The High priests of Cancel Culture are the Heirs to the Witch Hunters of Salem

The Daily Sceptic – by Toby Young

Andrew Doyle, host of Free Speech Nation on GB News and member of the Free Speech Union’s Advisory Council, is publishing a book called The New Puritans: How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the Western World and the Mail on Sunday has an excerpt. It begins:

We are living through a time in which unproven accusations are once again enough to see a person damned.

Charges of ‘racism’, ‘homophobia’, ‘transphobia’ and even ‘fascism’ are commonplace and no evidence is required to secure a ‘cancellation’. People have had their careers destroyed and personal relationships ruined simply for expressing unfashionable opinions.

It will be oddly familiar to anyone who has seen Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. In the 1953 dramatisation of the 17th Century Salem witch trials, our tragic hero John Proctor cries out: “Is the accuser always holy now”

The trials of Salem, a Puritan community in Massachusetts, lasted a little over a year, from February 1692 to May 1693. In that time, more than 200 people were accused, 19 hanged, five others had perished in jail and one, farmer Giles Corey, had been pressed to death with boulders for refusing to enter a guilty/not-guilty plea.

And their tormentors? A group of children who had stumbled upon the means to become the most powerful members of the community. Their histrionic accusations could see fellow citizens executed on the basis of ‘spectral evidence’ alone – what we might today refer to as ‘lived experience’, the phrase used by the likes of Meghan and Harry.

And today, just like in Salem, those who attempt to apply reason and logic, who dare to stand up for the accused, make themselves vulnerable by doing so.

As Miller’s anti-hero says, “the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom” safe in the knowledge that those who cross them are the next to be condemned.

For those of us who have found ourselves caught in the culture wars of the present – and I have often been vilified for having created a satirical character, Titania McGrath, the “radical intersectionalist poet and Twitter activist” – the parallels are obvious.

Such patterns recur wherever reason is abandoned and fear prevails, be that during the 1950s McCarthyism that inspired Miller, or the ideological capture of today’s institutions and the trickle-down orthodoxies that followed.

THE new religion of ‘wokeness’ now dominates all of our major cultural, educational, political and corporate bodies.

Its high priests make grand claims of moral purity and brook no dissent, a mindset which has led to the development of today’s ‘cancel culture’.

They seek to control public discourse by deeming certain terms ‘problematic’ or supporting legislation against ‘hate speech’. They require no concrete evidence of sin in order to detect and denounce the sinners in our midst.

Phrases such as ‘social justice’, ‘anti-racism’ and ‘equity’ mislead people into believing that those who utter them are on the right side of history. What we are witnessing is the march of online zealots destroying people’s livelihoods and reputations, all the while proclaiming their own virtue, using hashtags such as #BeKind.

Like the Salem Trials, they inflict their punishments while claiming to be on the side of the angels.

Although today’s ‘heretics’ are unlikely to be burned at the stake, their inquisitors are convinced they must convert for their own good. It is the legitimisation of bullying on a grand scale.

Worth reading in full.

The Daily Sceptic

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