|FEATURE - OCTOBER, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GEORGIA|
On October 6, this newspaper ran a story on area "ghostbusters". The response was immediate and entertaining.
Original Article / Responses / Editorial / The Last Word
October 6, 1999 Issue
(This is the original article)
Ghostbuster' stirs controversy over graveyard forays
Woman's haunt hobby also dominates child custody hearing
BY ANGELA GARY
A former Jackson County woman has come under fire for her nighttime forays into area graveyards to look for ghosts. Her ghost-busting "hobby" has also dominated Cheryl Drake's custody dispute with her Nicholson husband, John Drake, who alleges that his wife's hobby is really witchcraft that is unhealthy for their two children.
Several Nicholson area residents complained recently to The Jackson Herald about Mrs. Drake's graveyard activities after having seen her photographs on the Georgia Haunt Hunt Team web site and reading an article about her in an area magazine.
The website features photographs taken from several Jackson County cemeteries, including Antioch United Methodist Church in Nicholson, Brockton Church Cemetery, Center UMC, Howington Cemetery and Mizpah Cemetery. The photographs have captions such as "Home of the Antioch Pie Ghost," "The Cloaked Ghost of Antioch Cemetery" and "Ghost looking at the camera! It is wearing a cloak."
Margaret Ward, a long-time member of Antioch UMC, is one of the church members upset about Mrs. Drake going into the cemetery in search of ghosts.
"I've always felt that the cemeteries were a place we reverenced and honored because of our loved ones being buried there," she said. "I think it is just a part of our culture. I think that anything other than reverence for a grave is desecration. I also feel this group of people, although they may be on the surface saying it is not anything of evil nature, that if they are indeed legit, they would have come to someone in the church and asked permission to go into these graves."
Mrs. Ward said she is also concerned that the web page could bring others to the cemetery in search of "ghosts."
"Since all of this is on the Internet and it is worldwide, there may be other people that would come in now and destroy the grave markers and things of this sort," she said. "I'm very upset. I think they are abusing the memories of those we honor and love."
The Rev. Richard Cathy, pastor of Antioch, said no one from the group contacted him about going into the cemetery and he doesn't approve of the action.
"I think there needs to be permission given before they start doing those type of things," he said. "As far as I know, they haven't talked to anyone over here. We need to know what she is doing on our property. When you see those things on the web page, it is disturbing."
In a recent custody hearing, Mrs. Drake said the cemeteries she goes to are picked at random and she doesn't know whose graves are depicted in the photographs she takes.
"I've not had anybody say that they minded," she said. "In fact, some people bring us to their family cemeteries."
In addition to the complaints of trampling in graveyards, Mrs. Drake's activities have also been the main focus of her custody dispute. In the hearing, Mr. Drake accused his wife of witchcraft. Mrs. Drake denied the allegations, but did admit to the cemetery visits in search of ghosts, reading Tarot cards and "smudging," which is taking a bundle of herbs, lighting them and spreading the smoke through a home to get rid of evil spirits. She calls her actions a "hobby."
Superior Court Judge David Motes apparently agreed with her as he granted her temporary custody in the hearing.
"Ms. Drake's eccentricities are a cause for concern," he said in his ruling. "And I'm not sure how her beliefs ....will affect the children emotionally and spiritually...I believe that there's no evidence in this case of witchcraft or devil worship. It's apparently a hobby of Ms. Drake that I believe she's maybe taking a bit too seriously."
The judge ruled that Mrs. Drake's allegations of physical abuse by Mr. Drake are more damaging. She said that her husband slapped her once and spit on her daughter once.
"The thing that concerns the court the most is Mr. Drake's slapping his child and spitting on his child," Judge Motes said in his ruling. "I don't know what sort of mental or emotional effect ghost hunting will have on the children, but I know the mental, emotional and physical effects of slapping a child and spitting on a child."
Although Mr. Drake admits having slapped his wife once and spit on the 10-year-old-child, he said both were extenuating circumstances. Their was no evidence presented in the hearing in connection to the judge's comments about the child being slapped. Both Mr. and Mrs. Drake said that he had not slapped the child. But the judge did meet in his chambers with the child with no one else present.
