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Date

4-30-2020

Description

Despite their separation by time, the Salem witch trials and the Little Rascals Day Care case reflect how the fear of Satan, manifested in the form of social change and unexplained events, has impacted the American legal system in dramatic and unforgettable ways. In my presentation, which is a redacted and simplified version of a previous research paper, I will explore how closely related these two incidents are even while being displaced by 300 years and almost 700 miles. Using data from various articles and journals, I will demonstrate the similarities between the cases by examining how the prosecutors influenced witness testimony. This testimony is unreliable for a multitude of reasons, from its reliance on the coercion of children, the inconsistency of narrative, and the gross exaggeration of supposed abuse. I will also discuss the religious motivations for these cases, and how mass hysteria combined with these beliefs sparked an almost apocalyptic fear among the American public in both circumstances. The impact of religious crusades can at times be positive, but in both Salem, Massachusetts and Edenton, North Carolina, the evangelical hysteria uprooted whole communities and disrupted the integrity of the United States' judicial system.

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Apr 30th, 12:00 AM

From Salem to Eden: "Satanic Ritual Abuse" and American Law

Despite their separation by time, the Salem witch trials and the Little Rascals Day Care case reflect how the fear of Satan, manifested in the form of social change and unexplained events, has impacted the American legal system in dramatic and unforgettable ways. In my presentation, which is a redacted and simplified version of a previous research paper, I will explore how closely related these two incidents are even while being displaced by 300 years and almost 700 miles. Using data from various articles and journals, I will demonstrate the similarities between the cases by examining how the prosecutors influenced witness testimony. This testimony is unreliable for a multitude of reasons, from its reliance on the coercion of children, the inconsistency of narrative, and the gross exaggeration of supposed abuse. I will also discuss the religious motivations for these cases, and how mass hysteria combined with these beliefs sparked an almost apocalyptic fear among the American public in both circumstances. The impact of religious crusades can at times be positive, but in both Salem, Massachusetts and Edenton, North Carolina, the evangelical hysteria uprooted whole communities and disrupted the integrity of the United States' judicial system.