Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

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Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 22:419–445, 2001 Copyright Ó 2001 Taylor & Francis 0163-9625/01 $12.00 1 .00 the role of presidential rhetoric in the creation of a moral panic: reagan, bush, and the war on drugs James E. Hawdon Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina Although it is known that state initiatives can help produce moral panics, the role policy rhetoric assumes in creating, sustaining, and terminating moral panics has not been theoretically addressed. This article offers a typology of drug policies and illustrates how each is used at varying stages of a moral panic. It is argued that moral panics begin when proactive and punitive statements are used in combination. Moral panics subside when reactive and rehabilitative rhetorical statements are issued concurrently. The argument is empirically tested by analyzing the presidential addresses of the Reagan and Bush administrations for drug-related statements. Regression analysis, analysis of variance, and crosstabular analyses are used to test several hypotheses derived from the theoretical discussion. The empirical evidence supports the theoretical discussion and the constructionist perspective of social problems. By 1986 Americans were convinced that drugs were sweeping the nation like a ‘‘white plague.’’ Yet, based on governmental gures, drug use declined during the 1980s. Between 1979 and 1985 the Received 6 June 2000; accepted 23 November 2000. I thank Rebecca Ewing and Suzanne Carr for their assistance with this manuscript. I also thank J. Scott Brown, Donna Sedgwick, and John Ryan for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper. Address correspondence to James Hawdon, 123D Brackett Hall, Department of Soci- ology, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634. E-mail: [email protected] 419

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Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

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Page 1: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Deviant Behavior An Interdisciplinary Journal 22419ndash445 2001Copyright Oacute 2001 Taylor amp Francis0163-962501 $1200 1 00

the role of presidentialrhetoric in the creation of amoral panic reagan bushand the war on drugs

James E HawdonClemson University Clemson South Carolina

Although it is known that state initiatives can helpproduce moral panics the role policy rhetoric assumesin creating sustaining and terminating moral panicshas not been theoretically addressed This article offersa typology of drug policies and illustrates how each isused at varying stages of a moral panic It is argued thatmoral panics begin when proactive and punitivestatements are used in combination Moral panicssubside when reactive and rehabilitative rhetoricalstatements are issued concurrently The argument isempirically tested by analyzing the presidentialaddresses of the Reagan and Bush administrations fordrug-related statements Regression analysis analysis ofvariance and crosstabular analyses are used to testseveral hypotheses derived from the theoreticaldiscussion The empirical evidence supports thetheoretical discussion and the constructionistperspective of social problems

By 1986 Americans were convinced that drugs were sweeping thenation like a lsquolsquowhite plaguersquorsquo Yet based on governmental guresdrug use declined during the 1980s Between 1979 and 1985 the

Received 6 June 2000 accepted 23 November 2000I thank Rebecca Ewing and Suzanne Carr for their assistance with this manuscript I also

thank J Scott Brown Donna Sedgwick and John Ryan for their comments on an earlierdraft of this paper

Address correspondence to James Hawdon 123D Brackett Hall Department of Soci-ology Clemson University Clemson SC 29634 E-mail hawdonjclemsonedu

419

420 J E Hawdon

number of young adults who had ever used marijuana and cocainedecreased by 12 and 11 respectively This trend continuedthroughout the decade and into the early 1990s (National Instituteof Drug Abuse [NIDA] 1986 1988 1990 1994)1 Why did Ameri-cans believe drug use was increasing when the available evidencesuggested otherwise

Such phenomena are well understood by sociologists the UnitedStates was in the middle of a moral panic Guseld (1963 1981)Ben-Yehuda (1986) Hawdon (1996) and others have discussedhow drug use has led to moral panics in the past These accountshowever fail to consider the role policy rhetoric assumes in thelife-course of a moral panic Yet it has been demonstrated thatstate initiatives regarding drugs often precede public opinion andcreate concern independently of the objective extent or serious-ness of the problem (Beckett 1994) Similarly policy rhetoricinuences the mediarsquos framing of problems (see Beckett 1995Sharp 1992) which in turn inuences public opinion (Jerniganand Dorfman 1996 Iyengar 1991 Orcutt and Turner 1993) Policyrhetoric therefore is an important factor for understanding moralpanics The current paper details the specic type of policyrhetoric that helps produce the concern associated with moralpanics

DRUG USE AND MORAL PANICS

To argue there was a moral panic about drug use during the 1980sis not meant to imply the issue was irrelevant or not serious Amoral panic is lsquolsquothe widespread feeling on part of the public thatsomething is terribly wrong in their society because of the moralfailings of a specic group of individualsrsquorsquo (Goode 198926) Thisdenition does not imply a sense of irrational hysteria2 The claimsmakers involved in the panic may truly believe the threat is realand serious And indeed the threat may be real and seriousTo be sure drug use was a serious problem in a number ofneighborhoods and caused the untimely death of many users3 Thedrug panic was therefore more than simply a scare Nevertheless

1 Between 1979 and 1990 the number of marijuana cocaine and hallucinogen usersdecreased by 23 32 and 52 respectively (based on NIDA 1986 1988 1990 1994)

2 See Best (1990160) for a discussion of the difference between concern and fear3 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) statistics for example show that the number

of cocaine overdoses increased ve times and lethal overdoses two-and-half times between1984 and 1988 (Adams et al 1989)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 421

the concern over the drug issue meets the crucial elements of amoral panic4

First instead of using systematic evidence the drug warrsquos claimsmakers used arguments that logically exceeded the available facts(see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a Beckett 1994) Moreoverno measure of seriousness adequately explains the increase inpublic concern Beckett (1994442) argues lsquolsquo[neither] the reportedincidence of drug use nor the severity of drug abuse is consis-tently related to levels of public concern about drugsrsquorsquo5 Next thefact that the public listed drug use as the number one problemin the country when the objective harm caused by drug usewas far from being the leading harmful condition illustrates thedisproportionality of the concern over drugs (see Goode 1989)Finally as will be demonstrated in the analysis the drug issuewas highly volatile Therefore lsquolsquowhile the American drug panicof the late 1980s was not a classic or perfect case of a moralpanic it was a moral panic nonethelessrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda1994a223)

But what role if any did presidential rhetoric play in thismoral panic Does a specic type of policy rhetoric correspondto different stages of panic Although the specic content of therhetoric will obviously change depending on the topic of the paniccan a relationship potentially a general one be found betweenpresidential policy statements and moral panics

POLICY RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Policy the lsquolsquopurposive course of action followed by an actor or a setof actors in dealing with a problem or concernrsquorsquo (Anderson 19793)is inherently rhetorical (see Throgmorton 1991)6 Moreover policyand its underlying rhetoric determine politics and political action(Lowi 1972) Policy rhetoric is therefore the arguments used topersuade an audience to support a particular political course of

4 The ve elements of a moral panic are (1) an increased concern over the behaviorof a certain group (2) increased hostility toward the group engaging in the behavior(3) widespread consensus that the behavior poses a threat to the society (4) an exaggerationof the numbers of individuals engaging in the behavior and of the threat posed by thebehavior and (5) volatility (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a33ndash41)

5 See Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994a) Jensen Gerber and Babcock (1991) Levineand Reinarman (1988) Reinarman and Levine (1989) and Goode (1990) for supportingevidence

6 Rhetoric is lsquolsquothe craft of persuasion through communicationrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan199565)

422 J E Hawdon

action (Majone 1989) Although present in all stages of policypolicy rhetoric is most evident during the denitional processwhen particular policy meanings are developed and disseminatedThese policy meanings include at least implicitly a description ofthe causes and consequences of the problem or concern the policyaddresses (see Weiss 1989 Steinberger 1995 Anderson 1979)7Once framed claims makers must campaign to have their denitionof reality accepted since a policyrsquos survival lsquolsquodepends to a largeextent on policy makers constructing and lsquosellingrsquo a problem andpolicy to deal with the problemrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan 199574also see Foss et al 1985 Carmines and Stimson 1993) Thus theacceptance of a policy at least those that indicate the generaldirection of political action depends on public opinion (Anderson1979)

Public opinion also is involved in and is necessary for moralpanics (see Blumer 1971) Although it is debated where the publicconcern originates public opinion can be and often is manip-ulated by elites (Hall et al 1978 Chambliss and Mankoff 1976Gerassi 1966) While widespread fears almost necessarily preexistmoral panics these fears must be articulated and given direc-tion (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a) Presidents can obviouslyprovide the necessary outlet for public concern As Kieve (199416)states lsquolsquopresidents are image makers As such they seek the oppor-tunity to dene situations and construct the reality they want thepublic to acceptrsquorsquo (see also Campbell and Jamieson 1990 Windt1973 Majone 1989) Given the exposure and compelling posi-tion of presidents (Hertsgaard 1988) their rhetorical messages canpopularize issues that may have otherwise never surfaced (seeElwood 1994) A president is therefore an excellent politico-moralentrepreneur (see Reinarman 1996)

A presidentrsquos policy rhetoric can help create a vision of realitythat breeds widespread concern about an issue hostility towarda group and disproportionality Policy rhetoric can provide theauthority that is necessary to legitimate the publicrsquos belief thata threat from a moral deviant is real (see Victor 1998) Thuspresidential policy rhetoric can indirectly induce moral panics byinuencing public opinion Once legislation is issued howevera predictable change in policy will expedite the moral panicrsquosdissolution

7 Guseld (1996248)makes this point when he states that lsquolsquothe designation of problemsas lsquodrinking problemsrsquo is therefore both a theory of causation and a strategy of attack onthemrsquorsquo

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 423

Thus it is argued that specic types of policy correspond todifferent stages of a moral panic It is necessary to outline thevarious types of drug policies and the ideological positions uponwhich they are based Once this typology is developed distinc-tive policy rhetoric and styles can be related to the emergencesustainment and demise of moral panics

THE NATURE OF DRUG POLICIES

In general there are two types of policy (Anderson 1979) (1) policythat indicates the general direction of political action (ie theobjective of policy) and (2) the routine decisions about day-to-dayoperations (ie the implementation of policy) The objective ofdrug policies tend to be regulative since they focus on individualconduct and have an immediate likelihood of coercion (Lowi1972)8 Yet the objective of drug policies vary in terms of howan individual is to be coerced Drug policies can seek to eitherpunish or rehabilitate the individual For example the policies ofthe 1950s that resulted in the Boggs and Narcotic Control Actsexemplify punitive-oriented policy Conversely the National DrugRehabilitation Act of 1966 epitomizes a rehabilitative policy (seeMorgan 1981 for a discussion of these acts)