Mr. Drake said he spit on the child because she had repeatedly been spitting on her younger brother and then spit on him.
"I felt terrible about it," he said. "We had a long, long talk about that. And I apologized to her. She apologized to me. We all discussed how that it is improper, disrespectful and just should not happen."
He also admitted to slapping his wife on one occasion, saying she had multiple personalities and he was just trying to get her to calm down.
"...It wasn't intended to be, you know, pain-inflicting or violent," he said. "It was really to bring her, hopefully, to her senses. And that's the only time I've ever laid a hand on her in six years."
Mrs. Drake also admitted that she once slapped her husband's daughter, who was 13-years-old at the time. She also said she has hit herself in the head. She said she knows these actions are wrong and has gone to therapy because of them.
But while allegations of abuse figured in the court hearing, Mrs. Drake's desire to find ghosts were also at the center of the issue. Mr. Drake attorney, Wanda David, presented three boxes of evidence, including photographs taken from Jackson County cemeteries where Mrs. Drake went in search of ghosts, her diaries which include passages on ghosts and reincarnation, Tarot cards and other occult-related items.
"I don't believe in witchcraft," Mrs. Drake said during her testimony. "I did do tarot card readings for myself and I did do smudging, which clears the air in a room. But those things are coping mechanisms for when I can't take John's badgering. They're coping mechanisms. They're fun."
Photographs Mrs. Drake took at Jackson County cemeteries were among the evidence presented during the hearing. Some were marked with her thoughts or comments, including one which said there were "photos with globes of light. One very prominent and sparks of ecto.
"Ecto--that's what I used to call it," Mrs. Drake said. "But I don't like that word now because it's too ghost-buster. Yeah, there were speckly things in the picture. I don't know what they were."
She also testified about the organization she formed, Georgia Haunt Hunt Team, which has the web-site of Jackson County ghosts.
"We try to either prove or disprove whether there may or may not be ghosts in a house," Mrs. Drake said. "And we have no proof that there are ghosts, period. We look for evidence, but no one has any proof anywhere. It's just a hobby.
"To me, I would love to find proof that there are ghosts because to me, that would mean there is life after death and I think that would make it easier for people to accept death."
During his testimony, Mr. Drake said that he has been concerned about his wife going into cemeteries.
"I have concerns and always have had concerns as far as trespassing on grave sites," he said. "And I think there's a matter of respect for the deceased that is being trampled on."
Mrs. Drake said she at first that she never took the children on her haunt huntings. Mrs. David presented a photograph of the daughter with a thermal scanner which is used to measure temperature in the infrared range. Mrs. Drake said this is used to check for "cold spots" in alleged haunted houses. She later testified that her daughter and son had been with her when she went to cemeteries but she left them in the car.
She also explained passages from a journal she kept on incidents involving the children. One dealt with something her daughter saw in their home.
"She saw a blur go by her door," Mrs. Drake said. "She saw the face of a little boy wearing, she thinks, a red shirt. She assumed it was (her brother) until she realized he was downstairs watching TV."
She also wrote about her son's "ghost friend."
"He told me that his ghost friend is on the closet side of the room where I heard the scratching noise," she said. "He says he plays hide and seek with his ghost friend. He says the boy's hair is white."
In the closing statements, David again emphasized the elements of witchcraft in the family home and the influence it has on the children.
"Her activities have stretched the imagination, as far as I'm concerned," the attorney said. "We read our cards. We go in our closet. We see ghosts in photographs. And your honor, look at the evidence. Read her diary. She thinks her child is a reincarnation of a dead child. It just cannot be for the mental health and well-being of these children for them to remain with her at this time."
Mrs. Drake's attorney, W. Roy Finch III, said his client's actions are "mainstream."
"Her hobbies may be a little more colorful than a lot of folks in Jackson County and maybe a few more in Athens than she can relate to and maybe a few more in Atlanta," he said. "But the fact of the matter is, there's nothing sinister and there's nothing evil about this."
