watching this happen

"The [scapegoat] ritual consisted of driving into the wilderness a goat on which all the sins of Israel had been laid. The high priest placed his hands on the head of the goat, and this act was supposed to transfer onto the animal everything likely to poison relations between members of the community. The effectiveness of the ritual was the idea that the sins were expelled with the goat and then the community was rid of them.

"...In a distant period when the ritual was effective as ritual, the transfer of the community's transgressions onto the goat must have been facilitated by the bad reputation of this [type of] animal, by its nauseating odor and its aggressive sexual drive.

"...When human groups divide and become fragmented, during a period of malaise and conflicts, they may come to a point where they are reconciled again at the expense of a victim. Observers nowadays realize without difficulty, unless they belong to the persecuting group, that this victim is not really responsible for [all that] he or she is accused of doing. The accusing group, however, views the victim as [utterly] guilty, by virtue of a contagion similar to what we find in scapegoat rituals. The members of this group accuse their "scapegoat" with great fervor and sincerity. More often than not some incident, whether fantastic or trivial, has triggered a wave of opinion against this victim...."

René Girard, from I See Satan Fall Like Lightning