The Law making process is never affected by moral panics. Therefore as lawyers we need not take account of them.

Module tittle: Law 101- Legal Method

Moral Panics is not a new concept, neither are they something that’s been only taking place in the last decade. However moral panics seem to be occurring on a regular basis in last the decade heading towards the 21st century. In this essay I will be looking at how moral panics and how they have affected the Law making process, I will then go on to see whether as Lawyers should take account of them, and if we should take account of them in what ways should they do this.

The first part of the statement ‘The Law making process is never affected by moral panics’ is somewhat arguable on many accounts. It is possible to argue that the Law making process is affected by moral panics firstly by looking at the role taken up by politicians the very people who are responsible for creating as well as passing law. We can look secondly at actual acts that have been passed by Parliament, and look at the very reasons they were passed or what forces were behind the creation and the passing of these bills that have become law. However the second part of the statement that ‘Therefore as lawyers we need not take account of them.’ is somewhat debatable. Although it is clear through my research, which I will go through that the law making process, is affected by moral panics. The role of lawyers is to take account of the law and not to look at the law making process nor to question the people who create and pass the law. Thus if lawyers were to take account of moral panics it they might begin to question the law making process and question the people who create and pass the law, thus the question of how should lawyers take into account moral panics must be looked at carefully.

A brief introduction to the term Moral panic
Cohen described a moral panic as when, “A condition, episode or person emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests; its nature is presented in a stylised and stereotypical fashion by the mass media; the moral barricades are manned by editors, bishops, politicians and other right thinking people… more serious and long-lasting repercussions and might produce such changes as those in legal and social policy or even in the way that society perceives itself”[1], in this short statement Cohen suggests that certain groups are behind the moral panic, these people we can define as being moral entrepreneurs and one of these are politicians who can directly affect the law. Although Cohen gives a definition of the term moral panic he also says in this statement that moral panics may go on to change or have an affect upon legal and social policy an argument that supports my view that moral panic does affect the law.

The term ‘moral panic’ was first used in the 1970’s when the British sociologist Jock Young, was discussing public concern over an alarming increase in drug abuse[2]. However moral panics did not begin in the 1970’s as Peter Beaumont says, “The ancient Egyptians complained that their young were running wild, the Emperor Justinian banned buggery…. The language of moral panic is not new.”[3]

Moral entrepreneurs and Politicians

Although Politicians are moral entrepreneurs in there own right it is important to distinguish between the two for the purpose of this essay. Although Politicians are not the only moral entrepreneurs, though Politicians are key to the Law making process, they are the very people who suggest Law and pass it too. Thus as Thompson says “It seems that politicians on the left as well as the right of political spectrum have been prepared to play on the fears of the majority”[4] suggesting that politicians are moral entrepreneurs. Thus it wouldn’t be surprising if the Law making process is affected by moral panics as politicians are a key element in the law making process. A reason for MP’s to perhaps take part in a moral panic might be the fact that they might feel it is important for them to take