Moral Panics

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Essay 1 1. )Both the Eugenics and Satanism moral panics were both originated in the form of some sort of rumor that over a sustained period of time was amplified to an extreme extent. Both of the moral panics were spread through the form of media and posed a great threat to society. The Eugenics case was a combination of both a moral panic as well as a conspiracy theory being that it was believed that complex human behaviors such as criminality and lack of success could potentially be bred out of existence by breeding only for strength and resistance to disease (Kossy, 2001).

The basis for this moral panic began with the uprising familiarity of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which people did not understand fully and applied incorrectly (Kossy, 2001). Falling hand-in-hand with the misinterpretation of Darwin’s theory, immigration to the United States was also on the rise, increasing population and naturally creating more criminal behaviors. The Satanic moral panic of the 80s and 90s began in the late 70s as a panic about missing children being abducted and killed by Satanists.

Much of the already-existing Satanic moral panic was reinvigorated through media, specifically Geraldo Rivera’s “Devil Worship” special (Victor, 1993). The idea of Satanism and the individualist philosophy became popular among teenagers to scare their parents by listening to music displaying Satanic imagery. 2. )The Eugenics and Satanism case studies both display how the powerful groups in society can categorize some groups of people as being the “other” and getting the majority of society to go along with it.

The Eugenics moral panic was designed to keep the “white race” white, and bad science led many to believe that because of higher rates of disease and mortality, non-white people were genetically inferior (Kossy, 2001). Eugenics was an example of the monomania of science due to the strong desire of scientists spread to the public in order to bring everything under human control and under a unified system. The powerful carried out the selective breeding of human through forced sterilization, segregation laws, marriage restrictions, and even in some cases there was purposeful killing of mental patients.

The “powerful” who first began Eugenics were those from the Human Betterment Foundation and the British Eugenics Society whose main target were the genetically “unfit” and the “feeble-minded” (Kossy, 2001). They categorized specific groups of individuals as being “unfit. ” For example, they believed all African Americans to show criminal behaviors, Native Americans to lack civilization, Jews to spread disease, Italians to disobey the law, and the Chinese to overuse opiates (Kossy, 2001).

The Satanic moral panic was originated by a power elite, congressman Paul Simon, and then was reemphasized by another power elite, Geraldo Rivera (Victor, 1993). As the Satanic rituals became widely publicized, the powerful continued to reinforce society’s beliefs about the issue, and it began benefitting politicians, movie makers, musicians, and people in the medical industry. Both the Eugenics and Satanism cases involved the power elite manipulating society to conform to their beliefs and to ostracize certain other groups of people. 3. The Eugenics and Satanism moral panic case studies demonstrate that people have a tremendous fear of social or moral change that they will believe just about anything authorities and opinion leaders tell them to. The Eugenics panic caused people to fear non-whites because they were told they had higher rates of disease and mortality, therefore inferior to whites (Kossy, 2001). Also, during this time, people were specifically fearful of African Americans, Native Americans, Jews, Italians, and Chinese, because they were said to be “unfit”, uncivilized and showed criminal behaviors (Kossy, 2001).

The Satanic panic also instilled fear of social change, starting with the fear of child abduction, followed by cult murders, which was believed to be correlated with certain types of rock metal music (Victor, 1993). 4. ) Eugenics of the past unfortunately went to great extremes that would unlikely happen today, however, there are currently certain less-horrifying examples of Eugenics occurring.

Embryonic stem cell research qualifies as a form of Eugenics because of its purpose of getting rid of unfavorable genetic characteristics in human embryos. Also, sex-selective abortions are prevalent in some countries more than others in which they value sons over daughters, such as in China, India, and Pakistan. Many people also abort children with Down syndrome. Similar to the Satanic moral panic is the conspiracy theory of the Illuminati secret society, which many theorists believe to control and manipulate world events.

In order to avoid mistakes of the past, which we could largely place the blame on the media, there would have to be more evidence to prove or disprove the original stories before further rumors spread thus eventually causing a moral panic. References Kossy, D. (2001). Eugenics. In Strange Creations (pp. 117-156). Los Angeles, CA: Feral House. Victor, J. S. (1993). The social dynamics of rumor-panic. InSatanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend (pp. 27-56). Peru, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company.

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