Trampling out the vintage

Seeing the various posts on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, the outpourings of the press, and declarations from celebrities all contorted into spasms of self-righteous indignation demanding that ‘hate’ be everywhere exposed and rooted out makes for a wonderful teaching moment. Substitute ‘heresy’ or ‘witchcraft’ in place of ‘racism’ and the inquisitions of Torquemada or the sporadic witch hunts of early modernity (not, as commonly assumed, of the medieval period), must have felt much the same to those caught up in the urgent work of trampling out the vintage of the grapes of wrath. (As a certain Unitarian abolitionist might have put it.) The exhilarating sense of a cosmic evil being driven out. The conviction that no punishment could ever be too extreme, nor offence too small. The shrill, hysterical madness of the whole event.

Take it away, Spiked:

Today, too many people are so convinced that they are in the right, that they are fighting bigotry and hatred, that they fail to see how their response is truly intolerant and illiberal. It’s becoming almost automatic that, whenever something politically incorrect is uttered, a mob with pitchforks and torches rises up, seeking revenge and punishment. That response is unthinking, emotional and blind to the long-term consequences for a free society.