Cover image for Synthetic panics : the symbolic politics of designer drugs
Synthetic panics : the symbolic politics of designer drugs
Jenkins, Philip, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : New York University Press, [1999]

Physical Description:
xi, 247 pages ; 24 cm
Synthetic panics -- Speed kills -- Monsters, the pcp crisis, 1975-1985 -- Suppressing ecstasy: the designer drug crisis -- The menace that went away: the ice age, 1989-90 -- The cat attack, 1993-94 -- Redneck cocaine: the methamphetamine panic of the nineties -- Rave drugs and rape drugs -- 9 The next panic.

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HV5825 .J46 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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America has a long history of drug panics in which countless social problems have been blamed on the devastating effects of some harmful substance. In the last forty years, such panics have often focused on synthetic or designer drugs, like methamphetamine, PCP, Ecstasy, methcathinone, and rave drugs like ketamine, and GHB. Fear of these substances has provided critical justification for the continuing "war on drugs."

Synthetic Panics traces the history of these anti-drug movements, demonstrating that designer chemicals inspire so much fear not because they are uniquely dangerous, but because they bring into focus deeply rooted public concerns about social and cultural upheaval. Jenkins highlights the role of the mass media in spreading anti-drug hysteria and shows how proponents of the war on drugs use synthetic panics to scapegoat society's "others" and exacerbate racial, class, and intergenerational conflict.

Author Notes

PHILIP JENKINS is Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of numerous books, most recently Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America and Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Jenkins's study makes the reader wonder about the extent to which news reporting of drug abuse becomes exaggerated and overly dramatized. Jenkins mostly discusses illicit drugs and how they are presented in both print and electronic media. Throughout this work the author meticulously unearths and documents the "other" facts regarding numerous illegitimate drug scares and contrasts these with what was presented in the media. In a sense, he exposes the media as well as government biases in drug news reporting. As an example of one of many provocative statements, Jenkins asserts that "anti-drug prohibitionism in recent years is a manifestation of a narrowly puritanical view of drugs and medicines that severely limits their potential usefulness for human well-being." Complements Thomas Szasz's Our Right to Drugs (CH, Nov'92); Milton Friedman and Thomas Szasz's Friedman and Szasz On Liberty and Drugs (1992); and Erich Goode's Between Politics and Reason (1997). Highly recommended for anyone interested in the drug legalization debate. All levels. P. J. Venturelli; Valparaiso University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Note on Usagep. ix
Abbreviationsp. xi
1 Synthetic Panicsp. 1
2 Speed Killsp. 29
3 Monsters: The PCP Crisis, 1975-85p. 54
4 Suppressing Ecstasy: The Designer Drug Crisisp. 76
5 The Menace That Went Away: The Ice Age, 1989-90p. 95
6 The CAT Attack, 1993-94p. 117
7 Redneck Cocaine: The Methamphetamine Panic of the Ninetiesp. 132
8 Rave Drugs and Rape Drugsp. 160
9 The Next Panicp. 183
Abbreviations in Notesp. 199
Notesp. 201
Indexp. 239
About the Authorp. 247