Have We Learned the Lessons of Salem?

1.  What are the lessons?
--------Hysteria happens.
--------Children (especially) can be influenced by suggestion and peer pressure to say things that are not true.
--------We should be skeptical of confessions when the confessions are the result of torture or when the person has a self-interest in confessing.
--------A "cooling off period" can sometimes prevent injustices.
--------Trials should be fair: evidence introduced should be reliable, witnesses should be subject to cross-examination, defendants should have legal assistance and be allowed to testify on their own behalf, and judges should be unbiased.

2.  Have we had "modern-day witch hunts"?
--------HUAC/McCarthy "Communist hunts" of early 1950s (events that inspired The Crucible)
--------Day care abuse trials of 1980s (child witnesses, accusations multipy, people afraid to support accused, unbelievable charges, hysteria).
--------To read about a modern-day trial with many parallels to the Salem Trials, see The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial (the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history).

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