It'd probably kill them.
This isn't the Middle Ages. It takes more than some loudmouth on an apple box to convince us that hobgoblins are coming to steal all the turnips. But are we really that smart? Did you just Google "how to stop hobgoblins from stealing my turnips 2nd Amendment" to be on the safe side? Don't feel too bad. Here some of the laziest, weirdest, and downright infantile things that actually caused mass panics in recent history.
Spanish Fork, Utah was founded in 1851 by Mormon settlers. It survived the Walker War and the Dust Bowl, but in 1996, townspeople feared it would not survive its greatest threat yet: a mildly offensive alt-rock band.
It all started when the town's fairgrounds manager, Steven Money, somehow booked Rage Against the Machine for this sleepy Mormon village. Mr. Money claimed he thought they were a tractor pull show -- which, in all fairness, is much more Spanish Fork's speed. When the town found out that they were in fact a group of long-haired ne'er-do-wells who performed the devil's music, the Mormon equivalent of chaos broke out.
Many were upset that the town council booked a "big city rock band" as dangerously controversial as Rage Against the Machine -- an opinion shared only by Spanish Fork and whoever was exactly 14 and a half when Killing In The Name was released. Businesses closed early, car dealers moved their merchandise in case of rioting, and one store even brought guard dogs to fend off potential scoundrels. The town was particularly frightened by rumors that the drug dealers and gang members who accompany RATM everywhere would fall in love with Spanish Fork's rustic charm and opt to stay. Many were also worried that the violent nature of a rock concert would result in mass injuries and even death, not realizing that your typical mosh pit isn't filled with violent maniacs, just people so socially awkward that they need a running start at a hug.
Rage Against the Machine did end up performing, breaking the town's impressive 145-year Footloose-like streak of not having fun. And ... nothing else happened. But the residents of Spanish Fork still learned a valuable lesson. Many swore to get more involved in local politics so they could make sure something like this would never happen again. If only they knew how proud it would make Rage Against the Machine to see them standing up to the Man.
It'd probably kill them.
In 2006, a group of seven young black women were walking through New York's West Village when 28-year-old Dwayne Buckle started harassing one of them. When his target, 19-year-old Patreese Johnson, informed Buckle that they were all gay and he was catcalling up the wrong tree, he became even more aggressive. Eventually a full-blown fight broke out, which resulted in Buckle being taken to the hospital after getting stabbed with a kitchen knife. Buckle claimed assault, while the women claimed self-defense. Four of the women received prison sentences.
Or as Fox News reported it:
Now, someone getting stabbed in New York isn't exactly newsworthy, but this particular incident got a lot of attention after Buckle started howling that he had been the victim of a hate crime against straight people. That's all the right-wing media needed to bring out its "war on traditional America" doomsday clock and inch the hand one second closer to midnight. Spearheading the homophobic effort was sentient hemorrhoid cream applicator Bill O'Reilly, who made an entire show about the rising threat of hordes of gay women attacking straight men. According to O'Reilly, Armagayddon started with queer gangs in Philadelphia and Tennessee, whom he accused of terrorizing people and "raping young girls." And to be fair, on those topics, Bill O'Reilly is definitely an expert.
To back up his bullshit, O'Reilly brought on "Fox News Crime Analyst" Rod Wheeler, a professional right-wing scaremonger who clearly defied his destiny to become a third-tier NASCAR racer. Wheeler elaborated that there were now over 150 lesbian terror gangs in the Washington, D.C. area alone, the biggest of which was a hyper-violent outfit called the "Pink Pistol Packing Group." Really? That's the fiercest name a band of armed gay marauders could think of? The lack of puns alone should've been a tip-off.
