Some posts have accused me of a "witch-hunt" for trying to identify people who support or justify the Iraqi insurgents. (See, for instance, some comments here.)

I've long been quite troubled by the casual use of the term "witch-hunt." First, the most obvious thing that's wrong with witch-hunts is that there are no witches. If you're trying to identify supporters of Iraqi insurgents, supporters of the KKK, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, or whatever else, you're trying to identify people that most certainly do exist. (More details in a forthcoming post.)

Second, some people seem to suggest that it's just impermissible or McCarthyite to come up with lists of people who have certain reprehensible views. Well, I was challenged to try to come up with such lists, by people who seemed to suggest that there were no such supporters, at least in positions of any significance (see, e.g., this comment, among others). But beyond this, it is perfectly legitimate to identify people who have expressed reprehensible views, and to publicly condemn them.

Third, Eric Muller (IsThatLegal?) says this -- apparently, my posts and David Kopel's -- "is turning into a witch hunt." It's not completely clear why he says this, but I take it that he's using "witch hunt" to mean allegations based on inadequate evidence. Prof. Muller actually acknowledges that two of the examples David Kopel gave are accurate; he disputes a third, Arundhati Roy, about which Kopel himself noted a caveat; and he points out that the fourth is based on hearsay, though hearsay from a seemingly quite sympathetic source. Yes, if we were actually hanging supposed witches, that would be pretty weak evidence; and even in general discussion of the matter, one can certainly legitimately point to the weakness of the evidence, and suggest that the report is not dispositive of Ms. Garofalo's views. But if this is really a "witch hunt," then Salem must have been a pretty mellow place.

More shortly.