‘The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. The trials resulted in the execution of twenty people, fourteen of them women, and all but one by hanging. Five others (including two infant children) died in prison.’ Wikipedia
‘The episode is one of Colonial America’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria. It has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.’ Wikipedia
‘The McMartin preschool trial was a day care sexual abuse case in the 1980’s, prosecuted by the Los Angeles District Attorney Ira Reiner. Members of he McMartin family, who operated a preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, were charged with numerous acts of sexual abuse of children in their care. Accusations were made in 1983. Arrests and the pretrial investigation ran from 1987 – 1990. After six years of criminal trials, no convictions were obtained and all charges were dropped in 1990. When the trial ended in 1990, it had been the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history. The case was part of day-care sex-abuse hysteria, a moral panic over alleged Satanic ritual abuse in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.’ Wikipedia
‘The McMartin preschool was closed and the building was dismantled, several of the accused have since died, In 2005, one of the children (as an adult) retracted the allegations of abuse.’
‘Never did anyone do anything to me, and I never saw them doing anything. I said a lot of things that they didn’t like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for….I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do.’ Wikipedia
The old term for character execution is gossip. I often told my staff to not disclose to me the lies and mistruths that they heard being said about me…unless someone was planning on murdering me or getting me fired…because I had to treat everyone in the department that I managed, of 350 – 400 people, fairly and without bias.
So, now, we live in a world of character assassination and, at times, mob mentality, that rises from believing the worse about someone…without facts or evidence to support the egregious claims.
President Trump, often calls the press, ‘the enemy of the people.’ and points to them in all of his rallies, across the country, and incites the audience, of thousands, who subsequently jeer and curse the press and throw things at them and give them the ‘finger.’
Members of the press have expressed shock and fear that the, naked, anger and hate that the president has engendered against them by his continual bullying remarks regarding their attempt to perform their jobs.
As a manager at Southern Illinois University for 25 years, I was involved in the resolution of many interpersonal disputes among staff and members of the university community. The first element of resolving accusations is fact finding.
A person may be accused of many things…but that does not mean that they are guilty of the accusation…there must be an un-biased finding of the facts and then the dispute can be resolved according to the governing rules of the organization and laws of the land.
Confidentiality is another extremely important component of resolving either personal or workplace disputes.
You should not yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre…if there is no evidence of fire.
I will never forget a visitor to the little church that I attended, many years ago, who asked me if I wanted to be one of his disciples? I responded that I did not…but that if he actively sought disciples…I was certain that he would find some.
There is a magnetism associated with bad, or negative, news and conspiracy theories. We love stories…and the protagonist and the antagonist of the yarn is what makes it a page turner.
Have you ever noticed that when a person is accused of something awful…it is front page news…and if they are found innocent…it is a small paragraph in the middle or end of the newspaper…if at all?
‘Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.’ Matthew 18:15 KJV
I have known people who were crushed by false accusations. What was fun and sport and the ‘glue’ that bonded the mob together…destroyed lives of decent and hard working human beings.
I believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant and that wrongs, that are substantiated by fact, must be righted…but the caviler engaging in hurtful rumor and innuendo…has hurt many good people.