Clearly, this is no time for complacency, but the recent “terror” plots in London and Glasgow might serve as a turning point in our attitudes towards terrorism. It seems to me that the media does some of the terrorists’ work for them, acting as the medium through which terror can spread and generating spectacular images which other terrorists might be inclined to imitate.
News media should not filter out information for the public’s good. But they don’t have to treat it all with the same level of breathless urgency, either.
There are three obvious advantages to treating a failed mass-murderer not as a terrorist but as a terror-clown.
First, it would make terror alerts more amusing. Since any other function terror-alerts might have is moot, this is a consideration of the first importance.
Second, it might promote a certain perspective about the actual threat of terrorism in one’s daily life. Mike Bloomberg, not normally my favorite person, was pretty good about this recently.
Third, it might actually deter some from pursuing terrorist careers. It’s one thing for a disaffected person to think of himself as a Byronic hero-villain like the Hulk. It’d be another to risk being portrayed as a goony ill-tempered Proto-Clown.
After all, if they wanted to scare the general public by being clowns they’d just go to clown school like other people.