The trial of Lindy Chamberlain in the early 1980s polarised Australians and continues to prick the national conscience. The media demonisation of the bereaved mother, who maintained that a dingo stole her baby, shares a number of striking parallels with witch-hunts from the early modern period, an era in which the ability to transform into a wolf was considered proof of witchcraft. Lindy’s ‘fringe’ religious allegiance to the Seventh Day Adventist Church qualified her as a heretic (a pre-requisite for early modern witchcraft) in the popular consciousness, and insinuations of child sacrifices in the wilderness echo the accusations of diabolically driven infanticide that accompanied lycanthropic court cases in earlier centuries. Uncannily, prosecutors in werewolf trials also argued that the children's clothing had been too neatly removed for a 'natural' wolf to have done so. Media condemnation of Lindy’s ‘insufficient’ emotional response to the loss of her child harks back, perhaps most poignantly, to early modern beliefs that witches were unable to cry when hurt. At the time of the trial, Lindy received a letter from a 'sympathiser' who said he believed that a dingo stole Azaria, albeit a two-legged dingo, like her.
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