Of Terrorism and the Culture of Fear

Thanks to the combined efforts of “the terrorists”, the news media, and the Bush administration, it appears that we are becoming a nation of trembling Chicken Littles frightened by our own shadows.

I just came across this AP news story by way of Boing Boing, which I will use to illustrate my point.

Basically, here’s what happened:

A Connecticut teacher thought she was alone in the school building. Two teenagers and a custodian, also thinking they were alone in the building began singing “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses over the PA system. Upon hearing the lyric

You know where you are?
You’re in the jungle baby
You’re gonna die

the teacher loses her mind, and fearing for her life, barricades herself in a room then notifies the authorities. Six troopers and three police dogs show up and the kids are handcuffed until the “investigation” reveals that there was no threat or danger.

Now honestly, I can undestand how that would startle, even frighten a person, but come on! Surely most rational people would immediately recognize it for exactly what it was; kids goofing off.

Similarly, apparently all it takes is a “suspicious package” or an errant piece of pipe to fling an entire community into mass-hysteria. Recently our local news reported that a man had found what he thought might be a pipe-bomb in his garage. As you can imagine, the response was immediate and overwhelming. With the help of all manner and sorts of high tech equipment, the bomb squad determined that the “device” didn’t contain any explosives. But even after this discovery, they (the reporters and law enforcement) continued to refer to it as a “pipe bomb”.

Uh, excuse me, but isn’t it the addition of explosives that makes it a “pipe bomb”? Without something that goes “boom”, it seems to me that all you really have is a pipe.

The sad thing is, as society becomes further indoctrinated into the culture of fear, this type of incident will become more commonplace and, I’m afraid, eventually accepted.

3 thoughts on “Of Terrorism and the Culture of Fear

  1. Wow!!! Can you imagine what could have happened if they were singing these lyrics:
    I used to love her, but I had to kill her, ….I knew I’d miss her…shes buries right in my backyard….

  2. Well, yes I can imagine. Probably the exact same overblown police response that it /did/ receive. Actually though those lyrics don’t seem quite as menacing… “used to love her, had to kill her, blah blah blah”… not quite the same impetus as:
    You’re in the jungle baby
    You’re gonna die!

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