I See Satan Fall Like Lightning (2001), by Rene Girard, from chapter twelve, “Scapegoat”:
The real source of victim substitutions is the appetite for violence that awakens in people when anger seizes them and when the true object of their anger is untouchable. The range of objects capable of satisfying the appetite for violence enlarges proportionally to the intensity of the anger.
From today’s news, via USA Today:
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An angry crowd beat a man to death after a vehicle he was riding in struck and injured a young girl, police said Wednesday.
Police believe 2,000 to 3,000 people were in the area for a Juneteenth celebration when the attack occurred Tuesday night.
The driver had stopped to check on the little girl at the entrance to an apartment complex when a group of men attacked him, authorities said. The passenger, David Rivas Morales, 40, got out to try to help the driver, but the crowd turned on him, said police Commander Harold Piatt.
Morales was beaten to death by as many as 20 men and left lying in a parking lot, Piatt said. A preliminary autopsy listed blunt force trauma as the cause of death.
The little girl, 3 or 4 years old, was taken to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
22 June Update: This story has been updated by police, who say now that 3 or 4 men beat Morales to death, with perhaps 20-24 people watching. Some of the headlines for the updates read “Beaten by Few, Not by Mob.” This continues to read as mob vengeance to me for two reasons: 24 people could stop 3-4 men who don’t have weapons; and 3-4 people is a mob when their victim is one defenseless person. The new reports also indicate that Morales was not a passenger in the car at the time that it ‘bumped’ (see linked account) the child; he had already been dropped off at a relative’s.