Modern Day Witch Trials


October is upon us, which means it is time to think about Halloween costumes. This year, I’m thinking I’m going to be a special kind of witch: a modern #MeToo witch. With all that has transpired from the lawsuit that former MLB pitcher Trevor Bauer won, reflecting on the #MeToo movement’s toxicity fits with the season. 

Contemplating my Halloween costume got me thinking about the Salem Witch Trials, a moment in American history which is still shocking. Most of us learned about the Salem Witch Trials in school, but the story never ceases to amaze me. The trials included a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of being witches in colonial Massachusetts starting around February 1692 and running until May 1693. In the tiny town of Salem, Massachusetts, 200 people were accused, 30 were found guilty, and 19 were hanged. Those were actual occurrences, actual deaths. The majority were women, but five men and two dogs were also executed. At least one man died while being tortured, and five died in jail.

Accusations started out with someone claiming that an illness or a death was caused by witchcraft, and that’s all it took to get hysteria to spread. So someone who got the flu or became ill could claim a witch gave them that sickness, and if the local magistrate deemed the claim credible, the accused would be arrested and brought in for public examination, which was essentially a series of interrogations where the accused were pressed to confess. They were then put on trial and witch trial tests ensued. It is incredible to consider that any of this actually took place in American history.

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One of the witch trial tests was a swim test. A swim test required the accused witch to be taken to a body of water, and once there, stripped of their clothes (save their undergarments), and bound. Then, they were dropped in the water to see if they would float — or sink. The belief was that an innocent person would sink, while a witch, on the other hand, would remain on the surface of the water. Of course, this did not end well because if they were “innocent” and sank, many accidentally drowned.

Accused witches also underwent a prayer test. According to teachings from Medieval times, it was impossible for a witch to read Scripture aloud; they simply couldn’t do it. So this test required the accused to recite selections from the Bible, often being the Lord’s prayer. They could not, however, make any mistakes. A mistake could be fumbling a word, even if that was just because they were nervous — which, no doubt, they were. Having a lisp, being illiterate, and being nervous were all proof of witchcraft. And sometimes, even if the accused read without error, they were still hanged.

The touch test denoted that if the victim of witchcraft had a unique reaction to physical contact with the accused, then the sorcerer’s evil was proven. For example, if I was suddenly seized with fits of some sort, an accused witch would be forced to touch me. Had I been magically healed from their touch, my “healing” would have been evidence they had put me under some sort of spell in the first place. If I did not react to their touch, they could be considered innocent.

For the witch cake test, witch hunters would take some of the victim’s urine — that’s correct: urine — and mix it with rye meal, ashes, and ingredients for a cake. Obviously this isn’t the kind of treat you’d want to pick up while trick-or-treating at the house next door.

Then, the cake would be given to a dog, with the goal being that the dog would be put under a spell (from eating the cake) and reveal the witch.

One of my personal favorites is the witch’s marks test. Witch suspects often underwent being publicly examined for blemishes, birthmarks, or imperfections, as those were thought to be received when making a covenant with the devil. These blemishes were called the “Devil’s Mark,” and the accused were automatically believed to be working with the devil.  Since this was an easy test to fail, some of the accused attempted to get rid of these marks by burning or even cutting them off. But then a wound ended up serving as proof of a pact with the devil.

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These tests and trials seem completely bizarre, especially considering the fact that they took place in our fairly recent American history. Even so, these witch hunts don’t really feel like a relic of the past when we stop to consider today’s political landscape. Though they look different, we have our own form of these modern witch trials in today’s society. We all remember the black square test on Instagram when BLM was trending. If you were white and did not post a black square, you were immediately labeled a racist. It meant you didn’t stand with black people, and it meant you had been a racist your entire life. And if you were a celebrity and didn’t post a black square? You absolutely did not pass the black square test. You were guilty. You are a racist.

The one I have been reflecting on most recently is the #MeToo witch hunt. When that hashtag started trending, I almost lost my job as a conservative speaker because I refused to kowtow to the blanket rule that everything every woman said using #MeToo should be believed, even when the stories they were sharing kept getting more and more ridiculous. Women started crying that they had been hit on at work, that someone asked them on a date, or that they were uncomfortable next to the coffee machine. #MeToo. The big reckoning. No men in the workplace! Men are monsters! Ridiculous.

My stance on the movement never referred to rape victims. I only talked about the #MeToo  trend just like the BLM trend. It was trendy to perceive everything as racism, and with #MeToo, it was trendy to perceive everything as aggression by men. It was trendy to call everything assault, even if it was just a bad date. But none of that mattered; I was under fire.

I was working at TurningPoint USA, and young women were asking, “How can she still be the communications director if she doesn’t support the #MeToo movement?” They wanted me ousted because I did not understand the importance of this trending hashtag.

Except I did understand it. I understood exactly what was happening. I was watching men lose their jobs and be forced to step down from their careers based on accusations. All it took was one woman who used a hashtag without any further examination — women who were not actual victims. Some women wanted revenge on certain men, and they were all suddenly “empowered” to make up allegations. And for a while, those allegations went unchecked. But, I believe in due process. I do not believe that a tweet or a hashtag should condemn someone. Some men started standing up for this too, men who are fighting women in court and scoring some big wins.

Former MLB pitcher Trevor Bauer is one of those men. A woman named Lindsey Hill accused him of a violent assault in 2021, and this accusation instantly changed his entire life. It only takes an accusation to get a fire blazing. After two years in court, Bauer won against his accuser, and he has finally been able to share his side of what happened. What we’ve all learned is that Lindsey Hill, his accuser, was a liar who was after money. Evidence in the form of text messages, Snapchat videos, and Google searches prove beyond reasonable doubt that Hill plotted this because she wanted a piece of his net worth.

Now, Hill has been making the rounds, apparently trying to clear her name, claiming various messages have been taken out of context — but she really doesn’t appear to be clarifying much. Her interview with Alex Stein just confirms that if “my dog ate my homework” was an actual person, it would be Lindsey Hill. It’s hard to even keep up with the nonsense while she says absolutely nothing throughout the whole interview.

The #MeToo movement was a movement led by women who pretended to be weak but were, in fact, conniving. These women understood that in a movement with power and without checks and balances, they could make up allegations as they accused any and everyone.

Whether these women wanted fame or money or power or community with the other #MeToo witches to rally around them, it was toxic. It always has been toxic, and it always will be toxic.


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