The Chronicle’s View

The University of Utah is apparently not immune from the anthrax scare.

When a supposedly suspicious letter came into the office of the languages and literature department, suspicions arose, police were called and the envelope is being investigated.

The U Police Department is not too worried about the letter and is assuming that it is just another hoax or overreaction. The police have also been called out to investigate the leftover sugar from a powdered doughnut.

Clearly, this case of paranoia was both extreme and uncalled for, but it is not without provocation.

A pair of senior vice presidents sent out a memo detailing precautions to take to avoid exposure to anthrax, from cautious mail-handling to quarantining areas that have potentially been exposed to the spores that carry the deadly disease.

However, while the U remains a potential terrorist target, as it will serve as a venue for the coming Winter Olympics, nothing has yet happened that is cause for alarm.

The ultimate message is this: While there clearly is cause for concern, don’t let that concern degenerate into ludicrous fear.

As of Tuesday, there were but 12 total infections and three deaths as a result of exposure to anthrax.

Given that we live in a nation of 265 million people, your chances of being exposed to?let alone contracting?the disease are minimal.

The fear behind this issue is not completely unfounded. Upon hearing of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 that ushered in a new era of U.S. history, all people in the nation?regardless of whether or not they personally knew a victim?felt concern and trepidation that they too could fall prey to terrorist attacks.

Now that anthrax has been sent to a White House mail room, headquarters of media organizations and several other buildings, we all feel just a little more vulnerable.

But that is not cause to believe that the Domino’s coupons that arrive in your mailbox will bring you certain and imminent death.

The best advice anyone can give is to proceed with caution, but to nevertheless proceed. We must exercise care, but we must continue to live our lives and not succumb to the terrible fear that Osama bin Laden is personally seeking us out to promulgate his anti-U.S. mission.