Ebola and the Construction of Fear
by Karen Sternheimer (Everyday Sociology)
"Sociologist Barry Glassner, author of The Culture of Fear: Why Americans are Afraid of the Wrong Things, explains how misguided panics are not just benign opportunities to prevent something horrible, but can divert attention and public funds away from more likely threats. He notes:
Panic-driven public spending generates over the long term a pathology akin to one found in drug addicts. The money and attention we fritter away on our compulsions, the less we have available for our real needs, which consequently grow larger (p. xvii).
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series
(direct links: 1
) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf)
from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime,"
NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings
. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
This past August a murder charge was dismissed against Nga Truong, a young mother who had confessed to Worcester, MA Police interrogators in 2008 that she had smothered and killed her 13 month-old baby, Khyle. A judge later concluded that confession was coerced -- extracted in part by police "deception," "trickery and implied promises" -- and the case was dropped. (pdf)
. Her case raises questions: What coercive power do detectives have who are driven to extract confessions? Under what circumstances might someone admit to a crime they have not committed? WBUR
(Boston's NPR station) investigated Truong's case and has an extensive report, Anatomy of a Bad Confession: Part One
and Two [more inside]
The Hardest Cases: When Children Die, Justice Can Be Elusive
A joint investigation by PBS Frontline, ProPublica and NPR has found that medical examiners and coroners have repeatedly mishandled cases of infant and child deaths, helping to put innocent people behind bars. (Via. (Article contains descriptions of children that have been killed by abuse. May be disturbing / triggering to some readers.) [more inside]
Video of Krugman on Media and Economics
If Bush said the earth is flat, of course Fox News would say "Yes, the earth is flat, and anyone who says different is unpatriotic." And mainstream media would have stories with the headline: "Shape of Earth: Views Differ; and would at most report that some Democrats say that it's round."
So said Paul Krugman during a recent interview in Boston with Chris Lydon, former host of NPR's 'The Connection.'