My sleep has been troubled the past few weeks by a choice of words that prompted some polite protest from some African-American readers. It was "lynch mob," which I used to refer to the public indictment and conviction of three Duke lacrosse team members who have been charged with raping a black stripper (who, I hasten to add, is a student and mother).
I was using the term to suggest that the media and a willing public were trying the young men without benefit of due process. Even knowing how provocative the word can be, I justified using it because its original meaning was closer to my intent than to the more modern understanding of "lynching" associated with slavery and Jim Crow. ...
In retrospect, I agree with my readers that I was wrong to use the word as I did. It was convenient and it seemed to fit. But it trivialized a horror that deserves its own word and its own place in the American lexicon.
Kathleen Parker, today:
The proud [Clarence] Thomas said during those hearings that he was the victim of a high-tech lynching. Let's hope he has enough spiritual reserve to survive this second lynching[...]