Features Australia

Sex, lies and the spirit of Salem

Pitchforks and pyres as a miserable ghost fans the flames

6 March 2021

9:00 AM

6 March 2021

9:00 AM

The spirit of Salem has come to Australia’s federal parliament with a 21st century twist; woke witches subject their conservative quarry to show trial by media. In colonial Massachusetts in 1692, all an accuser had to do was lodge a ‘credible’ complaint for a ‘witch’ to be arrested. Torture was used to attempt to secure a confession but it was enough for the victim to see a black cat in a vision to establish the guilt of the accused beyond all doubt.

Despite 330 years of Enlightenment, we are returning to these nefarious practices. An accusation is all that is required to destroy a person’s reputation and livelihood. Evidence is not required, it is enough for the accuser to give her account of events which, as a point of honour, are not tested by journalists, let alone in an actual court. To make an accusation is to immediately achieve the hallowed status of victim and anyone who questions the testimony of a victim, her actions or motivations is guilty, ipso facto, of the grave offence of victim-blaming. Torture is not needed to secure a confession because according to the law of woke, it is enough for the accused to be a conservative, to be guilty. Yet torture is meted out anyway by putting the accused in the stocks while hostile hacks, the opposition and self-appointed scourges – the Mad Effing Witches and friends – hurl slander.

With choreographed precision, the latest episode in this saga erupted just as the previous fortnight’s salacious allegations were finally handed to the police having exhausted the interest of the press. Anonymous letters were sent to the Prime Minister, Labor’s Senator Penny Wong and the Greens’ Senator Sarah Hanson-Young outlining an alleged rape in 1988 of a teenage girl by a teenage boy, a few months older than her. The woman did not report the crime until 32 years later in February 2020, after the boy had become a cabinet minister in the Morrison government. Then, in June, she withdrew her request that the police investigate that matter and shortly afterwards committed suicide, having been troubled by mental health challenges. These tragic events strongly suggest that the woman wanted to put an end to the investigation before ending her life but that did not deter the ABC from running the story last week in lurid detail against the express wishes of the family of the deceased, who said it would cause them great distress. The ABC justified its heartless indifference by claiming that it was ‘in the public’s interest’. Hardly. The NSW police have said they will not press charges because there is ‘insufficient admissible evidence’.

That should be the end of it, yet journalists, the lawyer for the deceased and opposition parliamentarians and, dramatically, embittered former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull have demanded that the cabinet minister out himself and step down while a kangaroo court investigates.


In a step that reeks of sulphurous revenge, Turnbull speculated that the woman’s death might not have been suicide. If he had a shred of decency or evidence to support this extraordinary suggestion he should have provided it already to the coroner.

The only purpose of this danse macabre is to destroy the reputation of the cabinet minister revealed on Wednesday to be Attorney-General Christian Porter and damage the government. An ABC headline claiming that ‘Letter containing rape allegation against a Cabinet Minister could tumble into full-blown crisis for Prime Minister Scott Morrison’, bubbles with excitement. Turnbull has also made no secret of his animus toward his former colleagues. Having accused his predecessors – Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd – of being ‘miserable ghosts’ haunting Canberra, he has taken on the role of the Ghost of Hamlet’s father, seeking vengeance for his bloody end.

After weeks of appeasing these woke tormentors, the Prime Minister has recognised that ‘we can’t have a system in this country where… the mere making of an allegation and that being publicised through the media is grounds for governments to stand people down…’ and called on people making allegations of criminal conduct to report them to the police as soon as possible.

Like most of the evils of postmodernism, woke witch trials were ‘Made in America’. The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court in 2018 are the template. Four women came forward with accusations of attempted rape and sexual assault with no corroborating evidence. The accusers changed their evidence opportunistically and their witnesses did not support the allegations yet none of this mattered to the mob and their media enablers who howled their disapproval when Kavanaugh secured his appointment.

True to the hyper-partisan hypocrisy of the movement there was no demand that anyone unconditionally believe Tara Reade who alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Joe Biden in 1993 when she worked for him as a Congressional aide. In stark contrast to Kavanaugh’s accusers, the fact that some details of her account were inconsistent and there was insufficient evidence to corroborate her claim was used to dismiss it.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo, a great supporter of the #BelieveHer movement when the mob was baying for Kavanaugh’s blood, is now facing serious allegations of sexual harassment and bullying from three former aides. Yet Vice President Kamala Harris, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi were mute for days about the allegations until the mounting backlash prompted Pelosi to admit that the allegations were ‘credible’ and there should be an independent inquiry with due process and respect for everyone involved’ – a far cry from the blanket demand to #BelieveHer meted out to conservatives.

The partisan nature of the attacks is equally evident in Australia. Labor parliamentarians and the ABC have no interest in Kathy Sherriff who wants to reopen the police investigation into her alleged rape by former Labor leader Bill Shorten when she was 16. Former Labor MP Emma Husar, told the Australian she could ‘no longer sit in silence’ watching the ‘sanctimonious behaviour’ of Labor parliamentarians, pretending the poor treatment of women was a problem only for the Coalition. Yet every contrived twist in the tale that a Coalition MP committed rape more than three decades ago is breaking news.

The attack by the wokerati on the presumption of innocence threatens every Australian. In October 1692, decrying the Salem witch trials, Increase Mather wrote, ‘It were better that Ten Suspected Witches should escape, than that one Innocent Person should be Condemned’. The Prime Minister has to restore that principle or no one in the country will be safe.

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