From comic-book panic to sexting panic

Compare sexting to the comic book panic of the 1950s, a thoughtful commentary in the Boston Globe suggests. “Huh?” you might say? Yes, back then, “a broad swath of the United States was convinced that crime and horror comic books were turning the nation’s children into murdering, raping monsters. Hearings were held, and eventually federal authorities pressured publishers into creating the Comics Code, an industry standard that neutered what had been a vibrant, eccentric – and yes, oftentimes provocative – form of American art.” Hmm, isn’t it interesting that each previous moral panic seems to have happened just long enough before the current one that the current generation of parents has no memory of it, and therefore lacks the kind of perspective that would help protect us from “the outrage industry” that exploits parental fears? Must be a conspiracy! Writer Jesse Singal continues: “We’re wired to be protective of our young, so it will always be much easier to convince people that children are at risk than to argue otherwise. That’s why these moral panics rage through the country at regular intervals. In the 20th century alone, marijuana, rock music, Dungeons & Dragons, Satanic cults, and first-person shooters have all seized the minds of American parents. And yet each successive generation graduated to adulthood largely undecimated.” Actually, this is good. It’s an opportunity for parents to practice the critical thinking that protects us against group think and fear-mongering, so we can teach our children critical thinking from experience! [See also “Why technopanics are bad.”]

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