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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Berlin Wall?s spirit of fear lives on in media?s hyped stories

By Jonathan Deesing

Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. The event signified the end of an era filled with constant fear of impending doom peeking around the corner. Indeed, it was such an important event that political philosopher Francis Fukuyama went so far as to describe it as “the end of history,” or the end of serious competition for Western democracy.

Yet here we are in 2009, consumed by fear, having found myriad other doomsday theories to occupy our time.

On Monday, I was at home enjoying the fact that I don’t have to know where the nearest bomb shelter is when I realized that I should not be relaxing in such a manner. A report came on the television telling me that puppy kisses can give you worms that bore through your body until they reach your eyes and blind you. I turned my attention toward the two 20-pound cocker spaniels keeping my feet warm.

Traitorous mutts.

In the past few years, we have had dozens of diseases emerge that were supposed to end the world and haven’t. We had SARS, West Nile virus and avian flu; all of these created widespread panics that were ultimately unfounded.

Most recently, we have H1N1 and swine flu. Yes, I do know they are the same thing, but the media refuse to only use one name. Even after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed concern early on that the term “swine flu” might lead to people avoiding the consumption of pork, the media still use both terms interchangeably. Ironically, the CDC has changed its own nomenclature of the disease three times since April.

Now we get to see stories every day of people lined up like some macabre Disneyland, hoping to get flu shots and vaccines.

Jeff Bowers, a pharmacy technician at Rite Aid, said his store is no longer receiving the liquid anti-viral to treat H1N1. Thus, they are forced to open capsules of the anti-viral pills and mix their own suspension.

“It makes it even harder to bill to insurance because it’s not the actual product,” Bowers said. “If people don’t have a flexible insurance company, it can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars. It’s ridiculous, really.”

But this fear-mongering doesn’t stop at disease. No, we still have Rush Limbaugh comparing President Barack Obama to Hitler, liberals comparing Bush’s regime to fascism, and worst of all, people repeating this rubbish as if it were fact.

Have we really come so far since the wall came crumbling down? Sometimes I find myself wishing for the morbid finality that the threat of nuclear disaster would provide. Then I wouldn’t have to watch the media slowly extinguish society with a steady filthy stream of fear. Maybe with 40,000 nuclear missiles pointed at our country, the media could find other things to fill a slow news day.

I won’t get my hopes up.

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