Outrage is being “weaponized” say Guy Benson and Mary Katherine Ham, whose new book ‘End of Discussion’ discusses the epidemic of indignation over the slightest of perceived offenses.
How? Through Twitter and Facebook and social media lynching, which is subsequently picked up by the dead-tree media and television.
Remember Jeremy Paxman and the Northern Ireland row in December 2014?
The BBC Rottweiler par excellence had visited Belfast for a “jolly” meal and had the temerity (or the intellectual courage, depending on how you look at it) to describe the city as it seemed to him.
Rather than declaring everything was wonderful (albeit still in need of generous investment), he wrote a short honest diary piece for ‘The Spectator’ magazine.
He praised Belfast’s metamorphosis from a terrorist-ravaged town to all decked out for Christmas and bustling with shoppers. But then he mentioned the high proportion of British taxpayers’ money that’s spent on Northern Ireland and was foolhardy enough to declare that had it not been for the Titanic disaster, Belfast would not have its key marketing brand.
The outrage wallahs lit up instantly with Northern Ireland politicians accusing Mr Paxman of being “attention seeking” and demanding he return to Belfast for re-education.
Mr Paxman’s crime was to tell it like it is. The outrage industry demands that it all be according to the approved script.
As Mr Benson and Ms Ham put it: “Self-righteous scolding is giving way to a campaign of exacting retribution. The paradigm is shifting away from ‘I may disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it,’ to ‘I disagree with what you say, so I’ll eagerly join the punishment mob, you _____-ist bigot’.”