A witch is a female who is thought to have evil powers.
A warlock is a male witch – a man who is thought to practice witchcraft.
Originally the term “witch hunt” was used to describe the search for and subsequent persecution of witches. Now, more broadly, it is used to describe the search for and subsequent persecution of any individual or group that is unorthodox or unpopular.
I coin the term “warlock hunt” specifically to describe what for two months has been rather a relentless search for and subsequent persecution of men charged with harassing or assaulting women (and, sometimes, men). This movement or wave has generally been applauded for being a long overdue corrective to a culture that since time immemorial has tolerated men behaving badly – which is a position I support.
However, groups without leaders – groups that consist in the main of furious followers – risk becoming a mob. Risk taking on a mob mentality. So, lest the current corrective backfires, at least two distinctions should immediately be made:
- Distinction # 1: Between a man who is a sexual harasser or abuser and a man who is a bounder, a swordsman, a Lothario.
- Distinction # 2: Between a man whose sexual harassment is merely offensive, and a man whose sexual harassment is downright aggressive.
The history of change triggered by the powerless taking on the powerful is checkered. Sometimes virtue rapidly prevails. Other times there is blood on the floor and many years passed before wrong is righted. The sooner “The Silence Breakers” take a more nuanced approach to their search for justice, the sooner their search will be rewarded.