Similarly policy implementation or how the policyrsquos objec-tive is to be achieved can be either proactive or reactive9

Proactive policy requires law enforcement agents to search fortransgressions or actively deter future transgressions Employingradar to track smugglersrsquo planes and educational programs suchas Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) are proactive imple-mentations of policy Reactive policy when law enforcementagents do not target specic criminals or potential criminals ismore common Requiring drug treatment for users convicted ofa nondrug related offense or imprisoning those caught possessingcontrolled substances during routine police work exemplies reac-tive implementation strategies By combining these dimensions wecan identify four general types of policies Figure 1 presents thesetypes

8 More specically drug policy is a lsquolsquosocial regulationrsquorsquo that uses authority to modifysocial values and norms of interpersonal behavior and relies on lsquolsquoincreasing involvement ofcourts ideology and single issue groupsrsquorsquo (Spitzer 1995238)

9 The implementation types correspond to the types of police work discussed by Reiss(1971)

424 J E Hawdon

FIGURE 1 Types of drug policies

American presidents have used all four types of policy in theirongoing war on drugs Yet following Weaver (1953) we shouldrecognize the connection between the source of the argument andthe philosophical position of the speaker That is the type of policya president pursues ows from the discrete ideological positionshe holds concerning that specic issue10

The Ideology of Drug Policy Objectives Punishment versusRehabilitation

Drug policy objectives logically follow from the two dominantmodels of drug etiology the criminal and medical models Thecriminal model regards drug use as an individualrsquos choice Usersaccording to this model are presumed to be in control of theirbehavior and willing participants in the drug using lifestyle Sinceuse is dened as a conscious decision users can and shouldbe held accountable for their transgressions of normative stan-dards Consequently drug use according to this logic deservespunishment

The medical model of drug use in contrast considers use adisease Drug users according to this model cannot control theirhabits therefore users are patients and not accountable for theiractions Those aficted with the lsquolsquodiseasersquorsquo are victims deservingsympathy not punishment For example dening alcoholism as a

10 Savelsberg (1994) makes a similar claim about crime and criminal punishment

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 2: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

420 J E Hawdon

number of young adults who had ever used marijuana and cocainedecreased by 12 and 11 respectively This trend continuedthroughout the decade and into the early 1990s (National Instituteof Drug Abuse [NIDA] 1986 1988 1990 1994)1 Why did Ameri-cans believe drug use was increasing when the available evidencesuggested otherwise

Such phenomena are well understood by sociologists the UnitedStates was in the middle of a moral panic Guseld (1963 1981)Ben-Yehuda (1986) Hawdon (1996) and others have discussedhow drug use has led to moral panics in the past These accountshowever fail to consider the role policy rhetoric assumes in thelife-course of a moral panic Yet it has been demonstrated thatstate initiatives regarding drugs often precede public opinion andcreate concern independently of the objective extent or serious-ness of the problem (Beckett 1994) Similarly policy rhetoricinuences the mediarsquos framing of problems (see Beckett 1995Sharp 1992) which in turn inuences public opinion (Jerniganand Dorfman 1996 Iyengar 1991 Orcutt and Turner 1993) Policyrhetoric therefore is an important factor for understanding moralpanics The current paper details the specic type of policyrhetoric that helps produce the concern associated with moralpanics

DRUG USE AND MORAL PANICS

To argue there was a moral panic about drug use during the 1980sis not meant to imply the issue was irrelevant or not serious Amoral panic is lsquolsquothe widespread feeling on part of the public thatsomething is terribly wrong in their society because of the moralfailings of a specic group of individualsrsquorsquo (Goode 198926) Thisdenition does not imply a sense of irrational hysteria2 The claimsmakers involved in the panic may truly believe the threat is realand serious And indeed the threat may be real and seriousTo be sure drug use was a serious problem in a number ofneighborhoods and caused the untimely death of many users3 Thedrug panic was therefore more than simply a scare Nevertheless

1 Between 1979 and 1990 the number of marijuana cocaine and hallucinogen usersdecreased by 23 32 and 52 respectively (based on NIDA 1986 1988 1990 1994)

2 See Best (1990160) for a discussion of the difference between concern and fear3 Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) statistics for example show that the number

of cocaine overdoses increased ve times and lethal overdoses two-and-half times between1984 and 1988 (Adams et al 1989)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 421

the concern over the drug issue meets the crucial elements of amoral panic4

First instead of using systematic evidence the drug warrsquos claimsmakers used arguments that logically exceeded the available facts(see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a Beckett 1994) Moreoverno measure of seriousness adequately explains the increase inpublic concern Beckett (1994442) argues lsquolsquo[neither] the reportedincidence of drug use nor the severity of drug abuse is consis-tently related to levels of public concern about drugsrsquorsquo5 Next thefact that the public listed drug use as the number one problemin the country when the objective harm caused by drug usewas far from being the leading harmful condition illustrates thedisproportionality of the concern over drugs (see Goode 1989)Finally as will be demonstrated in the analysis the drug issuewas highly volatile Therefore lsquolsquowhile the American drug panicof the late 1980s was not a classic or perfect case of a moralpanic it was a moral panic nonethelessrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda1994a223)

But what role if any did presidential rhetoric play in thismoral panic Does a specic type of policy rhetoric correspondto different stages of panic Although the specic content of therhetoric will obviously change depending on the topic of the paniccan a relationship potentially a general one be found betweenpresidential policy statements and moral panics

POLICY RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Policy the lsquolsquopurposive course of action followed by an actor or a setof actors in dealing with a problem or concernrsquorsquo (Anderson 19793)is inherently rhetorical (see Throgmorton 1991)6 Moreover policyand its underlying rhetoric determine politics and political action(Lowi 1972) Policy rhetoric is therefore the arguments used topersuade an audience to support a particular political course of

4 The ve elements of a moral panic are (1) an increased concern over the behaviorof a certain group (2) increased hostility toward the group engaging in the behavior(3) widespread consensus that the behavior poses a threat to the society (4) an exaggerationof the numbers of individuals engaging in the behavior and of the threat posed by thebehavior and (5) volatility (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a33ndash41)

5 See Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994a) Jensen Gerber and Babcock (1991) Levineand Reinarman (1988) Reinarman and Levine (1989) and Goode (1990) for supportingevidence

6 Rhetoric is lsquolsquothe craft of persuasion through communicationrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan199565)

422 J E Hawdon

action (Majone 1989) Although present in all stages of policypolicy rhetoric is most evident during the denitional processwhen particular policy meanings are developed and disseminatedThese policy meanings include at least implicitly a description ofthe causes and consequences of the problem or concern the policyaddresses (see Weiss 1989 Steinberger 1995 Anderson 1979)7Once framed claims makers must campaign to have their denitionof reality accepted since a policyrsquos survival lsquolsquodepends to a largeextent on policy makers constructing and lsquosellingrsquo a problem andpolicy to deal with the problemrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan 199574also see Foss et al 1985 Carmines and Stimson 1993) Thus theacceptance of a policy at least those that indicate the generaldirection of political action depends on public opinion (Anderson1979)

Public opinion also is involved in and is necessary for moralpanics (see Blumer 1971) Although it is debated where the publicconcern originates public opinion can be and often is manip-ulated by elites (Hall et al 1978 Chambliss and Mankoff 1976Gerassi 1966) While widespread fears almost necessarily preexistmoral panics these fears must be articulated and given direc-tion (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a) Presidents can obviouslyprovide the necessary outlet for public concern As Kieve (199416)states lsquolsquopresidents are image makers As such they seek the oppor-tunity to dene situations and construct the reality they want thepublic to acceptrsquorsquo (see also Campbell and Jamieson 1990 Windt1973 Majone 1989) Given the exposure and compelling posi-tion of presidents (Hertsgaard 1988) their rhetorical messages canpopularize issues that may have otherwise never surfaced (seeElwood 1994) A president is therefore an excellent politico-moralentrepreneur (see Reinarman 1996)

A presidentrsquos policy rhetoric can help create a vision of realitythat breeds widespread concern about an issue hostility towarda group and disproportionality Policy rhetoric can provide theauthority that is necessary to legitimate the publicrsquos belief thata threat from a moral deviant is real (see Victor 1998) Thuspresidential policy rhetoric can indirectly induce moral panics byinuencing public opinion Once legislation is issued howevera predictable change in policy will expedite the moral panicrsquosdissolution

7 Guseld (1996248)makes this point when he states that lsquolsquothe designation of problemsas lsquodrinking problemsrsquo is therefore both a theory of causation and a strategy of attack onthemrsquorsquo

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 423

Thus it is argued that specic types of policy correspond todifferent stages of a moral panic It is necessary to outline thevarious types of drug policies and the ideological positions uponwhich they are based Once this typology is developed distinc-tive policy rhetoric and styles can be related to the emergencesustainment and demise of moral panics

THE NATURE OF DRUG POLICIES

In general there are two types of policy (Anderson 1979) (1) policythat indicates the general direction of political action (ie theobjective of policy) and (2) the routine decisions about day-to-dayoperations (ie the implementation of policy) The objective ofdrug policies tend to be regulative since they focus on individualconduct and have an immediate likelihood of coercion (Lowi1972)8 Yet the objective of drug policies vary in terms of howan individual is to be coerced Drug policies can seek to eitherpunish or rehabilitate the individual For example the policies ofthe 1950s that resulted in the Boggs and Narcotic Control Actsexemplify punitive-oriented policy Conversely the National DrugRehabilitation Act of 1966 epitomizes a rehabilitative policy (seeMorgan 1981 for a discussion of these acts)

Similarly policy implementation or how the policyrsquos objec-tive is to be achieved can be either proactive or reactive9

Proactive policy requires law enforcement agents to search fortransgressions or actively deter future transgressions Employingradar to track smugglersrsquo planes and educational programs suchas Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) are proactive imple-mentations of policy Reactive policy when law enforcementagents do not target specic criminals or potential criminals ismore common Requiring drug treatment for users convicted ofa nondrug related offense or imprisoning those caught possessingcontrolled substances during routine police work exemplies reac-tive implementation strategies By combining these dimensions wecan identify four general types of policies Figure 1 presents thesetypes

8 More specically drug policy is a lsquolsquosocial regulationrsquorsquo that uses authority to modifysocial values and norms of interpersonal behavior and relies on lsquolsquoincreasing involvement ofcourts ideology and single issue groupsrsquorsquo (Spitzer 1995238)

