Lynching can be defined as punishment without trial and consideration of the law of the land. The form of punishment can include anything from public intimidation to murder. This type of mob violence can be observed right through human history, although the term ‘lynching’ has been associated with the Virginian Charles Lynch during the American Revolution. Lynching has not been prevalent in the Western World for a number of decades, but sadly it is still occurring rather frequently in some parts of the world, often against women to save the ‘honour’ of a family.
However, with the emergence of social media, a new type of ‘lynching’ has gaining currency in the western world. The modern social media-based lynching aims to intimidate and destroy careers of a person regardless of the validity of the claimed wrong doing by that person. These lynchers (if there is such a term?) do not wait for their claim to be tested in the courts of law and viciously attack the person until he/she is destroyed either professionally or mentally, or sometimes both. This is a dangerous development mainly amongst some social media users supported by left-leaning media. One would not be surprised if sooner or later these types of ‘lynching’ lead to physical violence. Furthermore, the lynch mob seems to attack only the conservative elements of society, not the so-called progressives. Nothing illustrates this proposition more than, the current case of New York Governor Coumo, who has been publicly accused by at least five women of harassing them (Lyndsey Boylan, Charlotte Bennet, Anna Ruch, Karen, Hinton, Anna Liss), but neither the left-wing media nor the lynch mob pursuing him with the ferocity they have pursued for example the appointment of the conservative Justice Kavanagh.
The aim of this blog is to illustrate how modern lynching has led to destruction of individual characters and how the lynchers do not wait for the justice system to take its course.
2. Illustration 1; the case of Cardinal Pell
I am not a catholic, I just believe in the Australian legal system.
Cardinal George Pell was the highest-ranking Australian who has ever worked in the Vatican. During the investigation of the abuse of children by the Catholic Church in Australia, there were some allegations against Cardinal Pell including that after a Mass he had abused two choir boys. I do not intend to recount the history of the whole legal case, but only recall that during legal processes which started 2002 and concluded in 2020, when the Australian High Court (the highest court in Australia) unanimously dismissed the charges against George Pell. During this period the lynch mob and the left-leaning media relentlessly ‘lynched’ the reputation and the character of Cardinal Pell. By the time the case against Cardinal Pell was dismissed, the ‘lynch mob’ had achieved its objective, and George Pell not only lost his reputation but his job at the Vatican as well.
Right through the years some of the left leaning ABC journalists led the lynch mob against George Pell. For example, L. Milligan stated:
“As the only journalist who has met J [Pell’s accuser] and other complainants against George Pell, and who wrote about these allegations in my book, Cardinal, The Rise and Fall of George Pell… I have never had any reason to believe that J is not telling the truth … It’s the ultimate David and Goliath tale of a young man who never sought fame, just wanted justice, against a well-resourced defendant who has for years cultivated and been supported by the powerful” (ABC News,2/5/2018) A much more balanced view is offered by Paul Kelly of the Australian, who wrote in the Australian (2/3/19) about the ‘calculated media assault on Pell…spearheaded by the ABC’.
The bottom line is, if it were not for the Australian legal system Cardinal Pell would still be in jail. Whether a person is guilty or not, the presumption of innocence must be upheld until proven otherwise. This principle does not suit the lynch mob, who want instantaneous outcomes regardless of the legal merit of the case.
3.Illustration 2; the sad case of George Floyd
We have all seen the video of police Officer Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes and he was calling out “I cannot breathe”. He also called out ‘Mama’, people assuming that he is calling out for his mother. Tragically, by the time the ambulance arrived, he was dead. The tragic death of George Floyd led to mob violence, clashes with the police, the destruction of small businesses and more deaths of white and African-American people in a number of cities. The assumption behind these actions was that the police officer killed George Floyd and that there were no mitigating factors.
However, the ongoing trial of Officer Chauvin has revealed already important mitigating factors. First, Officer Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck is consistent with standard policy procedure and training in his City. Second, George Floyd was a drug addict and at the time of his arrest traces of fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in his system. These drugs restrict one’s breathing had already contributed to the death of Michael Jackson and Anna-Nicole Smith. Finally, the term “Mama’ was the nick name of his girlfriend.
It is up to the US legal system to determine how to apportion the blame for George Floyd’s tragic death. It is not up to the lynch mob to determine what justice is and whether Officer Chauvin is guilty of first-degree murder or involuntary manslaughter. It is also inappropriate for supporters of George Floyd to threaten with more violence if ‘their justice’ does not prevail. In Western civilization we all must respect the rule of the law, which with all its faults is better than mob violence and lynching.
4. Key takeaways
Lynching is back, but in a much more ‘sophisticated’ way than in the ‘good old’ days.
Modern lynching is done through social media ignoring due legal process with the support of left leaning media with the aim to destroy the reputation capital and careers of individuals.
The lynch mob brazenly ignores the notion of innocent till found guilty.
The modern lynch mob primarily focuses on the conservative members of society ignoring the same deeds of the ‘progressives.
Lynching through social media could lead to physical destruction as well.