Friday, September 14, 2018

The Trials

I visited a classroom today and was reminded of an interesting time in American History. Not only interesting, but a rather dark time in American History.

From Wikipedia, “The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts between February 1692 and May 1693. More than 200 people were accused, nineteen of which were found guilty and executed by hanging (fourteen women and five men). One other man was pressed to death for refusing to plead, and at least five people died in jail. It was the deadliest witch hunt in the history of the United States.”

Not a fun time in that part of the country by any means. The “evidence” was flimsy or nonexistent at best. One example introduced at the trial of Susanna Martin was a normally tame cow acting angry and unruly because a halter and tether was placed on it. Martin had somehow bewitched it.

And of course, this sort of thing happened at various points in history and not just in the United States. The Inquisition comes to mind. Christianizing the Indigenous people. Nazi treatment of Jews.

In the class I observed, the students were handed a note card. Most were blank, but there were some with a black dot on them. The students were told not to tell anyone else if their card had a dot or if it was blank.

The idea was that the students were to get up and move around the room and “determine” by “vote” who was a witch. Those who had a black dot were considered witches and they were to be expelled from the group. The “winners” would be the group that was the largest and that also had no witches in their midst. Of course, if a “witch” was among the group, then the group lost regardless of how large the group was.

The kids played along and moved around the room. Kids were expelled from one group or another based upon whatever criteria the group had decided.

Interesting . . .

At the end, each group had at least one witch among them and most were shocked to find out who it was. And equally bewildered were the “witches” who weren’t. There was a lot of laughter and spirited conversation taking place.

The instructor asked some compelling and thought-provoking questions. One in particular was, “Why did you choose to kick someone out of the group? On what basis?”

The kids had interesting answers: the way one would react after seeing if their card had a dot or not; their expression; how “secretive” he/she appeared; if he/she “laughed a lot.”

And equally interesting was the method used by the “witches” to disguise the fact that he/she was a witch: “I suggested that so and so was a witch and called for a vote.”

Finally, the instructor suggested that there was no real evidence, but the kicking out or keeping in was based upon one’s own emotion or the “look” of an individual.

Hmmm . . .

Seems like we do that quite a bit, don’t we? Ruling someone in or out based upon their looks. Ruling someone in or out based upon the way they act, especially if the way they act is not similar to our way of acting. Kind of easy to rule someone in or out. And kind of easy to be kicked out. Even if the reasoning or evidence is flimsy or nonexistent.

Might we try to be more inclusive? To accept someone rather than reject someone. To judge for ourselves rather than to accept the judgement of others. And perhaps it might even be better if we would not judge at all. Wouldn’t that be great! Something to think about . . .

To My Readers:

I will be selling and signing copies of my books at two events coming up in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. Hope to see you at one or the other or both! The first will be at:

Stafford's Fall Festival
Saturday, September 22 at 10 AM – 4 PM
163 Staffordboro Blvd, Stafford, VA 22556

The second will be at:

Fredericksburg Independent Book Festival
Saturday, September 29 at 10 AM – 4 PM
Old Mill Park; 2201 Caroline Street; Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Thanks to all who have taken a chance on reading Caught in a Web. If you are interested in a copy on either Kindle or in Paperback, you can find it on Amazon  or on Barnes and Noble at

And if you do give Caught in a Web a shot, please leave a rating and a review. I would appreciate it. Thanks for this consideration!

Caught in a Web:
The bodies of high school and middle school kids are found dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. The drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors and the Milwaukee Metro area is controlled by MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador. Ricardo Fuentes is sent from Chicago to Waukesha to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer.

Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family. The three detectives discover the ring has its roots in a high school among the students and staff.

Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved.    

Book Two, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them.    

Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
A 14 year old boy knows the end is coming. What he doesn’t know is when, where or by whom. Without that knowledge, neither he nor the FBI can protect him or his family.

The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out.

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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe