My own field, journalism, has become notoriously full of little inquisitors. In the most disturbing example, James Bennet, opinion editor of the most important paper in the world, the New York Times, lost his job in June for publishing an opinion piece that many of the younger staffers didn’t like. It was written by a Republican senator, Tom Cotton, who argued that Donald Trump would be justified in deploying military troops to cities if local police could not maintain order in the streets. Staffers claimed the piece was so toxic that it put some of their colleagues’ lives in danger. Like many others, Mr. Bennet departed with a grovelling apology.
If you think the radical mob is now editing your daily paper, you might well be right. Last month, Stan Wischnowski, top editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, was forced to resign over a headline that read, “All Buildings Matter.” All of this is dolefully reminiscent of China’s Cultural Revolution, during which students denounced their elders and made them parade through the streets in dunce hats before they were packed off to the pig farms for re-education.
And there is no statute of limitations. Last week, Boeing. Co.’s communications chief, Niel Golightly, abruptly resigned after an anonymous employee filed an ethics complaint over an article he wrote in 1987, 33 years ago. In it, the former military pilot had expressed the opinion that women shouldn’t serve in combat (a mainstream position at the time). “My argument was embarrassingly wrong and offensive,” he said in another cringeworthy mea culpa. “The article is not reflective of who I am.”