In the judge's ruling, he said he did not see a "pattern of violence" in Mr. Drake's actions
"I've heard some allegations of violence on Mr. Drake's part, but I don't see a pattern of violence in the evidence," he said. "I see some isolated incidents but those are of a great magnitude."
The judge ordered a custody evaluation by an independent psychologist. Another court hearing on the matter has not yet been scheduled.
October 13, 1999 Issue
The Jackson Herald
October 13, 1999
Double, double toil and trouble
(Warning: This article was ghost-written)
We never knew so many people had ghost hunting as a hobby,
or took it so seriously.
But gauging from the email reaction to last week's story about a local woman whose ghost-hunting hobby is at the center of her child custody dispute, there are a lot of people out there looking for unseen spirits.
Apparently, Cheri Drake and her band of Georgia haunt hunters posted a request to the International Society of Ghost Hunters (yes, there really is such a group) to "support" them. The ISGH then sent out a mass email to its members with a one-sided summary of the article and asked its members to "flood the editors" with email.
Since that posting, we've heard from some 200 people from all over the world who took us to task for being "bias." Trouble is, most of those people were apparently three sheets to the wind (pun intended) and never even read the story about Mrs. Drake. They reacted only to the ISGH summary, which did not reflect the story accurately.
For these misguided souls, we'd like to clear up a few items:
· This newspaper did not say Mrs. Drake's ghost-hunting was "witchcraft" - that accusation was made by her former husband during a recent court hearing over child custody issues.
· We did not take sides in the story but attempted to fairly present both sides of the court case. We quoted extensively from the court transcript from both Mrs. Drake and Mr. Drake giving both a chance to be heard. We did not call either one of them because their comments were in the transcript of the court hearing.
· We included in the story the allegations of abuse Mrs. Drake leveled against her estranged husband. But we should point out that to our knowledge, no criminal charges have ever been filed against Mr. Drake based on those allegations.
· We don't know whether Mrs. Drake's ghost-hunting hobby is important in the child custody issue, but it did dominate that proceeding. We didn't make it an issue, the court proceedings made it an issue.
· In spite of Mr. Drake's witch accusations, Mrs. Drake was given temporary custody of the children. The judge agreed with Mrs. Drake that her activities were a harmless hobby.
· Some people are upset because Mrs. Drake's ghost-hunting team rambles around in graveyards. Right or wrong, people are upset and we reported that.
What's interesting about those ghost hunters who wrote us is that they claim their hobby is "scientific." For a few that may be true.
But for most of those who contacted us, it is obviously a pseudo-science pasttime at best. A few scratchy negatives does not a ghost make. (We also got email from a number of self-professed witches, but so far, no hexes have been placed on us.)
But woe be to those who dare report on ghost hunting without making it sound scientific and serious. These are no Halloween pranksters - they are serious scientists doing serious research with serious science equipment!
There's something a little scary about all of this - and here's a hint - it isn't the ghosts.
The Jackson Herald
October 13, 1999
A sampling of emails received:
(Editor's Note: The following are excerpts from some of the 200+ emails we received about last week's story concerning a local woman's ghost hunting and how that was a major part of a divorce custody hearing. The response's came after leaders of the International Ghost Hunters Society, and others, asked their members to "flood" the newspaper with email.)
Ghostbusters Bite Back
You have to be the dumest (sic) SOB I have
ever heard of! Ghost hunting is not witchcraft. Learn to tell
the difference between the two. Do not speak on things you know
nothing about! Stick to things you know like trying to run a newspaper.
- Tim Anderson
We are calling for our members, worldwide,
all 11,000 of you now, to take a stand for a fellow member of
the IGHS. You know the high standards by which the IGHS is operated,
you know the beliefs we stand by and you know there is nothing
kept hidden, like secret sacrificial ceremonies or endangering
the lives of our children. Everything we stand for is open to
the public as posted on our Web site.
With the circumstances getting out of control while Cheri was trying to do the right thing to protect herself and her children, she and the members of her organization, The Georgia Haunt Hunt Team, have asked for our help...
