Both academic and journalistic writers broadened the

This preview shows page 6 - 8 out of 12 pages.

Both academic and journalistic writers broadened the definition of moral panicto encompass many societal events which may have brought anxiety or fearto the public ­­ but failed to meet the standard of challenging the existingmoral fabric of the society. During the 1980s AIDS, crowd violence at footballgames, etc. were identified as moral panics when, in fact, a threat to themorality was not an issue (Hunt, 1997). (AIDS could be argued as a moralpanic in the reverse. When AIDS first appeared, conservative societies largelyviewed it as a "gay disease" and claimed it was God's scourge on those whochose a homosexual lifestyle. Instead of a panic, it was seen as a solution to apanic.)Further studies of moral panic began to articulate the notion of using themedia to spin an incident to favor the vilified interest group (i.e., folk devil)and to promote radical social change purported to be unwanted by thegeneral society (Veno & Eynde, 2007). In these cases, the identified folk devil:
• Uses coalition building to create a politically active group;• Influences the media to spin the situation in their favor (i.e., runningsympathetic stories about individuals in the vilified group. In this case themotorcycle club trotted out a "victim" who was paralyzed because of allegedpolice brutality and was struggling to care for his wife and child) and thepublic outcry against the group is reframed as a bigoted or uneducated view;• The group lobbies independent politicians, civil liberties groups, and othermarginalized groups with the goal of forging political alliances; and• Uses legal challenges to decry the injustices being heaped upon the group inthe form of stringent sentencing and stricter laws that target the group'sactivities. This tactical approach could be used to debunk myths whichperpetuate bias and hate against marginalized groups or individuals. However,it appears to be used to try to force societies to accept people who choose tolive aberrant lives (e.g., Hell's Angels, Goths, gangsters, Satanists, etc.) assafe and normal (Veno & Eynde, 2007).It is not yet clear what these types of neutralization projects will have onsocieties and may be worth watching. If motorcycle clubs, youth gangs, andSatanists are successful in creating a society in which they are no longervilified, will our societies be able to maintain safety or will safety bethreatened? That question has not yet been scientifically answered.ViewpointsThe Constructionist ViewSome sociologists believe the notion of moral panic may be outdated associety has shifted to the degree that the boundary "separating morality fromimmorality has been blurred" (Hier, 2008, p. 174). Utilizing a Constructionistpoint of view, all moralizations involve a group of people acting on theconduct of others. The resultant laws can be viewed as necessary revisions orcan be reframed as "punitive laws rooted in a politics of panic andresentment" (Adams, 2003, p. 260). Additionally, it is difficult to determinewho is responsible to guard the moral fabric and safety of a society; this couldbe construed as the responsibilities of each individual or of a societal group. It

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture