Sunday, March 23, 2008

Connecticut: The Audacity to Float

Protestant ministers are fond of saying witty things like: "If God does not punish [fill in the blank] then he will have to dig up Sodom and Gamorah and apologize." It is a line that never fails to amuse, or drum up high quality righteous indignation. Perhaps that is what Timothy M. Kaine (D), governor of Virginia, was thinking a couple of years ago, when he granted a "ceremonial pardon" to a woman long-since dead, but convicted of witchcraft because she had the audacity to float in the Lynnhaven River (Virginia Beach). That is to say, 300 years ago, sinking in water would have cleared her of the charges. After seven years in prison, Grace Sherwood (a.k.a. "the Witch of Pungo") was released. I cannot yet discover if there was a follow-up administration of the sinking/floating test as she exited the premises. Maybe, rehabilitation was not considered a primary goal of incarceration back in the day.

Now comes a Judiciary Committee in the State of Connecticut, getting itself in the spirit as it ponders the fact that something like nine women and two men were hanged after being convicted of witchcraft between 1647 and 1663. Thirty-four additional persons were accused of the dark arts. A pending resolution (which is expected to pass) will inexplicably stop short of a full pardon, but would officially express shock and distress about the whole affair. Rep. Michael P. Lawlor (D) confesses that the issue is not the most pressing, but insists it is an "obligation" of the government to "set the record straight sometimes." Sen. Andrew W. Roraback (R) says it is his hope that "justice" is now done and adds, "It's never too late to right a wrong." Roraback also desires that the resolution will "enable these families, going forward in the future, to know that their ancestors were wrongfully convicted." See story here.

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