|The touchy subject of|
|Racism and racists|
A lynch mob is a group of people intent on an extrajudicial execution. Their victim is a specific individual, but the mob may direct their collective rage at persons who resemble their intended victim. Historically, the term referred to groups who went to capture and then hang someone, but nowadays it refers to any group that gets angry at an individual.
 Historical use
Historically, a lynch mob is any mob of people whipped up to kill someone, usually by hanging. In the Southern United States, from the Reconstruction era until the 1930s, it was a common occurrence for groups of whites to catch black men who were accused of some infraction, often minor or of social code, and lynch them. Recently found and restored photographs have documented the often festive air of these lynchings, where whole communities would get together and have picnics in the shadow of a dead black man. Overlapping that phenomenon is the use of mob violence to repress organized labor in the Southern United States and the American West. One of the first major civil rights fights of the 20th century was the fight to make lynching a federal crime. This struggle led to the emergence of the NAACP as a major civil rights organization.
 Modern use
In modern usage, lynch mob usually refers to any attempt by a large group to unfairly destroy someone's life based on belonging to some group or holding some belief. This usage can be controversial, since it is often said to mask the true horror of the literal and historical lynch mob. The single most controversial usage of this was probably Clarence Thomas saying that he was being subjected to a "high-tech lynching".
Those thinking about taking part in lynch mobs should first ask themselves if they may be guilty of groupthink.