Culture of Fear grows

Michael Hanscom talks about an experience yesterday (July 4th 2005):

I was having a good day wandering around Myrtle Edwards Park for the Fourth of Jul-Ivar’s festivities until someone sicced the security goons on me. Apparently a parent had decided that since I was taking pictures of kids playing in the surf at one of the small beach areas, I was some creepy scumbag who had to be brought to heel.

One security guy came up to me and pulled me aside, telling me that there had been complaints that I was taking pictures of children.

Michael goes on to explain that he freely deleted the pictures of the clothed children playing in the public park, but was told that if he stayed, ‘he would be watched’

I think that Michael sums it up nicely with:

Happy Fourth of July everyone. You know — independence, liberty, freedom, and civil rights and all that.

This all comes back to the culture of fear that we live in. The media has us scared into thinking that we are in deathly fear for our lives, and crime and dismemberment are right around the corner.

The statistics simply do not show this, however. If you read my earlier post, you will see that crime is in fact down in the US. However, with the advent of global coverage – we see the few crimes that are committed spread sea to shining sea. We get daily, or hourly, updates on the fate of a missing girl in Aruba. While that is a very sad occurrence, how many people were in Aruba vacationing that weekend? What percentage were abducted? Does the media tell us this? Or do they just focus on the fear that they can generate?

That does not sell papers. Fear sells papers. Let’s look at the war in Iraq. We are horrified that we have lost 1746 people in Iraq since the inception of hostilities on 3/19/03. That’s 1% of the 170,000 troops that we have on the ground. In ‘Nam we lost 58,209 people, out of 2,594,000 serving. That’s 2.2% losses. Korea was worse – with 54,246 total deaths out of 1,789,000 on the ground. That’s just over 3% dead. The world wars are even more grossly horrific. So, for being at war, we are doing pretty well.

As an aside, 170,000 in Iraq is a very conservative estimate. I was looking for the total number of troops that have served in the theater, as the numbers from the rest of the conflicts are based on total numbers that served through the conflict not the highest force levels. I have found numbers in the 250,000 range, but none from really good sources. With the quarter million number, the KIA percentage is an even lower %1/2.

However, the media plays what they want you to see up. They do not show reality in the true light, rather in what ever light sells more papers, and advances their agenda. The media no longer is impartial. They are trying to sell the public a bill of goods. “Stay at home – be afraid – listen to us and we will tell you about all of the horrible things out there!”

So, you can hide behind your locked doors, looking out of the drawn curtains, or you can free yourself and go out into the world, safely, sanely and with the correct amount of precautions.

11 thoughts on “Culture of Fear grows”

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  3. <i>I agree that as a parent you should be keeping an eye on anyone that interacts with your kid. However, there is a play off between your rights to observe and another’s rights to free expression and or lawful activities.</i>

    I agree with you there. I wasn’t so much trying to make excuses or say that it’s right to do so, as I was commenting that it’s our natural instinct, it seems. We fight our instincts all the time, and this is one case where we should fight at least our inclination to overreact.

  4. "<em>That last bit presents an interesting question. We now about Darfur, but the Genocide is still going on. Is that better or worse? If we didn’t know about it, at least we would have an excuse in letting it happen.</em>"

    It says a lot about us and our priorities.

  5. "<em>Sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution—or to at least keep one eye on people.</em>"

    I agree that as a parent you should be keeping an eye on anyone that interacts with your kid. However, there is a play off between your rights to observe and another’s rights to free expression and or lawful activities.

    For example, it is lawful for a person to take pictures of groups of people or things in public places. To take away that persons rights because that person makes you uncomfortable is unlawful. What if your presence made someone uncomfortable? Would you feel that they had a right to have security remove you from a public park? Where do we draw the line?

    If we live in a world where we cannot act if we might make some one else uncomfortable, then we will never be able to leave our homes and go out.

    The emotional response is that we need to protect our children from all of the evils. The fact is that 99.9% of the people out there are not evil. We need to be vigilant, and try and spot those .1%, however we cannot start willy-nilly taking away rights from upstanding citizens because they <em>might be</em> evil.

