A while back the News of the World (RIP) launched a campaign to ‘name and shame’ those child abusers and molesters who come under the collective noun paedophile. Almost inevitably, once the campaign kicked off, a paediatrician was mistaken for the latter by an illiterate person or persons unknown and thus was abused as a consequence.
This story has been elevated to mythical proportions by, among others (but notably) the Daily Mail (how unusual) and the Guardian (no, really, how unusual). In fact, the event was relatively minor, though one should not discount any of the many lessons that can be drawn from it. As P T Barnum so rightly said: “No-one ever went broke by under-estimating public good taste.”
The difference between the horror that is lynch mob mentality is, to many professional journalists, imperceptible to citizen journalism. Reddit is the most recent tool to cause offence in this regard, as this story from, ironically, the Mail Online demonstrates.