Friday, March 02, 2007

Culture of Fear

I remember when thunder storms came, and people got out of the rain. Now, thunder storms are a national emergency, with warnings from the National Weather Service streaming across the television screen. People state that the weather is worse now than it used to be, but I expect that’s not the case.

Not so many years ago, an Associated Press wire report about eight people dead in a tornado in Alabama would have been buried on a back page of the New York Times in a few paragraphs. Many local newspapers wouldn’t have had space to run such a report. Now the 24/7 news cycle places cameras at the scene within minutes.

Yesterday, eight children died in a school in Enterprise, AL, in just such a weather event. But it’s not Armageddon, and we don’t need to cling to our radios in desperate fear of the weather. Scared populations trade freedom for the illusion of security.

Authoritarian leaders have no need to impose dictatorship on the U.S. people. All they have to do is give them Ipods and plasma televisions and keep them hypnotized by streaming disaster news and amused by escapist programs with lots of whoo-hoo screaming. Then, the sheep gladly trade liberty for the prison of safety.