9 The implementation types correspond to the types of police work discussed by Reiss(1971)

424 J E Hawdon

FIGURE 1 Types of drug policies

American presidents have used all four types of policy in theirongoing war on drugs Yet following Weaver (1953) we shouldrecognize the connection between the source of the argument andthe philosophical position of the speaker That is the type of policya president pursues ows from the discrete ideological positionshe holds concerning that specic issue10

The Ideology of Drug Policy Objectives Punishment versusRehabilitation

Drug policy objectives logically follow from the two dominantmodels of drug etiology the criminal and medical models Thecriminal model regards drug use as an individualrsquos choice Usersaccording to this model are presumed to be in control of theirbehavior and willing participants in the drug using lifestyle Sinceuse is dened as a conscious decision users can and shouldbe held accountable for their transgressions of normative stan-dards Consequently drug use according to this logic deservespunishment

The medical model of drug use in contrast considers use adisease Drug users according to this model cannot control theirhabits therefore users are patients and not accountable for theiractions Those aficted with the lsquolsquodiseasersquorsquo are victims deservingsympathy not punishment For example dening alcoholism as a

10 Savelsberg (1994) makes a similar claim about crime and criminal punishment

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 3: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 421

the concern over the drug issue meets the crucial elements of amoral panic4

First instead of using systematic evidence the drug warrsquos claimsmakers used arguments that logically exceeded the available facts(see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a Beckett 1994) Moreoverno measure of seriousness adequately explains the increase inpublic concern Beckett (1994442) argues lsquolsquo[neither] the reportedincidence of drug use nor the severity of drug abuse is consis-tently related to levels of public concern about drugsrsquorsquo5 Next thefact that the public listed drug use as the number one problemin the country when the objective harm caused by drug usewas far from being the leading harmful condition illustrates thedisproportionality of the concern over drugs (see Goode 1989)Finally as will be demonstrated in the analysis the drug issuewas highly volatile Therefore lsquolsquowhile the American drug panicof the late 1980s was not a classic or perfect case of a moralpanic it was a moral panic nonethelessrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda1994a223)

But what role if any did presidential rhetoric play in thismoral panic Does a specic type of policy rhetoric correspondto different stages of panic Although the specic content of therhetoric will obviously change depending on the topic of the paniccan a relationship potentially a general one be found betweenpresidential policy statements and moral panics

POLICY RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Policy the lsquolsquopurposive course of action followed by an actor or a setof actors in dealing with a problem or concernrsquorsquo (Anderson 19793)is inherently rhetorical (see Throgmorton 1991)6 Moreover policyand its underlying rhetoric determine politics and political action(Lowi 1972) Policy rhetoric is therefore the arguments used topersuade an audience to support a particular political course of

4 The ve elements of a moral panic are (1) an increased concern over the behaviorof a certain group (2) increased hostility toward the group engaging in the behavior(3) widespread consensus that the behavior poses a threat to the society (4) an exaggerationof the numbers of individuals engaging in the behavior and of the threat posed by thebehavior and (5) volatility (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a33ndash41)

5 See Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994a) Jensen Gerber and Babcock (1991) Levineand Reinarman (1988) Reinarman and Levine (1989) and Goode (1990) for supportingevidence

6 Rhetoric is lsquolsquothe craft of persuasion through communicationrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan199565)

422 J E Hawdon

action (Majone 1989) Although present in all stages of policypolicy rhetoric is most evident during the denitional processwhen particular policy meanings are developed and disseminatedThese policy meanings include at least implicitly a description ofthe causes and consequences of the problem or concern the policyaddresses (see Weiss 1989 Steinberger 1995 Anderson 1979)7Once framed claims makers must campaign to have their denitionof reality accepted since a policyrsquos survival lsquolsquodepends to a largeextent on policy makers constructing and lsquosellingrsquo a problem andpolicy to deal with the problemrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan 199574also see Foss et al 1985 Carmines and Stimson 1993) Thus theacceptance of a policy at least those that indicate the generaldirection of political action depends on public opinion (Anderson1979)

Public opinion also is involved in and is necessary for moralpanics (see Blumer 1971) Although it is debated where the publicconcern originates public opinion can be and often is manip-ulated by elites (Hall et al 1978 Chambliss and Mankoff 1976Gerassi 1966) While widespread fears almost necessarily preexistmoral panics these fears must be articulated and given direc-tion (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a) Presidents can obviouslyprovide the necessary outlet for public concern As Kieve (199416)states lsquolsquopresidents are image makers As such they seek the oppor-tunity to dene situations and construct the reality they want thepublic to acceptrsquorsquo (see also Campbell and Jamieson 1990 Windt1973 Majone 1989) Given the exposure and compelling posi-tion of presidents (Hertsgaard 1988) their rhetorical messages canpopularize issues that may have otherwise never surfaced (seeElwood 1994) A president is therefore an excellent politico-moralentrepreneur (see Reinarman 1996)

A presidentrsquos policy rhetoric can help create a vision of realitythat breeds widespread concern about an issue hostility towarda group and disproportionality Policy rhetoric can provide theauthority that is necessary to legitimate the publicrsquos belief thata threat from a moral deviant is real (see Victor 1998) Thuspresidential policy rhetoric can indirectly induce moral panics byinuencing public opinion Once legislation is issued howevera predictable change in policy will expedite the moral panicrsquosdissolution

7 Guseld (1996248)makes this point when he states that lsquolsquothe designation of problemsas lsquodrinking problemsrsquo is therefore both a theory of causation and a strategy of attack onthemrsquorsquo

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 423

Thus it is argued that specic types of policy correspond todifferent stages of a moral panic It is necessary to outline thevarious types of drug policies and the ideological positions uponwhich they are based Once this typology is developed distinc-tive policy rhetoric and styles can be related to the emergencesustainment and demise of moral panics

THE NATURE OF DRUG POLICIES

In general there are two types of policy (Anderson 1979) (1) policythat indicates the general direction of political action (ie theobjective of policy) and (2) the routine decisions about day-to-dayoperations (ie the implementation of policy) The objective ofdrug policies tend to be regulative since they focus on individualconduct and have an immediate likelihood of coercion (Lowi1972)8 Yet the objective of drug policies vary in terms of howan individual is to be coerced Drug policies can seek to eitherpunish or rehabilitate the individual For example the policies ofthe 1950s that resulted in the Boggs and Narcotic Control Actsexemplify punitive-oriented policy Conversely the National DrugRehabilitation Act of 1966 epitomizes a rehabilitative policy (seeMorgan 1981 for a discussion of these acts)

Similarly policy implementation or how the policyrsquos objec-tive is to be achieved can be either proactive or reactive9

Proactive policy requires law enforcement agents to search fortransgressions or actively deter future transgressions Employingradar to track smugglersrsquo planes and educational programs suchas Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) are proactive imple-mentations of policy Reactive policy when law enforcementagents do not target specic criminals or potential criminals ismore common Requiring drug treatment for users convicted ofa nondrug related offense or imprisoning those caught possessingcontrolled substances during routine police work exemplies reac-tive implementation strategies By combining these dimensions wecan identify four general types of policies Figure 1 presents thesetypes

8 More specically drug policy is a lsquolsquosocial regulationrsquorsquo that uses authority to modifysocial values and norms of interpersonal behavior and relies on lsquolsquoincreasing involvement ofcourts ideology and single issue groupsrsquorsquo (Spitzer 1995238)

9 The implementation types correspond to the types of police work discussed by Reiss(1971)

424 J E Hawdon

FIGURE 1 Types of drug policies

American presidents have used all four types of policy in theirongoing war on drugs Yet following Weaver (1953) we shouldrecognize the connection between the source of the argument andthe philosophical position of the speaker That is the type of policya president pursues ows from the discrete ideological positionshe holds concerning that specic issue10

The Ideology of Drug Policy Objectives Punishment versusRehabilitation

Drug policy objectives logically follow from the two dominantmodels of drug etiology the criminal and medical models Thecriminal model regards drug use as an individualrsquos choice Usersaccording to this model are presumed to be in control of theirbehavior and willing participants in the drug using lifestyle Sinceuse is dened as a conscious decision users can and shouldbe held accountable for their transgressions of normative stan-dards Consequently drug use according to this logic deservespunishment

The medical model of drug use in contrast considers use adisease Drug users according to this model cannot control theirhabits therefore users are patients and not accountable for theiractions Those aficted with the lsquolsquodiseasersquorsquo are victims deservingsympathy not punishment For example dening alcoholism as a

10 Savelsberg (1994) makes a similar claim about crime and criminal punishment

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 4: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

422 J E Hawdon

action (Majone 1989) Although present in all stages of policypolicy rhetoric is most evident during the denitional processwhen particular policy meanings are developed and disseminatedThese policy meanings include at least implicitly a description ofthe causes and consequences of the problem or concern the policyaddresses (see Weiss 1989 Steinberger 1995 Anderson 1979)7Once framed claims makers must campaign to have their denitionof reality accepted since a policyrsquos survival lsquolsquodepends to a largeextent on policy makers constructing and lsquosellingrsquo a problem andpolicy to deal with the problemrsquorsquo (Boxill and Unnithan 199574also see Foss et al 1985 Carmines and Stimson 1993) Thus theacceptance of a policy at least those that indicate the generaldirection of political action depends on public opinion (Anderson1979)

Public opinion also is involved in and is necessary for moralpanics (see Blumer 1971) Although it is debated where the publicconcern originates public opinion can be and often is manip-ulated by elites (Hall et al 1978 Chambliss and Mankoff 1976Gerassi 1966) While widespread fears almost necessarily preexistmoral panics these fears must be articulated and given direc-tion (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a) Presidents can obviouslyprovide the necessary outlet for public concern As Kieve (199416)states lsquolsquopresidents are image makers As such they seek the oppor-tunity to dene situations and construct the reality they want thepublic to acceptrsquorsquo (see also Campbell and Jamieson 1990 Windt1973 Majone 1989) Given the exposure and compelling posi-tion of presidents (Hertsgaard 1988) their rhetorical messages canpopularize issues that may have otherwise never surfaced (seeElwood 1994) A president is therefore an excellent politico-moralentrepreneur (see Reinarman 1996)

A presidentrsquos policy rhetoric can help create a vision of realitythat breeds widespread concern about an issue hostility towarda group and disproportionality Policy rhetoric can provide theauthority that is necessary to legitimate the publicrsquos belief thata threat from a moral deviant is real (see Victor 1998) Thuspresidential policy rhetoric can indirectly induce moral panics byinuencing public opinion Once legislation is issued howevera predictable change in policy will expedite the moral panicrsquosdissolution

7 Guseld (1996248)makes this point when he states that lsquolsquothe designation of problemsas lsquodrinking problemsrsquo is therefore both a theory of causation and a strategy of attack onthemrsquorsquo

