It has been apparent for some time that the subset of liberals consumed with the pursuit of “social justice,” particularly the feminist left, are so starved for victories that they will turn on anyone for a quick boost of self-esteem. The hard targets, those groups composed of individuals who are ideologically opposed to the modern social justice program, long ago stopped paying attention to the minor grievances that occupy the minds of campus feminists. As such, the only targets of opportunity left are of a softer variety.

It was this impulse that led the mob to attack an astrophysicist who had just managed a spectacular feat of engineering by landing a probe on a comet some 310 million miles from Earth for wearing a shirt they deemed inappropriate. It turns out that this offensive shirt, covered as it was with comic book images of women in provocative poses, was a handmade gift from a female friend. That was of no matter to the tribe. This accomplished individual was made to cry on camera as he apologized for offending only the most fragile sensibilities.

It was this impulse that forced Time magazine to apologize to its readers after it conducted a survey and discovered that the word “feminism” is tarnished beyond repair. By a mile, Time found that its readership believed that this word more than any other had outlived its usefulness. That reality was so offensive to the easily-offended that they demanded Time retract its discovery. This magazine, too, eventually accepted its role in the dock of a familiar show trial.

And it was this impulse that prompted a group of delicate souls to chase the director Joss Whedon off Twitter after he failed to observe properly the tenets of religious feminism in the film Avengers: Age of Ultron.

“Whedon’s departure did create a wave of speculation on Twitter that he closed his account because of ‘death threats,’” Time magazine reported. “A search of tweets directed at him over the past week definitely turned up some deep ugliness, with some of the abusive users urging him to ‘die’ or ‘commit suicide’ over plot points they didn’t like in Age of Ultron.”

The most abusive bullying came from viewers who objected to Black Widow’s tentative relationship with The Hulk’s Bruce Banner and another scene in which she was briefly captured by Ultron. There was also anger about how he depicted Quicksilver and a number of other plot points that “fans” of this comic book title apparently felt justified harassment. Filtered out and pasted together, as some on Twitter have done, it looks like significant vitriol – but compared to the immense volume of conversation about this film on the social media platform, it’s really background static.

It is no coincidence that Whedon, Time, and a sensitive, bookish scientist were all creatures of the left. They are the only people still listening to the mob of disaffected and tortured feminists for whom the only measure of self-worth they have left is their collection of scalps.

But this latest “victory” may be one of feminism’s last. They seem to have broken the backs of their otherwise tolerant ideological compatriots.

“Whedon is just one of many celebrities to have quit the social media service, but will be missed more than most,” The Verge’s Rich McCormick wrote. “In addition to his comedic output, he has been a staunch and vocal supporter of people such as Anita Sarkeesian who have faced systematic campaigns of online harassment. It’s not clear whether similar harassment, his relationship with movie executives and their contracts, or simple fatigue drove Whedon from the service, but with his disappearance, we’ve lost one of Twitter’s most respectful and relatable public figures.”

Even the comedian Paton Oswalt has had it with the mob. No conservative, Oswalt channeled the worst insult he could muster when he learned that the social justice police had run Whedon out of town: “Tea Party.”

“Yep. There is a ‘Tea Party’ equivalent of progressivism/liberalism,” he wrote. “And they just chased Joss Whedon off Twitter.”

We are witnessing soft attacks on soft targets met with equally soft pushback. This dynamic, while in its infancy, is nevertheless worth watching. This might be the beginning of the end of another period of collective hysteria in American history. It couldn’t come soon enough.