aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

While we're at it, we could always go back to trial by ordeal

I'm heading for Virginia Beach, where Witchduck Road is a prominent street. Witchduck Road is not named after Magica de Spell, but after the last (only?) trial of a witch in Virginia history -- some time back in the 1640s or so. Someone decided that a woman in the area was looking at people funny and denounced her as a witch. She was subjected to a ducking in a nearby body of water and didn't sink, so she was pronounced guilty and served time in jail. The place where she was ducked became Witchduck Road.

You'd think those times are long gone, and good riddance to them. But the TV here is blaring with the news that the college student who set up a camera to watch his gay roommate making out in their shared room has been found guilty of "bias intimidation" and faces up to ten years in prison and deportation to India.

Bad as bullying and all that is, and I'm not condoning it for anybody, gay/straight, black/white, whatever, this is simply and obviously a witch hunt. Using nothing better than the "spectral evidence" admitted at the Salem witch trials, the jury found this hapless guy guilty because somebody oughta be responsible for the fact that that embarrassed gay roommate jumped off a bridge. Mind you, the pranking student was NOT found guilty of actually hounding his roommate to his death, but simply of "bias discrimination." (He was also found guilty of "invasion of privacy," which in the context of dorm life I would have thought a practical impossibility. There is no privacy between roommates, as I recall. If you want privacy, you go somewhere else.)

Pranks are a part of young life. Some are hurtful, some end in disaster. I don't like pranking, either. But absent any real evidence of malice, how do you prove "bias discrimination," except by assuming what was in the mind of the pranker? My God, what have we come to?

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