The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. –H.L. Mencken
Sensationalism in the media
By Ben Hope
Conspiracy theories abound particularly on the social media and have increased in recent years. They focus on things like global warming, the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, the U.S. presidential election, and even intrude into the outdoors and environment with predictions of invasive plagues of pests destroying all in their path.
The media at large has to be held responsible for over emphasising or even perpetuating ludicrous alarmist calls. Rather than taking a responsible, cool, calm and collected analysis, the media sensationalise.
Often unbalanced coverage
Coverage is often unbalanced with only one side of the issue aired. The worrying matters the public is confronted with, may be several. Currently it has been a constant barrage of “rising sea levels, invasive pests, fear of firearms, coronavirus threats, housing crisis –- whatever the issue is, its impact is to generate alarm and fear.
The negative thinking generated can impact on people’s mental health.
Impacting those who own firearms
One outcome has been to affect the law-abiding firearm owning community. For example the Christchurch mosque shooting and murder resulted in anti-firearm law rushed through in an undemocratic process.
So it can be argued that the cause of shooting is deteriorating the mental health of the people.
Exaggerated claims about pests
Another example, the wild exaggerations around invasive pests pumped out by government agencies and promoted by an unthinking often incompetent media, results in the blanket coverage of public lands with toxins such as 1080.
The consequences are dire for the ecosystem and the outdoor recreational public. The justification is never questioned by journalists. Nor is the outcome from 1080 of causing massive rat plagues from stimulated population explosions.
The rat plagues impact following aerial 1080 is well documented in science and is there for a good investigative journalist to find.
Where does the blame lie?
So who is to blame for these hobgoblins? Are alarmist calls due to incompetent mindless politicians, perhaps calculating bureaucrats or bigger influences?
Irrespective, politicians must stand accused.
Despite those who deride conspiracy theories, the reality is politicians do plot and scheme. Conspiracies go back through the ages. After all, what was the Last Supper all about? Or the murder of Julius Caesar?
A journalist a hundred years ago may have put his finger on the deliberate political tactic to keep people in a state of fretting.
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” said Henry Louis “H. L.” Mencken (1880–1956).
He was an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, acerbic critic of American life and culture, and an expert on American English.
Think about Mencken’s words when you are reading the newspaper, social media or watching the TV news or a documentary.
Is it a political ploy to keep the populace divided by introducing polarising issues?
Whatever the underlying agenda there’s a beneficial spin-off for politicians. Besides if the people are happy and at ease they might focus on the many government poor management decisions.
So keep the plebeians worried and arguing among themselves and alarmed. Divide and conquer? Smoke and mirrors stuff?