[EDITORIALS]Anthrax Oversensitivity Troubling

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[EDITORIALS]Anthrax Oversensitivity Troubling

As more and more people presumed to have been infected by anthrax from biological terrorism incidents are cropping up in the United States, the white powder is also causing people here to react sensitively to suspicious cases. There are even cases of some people simulating terrorism as an act of revenge, which shows the need for a strong government response.

According to the police and the fire departments, about 1,000 reports claiming to have found suspicious white powder have been submitted, and in 370 of the cases, officers from either the police or the fire departments were dispatched. Also, international and domestic mail has each dropped by 30 and 10 percent while the usage of e-mail has drastically increased. Those events are testimony to the insecurity people feel. In the midst of all this, it is absolutely dumbfounding to learn that a person in his 20s who wrangled with the police in Gunsan, North Jeolla province, threw flour in front of an apartment to vent his anger.

To forestall crimes and to minimize damage, it is indispensable that people report suspicious incidents. Reporting itself should not be reprimanded, further because Korea is an ally of the United States and the host of the 2002 World Cup competition, and is therefore no safe haven from terrorism. However, oversensitivity only exacerbates social insecurity and leads to a waste in administrative expenses. There has yet been no single case of anthrax in Korea. Experts say that those who produce the white powder and put it in envelopes are exposed enough to the deadly powder that they are likely to have died from those acts. Although we should watch for possible contamination, we should also exercise a mature civil consciousness.

On the other hand, we should strictly penalize those who feign anthrax crimes. Of the cases reported, it is said that some were done playfully. We should track the senders of the mail and hold them legally responsible. To effectively counter new kinds of terrorism, such as the biological kind, related laws should be redrawn. We should recheck whether there are not any flaws in existing laws and give heavy penalties to those who simulate terrorism.
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