The term “witch hunt” comes from the Salem Witch Trials by the Court of Oyer and Terminer.
What many may not know is that one of the judges on that court, Judge Samuel Sewall, publicly repented of sending 30 men and women to be hung, two of them his own friends.
In his own words, Judge Sewell stated that:
Samuel Sewall, sensible of the reiterated strokes of God upon himself and family; and being sensible, that as to the guilt comtracted upon the opening of the late commission of Oyer and Terminer at Salem (to which the order for this day relates) he is upon many accounts, more concerned than any that he knows of, desires to take the blame and shame of it, asking pardon of men, and especially desiring prayers that God, who has an unlimited authority, would pardon that sin…
See Page 200, Salem Witch Judge, The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall by Eve LaPlante http://forum.wgbh.org/wgbh/for…
In fact, witchcraft was the terrorism-equivalent of those days; people did really believe in it and that they were under attack by Satan; witches were being put to death all over the known world. Only one man ever repented, sought to make amends, and in due course wrote the first anti slavery and women’s equality Op Eds of their day [The Selling of Joseph, written in 1700, and Talitha Cumi, written in 1724].
I wonder if any of the torturers of the Bush Witch Hunt will ever achieve the moral statute of Samuel Sewall?
On the other hand, prosecution for a crime requires a statutorily defined crime, which meets constitutional muster for clarity, as well as proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, those accused of a crime under statute are entitled to counsel from the Sixth Amendment Bar as soon as charged – but those accused of torture are not.
The analogy to the Salem Witch Hunt holds because all it takes now to be held and tortured is what it took to be tortured as a witch then; mere accusation.
If an accused witch died under torture or by having rocks piled on him or her, there was no recourse. Like with the accused witches, dying under torture or confessing under it does not clear the accused.
I wonder, indeed, whether George Walker Bush will ever ask pardon and take upon himself the blame and shame of it?
I seriously recommend the book The Life and Repentance of Samuel Sewall as a reminder of the morality of responsibility which has been so totally abdicated under the Bush administration.