Cocaine was prohibited in the first part of the 20th century. Newspapers used terms like "Negro Cocaine Fiends" and "Cocainized Niggers" to drive up sales, causing a nationwide panic about the rape of white women by black men, high on cocaine. Many police forces changed from a .32 caliber to a .38 caliber pistol because the smaller gun was supposedly unable to kill black men when they were high on cocaine. src: Wikipedia
1937 saw the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act. Harry J. Anslinger (Bureau of Narcotics Commissioner) testified in hearings on the subject that the hemp plant needed to be banned because it had a violent "effect on the degenerate races". This specifically referred to Mexican immigrants
The Christianist argument that Evolution is only a theory with no more to back it up than the bible does is a third case, as is the 17th century church argument that Earth is the center of the Universe (not to mention that "geometry is the devil").
However, the one thing that these cases of moral panic have in common is that they all rested near the boundaries of scientific knowledge. At the very least, these things are not readily observable. Evolution usually takes place over thousands and millions of years, and if you've never met a Mexican, who's to say marijuana doesn't have a violent effect? Of course, in all this anti-intellectual fervor, Bob & Mary Schindler, Terri Schiavo's parents have decided to get in on the action.
I honestly did not expect to write about the results of Terri's autopsy. Even though the autopsy revealed that Terri was, in fact, brain dead by any definition of the word, even though her remaining bran mass weighed less than half of what a normal brain weighs, even though the part of her brain that sees was totally atrophied, I would have abstained. Even though Jeb did not apologize for creating such a huge furor, even though Bill Frist hasn't been impeached for his "expert testimony" that Terri responded to visual stimulation, even though nobody has recanted the slander against Michael Schiavo that he abused his wife, I was going to drop the issue. But now the headlines scream, "Schiavo's parents not swayed by autopsy results"! Of course, that's the AP title. On foxnews.com, the link to the story from the homepage reads, "Schiavo Kin: Autopsy Wrong". So now there is a conspiracy to kill Terri, not just from her widowed husband who wanted to marry another woman and make money from suing doctors, not just from the judges who happened to be assigned the case, not just Terri's doctors themselves, but the medical examiner is in on the conspiracy too?
Look, I get that Terri's parents cracked a long time ago. They're babbling nonsense to whoever will listen. That's fine - they need help. But Fox News (sic) should not validate their crazy, wild-eyed ideas that despite the fact that the part of her brain that operated her eyes no longer existed, the Schindlers insist that Terri interacted with them and followed balloons around the room with her eyes. Why this hatred of science and facts and knowledge? The findings that Terri was, indeed, dead doesn't piss off the church. It just pisses off the people who wanted to make Terri into a political statement. And of course her parents, who have been divorced from reality since the early 90's. If you were to put Terri through any series of tests to determine A) if she were totally brain dead and B) if her husband had more right to speak for her than her parents, you would come to the same conclusion. Why? Because this woman has been overanalyzed more than anyone in the history of overanalysis, with the possible future exceptions of Jennifer Wilbanks and Natalee Holloway. (Amazing that these women have their own encyclopedia entries already) Every medical and legal test has been conducted, and except for the ones purchased for the sole purpose of disseminating false information, all have come back with the same conclusion. Stop attacking people who know what they're talking about. Is this what America has come to? In the age of Law and Order and CSI, everybody thinks they are qualified lawyers and judges and doctors and medical examiners. People, TV is great and all, but back in reality, these people know what they're talking about.