The Inquisitor

Typing out some how-to lists for wannabe-inquisitors in the 21st century.

Why? I know, you’d think we’d be over that by now. But just because I’m tapping this out into the cyber-ether, it doesn’t mean that we’re not still capable of wielding pitchforks and roasting anyone we don’t like. No, sir.

See if you recognise anyone – or anything – on this list.

  • The first (and most important) thing an inquisitor needs is the conviction that he/she is infallible.
  • The second thing is almost as vital: the idea must be so big that it dehumanises all opponents.
  • The third is that all people pose a potential threat to the idea – that everyone is basically guilty.
  • The fourth is the ‘ability’ to spot the signs of guilt: clothes, associates, skin, gender, whether they laugh too little or too much, what they read or eat – all these are important components that help the inquisitor to pre-judge.

Once the inquisitor has a pre-judged subject under the spotlight, there is nothing that the subject can say or do to change the verdict of guilty; the only way for the subject to earn any ‘absolution’ is to admit to the crime and take the punishment. Confess, confess – even if you only confess to die fast, rather than slowly.

Only the confession, even of imagined crimes, gives the inquisitor satisfaction. Because it is what he/she ‘knew’ was in the subject all along.

Torquemada etc. are perfect templates of this brand of craziness, but for 100’s of years after inquisitors functioned very well feeding the ovens of Auschwitz, the gulags of Siberia – pick a place where people are imprisoned, tortured or killed for an idea and you’ll find them.

Today it’s a softer programme, but just as insidious. Sure, you might not get racked or toasted, but if the village decides you’re say, a misogynist, you’re getting banished. Yes, you are.

The spirit behind it can be seen in what often passes for current political and social debate – they’re the ones watching and listening only for the moment they can shout:

“AHA!!! I KNEW it! YOU didn’t even know it was in you – but I knew it!”

In any discussion all posits, ideas, imagination, logic and interplay are of no import – all that matters is “confession” of what the Inquisitor already knows to be true – it’s all he/she wants to hear.

To this end, the inquisitor will manipulate all encounters, all discussions to bring them to the same place whether (and here is the key) it’s true or not.

Like Arnaud Amaury is reputed to have said as + 20 000 men, women and children burned for heresy at Cassaneuil:

“Burn them all, God will know his own”.

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