Salem, Massachusetts: 1692. In a community rife with arguments about property lines and church rules, three teenage girls started pointing fingers, accusing local women of witchcraft.
Tituba, a black slave, was one of the first targets, due perhaps to her ethnic differences. Martha Corey came later, perhaps because she voiced skepticism about the girls’ accusations and drew their ire.
By the end of 1693, the Salem Witch Trials had come to a close, and twenty people were dead, thanks to hysteria, anger, and feuds. Thank God, in 2016, we’re past all that!
Yesterday, invoking the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., stars like Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee announced they would be boycotting this year’s Oscars due to the lack of diversity amidst nominees. Lee pointed the finger at “the executive offices of the Hollywood studios and TV and cable networks.”
This arguably could be considered a modern day witch-hunt. This is a drop in the pond in a year of witch-hunts. Instead of people being persecuted for witchcraft, though, they’re now attacked because of perceived racism, sexism, religious bigotry, and even an inappropriate sense of humor.
Let’s think back …
Remember when Target released their “OCD” sweater? A play on the mental illness obsessive-compulsive disorder, the sweater read “Obsessive Christmas Disorder,” and people got pissed because they blamed Target for poking fun at mental health.
Remember when Kim Davis wouldn’t sign gay marriage licenses in Kentucky because it went against her religious beliefs? People called her terrible names and spewed hatred all over her desk because of what she saw as a moral obligation.
Remember when over-the-top comedienne Nicole Arbour posted her “Dear Fat People” video and got banned from social media because she’d hurt people’s feelings, so they took her voice away?
Or how about Rachel Foote’s blog post, “Generation Cry Baby,” in which she told millennials to “Get. The. F***. Over. Yourself.” She was strung up on social media by the same people she wrote about (who apparently don’t know the definition of “irony”).
This is modern day burning at the stake. Not only have we become a society of self-righteous witch-hunters, we’ve become players in the blame game. Not enough diversity at the Oscars? Blame Hollywood. Eat one too many Big Macs? Blame Nicole Arbour. Unhappy marriage? Blame your parents. The list goes on … and on … and on.
Face it: if we lived in 1600s Salem, half of us would be hung, myself included. The ones left alive would be a bunch of complainers who would end up dying from lack of anything to be angry about.
I can see them, soldiers of the politically correct, wasting away without a cause to protest. “Woe is me,” they’ll whimper, “No one is left to piss me off. What shall I do with my time now that I have no one to shame on social media?”
We all have a right to our opinions, which is what many people do not understand. If I want to wear black socks with sandals, I can. If I want to eat meat, I can do that, too. If I want to argue that Evil Dead is a cinematic masterpiece, you will not stop me.
You do your thing; I’ll do mine, but let’s not go on a witch-hunt every time something goes wrong in our lives. Let’s not blame someone else for believing something we do not or whine over Oscar injustice while people are starving in Syria. Life’s too short to be angry. Or, in the words of MLK Jr, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”