Modern day Witch-prickers

?Witchcraft at Salem Village,? illustration published in Pioneers in the Settlement of America, by William A. Crafts, circa 1876

James I of England was a gifted scholar and lover of knowledge, fluent in four languages. By the time he was fourteen, he encouraged learning and the advancement of science. Under his patronage William Harvey laid the foundations of modern anatomy with his revolutionary theory of blood circulation overturning 1500 years of ?established? anatomical knowledge, while Francis Bacon laid the foundation for all following science with his writings, compartmentalising the sciences and formulating the ?scientific? method.

Science, technology and medicine are deeply indebted to those individuals who thrived under James so how is it then, that such a thoroughly ?modern? and intelligent ruler feared such a backwards belief as the power of witchcraft?

James set in motion a bizarre series of persecutions that continued well after his death, culminating in the most dubious set of executions of innocent women in the 17th century, which occurred at Forfar, County Angus, Scotland. There fully nine lasses individually suffered the cruelty of being dragged to their deaths, out on the town?s public ?Playfield.? Their strangulation was followed by the disposal of their lifeless, or near lifeless bodies in burning barrels of tar, the excruciating deaths a macabre legacy to James? strange obsession.

Fittingly, the witches’ guilt had been proven scientifically by master witch-pricker John Kinkaid who, after a series of torturous and degrading interviews, was able to gain confessions of one and all women and girls. The science of ?pricking? the witch only occurred at the end of the process which began with isolation, disorientation, and fatigue.

Locked away in Forfar?s town prison cells, where the windows were boarded up to deny the women sunlight, they knew neither night or day. Poor food and little of it soon ground the women down and if they were not sufficiently fatigued before the interrogation began then weights, some as much as thirty pounds each, were manacled to their limbs to tire them further.

Ordinary townspeople played their part, manning a roster of six-hour shifts, continuing the entire time of the witches’ incarceration, twenty-four hours a day, doing their duty ? denying sleep to the women and girls held in the cells, abusing, accusing and condemning them.

By the time Kincaid began needling them, most had already given up. They had no desire to prolong the process and eventually would say or invent something of their under-worldly shenanigans, or would simply agree to whatever their accuser put to them. They just couldn?t take it anymore.

We should thank God and science for the end of such awful maltreatment of our fellow creatures, often based on nothing other than the disapproval of an accused woman?s lifestyle or the offering of an imagined slur or insult towards a spiteful or vengeful adversary: quote.

[…] the said Helen Guthrie confesses that she has been a very drunkensome woman, a terrible banner and curser and of a very wicked life and conversation end quote.

Poor Helen drank too much for some, she sometimes used foul language (to ?ban? means to swear), and she gossiped. Goodness me ? half the world?s women, and men could be accused of such crimes.

We should thank God and science for the end to such despicable persecution, but we can?t because it?s still occurring in this, our ?enlightened? century.

Standing in the dock in 2019 is Maria Folau, wife of a man whose lifestyle and utterings some disapprove of. They even accuse the fellow of issuing curses and wishing some eternal hellfire in an imagined afterlife, as if his accusers actually believe such things exist.

Maria hasn?t been accused of anything yet but the beckoning mob bays. They demand she speak, just as Kinkaid demanded the witches of Forfar speak. They demand she utter refutals to her and her life partner’s beliefs, just as family members of the Forfar witches were required to do.

The mob is in action. Good people of town and Twitter engage in cruel words, relentlessly, night and day directed towards the two. They hope to grind Maria down. They hope she gives up, before something nasty happens, just as Kinkaid counselled the accused women of Forfar: give up, said he, before things get much worse for you.

That the latest to climb the high horse of sanctimony is this nation?s public broadcaster is no surprise given their incremental but constant leftward tangent, but it is no less disgraceful. Shame on them.

An article published Saturday 27th April, ?Air should be cleared if Folau plays for Ferns? reads quote.

Last year Maria took to Instagram in support of Israel advising to ‘stand with God no matter what’. This time she has kept her opinion to herself though her silence may be doing more harm than good. end quote.

How very condescending, but it gets worse: quote.

It’s a classic case of guilty by association, but it’s no excuse to exercise silence if the black dress is her goal. end quote.

Get it? Silence ?more harm than good?, ?no excuses?, who the hell do these people think they are? Witch-prickers? They finish with the most insidious and cowardly allusion imaginable quote.

Netball New Zealand need to take advantage of addressing the issue on their own terms in what will be one of the largest sporting diversity events the world has ever seen where every player, including Maria, deserves to have their well-being protected. end quote.

How utterly shameful of Radio New Zealand; insisting Folau denounce her husband or lose the chance to do what she loves, and excels at, or face the possibility of physical violence on court. What other conclusion can the mealy-mouthed “well-being protected” possibly be intended to mean?

To Maria and Mr Folau: I do not share your beliefs but I respect your right to follow them and to speak of them if and as you wish. I can?t promise I?ll be listening but I don?t recall it ever causing a fuss when Muhammed Ali spoke of his personal religious philosophy. I urge you both to refuse to be cowed by the mooing mob of the mindless, your haters and detractors. Stand by your principles, even if you have to tell them to go to Hell.

Don?t give in Maria and definitely don?t let the mongrels grind you down because it won?t end well.