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 423

Thus it is argued that specic types of policy correspond todifferent stages of a moral panic It is necessary to outline thevarious types of drug policies and the ideological positions uponwhich they are based Once this typology is developed distinc-tive policy rhetoric and styles can be related to the emergencesustainment and demise of moral panics

THE NATURE OF DRUG POLICIES

In general there are two types of policy (Anderson 1979) (1) policythat indicates the general direction of political action (ie theobjective of policy) and (2) the routine decisions about day-to-dayoperations (ie the implementation of policy) The objective ofdrug policies tend to be regulative since they focus on individualconduct and have an immediate likelihood of coercion (Lowi1972)8 Yet the objective of drug policies vary in terms of howan individual is to be coerced Drug policies can seek to eitherpunish or rehabilitate the individual For example the policies ofthe 1950s that resulted in the Boggs and Narcotic Control Actsexemplify punitive-oriented policy Conversely the National DrugRehabilitation Act of 1966 epitomizes a rehabilitative policy (seeMorgan 1981 for a discussion of these acts)

Similarly policy implementation or how the policyrsquos objec-tive is to be achieved can be either proactive or reactive9

Proactive policy requires law enforcement agents to search fortransgressions or actively deter future transgressions Employingradar to track smugglersrsquo planes and educational programs suchas Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) are proactive imple-mentations of policy Reactive policy when law enforcementagents do not target specic criminals or potential criminals ismore common Requiring drug treatment for users convicted ofa nondrug related offense or imprisoning those caught possessingcontrolled substances during routine police work exemplies reac-tive implementation strategies By combining these dimensions wecan identify four general types of policies Figure 1 presents thesetypes

8 More specically drug policy is a lsquolsquosocial regulationrsquorsquo that uses authority to modifysocial values and norms of interpersonal behavior and relies on lsquolsquoincreasing involvement ofcourts ideology and single issue groupsrsquorsquo (Spitzer 1995238)

9 The implementation types correspond to the types of police work discussed by Reiss(1971)

424 J E Hawdon

FIGURE 1 Types of drug policies

American presidents have used all four types of policy in theirongoing war on drugs Yet following Weaver (1953) we shouldrecognize the connection between the source of the argument andthe philosophical position of the speaker That is the type of policya president pursues ows from the discrete ideological positionshe holds concerning that specic issue10

The Ideology of Drug Policy Objectives Punishment versusRehabilitation

Drug policy objectives logically follow from the two dominantmodels of drug etiology the criminal and medical models Thecriminal model regards drug use as an individualrsquos choice Usersaccording to this model are presumed to be in control of theirbehavior and willing participants in the drug using lifestyle Sinceuse is dened as a conscious decision users can and shouldbe held accountable for their transgressions of normative stan-dards Consequently drug use according to this logic deservespunishment

The medical model of drug use in contrast considers use adisease Drug users according to this model cannot control theirhabits therefore users are patients and not accountable for theiractions Those aficted with the lsquolsquodiseasersquorsquo are victims deservingsympathy not punishment For example dening alcoholism as a

10 Savelsberg (1994) makes a similar claim about crime and criminal punishment

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 5: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 423

Thus it is argued that specic types of policy correspond todifferent stages of a moral panic It is necessary to outline thevarious types of drug policies and the ideological positions uponwhich they are based Once this typology is developed distinc-tive policy rhetoric and styles can be related to the emergencesustainment and demise of moral panics

THE NATURE OF DRUG POLICIES

In general there are two types of policy (Anderson 1979) (1) policythat indicates the general direction of political action (ie theobjective of policy) and (2) the routine decisions about day-to-dayoperations (ie the implementation of policy) The objective ofdrug policies tend to be regulative since they focus on individualconduct and have an immediate likelihood of coercion (Lowi1972)8 Yet the objective of drug policies vary in terms of howan individual is to be coerced Drug policies can seek to eitherpunish or rehabilitate the individual For example the policies ofthe 1950s that resulted in the Boggs and Narcotic Control Actsexemplify punitive-oriented policy Conversely the National DrugRehabilitation Act of 1966 epitomizes a rehabilitative policy (seeMorgan 1981 for a discussion of these acts)

Similarly policy implementation or how the policyrsquos objec-tive is to be achieved can be either proactive or reactive9

Proactive policy requires law enforcement agents to search fortransgressions or actively deter future transgressions Employingradar to track smugglersrsquo planes and educational programs suchas Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) are proactive imple-mentations of policy Reactive policy when law enforcementagents do not target specic criminals or potential criminals ismore common Requiring drug treatment for users convicted ofa nondrug related offense or imprisoning those caught possessingcontrolled substances during routine police work exemplies reac-tive implementation strategies By combining these dimensions wecan identify four general types of policies Figure 1 presents thesetypes

8 More specically drug policy is a lsquolsquosocial regulationrsquorsquo that uses authority to modifysocial values and norms of interpersonal behavior and relies on lsquolsquoincreasing involvement ofcourts ideology and single issue groupsrsquorsquo (Spitzer 1995238)

9 The implementation types correspond to the types of police work discussed by Reiss(1971)

424 J E Hawdon

FIGURE 1 Types of drug policies

American presidents have used all four types of policy in theirongoing war on drugs Yet following Weaver (1953) we shouldrecognize the connection between the source of the argument andthe philosophical position of the speaker That is the type of policya president pursues ows from the discrete ideological positionshe holds concerning that specic issue10

The Ideology of Drug Policy Objectives Punishment versusRehabilitation

Drug policy objectives logically follow from the two dominantmodels of drug etiology the criminal and medical models Thecriminal model regards drug use as an individualrsquos choice Usersaccording to this model are presumed to be in control of theirbehavior and willing participants in the drug using lifestyle Sinceuse is dened as a conscious decision users can and shouldbe held accountable for their transgressions of normative stan-dards Consequently drug use according to this logic deservespunishment

The medical model of drug use in contrast considers use adisease Drug users according to this model cannot control theirhabits therefore users are patients and not accountable for theiractions Those aficted with the lsquolsquodiseasersquorsquo are victims deservingsympathy not punishment For example dening alcoholism as a

10 Savelsberg (1994) makes a similar claim about crime and criminal punishment

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 6: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

424 J E Hawdon

FIGURE 1 Types of drug policies

American presidents have used all four types of policy in theirongoing war on drugs Yet following Weaver (1953) we shouldrecognize the connection between the source of the argument andthe philosophical position of the speaker That is the type of policya president pursues ows from the discrete ideological positionshe holds concerning that specic issue10

The Ideology of Drug Policy Objectives Punishment versusRehabilitation

Drug policy objectives logically follow from the two dominantmodels of drug etiology the criminal and medical models Thecriminal model regards drug use as an individualrsquos choice Usersaccording to this model are presumed to be in control of theirbehavior and willing participants in the drug using lifestyle Sinceuse is dened as a conscious decision users can and shouldbe held accountable for their transgressions of normative stan-dards Consequently drug use according to this logic deservespunishment

The medical model of drug use in contrast considers use adisease Drug users according to this model cannot control theirhabits therefore users are patients and not accountable for theiractions Those aficted with the lsquolsquodiseasersquorsquo are victims deservingsympathy not punishment For example dening alcoholism as a

10 Savelsberg (1994) makes a similar claim about crime and criminal punishment

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 7: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 425

disease is an lsquolsquoattempt to shift the moral character of the drinkertoward public acceptance and of the excessive drinker toward thatof a sick personrsquorsquo (Guseld 1996250) From this line of reasoningabstinence can be achieved only through treatment and punishingdrug users is ineffective and morally questionable (see especiallyConrad and Schneider 1980)

The rhetoric of policy objectives can therefore be understood asa function of how the politicians who promulgate policy expresstheir understanding of drug use If use is believed to be orexpressed through rhetoric as the result of a conscious choicepolicy will typically be more punitive than when use is dened asa disease

The Ideology of Implementation Proactive versus Reactive

Rhetoric that advances a given style of implementation alsoconveys at least implicitly the ideology upon which the policyis based11 Specically the implementation of policy reects twodistinct ideologies concerning the relationship between individ-uals and their society communitarianism and individualism12

Communitarianism at least in its extreme emphasizes the groupover the individual and argues that the collective has rights inde-pendent of and sometimes opposed to the rights of individuals(see for example Audi 1995 Vauvenargues ([1746] 1968 MacIn-tyre 1981 Hegel [1821] 1942) Moreover social problems areoften dened as the moral failings of individuals (eg Sandel1982 1984 Taylor 1979 MacIntyre 1981) From this logic thegovernmentrsquos primary function is to assure the well-being of thegroup As Cladis (19924) argues lsquolsquoin [the communitarian] viewthe common good takes precedence over justice that is overindividual rightsrsquorsquo

Proactive policy implementation logically follows from commu-nitarian arguments The rhetoric used to profess communitarianlogic constructs a reality that supports decisive aggressive action Ifthe group is indeed threatened by the action of individuals aggres-sive interdiction becomes necessary to protect the group from thetrespasses of those individuals Law under these conditions isused to protect the group

11 These policies are similar to the socialist and conservative categories of legal knowl-edge (Savelsberg 1994)

12 What follows is a caricature of these ideologies Philosophers have attempted toreconcile these perspectives (see Avineri and De-Shalit 1992) political rhetoric is rarely sosophisticated

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 8: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

426 J E Hawdon

Conversely reactive policy corresponds to an individualisticideology13 Individualism contends that the individual is funda-mentally lsquolsquogoodrsquorsquo and the corrupt and dysfunctional group is thesource of lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo (eg Nietzsche [1887] 1964 Rousseau [1762]1979) Individuals must therefore be protected from corruptivegroups and the enabling of individuals to pursue their owninterests is the lsquolsquoonly true basis of governmentrsquorsquo (Paine [1795]1945577 also see Locke [1690] 1947 Jefferson [1823] 1956)Thus the governmentrsquos primary function is to protect individualsfrom intrusive groups (eg corporate capitalism religious insti-tutions and the state itself) That is law must protect the civilliberties of the individual even at the grouprsquos expense (eg Rawls1971)

Under an individualistic model of law policy tends to beimplemented reactively The state is often legally prohibited toimplement proactive policies For example the American consti-tutional tradition which reects an individualistic orientationrequires state agents to provide lsquolsquoprobable causersquorsquo before theycan intrude into onersquos private life to search for legal transgres-sions Thus policy rhetoric that professes individualism typicallyconstructs a reality that supports reactive policies and the protec-tion of individuals from proactive policies

