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This is Andrew VU ‘04’s Sense of Dread

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Vanderbilt v Georgia
Pure evil.
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

It is 4am and I am wide awake. The world is on fire, and our collective thimbles full of water can do nothing to stop it. It’s not the flames that bother you; it’s the futility. Like Sisyphus, you keep reaching that thimble into the ocean, but instead of a boulder, you face men and women (mostly men) gleefully spraying accelerant from a fire hose. When the flames are close enough to have seared your eyebrows, a bit of the accelerant hits your finger, and you know it’s over. You run into the fire with all you have, hoping to reach one of the smiling ones before the flames win. At least those were the events of my dream. The last one. The one I remember. The one that woke me.

It is not the University of Georgia’s football team that caused the dream. Of this much, I am certain. Still, Kirby Smart and his band of well-trained, frighteningly talented players are Salem, Massachusetts, and we, at best, are Giles Corey.

What we watch tonight will be an execution by pressing.

For those who do not know the story of Giles Corey, the education system has failed you. Not only should your English teachers have assigned The Crucible, but your History teachers should have given you the real tale.

Giles Corey was a simple farmer in the Puritan town of Salem. Between the months of February 1692 and May 1693, over 200 of the town’s residents were tried for the crime of witchcraft—19 found guilty and subsequently hanged. His wife, Martha Corey—known around the town for her piety, and who had not allowed herself to become wrapped up in the insanity of the trials, as she knew witches and warlocks did not exist, and beyond that, were not in the Bible—was one of the 19 thus tried and hanged.

Giles defended her, to no avail. One month later, Giles faced the same charges, with the following deposition entered into the records of the Court of Oyer and Terminer:

I saw the apparition of Giles Corey come and afflict me urging me to write in his book and so he continued most dreadfully to hurt me by times beating me and almost breaking my back till the day of his examination being the 19th April [1692] and then also during the time of his examination he did afflict and torture me most grievously and also several times since urging me vehemently to write in his book and I verily believe in my heart that Giles Corey is a dreadful wizard for since he had been in prison he or his appearance has come and most grievously tormented me.

That he was unjustly and irrationally charged was simply par for the course in this town. If you haven’t noticed, people, as a species, are unrelentingly stupid, and have a penchant for cowardice. What makes the story of Giles Corey so interesting is this: unlike those who had come before him, Giles Corey refused to plea.

Back then, according to law, a person who refused to plea could not be tried. The could, however, be given “Peine forte en dure” for such refusal, which, in Salem, meant pressing.

Giles Corey was...

remanded to the prison from whence he came and put into a low dark chamber, and there be laid on his back on the bare floor, naked, unless when decency forbids; that there be placed upon his body as great a weight as he could bear, and more, that he hath no sustenance, save only on the first day, three morsels of the worst bread, and the second day three draughts of standing water, that should be alternately his daily diet till he died, or, till he answered.

In other words, a heavy board was placed on his chest. Upon that board were an increasing number of rocks and/or boulders. Giles Corey, rather than relent or plea for mercy, shouted only, “More weight!”

*Note: Other accounts claim Corey shouted “More rocks,” but the meaning is unchanged regardless.

The people of Salem obliged, and Giles withstood this torture for two days, before his rib cage gave way, his eyes bulged out, and:

“In the pressing, Giles Corey’s tongue was pressed out of his mouth; the Sheriff, with his cane, forced it in again.”

On Monday September 19th, around noon, Giles Corey died, having refused to enter a plea, and hence, allowing his property and possessions to be given to his children.

Today, at 6:30pm CT, we will witness a reenactment.

Hopefully, our boys will have the courage to ask for more weight.