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Folk Devils, Moral Panics and Messageboards

Whirlysplat

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Folk Devils and Moral Panics is a phrase which was coined by Stan Cohen almost 40 years ago. A folk devil is someone or a group of people portrayed by the media as deviant. Folk devils are usually subjected to loosely organised but pervasive campaigns of hostility through gossip. I would argue on message boards and via the internet this is often "meme" mediated e.g. "Chanology". Some examples of historical folk devils would be the Jewish stereotype of the money lender or the Mcarthite persecution of Communists. In England the paedophile riots in 2000 were a mod example of a "moral panic" started and engineered by the U.K.'s mass media to create new folk devils and sell more papers. This came out of the hilarious campaigns for rights without responsibilities for children started by media personalities like Esther Rantzen in the U.K. in the 90's. People were forced to leave there homes as being identified as paedophiles on the estates where the riots occured, all had nothing to do with paedophilia, they were just not liked and the mob mentality had taken over. Perhaps the most amusing, but, sad incident of these riots. Dr Cloete returned home from work at the Royal Gwent Hospital to find "paedo" spray-painted on her front door. Local police believe the graffiti was written by someone who confused her job title with the word paedophile. The mob wrongly thought paediatrician meant paedophile. Yes. paedophiles openly advertise.....

A little on these riots;

http://archives.cnn.com/2000/WORLD/europe/08/10/englandpaedophile/.


The recent Scientology moral panic on the internet appears to follow classic folk devil and moral panic characteristics. A group who are not well liked have been identified, by an anonymous group. I worry about any group who do not come out and say who they are. All people have a right to face their accusers in a free and open society and a whisper campaign has started. The truth of most of these stories about Scientology is unknown and they are not coming from impartial sources, always a concern.

The "whispering game" is always an issue in moral panics, and already the anonymous hackers have targeted an elderly couple as Scientologist anti hackers. The elderly couple had nothing to do with Scientology.

Mobs are always an issue, be they online or in the real world. The social experiment by Anonymous, which started as obvious satire worries me, mainly because youngsters are often angry and looking for identity. This makes them willing to follow people and causes adults may be more careful about. They are being duped to attack something which may or may not be evil, probably because it has high profile members like the media unpopular Tom Cruise.

Do I like Scientology, No. Do I like mobs, No. Do I like moral panics. Hell No!
 
I like the Wizard of Oz.

I like the Tin Man.
 
well in this whole incident there have been videos of scientologist reacting to people in the attack never defend way. so at least some of the claims levied against them have been confirmed. also the conduct of annoymous hasn't been life threatening or anywhere near the level of harrassing as the examples of moral panic you used.
 
well in this whole incident there have been videos of scientologist reacting to people in the attack never defend way. so at least some of the claims levied against them have been confirmed. also the conduct of annoymous hasn't been life threatening or anywhere near the level of harrassing as the examples of moral panic you used.

You now any of this how?
 
it'd be news worthy don't ya think. you know for making a moral panic against anonymous.
 
it'd be news worthy don't ya think. you know for making a moral panic against annoymous.

It's been done before. No one is really interested in some fat internet hackerz... Tom Cruise, Will Smith etc. That's news.
 
the only things i'd change would be to apend an s the the end of scientologist since i must of missed it in the thought to text part, and perhaps put quotes around attack never defend.
 
the only things i'd change would be to apend an s the the end of scientologist since i must of missed it in the thought to text part, and perhaps put quotes around attack never defend.

The comma is your friend, it's very useful, that's just a tip. I shall stop being a grammar nazi now.
 
I don't think anonymous can be compared to a mob/moral panic scheme. I mean even you have said that what anonymous hasn't really accomplished anything publicity wise or goal wise. And from what I've seen I don't think this situation is remotely close to the paedophile riots

Also if you really don't care about anonymous' whole campaign against Scientology or don't think its doing anything substantive why make threads like these?
 
I don't think anonymous can be compared to a mob/moral panic scheme. I mean even you have said that what anonymous hasn't really accomplished anything publicity wise or goal wise. And from what I've seen I don't think this situation is remotely close to the paedophile riots

Also if you really don't care about anonymous' whole campaign against Scientology or don't think its doing anything substantive why make threads like these?

I agree anonymous has not accomplished anything. At this point our opinions deviate. I also feel that you, perhaps, haven't read my post carefully enough. I don't think they are close to the paedophile riots either, however, the process by which a folk devil is created remains true in most scenarios. I have never come across the creation of one online before. Neither have I come across one, where, those engineering it have picked and targeted so specific an age demographic. I must admit to being both saddened and fascinated, by how satire has been misunderstood by the ignorant and hijacked by the manipulative.
 
I agree anonymous has not accomplished anything. At this point our opinions deviate. I also feel you perhaps haven't read my post carefully enough. I don't think they are close to the paedophile riots either, however, the process by which a folk devil is created remains true in most scenarios. I have never come across the creation of one online before. Neither have I come across one, where, those engineering it have picked and targeted so specific an age demographic. I must admit to being both saddened and fascinated, by how satire has been misunderstood by the ignorant and hijacked by the manipulative.

