Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Revisiting the Salem Witch...
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Revisiting the Salem Witch Trials

Erin Cowell - October 25th, 2010
Revisiting the Salem Witch Trials:‘May thy souls rest in peace’
By Erin Crowell
October settles over the New England coast, bathing its small towns in
warm colors of red, orange and gold. I chase the foliage by car,
taking a 2,500 mile road trip out East through New York, Vermont and
down along the shores of Connecticut and Rhode Island.
With Halloween fast approaching, a stop in Salem, Massachusetts seems
appropriate. So I plug the address into the GPS on my
dashboard—Margaret, as I’ve named it—and let her even, monotone voice
guide me to the coastal town famous for the witch trials of 1692.
Located just north of Boston, Salem is home of the 20 men and women
who were tried and punished by death on suspicions of witchcraft near
the close of the 17th century.
When picturing Salem—a place of rich U.S. colonial history—I envision
a small town buried in maple trees, a single main road leading
visitors to a town square and a sign that reads, “Salem, site of the
1692 witch trials. May thy souls rest in peace.”
From there, travelers would be directed via free pamphlet to a handful
of rickety houses, museums and shops, manned by one grey haired and
adorable local whose great, great grandmother’s godmother was one of
the tried victims.
Imagine my surprise.

After exiting the commuter-ingested Highway 128 into gridlocked Salem,
it takes me another 20 minutes to enter the downtown area.
It’s a constant play on words in this town: Monster Mini Golf, Witch
Ice Cream, Wicked Dry Cleaners. Scary is a business and everyone’s
looking to make bank.
Since I don’t have an exact destination, Margaret leaves me wandering
aimlessly, looking for any sign of the real Salem. While the
attractions are many, the authenticity is few and far between.
An illustrated map directs me to the following amenities: The Salem
Witch House, Salem Witch Museum, The Witch Dungeon Museum, The Witch
History Museum, World of Witches Museum, Spellbound Museum, The New
England Pirate Museum, Pioneer Village, The Salem Trolley, Count
Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, Nightmare Factory, the Wax Museum, Haunted
Village and a slew of other must-see exhibits claiming to provide
total access to the history of Salem and the historic events of 1692 –
for a minimal fee.
It’s getting dark, so I look for shelter instead.
Throwing away the plan of staying in the capacity-filled state park
campground, I relegate myself to a Motel 6—one of the only places that
accepts dogs—in the quiet town of Danvers, located just minutes away
from bustling Salem.
It’s a Wednesday and every week the Danvers running club hosts a
community 5k fun run.
What the heck? I decide.
The group of 30 some runners, including myself, takes off in the dark
through the neighborhood streets, finishing at a local
landscape/gardening business where there’s a small hot potluck and
cold beer for everyone.
“You came all the way from Michigan for this?” asks the enthusiastic
Brad between sips. “What are you doing all the way out here?”
I tell several of them I wanted to see Salem. It’s almost Halloween, right?
“Oh, you’re actually in the town where things went down,” says Aaron.
“Danvers is really where it’s at.”

The unassuming town of Danvers, Massachusetts (then known as Salem
Village) has little to no witch advertising – no psychic palm readers
or wicked ice cream parlors. If they exist, it’s quiet and off the
beaten path.
Aaron tells me briefly about Rebecca Nurse, the oldest woman to be
hung during the 1692 trials. The 80-year-old woman’s homestead is
located directly behind the building we stand in – actually, Aaron
notes he’s related to Nurse in some distant way.
Nearby is the family burial ground, including the grave of victim
George Jacobs, one of just a handful of men accused of witchcraft
during the trials.
Aaron tells me he most admires Giles Corey, also of Salem Village, who
after being accused of witchcraft was sentenced to stone pressing -- a
torture technique where a board is placed on the victim’s chest and
stones are added, suffocating the person to death.
“Lay more!” Corey had defiantly declared.
Danvers was the location of the original Salem Village Meeting House
where many of the witch examinations took place. Today, one of the
only real linkages Salem has to the trials (besides its few residents
who were accused; and Gallow Hill, the location of their hanging) is
the house of witch trial Judge Jonathan Corwin.
Salem Village became independent from Salem in 1752, dividing into the
regions of Peabody, Danvers and Beverly – and while old Salem Village
wanted to mend and be forgotten as the place where such ghastly events
took place, Salem embraced it.
“When Salem wanted all the recognition and notoriety, Danvers was
like, ‘Here, you can have it,’” says T.R, another fun run member.
“They saw an opportunity and ran with it – it’s pretty ridiculous how
much of a tourist trap that place is.”

Rumor has it the accusations of witchcraft were started when a young
Cuban servant girl had shared with others her knowledge of voodoo. A
sickness took hold of several young girls in the community and many
Christian followers saw it as a takeover by the devil – fueled more so
by then popular “Memorable Providences,” a book written by Cotton
Mather, who claimed to have witnessed witchcraft in Boston.
Rev. Samuel Parris was considered a pivotal character in the trials,
providing names of “Satan’s workers” to be tried. He was described as
self-serving with knee-jerk reactionary behavior – ready to throw
accusations at anyone who did not follow his parish.
While the witch hysteria only lasted a year, it was a time of much
paranoia and accusation between family and neighbors, enemies and
friends, where over 120 people were accused of witchcraft and 20 were
killed for that belief.
“If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent,”
said victim Elizabeth Howe.
“Oh Lord, help me! It is false. I am clear! For my life now lies in
your hands,” cried Rebecca Nurse.
“If it be possible no more innocent blood be shed…I am clear of this
sin!” said Mary Easty.
Had the victims known about their infamy before their demise, would
they have been proud or ashamed of us? Has the Salem Witch Trials of
1692 served as an example of what paranoia can do to a community? To a
nation? What have we gained from the events of 1692 besides a haunting
tale for our children at Halloween or a place to buy some quirky witch
In a 2008 Salem News article, Tom Dalton writes, “This old city, some
say, is locked in an eternal wrestling match with itself. Is this the
historic seaport of art and culture, or the ‘Witch City’ of psychics
and ghost tours?”
The city rejected a request by a paranormal research team from Rhode
Island to conduct a ghost hunt in the Witch House (Jonathan Corwin’s
house), saying it “‘would be in bad taste to allow ghost hunters to
go inside an historic, 17th-century house that is tied to such an
important and tragic event.’”
“We have to have respect for the gravity of the injustice that
occurred in 1692,” said Park and Recreation Commission board member
Chris Burke.
Yet, Salem’s police patrol cars bear the image of a witch and children
are sent to Witchcraft Heights School.
Perhaps the scariest aspect of Salem is how such a tragic past could
create a positive future – a sense of pride and profit. After all,
tourism is the number one import for Salem, providing substantial
profit to small businesses and the town itself (The Witch House made a
$175,000 profit that year).
The next morning I wake early and drive to the homestead of Rebecca
Nurse. The early sun casts shadows through the empty grounds and over
the dew-saturated grass. It’s quiet here, and somewhere in that
quiet—while scanning the old buildings and crosshatched fence—a wave
of sorrow and respect sweeps through me.
This is Salem, I think to myself.

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