To bring attention to the newspaper reporter and the editor of the paper who wrote the slanderous article about Cheri, we are asking our members to email the editor. We want the newspaper office flooded with email so they will take the steps necessary to learn the truth, and to listen to what Cheri has to say.
-from the IGHS
I read about Cheri Drake being accused of being a witch - are you all morons or what? Ghost hunting has nothing to do with witchcraft. We are not in the dark ages (but it appears that people in your town are.)
...you guys remind me of the Jerry Springer
show with your yellow journalism.
- Chris Moseley
Just read about the lopsided, redneck approach
your paper is taking concerning Cheri Drake. Boy, what a bummer.
I thought the Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s were the severest
form of justice being miscarried, but your newspaper takes the
prize after almost 400 years.
- Henry Powers
What kind of hogwash, sad rag, one horse town
newspaper are you printing? Who do you think you are to slanderously
point fingers and publish such biased nonsense? Indeed she may
be a witch but I hardly see her wickedness in comparison to the
spell you have set in motion. Your powers may be different, but
you have just bewitched the readers of your paper with your craft.
I am a witch and will admit it - what will you do now? It's ungodly
for her to try to provide physical evidence of an afterlife? You
must be looking for a career in politics. Mud slinging, lying,
cheating, stealing dignity from another for your own acclaim;
which office will you hold?
The laws of life will not spare you - as ye sow so shall ye reap.
- Daniel Smith
Cheri has never in my presence even remotely
considered to be an action of that of someone with multiple personalities,
that's not even relevant to anything! Furthermore, if she believes
that her son is reincarnated, who are we to say anything? Even
though my faith says that it doesn't exist, would it be right
to say that millions of Buddhists are wrong for their belief?
I've seen ghosts, there's one in my house. If someone wants to disprove it, bring it on. I know what I've seen. Reporting someone's personal dirty laundry in public is one thing, but if you don't have all the facts to a story, you're at fault for not being thorough and show your lack of effort in reporting. I thought yellow dog journalism was a thing of the past?
I am worried that the effects of your article
may create a harmful view of an enjoyable pastime that I enjoy
with the Georgia Haunt Hunt Team. I only hope that you give Cheri
Mohr Drake the opportunity to comment on an apparently one-sided
article. I'm sure that you are an ethically minded establishment
and would not publish an article purely for the sensation it may
create regardless of its effects.
- Lanora Pierce
Her husband is using the "witchcraft"
as a bargaining tool in a divorce. Before I make any additional
comments toward your newspaper and the writer in regard to the
article, I'd like for you to forward me a copy of the article
Mr. Herald wrote. I am unsure of the exact publication date.
- Brandon VanOrden
In regard to Cheri Mohr Drake's hobby of ghost
hunting or taking photos of ghosts, pull your head out of the
sand! It has absolutely nothing to do with witchcraft, devil worship
or spooky stuff. When following the standards set by the International
Ghost Hunter's Society, this hobby consists of taking pictures
and making sound recordings. Northing more.
There is a song by a country music star that
says when the lights went out in Georgia, and the judge had bloodstains
on his hand! So remember what could be on yours. If you think
it right to pick on someone's hobbies, go to Russia.
- Leonard Burns
This woman is very kind and has helped me out
with a lot of problems that I have had in my life. She has done
nothing wrong to anyone. Sir, I want to put an ad in the paper
saying that Cheri is not a witch or a bad person and also not
an abuser of her children. So what you need to do is listen to
your heart and not to someone that has abused her for more than
three years. So Mr. Jackson, I tell you now that if you don't
do this you are the one who is very arrogant and needs to get
into a different profession.
I took the liberty of reading your backwoods
newspaper. I noticed that on the front page in the article entitled
"Taxi driver stabbed, stoned in NJ." The title would
lead one to believe that you meant New Jersey. I realize after
reading the article that you meant North Jackson. Dear Editor,
let me assure you that NJ stands for New Jersey, not North Jackson.
