Belfast Telegraph

Nuala McKeever: Welcome to Salem, let’s burn the witch Hazel Stewart

The world’s agog with the Hazel Stewart trial and conviction. Well, I say ‘the world’. I mean, this world, here, in Northern Ireland, 2011

I mention the date because at times this past week it’s felt as though we’ve been living in the 1950s. Or maybe even 1692, the year of the Salem Witch Trials.

Yes the murders were horrific. Yes the families have suffered hugely. Yes we can wonder why they didn’t just get divorced.

But the ghoulish coverage and the rush to bring out special supplements and books and TV programmes with reconstructions leaves me uneasy.

The papers devote prurient pages to every detail. And when they run out of details, they tell us the same details again. Re-hash upon rehash.

I know we all have a fascination with the dark side of human nature.

But the venom with which ‘ordinary’ people talk about other people’s dark side, as if they had no dark side themselves, is shocking.

For a supposedly Christian society, the rush to throw stones from glass houses is surprising.

I imagine if they brought back the guillotine, sales of knitting would shoot up.

And while the colours might be more sophisticated, I suspect the patterns would be just the same.

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