Would the Salem witch trials happen today?

Would the Salem witch trials happen today?

Taubah Elebute, staff writer

For a while now I’ve been very interested in the history of the Salem witch trials, and have enjoyed the additional information I’ve gotten about it in my History and English classes this year.

In my AP English language class we’ve taken a break from writing full length essays to read a book based on the trials that took place at Salem from 1692-93; The Crucible, a dramatized and partially fictionalized play by playwright Arthur Miller. My teacher, Mrs. Dawson, recently posed this prompt to us, “Is each generation susceptible to its own form of peer pressure? Or has society truly evolved past the mob mentality/groupthink responses that are present in The Crucible?”

A particularly intriguing thought prompter for me, creating connections between a time period that interests me so, and the times we’re in today. 

Some people in the present day also argue while reading the book and learning about this time period in Salem that they would never act the way the townspeople did. 

These were my thoughts on it.

The idea that people nowadays can’t relate to the situations the characters went through, and that they wouldn’t be susceptible to the mob mentality is completely false. We can see that happen today in it’s own ways.

I personally think some people on the internet deserve to be “cancelled” and to no longer have a platform. And since there isn’t a designated far-reaching internet police, it’s most times up to the masses that consume content off it to regulate what is on it. However, there have been many instances where a content creator/celebrity on the internet has been accused of a grave deed that isn’t quite clear to be true.

But once a large number of people seem to endorse their shaming and/or dethroning, support for their cancellation comes in sweeping numbers.

Suddenly everyone agrees that they don’t deserve a platform and anyone who doesn’t agree deserves the same treatment. So those who might not have necessarily thought that way on their own hop on the wagon, and those who don’t want to be shamed and harassed for disagreeing shut their mouths and watch it happen. 

It becomes even more evident that most of the reactions in these situations are mob mentality driven, when the declaration of a reasoning for why said content creator shouldn’t in fact be cancelled results in a complete change in opinion once they realize everyone else no longer hates them. Suddenly all the people who stayed silent on the side-lines come out of hiding to proudly say they never agreed with the hate. Each generation is 100% susceptible to its own form of peer pressure, regardless of how much the world changes, and we can’t possibly argue as a generation that we have no tendency of acting the same way.

Especially if you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit, and accusing anyone else would get you out. Self preservation is a human instinct, and the moral compass of some could overpower that.

But I argue that many today would act the same way and accuse whoever was believable, even people they didn’t get along with, if it meant they wouldn’t have to hang for something they didn’t do.