But I suppose that due to your small time status that your readers
will let it slide, because the majority of them most likely can't
read past a third grade level.
- Shannon Hensley Edwards
For a woman like this to be accused of witchcraft
is an outrage. The Georgia Haunt Hunt that she founded has been
featured on all the major news stations including CNN and several
newspapers across the country. It is also backed by the International
Ghost Hunting Society, a world-famous group of established researchers.
In closing I would like to say that next time a sleazy tabloid
pretending to be an established newspaper decided to print a story
as the one you've printed they should have the common decency
to print the whole truth.
- Joe Harris
Proud member of the International
Ghost Hunting Society
Proud member of the
Georgia Haunt Hunt Team
Founder of the Cumming
Chaper of the GHHT
I certainly hope, as we enter the millennium,
that your fine readership might be well-educated enough to protest
this attempt at re-creating the second form of American genocide,
proclaiming witchcraft upon an individual. In the Northeast, we
are all too familiar with the effects of such an evil practice
as calling people witches. It has cost us far too many lives.
- Michael M. Schieffelin
Did you go to school? If so, you wasted your
talent. You took something you don't understand because the "God"
stuff has rotted your mind into believing something else and screwed
with someone's life. You should count your losses and write an
"I'm sorry for making things worse for Ms. Drake and the
Truth Seekers" column before your find yourself getting more
and more emails that will be keeping you up at night.
Hope you're happy, you witch!
How about showing some journalistic integrity
- and ingenuity - by interviewing the subject of the "witchcraft"
label, Cheri Mohr Drake, as well as some experts who can tell
you (and the rest of the world) that labeling a ghosthunter a
"witch" is an ignorant nonsensical assumption.
- Loyd Auerbach, M.S.
Director, The Office of
Adjunct Professor, John F. Kennedy University
Mrs. Ward should go on a ghost hunt before
she comments about what goes on in a cemetery during a hunt, she
does not have a clue. I would welcome her coming to Michigan and
going on a hunt with me.
- Brad Mikulka
President, South East Michigan Ghost Hunters Society
I felt the need to let you know that we aren't
a bunch of nuts out here trying to feel the vibes and gain profits
through it. We are scientists who believe that God is all powerful.
Thank you for your time. Safe journeys to you all.
- Dave Weaver
Ghosthunting is a hobby; some embrace it more
enthusiastically than others. Since the dawn of time, (wo)mankind
has been searching for answers about life after death. This hobby
is simply another chapter in that search - nothing more.
- Frank Post
Cheri Drake isn't a "witch" and shouldn't lose custody of her children. Her husband is only playing a selfish game with the legal system so he can appear to be the "good guy."
- Timothy Black
I have pictures to prove that love remains
even after the passing of the flesh. I am to be married on Oct.
20, my mother's birthday (she passed away two years ago), in hopes
that her ever lasting love and spirit will join us.
Call it weird or strange, but by no means call it witchcraft.
From what I was told so far, I feel if you
were any kind of a good reporter, you would get both sides of
the story and not make this into a full-blown "witch hunt!"
- Ruby Arreola
Long Beach, California
What century is this? Witchcraft? Ghost hunting?
I know nothing about the woman or her circumstances, but an article
connecting witchcraft to ghosthunting, next you will be saying
that pagan wise women who use herbs and incantations to aid people
are evil - oh yeah, that's been done. Really, the media should
exercise some form of judgment that is at least passibly intelligent.
I feel before you go and trash ghosthunters
as witches and more, you need to get the full scope of the hobby.
There are an estimated two million ghost hunters worldwide. Ninety
percent of us are not out to damage and will fully cooperate if
asked to leave in our hunts. Well, the hobby is keeping its eyes
focused on this story as it unfolds. I would expect that you will
receive many emails about this story from all over.
- Kevin Faulknor
I am enraged over the anguish being inflicted
upon this woman and her children by people who appear to be mean,
bigoted, profoundly sexist, cowed by out-of-control fears or just
- Dawn Grib
Why are you so worried about something that
you probably don't even believe in? This is sheer stupidity. I
don't usually pay attention to society because of the stupid things
they do, like this, but this really pisses me off. Anyhow, I just
wish people would lighten up and truly look up the definitions
of what ghost hunting and witchcraft actually are. Thank you for
your time, but I must say that this is ridiculous.
