The targeting of public figures who speak out against lockdowns and other Covid-orthodoxies has intensified in Britain, and there are clear connections with previous power-structure-protecting campaigns used to silence heretics.
The 1968 historical horror film ‘Witchfinder General’, which tells the story of 17th century witch-hunter Matthew Hopkins, who terrorised the countryside of Parliament-held eastern England during the English Civil War, is a harrowing watch. Its brilliant young director Michael Reeves, unable to sleep, died from an overdose of barbiturates (thought to be accidental) just a few months after its release.
While the film may well give you nightmares, I do recommend you watch it. Because it helps us understand better what is happening in Britain today. We have gone hurtling back at warp speed to the witch-hunt frenzy of the 1640s. Shutting our eyes to what is going on around us is simply not an option, because then things will only get worse. History tells us that the only way witch-hunts, which are inimical to free societies, end is if enough people stand up to them.
n one memorable scene in ‘Witchfinder’, Hopkins (played by the great Vincent Price) tells the captured ‘witches’, who have been tortured to obtain a confession, that the ‘due process’ of the law will be applied. “You will each be tied in a prescribed fashion and cast into the moat. Should you then sink, we will know your confessions are false… If, on the other hand, you are seen to swim or float, then your confessions of witchcraft are proved without a doubt, and you will be withdrawn and hanged from the neck until you are dead.”
If you fail the swimming test, you die – and if you pass it, you also die. To be accused of being a witch is to be guilty. Evidence? Who needs that, when you are acting for the ‘good’ of society?
And so it is today, with the 21st-century equivalents of Matthew Hopkins, now repositioned – after years persecuting opponents of bombing Syria, anti-war supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, and anyone further to the left than David Miliband or further to the right than David Cameron – to chase after ‘Covid-denialists’, ‘conspiracy theorists‘ and ‘anti-vaxxers‘.