RHETORIC AND MORAL PANICS

Stage I Communitarianism and the Call to Action

It is possible to relate policy rhetoric to moral panics The emer-gence of a moral panic will likely be marked by the frequentuse of communitarian rhetoric expressed in proactive policiesAs noted earlier the public must be convinced that somethingis terribly wrong with their society for a moral panic to occurTo accomplish this objective lsquolsquoa condition episode person orgroup of persons emerges to become dened as a threat to societalvalues and interestsrsquorsquo (Cohen 19729) Proactive policy statementsare well suited for generating the sense of threat that moral panicsrequire Communitarian rhetoric individualizes social problems byfocusing blame away from the group and toward some individualor group of individuals By absolving society of responsibilityfor the problem communitarian arguments glorify the group and

13 Individualism is the lsquolsquobelief in the inherent dignity and indeed sacredness of thehuman personrsquorsquo (Bellah et al 1985334)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 9: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 427

allow the problem to be exaggerated Any threat to the group musttherefore be addressed with dispatch

Yet a threat alone will not stir a moral panic The public alsomust be convinced that collective action can solve the problemIt is unlikely that individuals will zealously support a cause ifthey believe it cannot succeed To provide hope for a solution anenemy or folk devil must be dened (see Cohen 1972 Goode andBen-Yehuda 1994a) By identifying some malevolent group thatcan be attacked the collective can be convinced their actions willbe successful Communitarian rhetoric by individualizing socialproblems also excels at identifying folk devils

Finally communitarian rhetoric promotes the collective soli-darity needed for social movements to emerge By cultivating thebelief that the group is threatened appeals for collective actionprovide opportunities to strengthen the collective conscience(Durkheim [1915] 1964) By glorifying the group and individu-alizing the problem feelings of pride in and concern for the groupare simultaneously generated Often and certainly in the case ofdrug use this threat is presented rhetorically by way of a warmetaphor that lsquolsquoconveys [the] image of [a] threatening other thatwill destroy freedom and other sacred rightsrsquorsquo (Elwood 199423)If this language is successful the group solidarity necessary for amoral panic will emerge

Was the use of communitarian arguments to exaggerate thethreat dene the folk devil and promote group solidarity evidentin the early stages of the drug war Although President Reagancannot in any general way be classied as a lsquolsquocommunitarianrsquorsquo14

his discussion of the drug issue frequently relied on collectivisticor communitarian rhetoric He frequently highlighted the threat byarguing that drug trafckers were lsquolsquoharming our people especiallyour young peoplersquorsquo and lsquolsquoexploited innocent childrenrsquorsquo (Reagan1986226 1987220) Similarly he often evoked a war metaphor(eg drugs were lsquolsquoas a much a threat to the United States as

14 Presidents Reagan and Bush were not classic communitariansper se Their economicphilosophies in particular were clearly individualistic in orientation Yet on many socialissues including the drug issue their rhetoric if not their actual beliefs reected communi-tarian logic The argument herein is not meant to imply that there is any degree of rhetoricalconsistency across issues Both the traditionalDemocratic and Republicanplatforms containinternal inconsistencies For example Republicans typically argue against big governmentwhen discussing economic policy However they espouse an increased governmental rolein issues such as abortion (ie the complete outlawing of abortion) Conversely Democratsprofess individualism with respect to the abortion issue (ie a personrsquos right to choose andgovernment must protect this right) but call for big government on most economic issues

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 10: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

428 J E Hawdon

enemy planes and missilesrsquorsquo [Reagan 1988629]) Mrs Reaganappearing on national television with her husband also usedcommunitarian arguments to individualize the problem dene thefolk devils responsible for it and exaggerate the extent of the drugproblem15

Today therersquos a drug and alcohol abuse epidemic in thiscountry and no one is safe from itmdashnot you not me andcertainly not our children Now you can see why drugabuse concerns every one of us all the American family(New York Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added)

The First Ladyrsquos use of the term lsquolsquoepidemicrsquorsquo and collectivepronouns is not accidental By dening the problem as an epi-demic the rst lady lsquolsquoevoke[d] listeners to seek culpability inspecic individuals rather than blame societal structuresrsquorsquo (Elwood199425) Equating social problems with a societal illness lsquolsquosubju-gates a portion of citizens as enemiesrsquorsquo (Elwood 199441) That isit helps dene the folk devil Mrs Reaganrsquos rhetoric created anusthem distinction and polarized groups of people (Elwood 1994)Thus communitarian rhetoric dened the lsquolsquothemrsquorsquo the folk devilsall moral panics need

Next by using blatant appeals to the collective identity (eglsquolsquoour childrenrsquorsquo lsquolsquoall the American familyrsquorsquo) the threat was exagger-ated to include the entire group even those who did not use illegalsubstances know a drug user or live in high-use areas Despite thedecline in use drug abuse was threatening lsquolsquothe American familyrsquorsquoand lsquolsquono onersquorsquo was safe from the danger

Finally communitarian rhetoric was used in the war on drugsto promote group solidarity and call for immediate action to solvethe problem President Reagan excelled at appealing to traditionalAmerican values (Campbell and Jamieson 1990) and he oftencongratulated the group (eg lsquolsquotogether we can keep up the goodworkrsquorsquo [Reagan 1986225]) while calling for collective action toseek out the lsquolsquoevilrsquorsquo before it destroyed the public (eg lsquolsquothey canrun but they canrsquot hidersquorsquo [Reagan 1987226]) It was in a September1986 television speech that he most obviously evoked images ofthe collective ghting the lsquolsquoenemyrsquorsquo President Reagan appealing

15 Mrs Reaganrsquos speech was included in this study because she appeared with thepresident to introduce his drug policy Her other drug-related speeches were not analyzed

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 11: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 429

to the collective identity by referencing the mores of Americanculture stated

My generation will remember how America swung into actionwhen we were attacked in World War II Now wersquore inanother war for our freedom and itrsquos time for all of us to pulltogether again As we mobilize for this national crusadeplease remember this when your courage is tested you areAmericans Yoursquore the product of the freest society mankindhas ever known (New York Times 1986 Sept 153)

The collective was being gloried applauded for its hard workand reminded that still more was needed The skillful use ofcommunitarian arguments and the promotion of proactive policiesverbalized the demand for action If the group did not act quicklyAmerica could lose its most cherished value freedom All moralgroup members should therefore understand the threat and supportthe policy

As noted the President used proactive policy statements tohelp dene the folk devil Yet at least with respect to drug usedening folk devils also requires that drug use be described as achoice not a disease If users are to be held accountable a choicemodel should be adopted since we cannot in good consciencesconsider diseased users responsible for their transgressions Indeedthe Reagan administrationrsquos drug eradication efforts were based ona choice model of use (see Inciardi 1992) For example duringthe Presidentrsquos television address he argued that the governmentwould lsquolsquocontinue to act aggressively but nothing would be moreeffective than for Americans simply to quit using drugsrsquorsquo (NewYork Times 1986 Sept 153 emphasis added) Thus when moralpanics emerge a punitive tone usually accompanies the call forproactive policies Accordingly during the early stages of a panicpoliticians and legislators become lsquolsquovindictive condemnatory andpunitiversquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a28) Such political angerwas evident in the statersquos depiction of the drug issue (Beckett 1995)and in the presidentrsquos rhetoric (Elwood 1994)

It is through the promotion of proactive and punitive poli-cies with their communitarian rhetoric and choice model of druguse that a moral panic is nurtured President Reagan skillfullyused communitarian arguments to dene drug use as a problemHe frequently dened drug use as a choice and identied thefolk devil responsible for the problem By 1987 the media had

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 12: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

430 J E Hawdon

popularizing this punitive position (Merriam 1989 Beckett 1995)and once accomplished public opinion and political rhetoricreinforced each other16 The consensual validation of reality thatmoral panics require (see Victor 1998) was established The panicbegan

Stage II Adopting a Dualistic Model of Use

To inuence a societyrsquos institutions and collective conscience thepanic must be sustained To sustain the panic the public mustbe convinced that the problem still exists but some success hasbeen made in curtailing it That is they must believe that thecollective action taken to solve the problem has produced mixedresults If action is too successful there is nothing left to ght Ifnot successful enough public support for the crusade will likelyerode (Becker 1963)

Consequently once a panic begins policy objectives maychange Policy will likely remain proactive to maintain a sense ofurgency however the model of drug use promoted by the policiesbecomes dual as use is dened as both a choice and a disease Toindividualize the problem so some can still be blamed a criminalmodel is used Yet punitive policies excel at dening the problemnot highlighting success at solving it If increasing numbers arebeing punished the problem must be growing not subsidingConsequently policy makers often dene a group who has beencured of the disease to avoid creating too many lsquolsquooutsidersrsquorsquo Somepeople engaged in the objective behavior are dened as victimswho can be helped Therefore a rehabilitative objective is oftenadded to the proactivepunitive policy statements The rhetoric ofthe policy makers remains predominantly punitive but begins toinclude references to prevention as the key to success This bifur-cated image of drug use sends the message that current users willbe deterred from choosing drugs and nonusers will be protectedfrom contracting the drug-disease Consequently moral panics arecreated by aggressively punishing the enemy they are sustainedby aggressively helping the victims

Again the Reagan administration provides an example Oneweek after the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was signed and one monthafter his television appearance urging aggressive action Reagan

16 This pattern occurs where public knowledge is not controlled by neo-corporate orga-nizations and the public is frequently monitored through public opinion polls (Savelsberg1994)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 13: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 431

modied his rhetoric As if to warn the public of the recent legisla-tionrsquos imminent failure the President argued that lsquolsquolaw enforcementalone [could] not signicantly reduce drug abusersquorsquo and that thelsquolsquonational crusade [should be] directed at educationrsquorsquo (Brinkley198618) Although still proactive rehabilitative policies werebeing combined with punitive ones

If policy statements become both proactive-punitive andproactive-rehabilitative the moral panic will likely escalate Thepanic diffuses as ties among local police forces are establishedand various law enforcement agencies work together to deal moreeffectively with the problem (Cohen 1972) As the panic escalateslsquolsquopunitive and overly zealous actions are justied on the basis ofthe enormity of the threatrsquorsquo (Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994a27 alsosee Cohen 1972) As a result a proactive policy is implementedthat often results in the suspension of individual rights and liberties(see Cohen 1972 Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994) However theimplementation of a proactive policy typically marks the moralpanicrsquos zenith

