Epidemic of fear

posted Mar 18, 2002

"...it is wrong to blame today's culture of fear on the collapse of the World Trade Centre. Long before 11 September, public panics were widespread - on everything from GM crops to mobile phones, from global warming to foot-and-mouth.... Perceptions of risk... are shaped by cultural assumptions about human vulnerability."

I blame the news media. Not Hollywood so much, but the Daily Disaster Report that is your local and national news programs. First you hear about the murders and car accidents, then the weather, then next up, because we need to fill time and international news isn't interesting enough for Americans, a puff piece on a local emotional story ("My landlord won't fix my bathtub, and me with twenty-seven kids...") or a puff piece on the next potential terrorist attack. ("Tonight on News 8: Could terrorists be using excessive quantities of CFCs, creating holes in the ozone layer, and KILLING YOUR CHILDREN? Could Al Qaeda operatives infiltrated your car seat's manufacturing plant and compromised your child's car seat, potentially KILLING YOUR CHILD? A leading psychic claims bin Laden's hate aura could be affecting the country's psychic balance, potentially causing a rise in school shootings which will CAUSE YOUR CHILDREN TO DIE A GRISLY, NATIONALLY TELEVISED DEATH! Could terrorists infect your pet cat or dog with infleunza, KILLING YOUR CHILDREN, AND YOUR LITTLE DOG TOO? These reports and more on News 8 at 8!").

I've stopped watching the local news.


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