Witch Hunts and Mass Hysteria
Peoples need for a scapegoat can lead to mass hysteria and false judgment. Witch-hunts have been going on for a very long time, dating back to Salem and the Puritans in the 1600’s. There have also been many recent examples of these witch-hunts such as McCarthyism in the 1950’s and gay persecution.
To begin with, the Salem witch trials took place in the late 1600’s. The people of Salem were just starting out, forming their community and finding their place in society. In addition, the people came across many problems that they tended to blame on any excuse possible. The book The Crucible is an excellent example of this. In the book, a group of girls are caught dancing in the woods and when the town hears of this they assume they are witches. So, when Reverend Hale was called to examine them he claims they are in fact possessed. However, he could provide no proof for his accusations, but because he was so respected everyone believed him.
Consequently, the influences of Reverend Hale lead everyone in Salem to the point of mass hysteria. Once these girls were accused it was like a chain reaction and many people were then accused. These accusations were not taken lightly either. Even though they had no real evidence. If someone was accused of witchery and did not confess they would be hung, and if they did confess their lives and reputations would be ruined.
In addition, another example of a witch-hunt was the McCarthy case in the
1950’s. A film is later made in 2005 called Good Night and Good Luck, the film portrays the conflict between senator Joseph McCarthy and TV journalist Edward Murrow. This all happened when McCarthy wrongfully accused many people of being Communist. One of them was Milo Radulovich, who was accused by McCarthy because he was seen reading a Serbian newspaper.
McCarthy was a powerful man, he was senator of Wisconsin and many people respected him. So, when he...