Stage III Implementation and the Ending of Moral Panics

Although policy can be implemented either proactively or reac-tively American law is reactive in nature The implementationof proactive policy is usually limited by constitutional restraintsFor proactive policies to be codied into law and implementedcompelling reasons must be offered to justify suspending consti-tutional rights Hence proactive policy will be employed onlyunder extraordinary circumstances such as during a moral panicHowever when proactive policies are implemented the moralpanic usually begins to subside

Once proactive policies are installed constitutional constraintson law enforcement often lead to more reactive policy rhetoricAggressively seeking evidence and ignoring due process rarelyremain popular with the individualistic American public nor theSupreme Court for long In general once the reactive nature ofthe American constitution limits the implementation of proactivepolicies the government tends to ght the campaign defensivelyAs policy turns increasingly reactive the gravity of the situationis lost and the moral panic dissipates The issue begins to fadefrom the public agenda as fewer proactive-punitive policies arepromoted Reactive policies simply cannot create the sense ofurgency needed to sustain a moral panic

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 14: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

432 J E Hawdon

Again the war on drugs provides an example With publicconcern growing the warrsquos most proactive piece of policy wasenacted Expanding the enemy to include occasional users theReagan administration launched the Zero Tolerance Policy (ZTP)ZTP being punitively oriented and based on a criminal modelof use called for the conscation of all property on which anyamount of a controlled substance was found Within weeks ofimplementing the ZTP however citizens began to complain aboutthe policyrsquos disregard for probable cause and the severity of thepunishment Not surprisingly the policy quickly became unpop-ular By May 1988 the constitutionality and effectiveness of theZTP was being questioned and the policy was relaxed (Inciardi1992 provides a discussion of ZTP)

Once the ZTP was abandoned public concern over drug usebegan to wane (see Kagay 1990 Oreskes 1990) Although the drugissue was central in the 1988 presidential election by 1990 publicconcern about drugs had dwindled In President Bushrsquos rst yearin ofce more than 30 of Americans considered drug abuseto be the most important problem facing the nation howeverby mid-1990 this gure had dropped to 8 (Gallup 199147)Despite the Presidentrsquos attempts to resurrect the issue the moralpanic died

The dissolution of the moral panic may have been due inpart to the Presidentrsquos increased use of rehabilitative rhetoric Forexample President Bush in an April 1989 speech referred to drugusers as lsquolsquoa generation of youth of children who have fallen victimto a seductive nightmarish new form of dependency and slaveryrsquorsquo(Bush 1990485 emphasis added) Rehabilitative policy cannotby itself sustain a moral panic folk devils cannot be dened asvictims The public had grown weary users were now the victimsThe moral panic was over17

17 The argument is not meant to negate the public arenas model of social problems(see Hilgartner and Bosk 1988) A slowing economy and growing tensions in the PersianGulf undoubtedly helped crowd out the drug issue from the popular press However theseevents cannot explain the changes in rhetorical style used by the president Moreover asHilgartner and Bosk (198864)note politicalbiases and lsquolsquotrends in the political culture affectthe selection of social problemsrsquorsquo This argument supports my contention that a change frompunitive to rehabilitative arguments would make it more difcult to frame a story in a waythat would make it newsworthy (see Lester 1980 for a discussion of how stories are framed)Finally if the elite-engineered model of moral panics (see Goode and Ben-Yehuda 1994b)is correct once the publicrsquos attention was focused elsewhere (ie the economy and thePersian Gulf) there was no longer the need to sustain the moral panic over drug use

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 15: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 433

AN EMPIRICAL TEST

Hypotheses Data and Methods

The above discussion generates several hypotheses The argumentimplies that the publicrsquos perception that a problem exists is directlyrelated to the use of communitarian rhetoric and the use of punitiverhetoric Conversely the use of individualistic rhetoric and reha-bilitative rhetoric is inversely related to the publicrsquos perception thata problem exists A second set of hypotheses deal with the timingof rhetorical arguments communitarian and punitive argumentsare used most frequently during the beginning and middle stagesof a moral panic rehabilitative arguments are used most frequentlyin the middle and last stages of a moral panic and individualisticarguments are used predominately toward the panicrsquos end

To test the above hypotheses 167 drug-related speeches broad-casts and addresses of Presidents Reagan and Bush were analyzedThese data were collected from the Public Papers of the Pres-idents of The United States For the years 1981 through 1992all public correspondence concerning lsquolsquodrugsrsquorsquo lsquolsquoalcoholrsquorsquo lsquolsquothedrug problemrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrunk drivingrsquorsquo lsquolsquodrug smugglingrsquorsquo or lsquolsquodrugs andcrimersquorsquo were analyzed The content of these speeches was codedfor communitarian rhetoric (eg we must pull together) individu-alistic rhetoric (eg individual rights must be protected) punitivearguments (eg users must be punished) and rehabilitative argu-ments (eg we must educate or cure) The number of each policytype per speech was analyzed Three researchers coded the data(alpha reliability 871)

The publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was derived fromGallup and New York TimesCBS polls that asked respondents toname the most urgent problems facing the nation For each case(ie speech) the perception of the problem was considered thepercent of the population that listed the drug issue as a concern inthe poll that followed the speech If a poll was not conducted withintwo months of the speech public perception was extrapolated fromthe most recent polls conducted before and after the speech18 Thisprocedure provides only a proxy measure of public perceptionhowever if these procedures err they should underestimate the

18 The extrapolation was based on the assumption of a linear change between the twotime points So if six months passed between two surveys reporting that 20 and 32 ofthe population considered drug use as the number one problem each month is consideredas attributing 2 to the overall increase (32ndash206) Thus if a speech was given in the thirdmonth after the rst poll lsquolsquoconcernrsquorsquo would be coded as 26

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 16: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

434 J E Hawdon

inuence of the speech since a speechrsquos effect would most likelybe greatest immediately following its presentation Thus these dataprovided a conservative measure

A proxy measure of the number of illicit drug users was includedin the analysis to control for the objective extent of the problemThe annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA 1986 19881990 1994) gures of lifetime illicit drug use were used as estima-tion points for each year Monthly estimates were extrapolated fromthese gures Each speech was coded using these monthly esti-mates Again it is recognized this measure is not optimal howeverit is the best available measure and should sufce as a proxy

ANALYSIS AND RESULTS

Table 1 lists the number of speeches containing each policy typeby year Changes in the use of collectivist and individualisticarguments over the life-course of the moral panic are evident in

TABLE 1 Policy Rhetoric in Presidential Speeches 1984ndash1992

Collective IndividualProactive Reactive Punitive Rehabilitative

Year Speeches Arguments Arguments Arguments Arguments

1984 8 5 0 4 1(63) (00) (50) (13)

1985 12 10 0 8 4(83) (00) (67) (33)

1986 15 10 1 5 4(66) (06) (33) (26)

1987 13 10 1 3 3(76) (07) (23) (23)

1988 12 6 0 9 5(50) (00) (75) (41)

1989 65 36 2 41 17(55) (03) (63) (26)

1990 12 6 1 11 2(50) (08) (92) (17)

1991 12 5 2 10 4(41) (16) (83) (33)

1992 18 6 3 4 12(33) (17) (22) (67)

A speech can include both collective and punitive arguments Thereforepercentages do not equal 100

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 17: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 435

the table The use of rehabilitative arguments is apparent towardthe end of the panic Although the patterns are not linear generaltrends can be detected

OLS Regression was used to test the rst set of hypothesesThe publicrsquos perception of the drug problem was predicted bythe number of illicit drug users and the number of each policytype mentioned per speech This equation which met adequatelythe assumptions of OLS regression explained 185 of the totalvariance in the publicrsquos perception of the drug problem Table 2reports these results

Table 2 shows that the inuence of each variable was in thepredicted direction and all variables except protection of the indi-vidualrsquos rights were statistically signicant at the 05 level Theuse of individualistic rhetoric which argues for the protection ofthe individualrsquos rights was signicant using a one-tail test Inter-estingly the objective use of illicit drugs was inversely related tothe perception of drug use as a problem This variable was thestrongest predictor of public perception ( 332) Communi-tarian ( 230) and punitive ( 196) arguments were the nextbest predictors Rehabilitative arguments were inversely related tothe publicrsquos perception of the problem ( 186) Thus evenwhen controlling for the objective problem presidential policyrhetoric inuenced the level of popular concern

To test the second set of hypotheses those dealing with thetiming of various policy types analysis of variance and crosstabular

TABLE 2 Regression Analysis Public Perceptionof Problem by Types of Policy Statements

Variable B SE B Beta

Objective use 1005 226 332Rehabilitative 3761 1581 186Individualistic (reactive) 8729 534 119Punitive 2662 103 196Collectivist (proactive) 3894 136 231(Constant) 55444 839R2 185F 7 32

p 05 (one-tail) p 05 (two-tail) p 01 p001

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 18: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

436 J E Hawdon

analyses were performed19 To test if the use of communi-tarian arguments decreased over the life-course of the moralpanic time was recoded into three periods 1984ndash1986 (TIME1)1987ndash1989 (TIME2) and 1990ndash1992 (TIME3)20 and used topredict the percentage of speeches in each year that containedcommunitarian arguments Based on the analysis there was asignicant difference in the use of communitarian arguments overtime (F 5 04 p 051)21 The difference emerged betweenTIME1 (Mean 70 73) and TIME3 (M 41 66) This relation-ship remained signicant using a one-tailed test even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 4 44p one-tail 039) The variable TIME accounted for 627 of thevariance in communitarian arguments

A crosstabular analysis coding communitarian arguments aseither present or absent also illustrates the changing use ofcommunitarian arguments over the panicrsquos life-course The useof communitarian arguments decreased over time ( 365

2 7 602df p 022) Whereas 714 of the speeches given inthe rst period made communitarian arguments only 578 of thespeeches in the second period did so This percentage decreasedto 405 in the third period Table 3 presents these results

Next ANOVA also supports the assertion that the use of reactiveor individualistic arguments increases over the course of a moral

TABLE 3 Communitarian Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 TIME2 TIME3 Total

Communitarian arguments absent 10 38 25 73286 422 595 437

Communitarian arguments present 25 52 17 94714 578 405 563

Column total 35 90 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000 1000

2 7 60 degrees of freedom 2 probability 022 Gamma 365

19 ANOVA is used to test the hypotheses However given the small sample (eight years)crosstabular analyses also are performed to provide additional evidence

20 These periods roughly correspond to the beginning (TIME1) middle (TIME2) and end(TIME3) of the panic (Norton-Hawk 1995) TIME2 overlaps Reaganrsquos and Bushrsquos tenureThese differences cannot therefore be attributed solely to differences in presidential style