But the odd thing in this case is its what could be considered a folk devil taking on a folk devil. That and anti-Scientology views have been around long before the whole project chanology thing sprung up. So the whole creation of an online folk devil isn't something that's happened here. So once again I really don't see what your going for here as this whole event is neither the cause of Scientology being labeled as deviant or mob attacks.
 
But the odd thing in this case is its what could be considered a folk devil taking on a folk devil. That and anti-Scientology views have been around long before the whole project chanology thing sprung up. So the whole creation of an online folk devil isn't something that's happened here. So once again I really don't see what your going for here as this whole event is neither the cause of Scientology being labeled as deviant or mob attacks.

A number of pressure groups have indeed been very anti-Scientology. Again, I agree with the first part of your post. These though, generally, were aimed at spreading information on which people could make decisions. They were not calls to action. They also were not aimed at creating a mob either on or offline. Denial of service attacks, targeting of individuals online, pickets offline, these are direct action. Already the mob has taken over, when an innocent elderly couple are targeted by anonymous you have to laugh (not because it's funny). The original meme was a joke. What is happening now is not.
 
A number of pressure groups have indeed been very anti-Scientology. Again I agree with the first part of your post. These though, generally were aimed at spreading information, on which people could make decisions. They were not calls to action. They also were not aimed at creating a mob either on or offline. Denial of service attacks, targeting of individuals online, pickets offline, these are direct action. Already the mob has taken over, when an innocent elderly couple are targeted by anonymous you have to laugh. The original meme was a joke. What is happening now is not.

1. Anonymous by its very nature is a mob. Its a group of people who do things for the "lulz" and have done denial of service attacks and far worse against many other people. If your sitting there thinking that anonymous is going to play nice then clearly you haven't seen what they can do.

2. I would agree with you about what is happing now is not a joke. But I would say that its progressed in the opposite direction of what your saying. The denial of service attacks and hacking incidents occured before the protests and what not happened. The campaign itself seems to have switched to spreading information and using demonstrations as weapons. The effectiveness of such may be called into question but its not some mob riot.
 
1. Anonymous by its very nature is a mob. Its a group of people who do things for the "lulz" and have done denial of service attacks and far worse against many other people. If your sitting there thinking that anonymous is going to play nice then clearly you haven't seen what they can do.

2. I would agree with you about what is happing now is not a joke. But I would say that its progressed in the opposite direction of what your saying. The denial of service attacks and hacking incidents occured before the protests and what not happened. The campaign itself seems to have switched to spreading information and using demonstrations as weapons. The effectiveness of such may be called into question but its not some mob riot.

The DDOS attacks did start it off. The elderly couple was some time ago. The demonstrations unfortunately remain satirical for those watching from outside. Unfortunately the information you see being spread is usually hearsay or unsubstantiated. It also does not come from impartial sources. The campaign appears to those on the outside looking in, a group of youngsters "playing" at having a cause. As for anonymous, they did indeed start this for the lulz. They are still probably laughing, in fact probably more so. How anyone can jump on the bandwagon of a group whose credo is along the lines of; The mob is more cruel than the individual, is a mystery to me. I also agree the effectiveness of this mob is questionable, but, it certainly is a mob. A small loosely knit one I admit.
 
The DDOS attacks did start it off. The elderly couple was some time ago. The demonstrations unfortunately remain satirical for those watching from outside. Unfortunately the information you see being spread is usually hearsay or unsubstantiated. It also does not come from impartial sources. The campaign appears to those on the outside looking in, a group of youngsters "playing" at having a cause. As for anonymous, they did indeed start this for the lulz. They are still probably laughing, in fact probably more so. How anyone can jump on the bandwagon of a group whose credo is along the lines of; The mob is more cruel than the individual, is a mystery to me. I also agree the effectiveness of this mob is questionable, but, it certainly is a mob. A small loosely knit one I admit.

The information itself is not hearsay or unsubstantiated. The Church of Scientology has had a large number of issues such as Operation Snow White and other such things. The Chanology project seems to be using the "lethal" side of Scientology in order to play up the shock factor. Such information does come either from former members of the church or reporters or even from government records. While its harder to substantiate the claims of Scientology actually killing people the federal offenses such as fraud and domestic espionage are true.

All in all the campaign seems to be a fairly run of the mill awareness campaign now as compared to the DOS attacks. The only real difference from actual professional campaigns are the lack of resources it has. Had this been a political group I have no doubt that this would have gotten national responses especially if they played up the Scientology kills message.

More and more this thread seems less to do with what Stan Cohen put forth and is more of critique of what anonymous has done. Because really this whole Chanology thing has nothing to do with creating folk devils and stiring up mass mobs to attack people.
 

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