Martha Coakley Sounds like a Salem Witch-Hunter

During the 1980s, real people went to real prisons on the strength of children’s fantasies. Many of these were people who operated preschools and had devoted their lives to child care.

The 1987-90 McMartin Preschool trial, described as the most expensive criminal trial in American history, produced no convictions–but you can imagine the effect on the defendants’ lives.

The West Memphis Three were victims of the same prosecutorial hysteria over “satanism.”

The Amirault family trial in Massachusetts was another. To quote Dorothy Rabinowitz, author of No Crueler Tyrannies: Accusation, False Witness, and Other Terrors of Our Times:

The accusations against the Amiraults might well rank as the most astounding ever to be credited in an American courtroom, but for the fact that roughly the same charges were brought by eager prosecutors chasing a similar headline—making cases all across the country in the 1980s.

Those which the Amiraults’ prosecutors brought had nevertheless, unforgettable features: so much testimony, so madly preposterous, and so solemnly put forth by the state. The testimony had been extracted from children, cajoled and led by tireless interrogators.

It’s like Salem 1692 again: letting kids fantasize and treating those fantasies as evidence in court. “Spectral evidence.”

On Tuesday, voters in Massachusetts will select a replacement for Senator Edward Kennedy.

The Democrats are running Martha Coakley, a former district attorney and state attorney general, who still thinks the Amiraults’ case was handled correctly and who has fought to keep Gerald Amirault in prison because she thinks he is some kind of satanic mastermind.

She is a Democrat, I’m a Democrat. But I don’t care if she likes kittens and puppies and takes good care of her aged parents.

For that reason alone–for being the spiritual descendant of the Salem witch-hunters–if I lived in Massachusetts, I would not vote for Martha Coakley.

UPDATE: Civil-liberties writer Randy Balko examines Coakley’s record. It sounds like she believes that the cops are always right and the courts never make a mistake.

4 thoughts on “Martha Coakley Sounds like a Salem Witch-Hunter

  1. Peter M.

    I understand your feelings, but I'm a Masschusetts voter, and I will vote for Martha Coakley.

    The whole SRA thing was a travesty, but even so Coakley is much better than her Republican opponent Scott Brown, who is anti-choice for women, pro-death penalty, opposed to the public health care legislation, and opposed to gay marriage (which we already have in Massachusetts).

    Coakley isn't perfect, but if Brown is elected it will be a disaster for our state and country.

  2. Chas S. Clifton

    Yes, if the Republicans gain a Senate seat, the very orbits of the planets will be changed.

    The Democrats would have only an effective 59-41 majority then.

  3. Chas S. Clifton

    It's not a "Pagan litmus test," it's a civil liberties litmus test.

    Civil liberties are for everyone–unless, like Ms. Coakley (apparently), you think that the cops never make a mistake and the courts always come up with a just verdict.

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