Witches’ brew may never boil
The Middletown Press, July 20, 2002
By JIM HICKEY, Middletown Press Staff July 20, 2002
CROMWELL — School officials on Friday addressed the controversy pertaining to a group’s efforts to ban materials dealing with witches and witchcraft from the school system. At least one official, Schools Supt. Mark Cohah, said he does not support banning any books from schools, and felt it was “very unlikely” that any books will be banned.
“I certainly don’t have the ability to make such decisions, but I don’t agree these books should be banned,” said Cohan. “It’s a very dangerous practice to start banning books, no good comes of it. There have been groups of people in recent memory that have tried to ban books with very horrible results.”
The group feels that books taught in the school system like “The Witch of Blackbird Pond,” by Elizabeth Speare, and “The Bridge to Terabitha,” by Katherine Peterson, are anti-Christian and glorify the practice of witchcraft. The groups would also like to ban “Harry Potter” books.
Since a report on the group’s plans first appeared in The Press late last week, the newspaper has been swamped with hundreds of communications denouncing the group and its goals. Most of the messages voice opposition to the group’s efforts, some going as far to accuse the group of censorship and bigotry.
However, there has been a handful of people who have shown support for the group.
In total, there were about a dozen messages sent to The Press in the past week showing support for the group, while there were as many as 300 denouncing the group and what it stands for. A large number of those messages took exception to the group associating the Wicca religion with Satan or evil.
Many of the messages also point out that “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” does not promote witchcraft.
It, instead, shows how prejudice and hysteria can uproot a town, and in a large sense, a society. The book won a Newbery Medal, and was honored as an ALA Notable Children’s Book. It focuses on orphaned Kit Tayler as she moves from the Caribbean to the Connecticut colony in 1687 to live with her Puritan aunt and uncle.
During her stay, Kit befriends a Quaker woman named Hannah, who is known as the witch of Blackbird Pond, and finds herself put on trial as a witch.
“The Witch of Blackbird Pond actually conveys a very strong tolerance message,” said Cohan. “It shows how destructive hysteria can become.”