Moral Panic

The Panic Panic

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You may have heard the oft-repeated story of a British mob that drove a doctor from her home because it had confused the words "pediatrician" and "pedophile." Writing at the BBC's website, occasional Reason contributor Brendan O'Neill tracks down the truth about the tale. The actual incident turns out to have been much milder: The "mob" was just one vandal, and local sentiment was sympathetic to the victim.

O'Neill concludes:

[S]ome in the media, in challenging the scaremongering over sex offenders, indulge in some scaremongering of their own. They raise fears about violent tabloid-reading protesters who will attack, hound and destroy a paediatrician—which seem to be just as unfounded as the fears about thousands of paedophiles stalking the land.

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  1. “Stop! Stop! You people are giving the word ‘mob’ a bad name!!!!”

  2. We’re not in danger of panicking about the panic over panic, are we?

    I’m less concerned with confused mobs hounding doctors, than with people convicted of some minor offense (‘public lewdness’ for pissing in an alleyway while drunk) who are on the same roll with true paedophiles. I’d like to see a study of how common violence against those on sex-offender registries really is.

    Speaking of offenders, it was a real shock to see the valentine’s day Reason ad replaced suddenly by the floor-humping guy. I just wasn’t prepared for that at 9:30 on a Wednesday morning.

  3. “I’m less concerned with confused mobs hounding doctors, than with people convicted of some minor offense (‘public lewdness’ for pissing in an alleyway while drunk) who are on the same roll with true paedophiles.”

    Or people who have (consensual) sex with 14-15 year olds. Maybe, if you have to, slap them on the wrists, but they shouldn’t be put on these fucking lists that ruin lives.

  4. I heard there was a pedophile who collected thousands of empty milk cartons with missing kid pictures on them, who died when the collection toppled over onto him in his garage and caused him to injure his head on the concrete floor. He was found dead several days later.

  5. Are you questioning our tactics in going after pedophiles? Only a no good dirty pedophile would do that! I am going to have to report you to Homeland Security!

  6. I thought the British were supposed to be literate.
    Even Benny Hills knows the difference between “therapist” and “the rapist”…

  7. Surely this panic panic will kill us all!

  8. What’s that in the road, a head?

    No, no, no dear – its “what’s that in the road ahead”.

  9. Classification of child sex offenders tends to be a little vague. On the same list you’ll find a guy who tortured and killed little boys, and another guy who took a picture of his neighbour’s daughter. Neither is desirable, but I know who I’d prefer for a neighbour (I don’t have a daughter).

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