Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Strange Case of the Moral Panic That Didn't Bark

.. or tae see ourselves as others see us..

Via my colleague Mark Telford, this abstract from Philip Jenkins, a criminologist.

Why Do Some Social Issues Fail to Detonate Moral Panics?
Philip Jenkins*
* Department of History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 407 Weaver, University Park, PA 16802, USA;

A ‘moral panic’ is characterized by such themes as the novelty of a particular menace, its sudden explosive growth, and the menace it poses both to accepted moral standards and to vulnerable groups and individuals. Some problems, however, apparently have all the features that would generate a self-feeding media frenzy, and, yet, they do not do so. I will explain this absence of panic by examining the issue of internet child pornography. The failure to construct the problem in ‘panic’ terms reflects the technological shortcomings of law-enforcement agencies, which force them to interpret available data according to familiar forms of knowledge, rather than comprehending or publicizing new forms of deviant organization. This lack of awareness then conditions the nature of political investigation and media coverage.

Does anyone on this list NOT think there has been a moral panic over child pornography? In the US, the Time cover of 96, the CDA, the COPA, et al.... are we and the criminologists on different planets??

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