One of the pitfalls of living in what many call a "democracy," which according to our Founders is an erroneous way to describe our form of government, is the tendency of opportunists to use the mass hysteria among the populace to garner support for bad laws.
The case of the Salem Witch Trials is a perfect example of such hysteria. Some of the more astute minds of the period were so caught up in the hysteria stemming from the claims of a few silly school girls that a number of admirable, upstanding members of the community were sentenced to death.
Contrary to the notion that society has advanced far beyond such primitive thinking, modern 21st century societies have their own versions of mass hysteria that are rarely based on logical thinking but on knee-jerk reactions to frightening events.
Gun hysteria is a case in point.
In certain sectors of modern America, hoplophobia, or an excessive fear of guns and armed citizens, is so pervasive that some citizens have engaged in behavior indicative of the most absurd, bizarre, and foolhardy lapses of judgment and rationality imaginable.
A gun bill making its way through the Colorado legislature, for example, contains a provision that bans the common, standard shotgun that hunters use.
An even more absurd example, however, occurred in Economy, Pa. A 19 year old student by the name of Travis Clawson had placed an outgoing greeting message on his cell phone that was an excerpt from the theme song of the television series, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. The song contains a line that says, "And all shooting some b-ball outside of school."
A receptionist from Clawson's eye doctor had called to remind him of an appointment but was sent straight to voice mail. At that point, Clawson's greeting message that contained the song began to play, and the receptionist misunderstood that the "shooting outside of school" did not refer to guns but to "b-ball."
The receptionist called the police, who notified Clawson's high school, and a lockdown of every school in the county ensued.
Later, a swarm of police officers arrived at the high school, only to find Clawson sitting in a guidance counselor's office, oblivious to any problem. He was then taken into custody for having an excerpt of a TV show on his phone.
This incident is the latest in a long string of similar instances of mass hysteria in the schools, such as the two school boys who were suspended for using their fingers to point at each other on the playground, and the five year old who was suspended for telling her friend that she wanted to "shoot" her with a "Hello Kitty Bubble Gum."
None of these incidents make any logical sense whatsoever. Yet this is where we are as a society. And our politicians at the state and federal level wish to pass restrictive laws on the entire population based upon the knee-jerk reaction of irrational hysterics.
Perhaps the lunatics are running the asylum.
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