“Looking around the United States in the summer of 2010, hysterical moral panic seems an apt description of our fevered political condition.” Some state politicians threaten secession, others advocate thinly veiled armed revolution, and anti-Muslim hysteria seems at an all time high. Columnist Tim Rutten says: “In the midst of moral panic, inchoate indignation stands in for reason; accusation and denunciation supplant dialogue and argument; history and facts are rendered malleable, merely adjuncts of the moral entrepreneur’s—or should we say provocateur’s—rhetorical will. As we now also see, a self-interested mass media with an economic stake in the theatricality of raised and angry voices can transmit moral panic like a pathogen.”
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