21 The variances were equal (Bartlettrsquos F 225 p 799)

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 19: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 437

TABLE 4 Individualistic Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicTIME1 amp TIME2 TIME3 Total

Individualistic argument absent 121 36 157968 857 940

Individualistic argument present 4 6 1032 143 60

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 6 86 degreesof freedom 1 probability 009 Fisherrsquos exactp 017Gamma 668 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables) Phi 202

panic (F 6 22 p 034) According to the theoretical discussionreactive policies should typically occur after legislation is passedThus TIME1 and TIME2 were contrasted against TIME3 The meannumber of individualistic arguments made during these times (341and 1390 respectively) were signicantly different (T 3 46p 013) Again the relationship remained signicant even whencontrolling for the number of drug users in each year (F 5 29p 058) The three stages of the moral panic accounted for 675of the variance in individualistic arguments

The crosstabulation of individualistic arguments by time ispresented in Table 4 As in the ANOVA Time periods here weredichotomized to test this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Asshown in Table 4 individualistic arguments were almost nonexis-tent until the last stage of the panic when the frequency of theiroccurrence more than tripled from 32 to 143 ( 669)

Next as predicted rehabilitative arguments increase over time(F 4 81 p 009) Again TIME1 and TIME2 were contrastedagainst TIME3 The mean number of rehabilitative argumentsmade during these times (317 and 710 respectively) were signi-cantly different (T 2 41 p 020) The three stages of the moralpanic accounted for only 65 of the variance in rehabilitativearguments

The crosstabulation of rehabilitative arguments by time is pre-sented in Table 5 Again time periods were dichotomized totest this hypothesis (1984ndash1989 1990ndash1992) Only 272 of thedrug-related speeches made between 1984 and 1989 made anyreference to rehabilitation Conversely 429 of the speechesmade in the last stage of the panic made rehabilitative arguments

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 20: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

438 J E Hawdon

TABLE 5 Rehabilitative Arguments by Stages of a Moral Panic

Stages of moral panicEarly Late Total

Rehabilitative argument absent 91 24 115728 571 689

Rehabilitative argument present 34 18 52272 429 311

Column total 125 42 167Percent 1000 1000 1000

2 3 59 degrees of freedom 1 probability 058 Fisherrsquos exact p (1tail 046 Gamma 335 (Gamma tends to be inated in small tables)Phi 147

This relationship is signicant using a one-tail test ( 2 3 592dfp 058 Fisherrsquos exact test one-tail p 046)

The nal hypothesis concerning the use of punitive argumentsduring different stages of a moral panic was not supported Theuse of punitive arguments was typical throughout the moral panicwith the exception of 1987 and 1988

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION

President Reagan masterfully incited the public and helped createa moral panic The use of communitarian arguments rallied supportfor an aggressive war on drugs Reaganrsquos successor was less giftedat stirring public emotion Despite Bushrsquos efforts to revive the drugissue the moral panic had run its course The Bush administrationadopted a more reactive implementation style ZTP gave way tofunding drug prevention and education efforts (Akers 1992) andthe drug issue slowly faded from the public agenda The drug issuewas barely mentioned in the 1992 presidential campaign despitecandidate Clintonrsquos admission to experimenting with marijuanaBy 1992 less than 6 of the population considered drug use to bea pressing social problem (Gallup 199211)

In general the theoretical discussion was supported by thisstudy However the hypothesis regarding the use of punitivepolicies appears to be inaccurate even though punitive argumentsdeclined substantially in the middle of the panic The relativeabsence of these arguments during this stage could have been anattempt to redene drug use as both a choice and a disease The useof rehabilitative arguments is relatively constant during these two

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 21: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 439

stages Thus presidential policy went from using a criminal andrehabilitative model to a predominantly rehabilitative model It ispossible that drug use was so successfully dened as a crime duringthe rst stage that presidential rhetoric adopted a rehabilitative toneto assure the panic would continue The nal stage of the panicsees a resurgence of punitive arguments coupled with an increasein the use of rehabilitative arguments It is worth noting that duringthe last year of the panic after a substantial resurgence of punitivearguments the percentage of speeches making punitive argumentsreaches its lowest point while the percentage of speeches makingrehabilitative arguments reaches its peak Thus the theoreticalargument is supported

Although other factors are obviously involved in the creation ofmoral panics22 policy rhetoric appears to play a role The rhetoricof proactive-punitive policies helps generate an atmosphere ofconcern and proactive-rehabilitative policies help sustain themoral panic Once the moral panic results in legislation howeverthe nature of the legal system tends to emphasize a reactive styleof implementation The moral panic will then typically wane Wealready know the importance of state initiatives in creating moralpanics (see Beckett 1994 1995) This workrsquos contribution is moremodest It species how the underlying logic of policy rhetoric cancreate an atmosphere conducive to moral panics Although morework is needed these insights may furnish a better understandingof the role policy rhetoric plays in creating moral panics

Although the analysis focused on one panic it supports theconstructionist perspective of social problems which emphasizesthe subjective nature of how behaviors are selected to becomelsquolsquoproblemsrsquorsquo23 Given the success of constructionism in explainingother moral panics (eg Beckett 1994 Cohen 1972 Guseld1963 Reasons 1974 Victor 1998) the perspective appears accu-rate despite the era in which the panic occurred the politicaladministration involved or the content of the issue This researchalso supports the elite-engineered model of moral panics (egBennett 1980 Edelman 1988 Hall et al 1978) which argues

22 See Shoemaker Wanata and Leggett (1989) or Merriam (1989) for a discussion of therole the media played in creating public concern about drugs

23 The constructionist perspective emphasizes the subjective social and politicalprocesses by which phenomenaare dened as social problems Interpretationsof reality areframed to give meaning to events and are subject to social inuences beyond the objectivecondition Conversely for objectivists social problems are those events that are objectivelyproblematic for social well-being (see Beckett 1994)

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 22: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

440 J E Hawdon

that public opinion is shaped by political elites If elites carefullychoose their rhetorical devices they can help stir a moral panic

The nding that public concern over drug use increased whenactual rates of use decreased also supports the constructionistperspective of deviance This nding can be explained withHawdonrsquos (1996) theory of deviance cycles According to thistheory moral boundaries are more intensely enforced when ratesof social mobility slow and the deviance structure is altered sothat once tolerated behaviors are dened as deviant Given thepermissive attitude toward drugs during the late 1970s and early1980s (see Akers 1992 Musto 1987) the war on drugs can beseen as a governmentally sponsored attempt to redene Americarsquosmoral boundaries As rates of social mobility slowed in the early1980s the deviance structure was altered (Hawdon 1996) As thisoccurred lsquolsquoalthough the number of people engaging in the objec-tive behavior may have actually decreased the rate of deviance asa socially constructed denition [increased]rsquorsquo (Hawdon 1996188)Thus the increased public concern was in part a function ofthe reconstruction of drug use as a deviant behavior The currentresearch demonstrates that a combination of proactive and punitiverhetoric was used to reestablish those stricter moral boundaries

Finally this research in conjunction with Savelsbergrsquos (1994)can help explain the relative frequency of moral panics in theUnited States The rise of public issues such as crime and drugscannot be accounted for solely by increasing crime rates orincreased public concern Instead the manner in which publicand political knowledge is created shapes these issues The rela-tively free exchange of knowledge between public private andacademic sources in the United States creates considerable varia-tion in the nature of macro-level punishment decisions (Savelsberg1994 also see Iyengar 1991) The war on drugs the rhetoric usedin it the mediarsquos coverage of it and the intense public opinionin support of it reinforced each other to promote a law-and-orderconservative reaction to crime and drugs

REFERENCES

Adams Edgar Ann Blanken Lorraine Ferguson and Andrea Kopstein1989 Overview of Selected Drug Trends Rockville MD NationalInstitute on Drug Abuse

Akers Ronald L 1992 Drugs Alcohol and Society Belmont CAWadesworth

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 23: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 441

Anderson James 1979 Public Policy-Making Decisions and Their Imple-mentation 2nd ed New York Holt Rinehart and Winston

Audi Robert 1995 Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy New YorkCambridge University Press

Avineri Shlomo and Avner De-Shalit 1992 Communitarianism andIndividualism New York Oxford University Press

Becker Howard 1963 The Outsiders Studies in the Sociology DevianceNew York Free Press

Beckett Katherine 1994 lsquolsquoSetting the Public Agenda lsquoStreet Crimersquo andDrug Use in American Politicsrsquorsquo Social Problems 41425ndash447

Beckett Katherine 1995 lsquolsquoMedia Depictions of Drug Abuse The Impactof Ofcial Sourcesrsquorsquo Research in Political Sociology 7161ndash182

Bellah Robert N Richard Madeson William Sullivan Ann Swidlerand Steven Tipton 1985 Habits of the Heart Individualism andCommitment in American Life New York Harper and Row

Bennett W Lance 1980 Public Opinion in American Politics NewYork Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Ben-Yehuda Nachman 1986 lsquolsquoThe Sociology of Moral Panics Towarda New Synthesisrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 27495ndash513

Best Joel 1990 Threatened Children Rhetoric and Concern aboutChild-Victims Chicago University of Chicago Press

Blumer Herbert 1971 lsquolsquoSocial Problems as Collective Behaviorrsquorsquo SocialProblems 18298ndash306

Boxill Ian and N Prabha Unnithan 1995 lsquolsquoRhetoric and PolicyRealities in Developing Countries Community Councils in Jamaica1972ndash1980rsquorsquo Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 3165ndash79

Brinkley Joel 1986 lsquolsquoAntindashDrug Law Words Deeds Political Expedi-encyrsquorsquo The New York Times 27 October 1986 I 181

Bush George 1990 Public Papers of the President Bush 1989 Vol 1Edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Campbell Karlun Kohrs and Kethleen Hall Jamieson 1990 DeedsDone in Words Presidential Rhetoric and the Genres of GovernanceChicago University of Chicago Press

Carmines Edward and James Stimson 1993 lsquolsquoOn the Evolution ofPolitical Issuesrsquorsquo Pp 151ndash168 in Agenda Formation edited by WilliamRiker Ann Arbor MI University of Michigan Press

Chambliss William and Milton Mankoff 1976 Whose Laws WhatOrder New York Wiley

Cladis Mark S 1992 A Communitarian Defense of Liberalism EmileDurkheim and Contemporary Social Theory Stanford CA StanfordUniversity Press

Cohen Stanley 1972 Folk Devils and Moral Panics The Creation of theMods and Rockers London MacGibbon and Kee

