Scared to Death".
This has been a common theme that exposed itself with massive clarity with the advent of cinema, home videos and computer games.
A classic example was the issue over the content of videos in the 1980s. Campaigner Mary Whitehouse notoriously gave a presentation to MPs in 1983; showed a compilation of highlights of so-called video nasties where many of the scenes of films, she objected to, were taken out of context and edited in such a manner as to create maximum impact. The result of her campaign was the 1984 Video Recordings Act.
It was an example of moral panic, one which culminated in this infamous Sun headline ten years later (pictured below), just after the conclusion of the trial regarding the tragic murder of Jamie Bulger, despite that no evidence existed that the film "Child's Play 3" had any relevance in case whatsoever. The judge had simply made it up:
Another example has been computer games. I always remember that the Daily Mail once had a full page spread complaining about the computer game Goldeneye, a best selling game on the Nintendo 64, inspired by the James Bond film of the same name.
“Die, die, die” was the headline, as it reported that a two year old boy said those words as he played the game. A headline that was shocking I’m sure...until we realised that his hands weren’t big enough to grasp the controller and so play the game properly and that the article was describing level four. Which meant that the 2 year old boy had to know terms like; “install covert modem” and “find data allocation tape” in order to progress through the game to get to level four. Less a problem in society, more an example of a boy genius.
With this mind we come on to new technology such as 3D printers and their potential ability to produce guns, as noted by this headline in Telegraph:
Sir Peter Fahey, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, told Sky News that the weapons were a “new phenomenon”, but said his officers were determined to prevent them making it onto the streets.
One can see a future "moral panic" in the making. I'm sure that 3D printers can make guns, but to complain is to assume that weapons cannot be made out of other relatively innocuous items.Earlier this year concerns were raised that the printers – which construct everyday solid items using very thin layers of plastic – could be used to make a gun containing no metal parts.
For example a rocket launcher can be made out of a drainpipe and a model rocket, a weapon can be made out of very hot coffee laced with ridiculous amounts of sugar, a very effective crossbow can be made out of a wooden coat hanger, some wood, a couple of clothes pegs and an elastic band.
As the 1970’s film Scum (3:33 mins) clearly shows, a sock and a couple of snooker balls can also be very effective. It always amuses me that despite extremely strict security clearances and checks in UK airports they give out free newspapers as you board the plane – which can then be turned into a Millwall Brick.
Thus with 3D printers we can clearly envisage and predict another "moral panic" and a Daily Mail front page outlining the dangers of people...having such technology at home.
Nothing ever changes...