Some More News: Moral Panics And How To Spot Them

I feel like this video is a good follow-up to Renegade Cut’s Halloween video that I posted earlier this month. Moral panics seem to be both a persistent phenomenon in human societies, and a valuable tool for unscrupulous, usually powerful, people. They’re used to distract from real problems, often at the cost of destroyed lives and livelihoods, and often to protect those aforementioned powerful people from accountability for their misdeeds. I also think it’s telling that, in the Tucker Carlson clip right near the beginning (you knew that fascist shit factory had to be involved here, right?), he equates losing your sex drive with losing your soul. That kind of breathless, hyperbolic ranting isn’t new, but it’s a big part of what’s driving the current moral panic(s), with white supremacist fascism as the goal.

Moral panics convince people of absurd stories that make little to no sense if you dig into them – absurdities, if you will – to hide something that’s ongoing by burying it in noise (say, throwing around the accusation of “grooming” so much that people tune it out when evidence of your own sketchy views or behavior arises). If it’s not that, then it’s to build support for new atrocities.


  1. sonofrojblake says

    If you’ve not already seen it, do check out by whatever means possible the Brass Eye special, “Paedogeddon” – a still-brilliant take-down of the media moral panic structure, even over two decades on. It was rendered even more effective at the time by the Home Office Minister Beverley Hughes going on the flagship Radio 4 news programme “Today” and instantly coming across like a made-up comedy character by referring to the programme as “unspeakably sick” before being forced to admit she hadn’t seen it.

  2. Katydid says

    Moral panic from the mid-1990s: someone who sold MLM kitchen goods was trying to get the office to buy some of her goods, including a ridiculously overpriced soap foamer. What is that? You put in a couple of ounces of liquid soap and fill the rest with water, press the plunger, and foamy soap comes out. Every liquid soap back then had that option, usually costing a dollar or two at discount department stores and slightly more at fancy-soap-and-lotion places at the mall.

    This MLM version was $20. But, we were told, we simply had to have one…*for the children*!

    The moral panic came in as the salesperson told us sternly, “I’ve seen children SCREAMING IN PAIN because the liquid soap was too harsh for their tender skin! You NEED this foamer to dilute the soap! GOOD mothers get this to save their children–you want to be a good mother, don’t you? You want to save your children!”

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