The Politics of Fear

Written by Harold McNeill on November 1st, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Cartoon - Politics of Fear

The Politics of Fear: Much has been written on how fear is used to manipulate, yet few seem to take the time to think about whether their fear is based on real time event (e.g. a man with a gun pointing it at you) or whether the fear is built from images or stories of others (manufactured fear).  Statistics make it clear that infrequent events (e.g. a man with gun, a terrorist attack) will cause more irrational fear than, say, smoking, something which will very likely will lead to serious illness and possible premature death.

February, 2015.  This post is brought forward as the amount of ‘fear mongering’ (mainly on terrorism in the present day) has increased exponentially as the Conservatives get ready for an election.  Today, February 27, six pages of the National Post carried terror related stories. It has been much the same over the past several weeks as preparations were made for introducing a new terror bill.  Several months back when crime legislation was on the agenda, the fear mongering included ‘crime, drugs and sex offenders’. Murdered, missing and abused aboriginal women (an ongoing crime problem) barely rated a mention by the government or the press. More will be said on that in an upcoming post.

First, this earlier post: 

The following excerpts were taken from recent Conservative Party Fundraising letter as reported by Scott Stinson in National Post PoliticsOfFearNovember 1, 2011 (page A6):

What happened (what is happening on our streets)? Far too many parents have been asking me this question year after year. Canadian families deserve to feel safe in their homes. They deserve to feel safe letting their children play in the front yard, or walk to school. But, they second guess themselves: should I let my children go to their friends’ homes?

“We are finding that crimes involving drugs and child sexual exploitation are on the increase, and we need to give our hardworking police the tools to make our streets safer.”

“Our Government is fulfilling our commitment to take action to protect families and hold criminals accountable. But the opposition are in constant attack mode, and we need your contribution to help families feel safer in their homes and communities, and remove criminals from our streets.” (John Walsh, Federal Conservative Party President) (Bold and underlined as printed in the flyer)

In his assessment, Stinson goes on to state:

Not too subtle, that. It’s not quite: ‘We will protect you while the opposition would rather leave you for dead,” but it’s close. That emphasis isn’t mine, by the way. It is a rich irony that the Conservatives are accusing the other parties of being in “constant attack mode.”

harpie fear4

There is a vast difference between presenting reasonable arguments for or against a given subject than using fear in an attempt to have others support your position. If you don’t support the Conservatives you will likely end up murdered or raped or as one Minister put it when promoting new laws relating to sexual offences: “If you are not with us you are with the pedophiles.”

Scare tactics do nothing to make for “safe streets and communities”, in fact they have just the opposite effect. When people begin to believe that perverts, internet prowlers, druggies and murderers are lurking on-line, in every alley and on every street corner citizens will actually feel less safe on their street and in their community. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Unfortunately the tactic is likely to succeed and far to many honest, hardworking folks will donate $50 or $100 to ‘fight the evil empire’ (e.g. Criminals and Opposition Parties).

For a full discussion of why Bill C-10, the  “Safe Streets and Communities Act”, does little to make for safer and communities go to: Crime and Punishment: Ideology Trumps Reason

Take a moment to express your displeasure with any political party that employs scare tactics to influence your behaviour or in an attempt to have you to contribute to their party coffers.

Harold McNeill

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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

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  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

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    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]