The Scruton tapes: an anatomy of a modern hit job | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

The Scruton tapes: an anatomy of a modern hit job

Sometimes a scandal is not just a scandal, but a biopsy of a society. So it is with the assault on Sir Roger Scruton, who in recent weeks has been smeared in the media, fired by the government and had his life’s work assailed. Scruton is the latest, though far from the first victim of the modern outrage mob.

It is now four years since the Nobel prize-winning scientist Tim Hunt was fired by University College London (among other institutions who were lucky to have him). That happened after one member of the audience at a conference in Korea tweeted something he had said about working with women and professed outrage at the comment’s alleged sexism. None of the institutions which dropped Hunt asked if there was any case for the defence. They all just behaved as almost everyone in authority now does: they saw a potential fight and ran. And though they left their man behind — as is also the new way — they also relied on the assumption that the world would soon forget and everyone (except the trampled victim) would move on.

In January, we saw the Covington Boys scandal in America, when a group of schoolboys became the subject of a two-minute hate for allegedly surrounding and taunting a native American tribal elder. By the time the facts came out (there had been no taunting, the boys had done nothing wrong) they had been denounced as racists in front of millions. But if winning a Nobel prize in science is no mitigation in being falsely accused, what chance do schoolboys or the rest of us have? Anyone, it seems, can claim a scalp using Twitter: twist the words of your victim and let the outrage mob do the rest.