You Definitely Don’t Know What Lynching Is If You Think Sharon Osbourne Was Lynched
Sharon Osbourne has left "The Talk," a show that exists, after CBS conducted a probe into a March 10 discussion of race, where she made some “controversial" remarks. What people often deliberately miss during these “cancel culture" debates is that this wasn't Osbourne's first offense. She reportedly had a history of grossness, including allegedly using racist and homophobic slurs.
On the March 10 episode, Osbourne had defended her buddy Piers Morgan from accusations of racism. Morgan has a personal vendetta against Meghan Markle, and he continued his obsession today in a Daily Mail op-ed. We're not getting into that tedious drama right now, but I must take issue with the following line from Morgan's piece:
I'm not a racist and neither is Sharon Osbourne but that didn't stop the woke mob lynching her just for defending me ...
A good way to show you're not racist is by refraining from the casual use of the term “lynching." It's a simple pass/fail exam that many entitled white people botch, usually because they're racist.
I can't believe I have to remind people of this again, but lynchings are extrajudicial executions, not termination of television contracts. Sharon Osbourne is still alive. She wasn't tarred and feathered — a real thing that happened — or set on fire. She voluntarily parted ways with "The Talk," perhaps under pressure and not on her own terms, but she wasn't slowly tortured like Henry Smith. In 1893, a mob tracked down the so-called “negro ravisher" of a white child (there was no actual trial) and burned him at the stake in Paris, Texas.
From the New York Sun (and, yes, this is a serious “trigger warning"):
Words to describe the awful torture inflicted upon Smith cannot be found. The Negro, for a long time after starting on the journey to Paris, did not realize his plight. At last when he was told that he must die by slow torture he begged for protection. His agony was awful. He pleaded and writhed in bodily and mental pain. Scarcely had the train reached Paris than this torture commenced. His clothes were torn off piecemeal and scattered in the crowd, people catching the shreds and putting them away as mementos. The child's father, her brother, and two uncles then gathered about the Negro as he lay fastened to the torture platform and thrust hot irons into his quivering flesh. It was horrible—the man dying by slow torture in the midst of smoke from his own burning flesh. Every groan from the fiend, every contortion of his body was cheered by the thickly packed crowd of 10,000 persons. The mass of beings 600 yards in diameter, the scaffold being the center. After burning the feet and legs, the hot irons—plenty of fresh ones being at hand—were rolled up and down Smith's stomach, back, and arms. Then the eyes were burned out and irons were thrust down his throat.
Unlike Henry Smith, Sharon Osbourne is expected to fully recover from her “lynching."
Morgan and Osbourne are from England, but Black people were lynched in their native land, as well. It seems like there's an international ignorance among white people about lynchings, which were more than a just personal inconvenience. During lynching's heyday, Black people frequently lost their jobs because of racist bullshit. We don't consider this lynching, just less flammable racism. Lynchings occurred without due process. There were no “probes" from human resources or even the courtesy of a sham trial. Black people were often wrongly convicted on flimsy evidence or through forced confessions, but sometimes white mobs just couldn't wait to execute us.
In 1906, an all-white jury convicted and sentenced to death Ed Johnson for sexually assaulting a white woman in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He had several alibi witnesses, but it didn't matter. The Supreme Court would later grant a stay of execution (because he was innocent and all), but a white mob broke into the jail where he was confined and publicly hanged him. He didn't have the opportunity to denounce "cancel culture" in a Substack article. He was literally cancelled.
Morgan blames a “woke mob" for “lynching" Osbourne, and “woke" itself is a term that conservatives co-opted from Black people. It originally referred to a Black person's personal awakening to racial and social injustice. Now, conservatives reflexively associate “wokeness" with the white mobs from history who tortured our ancestors. It's incredibly offensive, but that's probably the point.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."