- TheDance24@aol.comDear Sir ,
I am a practicing witch and I can tell you
HUNTING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH WITCHCRAFT . Ghost hunting is
more soul helping because the ghost hunter is trying to help the
lost soul to let go of the earthly plane and go on to heaven .
Any thing you people don't understand or even bother to find out
about , you put a negative twist on it . Why didn't you get
Cheri Drakes 's point of view ? If you believe in the soul and
life after death , then why can't you believe that some souls
choose to stay earth bound because they are attached to people ,
places or are just confused about being dead ? I don't see how
you can think that ghost hunting can hurt Mrs. Drake's children .
If nothing else , they would know that life goes on because the
soul never dies . To children , that's a comfort . I feel the only
harm these children are facing is an abusive father .I grew up
with a mother that beat me black and blue . Now that is abusive
and took me a long time to learn to deal with and forgive her .
I can just imagine how much fear they have as well as how
worthless they feel because of the abusive treatment from their
father . Now you want them to be taken from the most loving
person in their lives .
Also you have said witchcraft is negitive , well you
are wrong on that too .
The Wiccan Law is And It Harm None , Do What Thy Will . That
means you don't harm anyone physically , mentally , emotionally or
spiritually . Your paper and Mrs. Drake's husband are harming her
and her children in all of these ways . You are even going
against your own christian teachings . You are causing people to
judge Mrs . Drake without the full facts which include her point
of few . I hope that you and the public give Cheri Drake an
open mind and heart . I also feel that she should be able to
take the police while Mr. Drake is at work and get the children
's and her clothes . Mr. Drake isn't thinking of the children if
he won't even let them have their clothes and maybe a few toys .
Mrs. Drake is the only one who 's thinking about them . Please
interview Cheri Drake .
Speaking from a point of view that you have
not yet taken, I am appalled and
insulted at your article cocerning the Drake's and their children. My mother
is the editor of a newspaper and thus I have picked up a few things on how
reporters should conduct themselves when looking for a story, it's usually
not a pretty sight. However, I have also learned that when gathering
information for a story, it is usually in everyone's best interest to get all
sides of the story.
I myself am a witch. In fact there are more
witches than you think there
are. Witches are not Satanic people, nor do they perform midnight ceremonies
that involve virgin sacrifice. I am also a ghost hunter. Now, let's state
the obvious for those of you who don't know any better. A ghost hunter is
just that. They are people who are seeking definite proof of the afterlife.
A witch is someone who is exercising their right of freedom of religion.
Just becuase you are a ghost hunter, does NOT mean that you are a witch, and
vice versa. As a reporter, it is your job to inform the people of wrong
doings and the local events. You have either just created or missed the
largest story you will probably ever lay your eyes on.
Why didn't you interview Cheri for her comments?
Is your paper or your
reputation that fragile? You have just labeled yourself and your paper a
coward, because this story is all over the net, and it is also the topic of
many, many discussions and newsletter all over the planet.
In the future, I would hope that you would
conduct yourself in a more
professional manner by getting all sides of the story.
I have spent many years researching different
subjects from angels, God,
ghosts, witchcraft, saints, anything that stikes my interest. I heard,
although I did not read, your article on Ms. Drake. I can assure you that an
interest in ghosts, or the afterlife, does not constitute witchcraft. There
are books about witchcraft, which is a religion. According to the Bill of
Rights, there is freedom of religion. So, either way, what was written about
Ms. Drake, in my opinion, is slander. Although I do not know this woman, or
her family, my heart and prayers go to her for she is a victim of abuse and
now a witch hunt. May God help her.
