Still pressing panic button

January 31, 2013

I was saddened to learn of the death of Stanley Cohen (Obituary, 24 January). His classic tome Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers (1972) was used as a textbook when I was training to be a secondary school teacher during the mid to late 1970s. I particularly enjoyed this work, being an ex-rocker myself. I still chuckle about what we mods and rockers from a small town in Wiltshire were accused of by local “polite” society.

The behaviour identified by Folk Devils and Moral Panics remains with us today. For example, the day after David Cameron’s speech on the UK’s future in the European Union, press headlines were full of hogwash that the country was about to be swamped by Romanian and Bulgarian migrant workers, and that the UK would have to pay a daily fine of €250,000 (£213,000) for “failing to abide by the letter of EU rules on energy trading”. None of this was true.

Unfortunately, large sections of the British public believe the headlines in newspapers such as The Sun, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express, and there are few official attempts to puncture the myths they make up.

John Black, Bristol.

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