Two incidents over the past few days have illustrated an alarming fact: that mob hysteria threatens the rule of law, the exercise of reason and toleration of dissent not just by ideologues on the left but also by their opponents.
Two days ago, the film producer Harvey Weinstein was photographed being frogmarched into a New York court to be charged with rape and sexual assault. The court heard that he had tried to “lure young women into situations where he could violate them sexually”.
Multiple accusations of sexual assault made against Weinstein detonated the #MeToo movement earlier this year. The novelist Ian McEwan, however, told BBC radio yesterday of his concerns that Weinstein might be the victim of a “mob and media circus”.
“We don’t know what actually happened,” said McEwan. “It seems he is a moral monster who has had his comeuppance, but I always like to encourage in myself just a degree of scepticism once the whole mob is in full cry, so I am going to withhold judgments until I have heard the arguments in court.”
Cue foaming outrage by women who leapt to attack McEwan. British author Catherine Mayer tweeted afterwards: “Oh the vanity of these men who think their every thought important And even by the low standards of this discussion, a defence of Weinstein is particularly egregious.”