Experts in the law enforcement community were quick to disagree with Wheeler, who sells himself as a "food defense specialist" and honestly doesn't understand why everyone laughs. Several D.C. police officers reported that they had not noticed any surge in violence whatsoever, and that Wheeler's gang statistics were blatantly false (there are only nine gangs with predominantly female members in the whole country). After being called out on these blatant lies, the glorified McDonald's security guard was forced to retract them, claiming he had "inadvertently stated" all those things, as if he slipped on a banana peel and fell into a two-minute homophobic rant.
In 2015, the people of Los Angeles were terrorized by a simple Twitter hashtag, #100days100nights. And when they found out it wasn't promoting a new Kate Hudson romcom, they really panicked.
According to Snopes, #100days100nights was first conceived on an anonymous Tumblr blog that no longer exists. It referred to the (again, nonexistent) plan by a local gang called the Rollins wherein they would embark on a series of revenge killings for the death of one of their members. For 100 days, this Rollins gang (which Wikipedia says are best known for performing "Ghost Rider") would go out and indiscriminately murder anyone they met on the street.
The story quickly mutated, evolving into a fear that #100days100nights was a competition between gangs to see who could get the real-life GTA high score for killing random bystanders. But when the media got hold of it and started spewing out headlines like "L.A. Gangs' Hashtag Bet: Kill 100 People in 100 Days," things really got out of hand. They breathlessly reported that a number of shootings had occurred in South LA since the emergence of the hashtag ... but waited until the fifth paragraph to note that police officials said there was no sign whatsoever of a killing spree, or even an increase in shootings in the area. But hey, they did find a way to make "shootings happen in South LA" newsworthy again. That's no easy task.
In the '50s, after years of careful study, researchers finally figured out the most dangerous part of a nuclear apocalypse. You'd think it would be the fires, the raiders, or, you know, the nuclear bombs. But no, according to science, the real killer is hot mutant sex.
Warner Bros. Pictures
This was the expert opinion of Dr. Charles Walter Clarke, Harvard professor and executive director of the American Social Hygiene Association. In 1951, the good doctor published a very popular article about the dangers of venereal diseases after a nuclear attack. Specifically, Dr. Clarke projected that gonorrhea and syphilis infections would rise by a very unscientific 1,000 percent. That's a lot of mutant-on-mutant action. Dr. Clarke extrapolated these figures from reports about the rise in illegitimate births and venereal diseases in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, which surely is the wrong WWII continent to look into when doing research on the effects of an atomic bomb. Why he didn't make a collect call to Japan and ask how many people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki currently had the clap, we'll never know.
So how do we stop people from throwing Fallout-themed orgies? It's all about setting the right priorities. According to Dr. Clarke, if the big one should ever hit, medical professionals should prioritize the stockpiling and administering of penicillin, military patrols should focus on the "vigorous repression of prostitution," and religious officials should be flown in to make sure "moral standards" are upheld. Sure, the entire world is on fire, but that's no excuse for makeouts, teens.
Necrotizing fasciitis is a dangerous infection better known as "the flesh-eating disease." In truth, the bacteria simply kills soft tissue, which causes gangrene, which often leads to amputation or even death. Fortunately, the disease is extremely rare and is only dangerous under very specific conditions.
Like eating a banana. Any banana.
In 1999, people started receiving disturbing emails warning them not to eat any bananas for the next three weeks, lest they risk a horrible death. According to this mysterious source, a large shipment of bananas carried the horrendous flesh-eating virus, which "eats two to three centimeters of flesh per hour." And the reason readers were hearing about this from an email was that the Food and Drug Administration was covering up the impending pandemic, as they had apparently figured that 15,000 casualties would be preferable to people not eating bananas for a time. Damn you, Big Banana! You got to them, didn't you?!
The Centers for Disease Control were forced to release an official statement telling people that bananas were perfectly fine, which seems like an odd thing to have to go out of your way to insist. "Apples are still good everybody! Oranges are probably not the devil. You can trust a lime!" Yet somehow even the dismissal of the scare caused more panic, and the CDC was forced to open a "banana hotline" to answer the people's most pressing questions about their own stupidity.
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