    I heard <a href="; rel="nofollow">Glen Beck</a> saying that he felt it would be correct for the police to use torture in a case like that of Joseph Duncan, if they felt that he would give up information that might help rescue one of his victims. This is morally abhorrent! What if, and we have to consider this, Duncan was innocent? And we tortured him for nothing? Or what if he confessed under torture, and then was proven innocent?

    Our legal system is predicated on fair treatment, assumption of innocence until proven otherwise, and blind justice. To start to cast people into stereotypes and take action based on those stereotypes is a dangerous road to travel. What about Wiccans? What if I felt that all Wiccans slaughtered goats under blue moons, and decided to have all Wiccans arrested?

  6. I probably should have added that the reason Shawn despises working with the news department down at the station is because most news stations have a policy of "if it bleeds, it leads." Why? In large part because that’s what the public watches. It’s what draws people to your station. How many people watch the news daily–and how many more watch when a teaser is run about a car accident, or a kidnapping?

    We get what we pay for, sometimes.

  7. I think it may be worthwhile to make a distinction between the media cultivating a culture of fear about things like Iraq, and parents being cautious about someone taking random pictures of their children. The problem is you don’t KNOW who’s a pervert and who isn’t. Sometimes it’s best to err on the side of caution–or to at least keep one eye on people. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true. Look at some of the reports coming out of St. Regis about Joseph Duncan–how he seemed "clean-cut" and "pleasant and courteous."

    It makes me sad. It makes me sad because when we’re at the mall, I can freely watch all the little ankle-biters playing on the toy train, running around and hollering, and I can smile at them and no one thinks twice. If a munchkin comes out of the train pit crying because she can’t find her mom, I can scoop her up and take her to the mall security booth and no one really thinks twice about it.

    Michael can’t. (My Michael, I mean, not the article’s Michael, of course.) Were he to sit on a bench by himself watching the kids play for an hour, he would be suspect. If he picked up that little girl and took her to the booth, people would watch him closely.

    Is there any reason for people to be suspicious of him? Absolutely none. He adores children and would never allow one to be hurt, let alone hurt one himself. Will people be suspicious of him? Yes. And THAT makes me sad.

    But I don’t know that I can blame <i>unnecessary</i> media fear-mongering for that. Maybe it’s better in some way to live in a world where people watch Michael closely than where they ignore Joseph Duncan. Still…it makes me sad.

  8. That last bit presents an interesting question. We now about Darfur, but the Genocide is still going on. Is that better or worse? If we didn’t know about it, at least we would have an excuse in letting it happen.

  9. It does not matter if there is a conspiracy, or it’s just expediency – the fact is that the media in this country is breeding a culture of fear. By running stories that say ‘Crime is on the Rise!’ and ‘Some Kid Got Killed in Podunksville’ they highlight the negative rather then the real.

    For example, the Media would like us to believe that Crime is on the rise. Which it is. There were more crimes committed this year in the US then 5 years ago. However, we have more people now, so per person the crime rate is in fact down. Crimes per person are more relevant, but saying that crime is at an all time high creates more fear. Which one does the U.S. media report? That crime is at an all time high!

    A more fair report would be that While there are more crimes committed, there are less victims per capita then ever before. But that does not sell papers to the public that the mass media has created. We, as a culture, crave fear. We feed on others tragedy. The Mass Media has created this lust for others misfortune by feeding us with a steady diet of Jerry Springer, Oprah, Survivor, and Bad News for the last 20 years. Where in this morass of misfortune is the positive programming that we need?

    Now, before I get accused of calling the kettle black, I enjoy a good Action movie as much as the next person, however I know the difference between movies and reality. I do not go out of my way to watch all of the bad news that I can – in fact I try and concentrate on the positive news as much as possible. The world is getting better folks! Really! Look at Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, the G8 summit. 20 years ago we would have never heard about Darfur, and now we can see pictures from it in real time.

    When evil raises it’s head – now more then ever the entire world finds out. That is a good thing. The bad thing is when the Mass Media reports only on that evil – and makes it sound like if you leave your house, you will die/be mugged/be raped or what ever.

  10. I don’t think the media has an agenda with this. They don’t want us to be afraid particularly, or to say home. They simply find that these stories are easy to do and people like to watch them.

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