Fear: Counterterrorism

Selling Fear: Counterterrorism, the Media, and Public Opinion (Chicago Studies in American Politics)


While we’ve long known that the strategies of terrorism rely heavily on media coverage of attacks, Selling Fear is the first detailed look at the role played by media in counterterrorism—and the ways that, in the wake of 9/11, the Bush administration manipulated coverage to maintain a climate of fear.            Drawing on in-depth analysis of counterterrorism in the years after 9/11—including the issuance of terror alerts and the decision to invade Iraq—the authors present a compelling case …

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For men who are not rapists, molestors or pedophiles (so most of you), I just learned a new phrase: “Male Shaming.” Your thoughts?(r/AskMen)

>Firstly, is “male shaming” a thing?

Definitely, there’s the “eek a male!” effect, which is ridiculous in and of itself. Throw in Schrodinger’s Rapist. Then there’s the whole thing about disfiguring a man as being “funny” on a talk show. Then there’s the notion of “If women ruled the earth, there would be no war.” (Implying men are the root cause of all war, and that women are saintly and beyond reproach).

I think a part of it is that the Media has found out that Fear Sells. Turn on the News, and despite violent crime and the like being seriously down over the past forty years, in many cases both in terms of real and per capita (kidnappings, robbery, murder, manslaughter) it going down, the media reports it more and more. As a result, public outcry was made against the “public menace.” “Stranger Danger” campaigns and other half-assed and half-cocked countermeasures were initiated to fight a “new threat,” that never existed. The imagined wave of child/woman kidnappings, abductions, rape, murders, etc., never ever happened, but we saw all manner of things (like Amber Alert) be put into place, which as far as anyone can tell is marginally useful at best, since most ones issued are custody battles turned ugly. This is called “Missing White Girl Syndrome.”. Ratings for these stories are through the roof, so they’re constantly reported.

This makes people very afraid. Whenever the media plays up things involved in fear, it results in SWAT teams being called on kids playing paintball, or hate crimes as people wearing Turbans are shot, mistaken as terrorists, or kids with fake guns made out of a pop tart is suspended. The Media drumming up fear is not ever a good thing.

The Media’s portrayal of almost all men as dangerous, incompetent, evil, deadly, or defiling is therefore quite damaging. Men can almost never be a victim on a daytime series, without it emasculating them in the plot in some way. Women’s sexuality is expressed in the mass media and western world, without it being seen as predatory, pathetic, or dangerous. An example of this would be perception of men who own fleshlights as opposed to women who own dildos, (or men who own any sex toy as opposed to a woman who owns practically any sex toy). There are woman pedophiles out there, lots of them, and yet nobody talks about that, even though it’s completely predatory beyond commenting about what a “lucky boy” he is. South Park did a great job summing up how fucked up it is. The real world application of this and how it hit me was that I used to work with kids, but the public perception of men is so toxic that I quit. It’s almost like, because ‘I’m a guy, I must think about sex every six seconds, and if there’s only kids around, well, I guess a hole’s a hole, he’ll do, bend over kiddo.’

If you’re a guy and you work with kids, you get looks, a lot of them. I only lasted a summer from all the comments along the lines of “don’t you [expletive]ing touch my kid.” (Bitch, I’m holding his hand and leading an entire chain of children across the street at a crossing, to and from an event.)

>Secondly, if it is a thing, how do men deal with media and culture bombarding them with accusations of impropriety and perversion?

Admittedly, not well. There isn’t much you can do when someone is strongly convinced that you are a threat and a danger to them (when you haven’t even opened your mouth to them), especially when what has scared them itself is not based on rationality or backed up by any figures to dispute. I have gotten disgusted and skipped episodes of my favorite shows on Netflix because of how anti-male it has been.

Personal anecdote:

I got yelled at, and a couple of girls demanded I apologize for ‘millennia of oppression and defiling mother earth’- I asked what for, and they said “for being a male. Do it. Get on your knees, now, and apologize.” This WAS at a small undergraduate college, and I thought they were joking, but it turns out they weren’t, and would routinely go around asking random men to apologize. I’m an environmentalist. Apparently that gets me zero credit, because ‘all of women’s problems in the world are caused by men.’ Seriously. *

>How can you stand it?

I quit the job working with kids, so in terms of professionalism, I really can’t say that there is any way to “stand it,” that I found, unless you enjoy being suspected of being a pedophile or something. People are scared enough for their own safety, but the moment anything involving their kids happens…people go nuts for “safety.” As I’ve stated, this isn’t a rational fear, and as parents rotate their kids through, it’s a constant and perpetual battle against new parents to just prove to them that you’re not out to rape/murder their kid or something.

As for how to deal with it in a social setting, anytime someone starts off on how “men are evil,” I just stop them there and try to talk to them about how that hurts me as a person and how it isn’t true. They don’t respond well to that, instead talking about how scared they are. At this point, there isn’t much I can say or do to change their feelings (I’m one person, the media has far more credibility.) If they continue on, I try to make it clear that I’m not okay with being considered a possible rapist or whatever, so I just quit out on them and the conversation. I’ve lost people I thought were friends this way, but I’d never really known that they thought that way about me before, so I guess I’m okay with that.

One more thing about fear:

The media drums up fear where there shouldn’t be any, and we shouldn’t be listening, but we do, and what’s more, it has seriously negative effects on our culture, on our stress levels, wastes emergency services, wastes money, time, and lives.

>Finally, how can we help?

Million dollar question. It’s been hours, and I finally have an answer. The only thing I can say is: “Don’t let fear rule you.” Life isn’t as dangerous as it’s made out to be. Take calculated risks; balance of probability is your best friend. Do not let the media glue you your TV set and lock you indoors; they have a vested interest in doing so. Do not let them. Get outside. Lead by example.

  • I have been asked as to whether the part with the asterisk happened. It did, and the quote is exact if I recollect correctly. I admit that the area it happened in was a college had recently gone co-ed, and I was the first male entering class; even so, it was quite jarring to have that expressed as an opinion by more than one person, and that it was held in such confidence as to vocalize it unapologetically, as though it were a natural truth as to the way of things.

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Book Author

Brigitte L. Nacos

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University Of Chicago Press

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Selling Fear: Counterterrorism, the Media, and Public Opinion (Chicago Studies in American Politics)

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For men who are not rapists, molestors or pedophiles (so most of you), I just learned a new phrase: “Male Shaming.” Your thoughts?

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