Sunday, November 04, 2007

Reflections on a Lockdown

In the few days that have passed since the lockdown at La Salle University, I have been thinking a bit about the whole issue of fear and safety in modern society, and the need to strike a balance between prudence and living in a state of total panic.

Too much nowadays, we seem to go constantly from one type of crisis to another, with little respite or sense of proportion. We are panicking about toys from China, school shootings, MRSA, and Iran, all at the same time. Far from being the utopia predicted by futurists, the twenty-first century has been in a continual state of mass hysteria.

This naturally has provoked a backlash in at least some quarters. Libertarians, such as the publishers of Reason magazine, feel that our state of panic has produced too much regulation, unduly limiting human freedom. They have a point in some respects, such as drug laws; however, they often take it too far, rebelling against event prudent measures such as limited gun control.

In the end, the problem is largely traceable to mass media. Our modern communications infrastructure and twenty-four hour news networks do alert us to major problems, such as overseas events. However,they also create a heightened sense of fear by hyping every new threat that appears, leading to overreactions such as La Salle's.

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