Tuesday 21 May 2019

Which witch is which in #MeToo land?

Author Margaret Atwood. Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
Author Margaret Atwood. Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images
Ian O'Doherty

Ian O'Doherty

First the outrage, then the backlash.

The #MeToo movement has been getting something of a kicking in the last week or so, and that was always inevitable. In fact, it remains to be seen whether the whole thing will have any lasting impact or if it will be simply another Occupy Wall Street bandwagon to be discarded when something more interesting comes along.

But one of the most baffling elements of the whole thing has been the controversy over the phrase 'witch-hunt.'

We live in a time of deranged literalism, where people place undue emphasis on some phrases while using other expressions wildly out of context and proportion.

The fact that so many of the #MeToo campaigners have decided that the phrase 'witch-hunt' is an offensive slur and insults the memory of the 200,000 women burned at the stake in 17th-century Europe, shows that there is simply no point in arguing with some people. They have decided to be deliberately dense and there ain't much the rest of us can do about it.

Do those people complaining about the phrase not realise that it's modern iteration has far more to do with the Reds-under-the-bed witch-hunts of the McCarthy era in the States?

Do they not know, or do they not care?

When people of all genders express concern about a 'witch-hunt', they are referring to things like the now infamous 'Shitty Media Men' list, which allows disgruntled women to anonymously accuse men of annoying them. They are not, contrary to what some of these cretins think, referring to Witch-Hunter General Matthew Hopkins.

As a pedant, I usually side with the people calling for accuracy in words, but the phrase 'witch-hunt' is perfectly acceptable in the sense that it has reminded observers how easy it is to ruin someone's career with an anonymous and unproven allegation.

In fact, I could nearly sympathise with such cranky exactitude if these weren't the same people who go around calling everyone they don't like a Nazi - a phrase which was, until relatively recently, seen as a pretty vile and serious slur but is now arraigned against anyone who doesn't simply march to the exact beat of the social justice warrior drum.

What alarms so many people is just how quickly this new mob attacks any dissent - even when it comes from one of their own.

The attacks we've seen on Margaret Atwood (above) in the last week are a perfect example of a movement collapsing under the weight of its own hysteria and weird sense of entitlement.

I mean, Margaret Atwood?

The high priestess of the modern feminist movement is now a thought criminal?

Just don't call it a witch-hunt.

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