Jennifer L. Kakesh
Before you write an article, make sure that
the subject matter is researched. You can get yourself into a
lot of problems, which I feel you have. Let me sight a few:
The subject is on Mr. Drake, not witchcraft. If what has been mentioned about child abuse, that should be checked on first. The children come first, that is what you guys print in the papers all the time, 'Child welfare,' right? Well get hopping on that. Being a paranormal investigator is not witchcraft. Better do some studying on that subject as well. Paranormal investigations is on the question of the afterlife, either as being objective (which you are not when writing about something you have no clue about) and being objective (again, you are not, when you don't look into the abuse allegations by the mother).
I think that you should get Mrs. Drakes side of the story (I think that is called absence of malice). Remember, sir, there are two sides of the story, and you didn't hear that side but just printed what you wanted to hear from this clown, Mr. Drake.
I am a Doctor of Metaphysic living in Boca Raton, Fla.
Dr. C. Schmidt
How dare you accuse Cheri of being a witch!
Even if she was which she IS NOT Wicca is a religion! I myself
am a Christian and disagree with Wicca but that's no excuse for
trying to take her children away! We DO have freedom of religion
in this country what is this Salem Mass circa 1300's! I'm
also a member if The Georgia Haunt Hunt Team. We are not affiliated
with any thing involving witchcraft! We do SCIENTIFIC investigations.
We DO NOT use Wigi boards or anything like that. So if you would
try and write an article with some truth to it try interviewing
Cheri Morh Drake!
If this is true I cannot believe that you would
publish such nonsense...Why would you not even contact the lady
in question before printing such
crap...And you call yourselves a newspaper....What are newspapers supposed to do...What, does he know someone down there that allowed him permission to put this stuff in there??
I cannot believe that in this day and age such
medeival paranoia still exists in our society. I am particularly
disturbed that the focus here seems to be
on the innocent activities of someone who has been apparently subjected to
extreme emotional and physical distress at the hands of another. This person
has had to watch the abuse of her children, as well as being the object of it
herself. Now she's to be abused by the system on top of that???
Why doesn't your paper to the job it is supposed to do and find and report
ALL the facts of this case, or are you simply interested in sensationalism
and what will sell? After all, it is Halloween, what better to sell papers
than a story about an alleged modern day witch...of course you could cover
the demon she was living with as well. Talk to her and tell her side of the
story too....or is it that the only freedom that journalists seem to recall
from our consitution these days the one about free speech? Whatever happened
to accuracy in reporting? Ask that judge if he wears a white sheet under
that black robe of his.
I haven't read your newspaper myself but if
article in question is as I have heard it is written,
you apparently think that
Well, I don't know if you are simply trying
controversial or if you are really that uninformed.
In case it is the later let me explain a few facts to
you. Ghosthunting is something done by people of all
religious faiths, it is a hobby or interest.
Witchcraft is a naturalist religion, closely
that practiced by native Indians and was the natural
religion of Europe before Christianity was forced upon
it by peoples from countries of the near east. It has
no concept of Satan, either good or bad.
Satanism is also a religion, but an entirely
one from that of witchcraft. It believes that Satan
exists and that he is the god of this earth (as the
Bible says itself that he is) and so it follows in
their beliefs, that he should be worshipped. This has
led to some bizarre and evil acts in his name,
including murder, and that of course is reprehensible,
just as it is when Christians kill each other in the
name of their god.
Evil we can all relate to as being something
in any parent or person, but no religion is good or
bad in or of itself, it is a belief system. Those
people who do evil acts, such as abusing their
families, are truly evil by any standard in any
But to return to the point, ghosthunting is
these things. Though it might be practised by any
member of any of these religions, I have never known
of any witch who ghost-hunted, nor, for that matter,
any Satanist that did so, but have met a fair number
of practising Christians that hunted ghosts.
I hope this makes this a little clearer for
hopefully you will print an apology to those whom you
have hurt by your article.
To whomever this shall concern:
I am a senior majoring in Journalism at Middle Tennessee State University.
Through e-mail, I heard about the case your publication covered concerning a
woman who left her husband and was then accused of witchcraft. Your handling
of the case astounds me, as a journalist, a witch and a ghosthunter.
