19 May 2014

MORAL PANIC: Implanting anti-weapon hysteria in future generations

MORAL PANIC: Implanting anti-weapon hysteria in future generations

Moral panic.

That phrase hit me this week with the latest anti-weapon idiocy -- North Dakota State University forcing its fencing club off campus because the blunted blades, usable only for sport, violated "weapons policy."

Well, such bigoted follies are hardly news these days. Not after we've seen students punished for butter knives and "gun-like" gestures. I suppose we should all be grateful that members of North Dakota's fencing team were merely cast out, and not hit by a SWAT team or investigated by Homeland Security.

What's worrying me are the larger issues embodied in that term: moral panic. I am seeing incalculable danger ahead.

So what is a moral panic?

In an Ashgate Research Companion, Charkes Krinsky writes:

A moral panic may be defined as an episode, often triggered by alarming media stories and reinforced by reactive laws and public policy, of exaggerated or misdirected public concern, anxiety, fear, or anger over a perceived threat to social order.
The term first appeared in print in 1830. The phenomenon didn't get a
serious look from psychologists or sociologists until the 1970s. But
moral panics have been around probably as long as civilization.

They've certainly been around as long as there have been demagogues, hysterics,
and rulers eager to take advantage of them.

And they are dangerous to life and freedom.
 Read the whole article at the link.


Brigid said...

One of my friends daughter does fencing, and a more morally grounded, level headed bunch of young people you'd not likely meet. That would be one school I wouldn't be recommending anyone attend.

joated said...

"Moral panic" used to be called asshattery. Means the same even today.

Rev. Paul said...

Understood, B. :)

joated, you're right.