This summer has seen yet another group of thought criminals being mobbed on social media. Some of them are the people you’d expect, such as the American journalist Jesse Singal, who wrote a cover story for the July/August issue of the Atlantic about parents of transgendered teens agonising over whether to accept their children’s new identity or to try to talk them out of it. That dilemma is particularly acute when the teens in question are only 13 and pushing their parents to allow them to have surgery. Singal’s crime, in the eyes of trans activists, is that he interviewed several older teens who have changed their minds about transitioning and are now grateful to their parents for not letting them take that irreversible step.
But other people targeted by the Twitchfork mob in the past few months are unusual in that they’re liberals who, until recently, were enthusiastic participants in these public shaming rituals. The most prominent is James Gunn, director of Guardians of the Galaxy. Gunn is a hashtag activist who wrote a Facebook post last year accusing another director of being a sex pest. Gunn also regularly criticises Donald Trump, which is how he attracted the ire of the alt-right activist Mike Cernovich last month. Cernovich drew attention to some terrible jokes Gunn had made on Twitter in 2008 and 2009 about rape and paedophilia and, even though Gunn had already deleted and apologised for those tweets, he was fired by Disney as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. (To read more, click here.)