Saturday, April 03, 2010

"Organized moral panic"

This morning Fr. Z posted a really interesting piece from Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne: Is priestly paedophilia a problem? Yes, says an Italian sociologist. Is it a big problem? No.  I think it is right on the mark.
.
Two characteristic elements exist: a fact which serves as a starting point, and an exaggeration of this fact by moral entrepreneurs.

.
The current discourse on paedophile priests – considered from a sociological perspective – represents a typical example of "moral panic". The concept was coined in the 1970s to explain how certain problems become the subject of "social hyperconstruction". More precisely, moral panics are defined as socially constructed problems that are characterised by a systematic amplification of the true facts in the media or in political discourse.
.
Two other characteristics have been cited as typical of moral panics. First, problems that have existed for decades are reconstructed in the media and political accounts as new or as the subject of a recent dramatic increase. Second, their incidence is exaggerated by statistics plucked from the air which, while not confirmed by academic studies, are repeated by the media and inspire persistent media campaigns. Historian and sociologist Philip Jenkins, of Pennsylvania State University, has emphasised the role of "moral entrepreneurs" in the creation and management of panics whose agenda is not always revealed.
.
Moral entrepreneurs (who) organize the panic...
.
This at a time when political, juridical and even electoral decisions in Europe and elsewhere are being made about the abortion pill RU-486, euthanasia, the recognition of same sex unions. Only the voice of the Pope and the Church is being raised to defend life and the family. The reading of certain articles in the media shows that very powerful lobby groups are seeking to silence this voice with the worst possible defamation—and unfortunately an easy one to make—that of favouring or tolerating paedophilia. - Read more here.
.
We have to be extremely discerning these days regarding the press - I believe this article from Fr. Z is helpful to keep in mind while reading and listening to all the sensationalized hype surrounding the attacks against the Church and the Pope.  I also think Elizabeth Lev's article, In Defense of the Catholic Clergy (Or Do We Want Another Reign of Terror?) compliments the theory of Massimo Introvigne rather well.
.
Image:  Nazi Anti-Catholic Propaganda Poster (Click the link and read the caption.)

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:04 AM

    Kiss up.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, I'm trying to endear myself. :-P

    ReplyDelete


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.