terça-feira, julho 29

Matthew Parris provides an A to Z of things that at one point scared us rigid but the dangers of which now appear to have been greatly exaggerated. (...) My friend Simon Briscoe has co-written an entire book (Panicology — Penguin-Viking) about the statistical basis of panic; I, less systematically, have spent three hours on a train with a ballpoint pen, a paper place mat, and my own recollections. It is shocking how easily the following alphabet came. Anthrax. Framed on my bathroom wall is a full-page spread from the Sun instructing readers how to survive an imminent terrorist-instigated invasion of anthrax spores. (See also Alsatians, and Addictions — gambling, internet, shopping, etc — which vary as to gravity, but are all announced as recently diagnosed by experts, and ‘sweeping’ the population.) Bird Flu. It is not so long since the government’s chief medical officer said the arrival here of a pandemic was not a matter of whether but when. Since then, bird flu has dropped from the news. (See also Badgers, BSE.) (...) Ecstasy. Where did this go? It was supposed to be threatening the lives of a whole generation. (...) Gin. Through much of the 18th and 19th centuries gin was believed to pose the principal threat to life, health and moral welfare among the urban poor. It probably did. But the fashion passed. (See also Genetic Mutation.) (...) IRA. This insurgency proved treatable by patience, fortitude, restraint and compromise. It was in the end less formidable than elements on the Left hoped, or the Right feared. (See also Internet Porn.) Jihad. Our century’s real Jihadis are the neocons, who depend upon a credulous reading of what we shall one day look back on as a nebulous and ephemeral cult. (See also Osama, al-Qa’eda, and Protocols of the Elders of Zion.) Knife-crime. The case in point. Let us at least suspend judgment. LSD. Why anyone ever believed a desire for this unpleasant and unsettling drug would overwhelm the youth of the West now seems inexplicable. (See also Liquid Explosives.) Marijuana. Another boring drug whose use is declining, but which was thought poised to grip a generation by the throat and drive us mad. (See also Mad Mullahs.) (...) Overpopulation. A huge world-concern in the 1960s, about which everybody had an urgent opinion. It has somehow left the media spotlight. Probably due to return. (See also Osama bin Laden, probably not due to return.) (....) Pandemics. A useful example of how a new word can inspire a new fear. Media stories never explain the difference between a pandemic and an epidemic — like measles. (See also Pit Bull Terriers.) Qa’eda (al-). On the stock exchange of media scares there is now the hint of drift in the share-price of this, until recently, strongly performing scare. Religious cults. Who now remembers the alarm which for a while filled pages of newsprint, over the ‘capturing’ and ‘brainwashing’ of impressionable youngsters by religious cults? There were calls for legislation. (See also Ricin and Rottweilers.) Satanism. Periodic waves of alarm about this. One gripped Orkney recently, but the stories proved entirely false. (See also Skin Cancer.) TV Violence. A particular concern at the end of the last century, with urgent calls for action prompted by fears that a generation was being corrupted. Now that television’s cultural centrality is declining, concern has shifted to internet-borne material and video games (see below). (...)
Video Nasties. Tremendous alarm about these in the 1980s, leading to fairly pointless legislation on certification. The replacement of videotape with DVDs has robbed headline writers of a slick hyphenation opportunity. Witches. Before you laugh, remind yourself that all of Europe and North America was for a long time gripped by terror of these, and untold numbers of innocent old ladies were murdered in consequence. X-Rays. As a health scare, the cancer risk of X-ray radiation has ebbed and flowed ever since, in the 1960s, Clarks Shoes withdrew their foot-scanners from shoe shops. Yellow Peril. Sinophobia is due for a massive comeback after peaking mysteriously in the 1970s then (mysteriously) disappearing. Zion, the Protocols of the Elders of. A forgery produced in Russia to vindicate anti-Semitism, apparently proving the existence of an international Jewish plot. While, today, fear of Islamic fundamentalism skews our sense of proportion, it’s worth reminding ourselves that for many decades millions of educated and civilised people were able to persuade themselves absolutely that another Semitic religion and its adherents threatened everything they stood for. ‘The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they... have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now,’ said Henry Ford in 1921, whose newspaper cited the Protocols as evidence of an international Jewish conspiracy. The Protocols were simply a lie. Jihadism, 9/11, knife-crime reports or drugs statistics are not. But they all have this in common: they feed an appetite for alarm. Every time we observe another instance, we should be seized with a massive calm.
(THE SPECTATOR UK - texto completo)


Anonymous Belita said...

A minha fobia mais recorrente: FUTEBOL - sobretudo durante os campeonatos internacionais.

6:49 da manhã  

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