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View Diary: The "Lynch Mob" (95 comments)

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  •  Indeed, the mob factor (1+ / 0-)
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    is the key to the legal definition, at least in California. Here, the crime of lynching does not require death, extra-judicial punishment, or even hostility to the detainee. (And it's not because we have no history of "lynching" in the sense you mean. We surely do.) Under the California penal code:

    405a.  The taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful custody of any peace officer is a lynching.
    The key is the riot, not what happens to the detainee once he or she is taken from custody. (Without the riot, it's a different but less serious crime to rescue or attempt to rescue a prisoner.) Even the detainee can be charged with the crime, as seen in this 1999 case:
    Under California law, "lynching" includes not only the notorious form of lynch mob behavior that aims to take vengeance on the victim, but also any participation in riotous conduct aimed at freeing a person from the custody of a peace officer. Accordingly, we conclude that a person who takes part in a riot leading to his escape from custody can be convicted of his own lynching.
    In re Anthony J.

    One might infer that the driving force behind our anti-lynching law is preservation of public order and police authority above all, and not the preservation of the life of the detainee. (Candidly, though, I have not researched its history.)

    Obviously neither you nor the diarist you rightly criticize used it in this sense; its meaning on this site is clear and its use in the offending diary got a completely predictable response. But if you're going to get into dueling dictionaries, recognize that there are other sources of authority on the meaning of the word.

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