the oxygen of publicity

On the London Bridge Terrorist Attack

6 Jun 2017

Back in the 90s the then PM of Britain Margaret Thatcher coined the phrase ‘the oxygen of publicity’ to describe what she sought to deny the IRA. Then, as now, it was considered both ill-advised and counter-productive. Not only was the law swiftly circumvented by the use of silhouettes and voice disguising techniques, but the mystique appended to anything banned only served to promote the very thing she wished to suppress.

The debate continues but, being of an age to remember the IRA bombs in London, I am bound to compare then and now. Why do the three recent attacks somehow feel different? To some degree, with the IRA, one at least knew who your enemy was and what there objectives were. There was also a curious stab at somehow being honourable by giving warnings – for all the good a 30 minute warning does when a hidden, ticking bomb is involved. However, this is not where the difference lies. What has changed is the wall to wall, 24/7 news coverage from which three really bad things accrue.

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