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THE SCAPEGOAT

Millenia ago, pagan priests would choose a goat, load it with the sins of the community and drive it into the wilderness. This ritual symbolized a cleanse of vice and was performed to promote prosperity. Throughout history, human minorities have been scapegoated too. During the bubonic plague, for example, some Europeans blamed the Jews for poisoning their wells with Black Death. Consider too last century's propaganda cartoons against African Americans, etc. The scapegoat has modern day symbolic equivalents, such as in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where a 50-foot dummy named Zozobra is stuffed with grievances-on-paper and set ablaze every autumn. Literature and art also occasionally spotlight a scapegoat: Shirley Jackson's story “The Lottery,” wherein the winner is stoned to death, is one plot. Christianity of course need also be mentioned. No proof exisits to support the effectiveness of this superstition.

 

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