Ian O'Doherty: 'Welcome to the wonderful world of vigilante justice'
One of the oddest encounters I've had in recent years came during a debate with an English lad who was head of a high-profile group of vigilantes.
These self-styled 'paedo-hunters' had developed a reputation for fairly brutal treatment of their 'targets' but were adamant that anyone who decried their foul form of mob justice was obviously a secret paedophile as well.
It's a fiendishly clever way of getting stupid people to agree with you - after all, who doesn't want to see paedophiles locked up?
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There's a good reason why predators are the most reviled members of society and one could certainly argue that the sentences for such crimes are woefully inadequate.
But when you start to allow groups of weirdos to decide who they will 'hunt', then you have simply rejected the rule of law.
I was reminded of that extremely odd 'paedo hunter' when I saw Thursday's story of how a group calling itself Yorkshire's Child Protectors had attacked and detained a gay couple under the mistaken impressions that they were grooming a child.
They live-streamed their 'arrest' to 30,000 people who all urged the gang to batter the innocent couple and it now appears that the group were given "misleading intelligence".
The couple are understandably freaked out and the cops have condemned the group. Their response was a truly risible non-apology which simply stated that: "We at YCP take responsibility for our part played in these innocent men being arrested but we won't take all the blame."
Of course they won't - bullies and cowards never do.
The reason there has been such a proliferation of these mobs is because they know they will always have some degree of public support. But if it wasn't suspected child abusers, they'd be 'hunting' some other group.
As for those who say the groups do a good job? Just ask that unfortunate couple, or the two innocent men who killed themselves last year after being falsely accused of the very worst crimes you could ever level at someone. There will always be thugs and vigilantes who like to camouflage their thirst for violence by hopping on a popular bandwagon and you don't get a more rabble-rousing bandwagon than this one. But it's also a sign of increasing societal idiocy and the growing belief among some people that they're starring in their own movie.
A mob is a mob, regardless of their 'cause'.