Be Afraid, Very Afraid: Vigilantism and the Culture of Fear

Vigilantism is in vogue. Whether it’s TV hits like Dexter and Arrow, box-office heroes like Batman and Superman or even the outing of alleged criminals on social media, popular culture is saturated with stories of people taking the law into their own hands; righting wrongs when an impotent justice system fails them.

The concept of the vigilante isn’t new. From Robin Hood to Rambo, it spans the centuries. It is curious however that it is still largely romanticized at a time when crime rates continue to fall.

Why the celebration of those who subvert the law of the land? The explanation for this enduring disenchantment with our justice system lies in established narratives around crime.

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