As a journalist, I can not believe the one-sideness of your publication. As
far as I know, you have only spoken to Cheri's husband, an abusive man who
only seems to be out for revenge, not the well-being of his children or his
wife. Public opinion would see this woman hanged, burned or drowned before
hearing Her voice in the matter.
As a witch, i.e. pagan magick user, I can reassure you that researching the
supernatural in an "X-Files" type of fashion is not a standard or requirement
to practice magick. They are completely different issues. A witch is one who
can control the forces of the world around her, whether through prayer,
miracles, reiki rituals or the celebration of the turning of the seasons at
the Equinoxes. Most craft names do not include the prefixes or suffixes Mulder
As a ghosthunter, i.e. member of the Census of the Dead, a research society
devoted to the observation of supernatural activity in Tennessee, specifically
Middle Tennessee, I know sincere participants of these science are serious
about their work. It is not for thrill seeking. It is an art of observation
and possibe contact. Ghosthunters are not out to join forces with the dark of
the night. They simply want to understand the world, all of it, dark and
light, visible and invisible, better.
If you would like to have any more information about any of these subjects,
you are very welcome to send me questions. Otherwise, I hope you will try to
be more objective in the future. Isn't that the journalist goal?
It has come to my attention that Mr. Herald
has written a slanderous article
on a Cheri Mohr Drake. The information I received claims that it was
written that she is praticing witchcraft. Nothing could be further from the
truth! Her husband is using the "witchcraft" as a barganing tool in a
divorce. Before I make any additional comments toward your newspaper and
the writer in regard to the article, I'd like for you to foward me a copy of
the article Mr. Herald wrote. I am unsure of the exact publication date.
The Last Word
October 20, 1999 Issue (Column)
The Commerce News
Helps Us Provide Entertainment
They tell me in Jefferson that the Jackson Herald got more than 300 e-mail letters in regard to the story about the ghost-hunter divorce case. Most of the letters castigated the newspaper and were based on an Internet posting that attributed negative comments about ghost hunting to the newspaper instead of to the people who made the comments.
No matter. We learned something here.
We learned that the Internet can be a wonderful source of irate and nutty letters to the editor. Those are the kind we like, of course, because those are the letters you readers like. While a good discussion of a crucial social issue is helpful and appreciated, a letter castigating the editor, his lineage and the newspaper as a whole makes for more entertaining reading.
Entertainment is where most newspapers fall short. We don't have comics in our local weekly newspapers and though we try sometimes, we're not great at humor writing; the best we can do often comes from the police incident reports in which people do bizarre things while under the influence of intoxicants and bad genes. Our business is news, but it is nice if we have something each week for people to chuckle over.
It appears that the Internet is the answer. If local people don't care enough about an issue to write, someone out in cyberspace will be angry enough to dash off an electronic letter.
To do this though, something in the paper must offend a local reader enough that he or she posts either the original story or a totally biased report of it on a web site. That is easier to do than we would have imagined.
What for us was a routinely screwy story about people hunting for ghosts in a graveyard turned out to be of crucial interest to hundreds of people for whom that kind of activity is High Science or even religion. Someone local, irate over the comments about ghost hunters in the story, summarized it on a web site. The other ghost hunters, reading an inaccurate summarization or assuming the newspaper had taken a position on ghost searching, responded with wonderfully goofy and angry e-mail messages.
Thus we learn that the Internet serves two purposes of which we were unaware. It provides us an opportunity to get entertaining letters from people who have never read our papers and it provides angry people who live their lives on-line a place to vent their anger.
If our own readers are apathetic about really important items like the special purpose local option sales tax, the referendum to change our form of government or allegations of public officials driving while intoxicated, it is still possible to incite an e-mail riot of letters just by offending some minute but sensitive portion of the general population. All that must occur is for something offensive to anyone - say left-handed lawn bowlers, for example - to appear in one of our papers where it makes one local left-handed lawn bowler angry. That person posts a scathing summary of the comment on the web site of the International Association of Left-Handed Lawn Bowlers, and we can count on a flood of e-mail, some of which will meet our entertainment standards.
Ain't technology grand!
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