Letter: Hysteria does not remove the need to prove guilt

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The Independent Online
LAST WEEK'S insightful leading article on the Bulger case was ruined by a misunderstanding of the valuable concept of 'moral panic'. Far from being a 'balm' for fears about the state of society, the concept helps explain exactly the sorts of things the article was talking about. First, there is some focus for popular concern. This is taken up by politicians and the media. Then a scapegoat is found. Thus Hitler used popular concern about the economic and political decline of Germany to fuel a moral panic, and directed it against the Jews. If widespread concern about the state of British society arising from the Bulger case is successfully diverted by politicians towards the scapegoats of social workers, teachers or the wicked unemployed, then a moral panic will once again have been born.

Neil Mercer

Stony Stratford, Beds

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