an overwrought public anxiety that evil things are afoot. The term seems to have been coined by Jock Young in 1971.* The most obvious example of an ancient moral panic is the blood libel.

Other famous examples of moral panics include the 1955 Boise scandal, in which three cases of lewd conduct between men and teenaged boys, plus a noxious editorial, triggered a general war against homosexual men. In the early 1930's, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) launched a public relations effort to have federal laws passed banning the use of marijuana; it was driven by a jurisdictional struggle between Harry Anslinger (FBN) and J. Edgar Hoover (FBI). The campaign was a success; it not only achieved the desired legislation, but created a wave of mass hysteria about the "threat" of marijuana.

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* Goode & Ben-Yehuda, *Moral Panics* (1994), p.12.
In the movie *Quadrophenia*, set in Brighton, UK in the late 1960's, a recurring theme was the contemporary moral panic over the clash between Mods and Rockers.
by Abu Yahya February 14, 2009
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Intense hysteria about a social or political problem that, instead of solving or reducing the problem, actually makes it worse.
The intense xenophobia behind the Trump Administration's efforts to stop migrants from Central America from entering the U.S. have actually increased the number of asylum seekers many times over from during the Obama Administration. It's an example of a "moral panic paradox" -- people are afraid the asylum laws will change so they need to immigrate now before that happens. Another moral panic paradox happens when gun-control advocates seek limits on the sale of assault rifles after a mass shooting. The result is increased sales of assault rifles because people feel they need to buy them now before the laws change.
by Mooseface April 14, 2019
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