We all use fear. Be it those who worry about the children, or those who worry about rights. Be it those who worry about communism, and those who don’t care. Be it those who fly into a panic about terrorism, and those who point out it’s not very common.
But what is the result?
We had the Alien and Sedition acts, which allowed the government to go after people who were openly critical of the government. People like Jefferson were against this act. The idea that the Supreme Court could override laws (judicial review) wasn’t established yet.
Fear even gave us the thought police. We were locked in a Cold War with a nation that held views in opposition to our, and we used that fear to justify a massive witch hunt for spies and people who agreed with them instead of us.
Of course, convicting in those cases is hypocritical, since they get to use their free will to squash the free will of others, and their rights and the existing fear to quash the rights of others.
Laws related to thoughtcrime and fear are the hardest to get rid of. People fear what they think may harm them, no matter how unlikely. It’s why we got laws like the NDAA which does grant total equality to everyone, since any American citizen can be arrested and held indefinitely as a suspected terrorist, be they gay, straight, black, or white. But you will find that law nearly possible to remove, even if it is a failure, since people fear terrorism.
People are inherently irrational. A large, public stir over a single event will create much more worry than a common event. People fear terrorism more than they fear driving or riding their bikes. I can tell you which one is most likely to kill me, and it isn’t terrorism.
I place a lot of the fear the public feels with most mass media and, in some cases, Hollywood. With most mass media, any mass killing becomes a big deal, with the story being covered for weeks and every little details of the life of the killer. And it spreads out to the people. Criminologists have noted that media reactions like this is a potential cause of mass killings, since it is a way for the killer to become incredibly well known and very unlikely to be forgotten.
The major coverage of it hammers at people, and they begin to grow fearful that it could happen to them. Never mind that crime is down and mass killings are less common now, the constant coverage creates fear, and fear is anything but rational.
Hollywood also creates fear. People fear what they don’t understand, and what they don’t understand covers every topic. Hollywood exploits that fear, and in doing so, reinforces it in the minds of the people.
Movies with actions scenes like people firing guns for minutes without reloading creates a fear of those. Never mind that it doesn’t work that way, people see someone spraying bullets very fast for a while, and they become afraid of it. Hollywood won’t portray things realistically since people wouldn’t believe it if they did. They get their understanding of things from movies, and then expect them to work that way in real life.
It isn’t just firearms, either. Who hasn’t met someone who fears a robot rebellion, based on the fact that they saw the Terminator? You have people who actively fear something like Skynet or any artificial intelligence, based on that movie. People get scared when Boston Dynamics shows new upgrades to the Big Dog robot, or even the PETMAN robot. They fear the terminators walking on a mountain of human skulls. They actively argue that all robots should incorporate the three laws.
Reality is a different story. Even a human, with a lifetime of walking experience, would find a pile of skulls nearly impossible to walk on. Artificial intelligences on par with Skynet simply don’t exist, and have a long while before they would be feasible. Then there is the fear of a robot uprising. Is your toaster really going to plot to kill you because you had to abuse the handle a bit to get the toast out? If someone does manage to upload their brain into a computer and become a machine intelligence, Hollywood assumes they would want to kill everyone else. People fear the idea that technology may progress to the point where someone could upload their intelligence to a machine and not have a biological body.
The one bit that is ‘me’ is merely a conglomerate of past experiences and actions which shape how I will react to something. If I got a sex change, I would still be me. If I grew taller, or lost my legs, I would still be me. But people would fear me for exchanging a biological body for a mechanical body. I would still be me, but fear works like that.
The fear seems rooted in every case in things that aren’t them. People fear robots because they don’t understand them. People fear machine guns because they only ever see people hosing out rooms with them. People fear other people having any sort of weapon because they fear what that person may do. They fear that person for owning it.
This isn’t to be about owning machine guns or Hollywood or mass media. It’s about fear. Fear has caused actions against thoughtcrime to take place at more than one point in history. Be it the Alien and Sedition acts, or the Patriot Act, or the witch hunts of the red Scare and the Salem Witch trials. Fear is irrational, and causes irrationality. Fear can be a powerful tool, and a dangerous weapon at the same time.
And that is why fear must be fought. Fear causes laws that are almost impossible to remove. Fear has caused laws about thoguhtcrime before. Fear will continue to cause laws about thoughtcrime in the future. It must be fought at every turn. Whatever right it may be, everything from free speech to some future thing that may just be the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, laws will always come along that seem acceptable given the time and events, but should be fought as the infringements to the rights they are.
The Alien and Sedition acts were gotten rid of. The Red Scare ended. Someday, in the future, people will try to pass laws preventing people from uploading their brain into a machine. They will see it as a threat to the general public, the same as how they saw communists as a threat to everyone, and witches long before that.
These things must not be allowed to happen. They should not have been allowed to happen.
Fear, if anything, spreads, and the influence of it and the reactions to it spread.
Remember, First They Came for…