Conrad Peter and Joseph W Schneider 1980 Deviance and Medical-ization St Louis MO C U Mosby

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 24: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

442 J E Hawdon

Durkheim Emile [1915]1964 The Division of Labor in Society NewYork Free Press

Edelman Murray 1988 Constructing The Political Spectacle ChicagoUniversity of Chicago Press

Elwood William N 1994 Rhetoric in the War on Drugs The Triumphsand Tragedies of Public Relations Westport CT Praeger

Foss Sonjak Karen Foss and Robert Trapp 1985 Contemporary Perspec-tives on Rhetoric Prospect Heights IL Waverland

Gallup George 1991 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 309 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gallup George 1992 The Gallup Poll Monthly Number 324 PrincetonNJ The Gallup Poll

Gerassi John 1966 The Boys of Boise Furor Vice and Folly in anAmerican City New York Macmillan

Goode Erich 1989 Drugs in American Society 3rd ed New YorkKnopf

Goode Erich 1990 lsquolsquoThe American Drug Panic of the 1980s SocialConstruction or Objective Threatrsquorsquo The International Journal of theAddictions 251083ndash1098

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994a Moral Panics TheSocial Construction of Deviance Oxford England Blackwell

Goode Erich and Nachman Ben-Yehuda 1994b lsquolsquoMoralPanicsmdashCulture Politics and Social Constructionrsquorsquo Annual Reviewof Sociology 20149ndash171

Guseld Joseph R 1963 Symbolic Crusade Status Politics and theAmerican Temperance Movement Urbana IL University of IllinoisPress

Guseld Joseph R 1981 The Culture of Public ProblemsDrinkingmdashDriving and the Symbolic Order Chicago University ofChicago Press

Guseld Joseph R 1996 Contested Meanings The Construction ofAlcohol Problems Madison WI University of Wisconsin Press

Hall Stauart Chas Critcher Tony Jefferson John Clarke and BrainRoberts 1978 Policing the Crisis Mugging the State and Law andOrder London Macmillan

Hawdon James E 1996 lsquolsquoCycles of Deviance Social Mobility MoralBoundaries and Drug Use 1880ndash1990rsquorsquo Sociological Spectrum 16183ndash207

Hegel Georg W F [1821]1942 Philosophy of Right Oxford EnglandClarendon

Hertsgaard Mark 1988 On Bended Knee The Press and the ReaganPresidency New York Schocken

Hilgartner Stephen and Chalres L Bosk 1988 lsquolsquoThe Rise and Fallof Social Problems A Public Arenas Modelrsquorsquo American Journal ofSociology 9453ndash78

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 25: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 443

Inciardi James A 1992 The War on Drugs II Mountain View CAMayeld

Iyengar Shanto 1991 Is Anyone Responsible How Television FramesPolitical Issues Chicago University of Chicago Press

Jefferson Thomas [1823] 1956 lsquolsquoLetter to A Coray October 31 1823rsquorsquoPp 25ndash28 in The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson RepresentativeSelections edited by Edward Dwubauld New York The Liberal ArtsPress

Jensen Eric L Jurg Gerber and Ginna M Babcock 1991 lsquolsquoThe New Waron Drugs Grass Roots Movement or Political Constructionrsquorsquo Journalof Drug Issues 21651ndash667

Jernigan David and Lori Dorfman 1996 lsquolsquoVisualizing Americarsquos DrugProblems An Ethnographic

Content Analysis of Illegal Drug Stories on the Nightly Newsrsquorsquo Contem-porary Drug Problems 23169ndash196

Kagay Michael R 1990 lsquolsquoDecit Raises as Much Alarm as Illegal DrugsA Poll Findsrsquorsquo New York Times July 25 p A9

KieveAmos 1994 The Modern Presidency and Crisis Rhetoric WestportCT Praeger

Lester Marilyn 1980 lsquolsquoGenerating Newsworthiness The InterpretiveConstruction of Public Eventsrsquorsquo American Sociological Review 45984ndash994

Levine Harry G and Craig Reinarman 1988 lsquolsquoThe Politics of AmericarsquosLatest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 89ndash103 in Freedom and Risk SecrecyCensorship and Repression in the 1980s edited by Richard CurryPhiladelphia Temple University Press

Locke John [1690]1947 Two Treatises of Government New YorkHafner

Lowi Theodore 1972 lsquolsquoFour Systems of Policy Politics and ChoicersquorsquoPublic Administration Review 33298ndash310

MacIntyre Alasdair 1981 After Virtue Notre Dame IN University ofNotre Dame Press

Majone Giandomenic 1989 Evidence Argument and Persuasion inPolicy Process New Haven CT Yale University Press

Mauss Armand L 1975 Social Problems as Social Movements Philadel-phia Lippincott

Merriam John 1989 lsquolsquoNational Media Coverage of Drug Issues1983ndash1987rsquorsquo Pp 21ndash28 in Communication Campaigns About DrugsGovernment Media and the Public edited by Pamela J ShoemakerHillsdale NJ Lawrence Erlbaum

Morgan H Wayne 1981 Drugs in America A Social History1880ndash1980 Syracuse NY Syracuse University Press

Musto David F 1987 The American Disease Origins of NarcoticControl Expanded edition New York Oxford University Press

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 NIDA Capsules WashingtonDC Author

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 26: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

444 J E Hawdon

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1986 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute on DrugAbuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1988 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1990 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

National Institute on Drug Abuse 1994 National Household Survey onDrug Abuse Main Findings Rockville MD National Institute onDrug Abuse

New York Times 1986 lsquolsquoExcerpts from Speech on Halting Drug Abusersquorsquo15 September 1986 II 103

Nietzsche Friedrich W [1887]1964 Complete Works Oscar Levy(Trans) New York Russell and Russell

Norton-Hawk Maureen A 1995 lsquolsquoCareer of a Crisis Cocaine Babies andthe Interrelationship of Professional Political and Ideological ForcesrsquorsquoPaper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation Washington DC

Orcutt James D and J Blake Turner 1993 lsquolsquoShocking Numbers andGraphic Accounts Quantied Images of Drug Problems in the PrintMediarsquorsquo Social Problems 40190ndash206

Oreskes Michael 1990 lsquolsquoDrug War Underlines Fickleness of PublicrsquorsquoNew York Times September 6A22

Paine Thomas [1795]1945 The Complete Writings of Thomas PaineNew York Citadel

Rawls John 1971 A Theory of Justice Cambridge MA CambridgeUniversity Press

Reagan Ronald 1986 Public Papers of the Presidents Reagan 1984vol I edited by J E Byrne and Frank G Burke Washington DCNational Archives and Records Administration

Reagan Ronald 1987 Ronald Reaganrsquos Weekly Radio Addresses ThePresident Speaks to America vol I The First Term Compiled by FredIsrael Wilmington Scholarly Resources

Reagan Ronald 1988 Public Papers of the President Reagan 1986vol 1 edited by Martha Girard and Don W Wilson WashingtonDC National Archives and Records Administration

Reasons Charles 1974 lsquolsquoThe Politics of Drugs An Inquiry in the Soci-ology of Social Problemsrsquorsquo The Sociological Quarterly 15381ndash404

Reinarman Craig 1996 lsquolsquoThe Social Construction of Drug ScaresrsquorsquoPp 77ndash86 in Deviance The Interactionist Perspective edited by EarlRubington and Martin Weinberg Needham Heights MA Allyn andBacon

Reinarman Craig and Harry G Levine 1989 lsquolsquoThe Crack Attack Politicsand Media in Americarsquos Latest Drug Scarersquorsquo Pp 115ndash137 in Images of

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14

Page 27: Hawdon Rhetoric and Moral Panics

Presidential Rhetoric and Moral Panic 445

Issues Typifying Contemporary Social Problems edited by Joel BestNew York Aldine de Gruyter

Reiss Albert J Jr 1971 The Police and the Public New Haven YaleUniversity Press

Rousseau Jean-Jacques [1762] 1979 Emile Allan Bloom (Trans) NewYork Basic Books

Sandel Michael 1982 Liberalism and the Limits of Justice CambridgeMA Cambridge University Press

Sandel Michael 1984 lsquolsquoThe Procedural Republic and the Unencum-bered Selfrsquorsquo Political Theory 1281ndash96

Savelsberg Joachim J 1994 lsquolsquoKnowledge Domination and CriminalPunishmentrsquorsquo American Journal of Sociology 99911ndash943

Sharp Eline 1992 lsquolsquoAgenda-Setting and Policy Results Lessons fromThree Drug Policy Episodesrsquorsquo Policy Studies Journal 20538ndash551

Shoemaker Pamela J Wayne Wanta and Dawn Leggett 1989 lsquolsquoDrugCoverage and Public Opinion 1972ndash1986rsquorsquo Pp 67ndash80 in Communi-cation Campaigns About Drugs Government Media and the Publicedited by Pamela Shoemaker Hillsdale Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Spitzer Robert 1995 lsquolsquoPromoting Policy Theory Revising the Arenasof Powerrsquorsquo Pp 233ndash244 in Public Policy Theories Models andConcepts edited by Daniel McCool Englewood Cliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Steinberger Peter J 1995 lsquolsquoTypologies of Public Policy Meaning Construction and the Policy Processrsquorsquo Pp 220ndash233 in Public PolicyTheories Models and Concepts edited by Daniel McCool EnglewoodCliffs NJ Prentice-Hall

Taylor Charles 1979 lsquolsquoAtomismrsquorsquo Pp 39ndash61 in Powers Possessionsand Freedom edited by Alkis Kontos Toronto Canada University ofToronto Press

Throgmorton J A 1991 lsquolsquoThe Rhetorics of Policy Analysisrsquorsquo PolicySciences 24153ndash179

Vauvenargues Luc de Clapiers [1746]1968 lsquolsquoIntroduction to the Knowl-edge of the Human Mindrsquorsquo book III in Oeuvres Completes deVauvenargues Paris Hachette

Victor Jeffrey S 1998 lsquolsquoMoral Panics and the Social Construction ofDeviant Behavior A Theory and Application to the Case of RitualChild Abusersquorsquo Sociological Perspectives 41541ndash565

Weaver Richard 1953 The Ethics of Rhetoric Chicago Henry RegneryWeis J A 1989 lsquolsquoThe Powers of Problem Denition The Case of

Government Paperworkrsquorsquo Policy Sciences 2297ndash121Windt Theodore Ott Jr 1973 lsquolsquoThe Presidency and Speeches on Inter-

national Crises Repeating the Rhetorical Pastrsquorsquo Speaker and Gavel26ndash14