsel for the employee asked whether books had been recommended as part of study courses by instructors, and whether one of these books had been Das Kapital by Karl Marx, and whether the employee had bought Das Kapital, following such a recommendation. THe employee responeded that certain books had been recommended by his instructors, that Das Kapital was one, and that he had bought the Modern Library Giant Edition of Das Kapital...
Counsel then asked the employee whether, in 1950, he had reproductions of paintings by great painters hanging on the walls of his home, and following the employee's answer in the affirmative, counsel asked him to name some of the artists whose reproductions were hanging on the walls of the employee's home. The employee named Picasso, Matisse, Renoir, and Moddigliotti [Modigliani?].
Thereafter, in response to counsel's question, the employee testified that he had not read Das Kapital in its entirety, that he had been required to read "a chapter or two for classwork," and that "he had found it a little dull and tedious."...