Three cheers for AU's student government
On Jan. 20, 1692, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams began acting strangely. Within a short time, several other Salem, Mass., girls began blasphemous screaming, had convulsive seizures, trance-like states and mysterious spells.
Finding no medical cause for this behavior, in mid-February doctors said the girls were under the influence of Satan.
Twenty executions took place before Gov. William Phips stopped the slaughter and dissolved the special court that tried the people accused of witchcraft.
The doctors' non-medical diagnosis set in motion one of the most shameful series of events in the nation's history.
Pressured to confess, the girls named three witches. Imaginations fed on fears. People came forward to accuse others.
By November 1693, the governor, and probably the people, had had enough of the mass hysteria.
Auburn University's Student Government Association is a victim of a new witch hunt that involves, of all things, Christmas. It is about Auburn's Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony.
Thousands of e-mails and phone calls came in when campus Republicans picked up on the Rev. Jerry Falwell's "friend or foe" campaign to replace the use of "holiday" with "Christmas" wording.
Mr. Falwell's storm trooping Liberty Counsel then spread the word: Auburn is guilty! Auburn banned Christmas.
Parents threatened to send their children elsewhere. Donors threatened to withhold contributions.
The student senator who raised the issue launched a petition drive to force the tree to be called a Christmas tree. The devil's work was in the process of being undone, even though Satan wasn't loose on the Plains and doing in Christmas.
The "Holiday Tree Lighting" at Auburn refers to the overall holiday season and it includes the lighting of the Christmas tree. The event Monday also included the choir singing "Away in a Manger."
Three cheers for the SGA for not yielding to Mr. Falwell's publicity stunt and for challenging the accusations. To turn Christmas into a witch hunt of us-against-them negates the holiness of the season.