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RECORD VIEW: Don't let the sickos win.

NO matter how tragic the situation, it seems there are always sick minds who want to make it worse. There are always despicable creeps who get a kick out of exploiting fear - and they are at work in Scotland.

With germ warfare panic sweeping the world, we would be foolish if we were not on the alert. Even more appalling, some among us are cruel enough to exploit those worries for their own twisted purposes.

The current climate of fear is a fertile ground for hoaxers, copycats and nutters. Some are pathetic cases who cannot help themselves.

However, the majority know exactly what they are doing. They are contemptible - but, unfortunately, they have no shame.

The normal tactic is to ignore these twisters, to refuse to give publicity to their vicious tricks and deny them the satisfaction of knowing they have caused distress and inconvenience.

But there have been real germ warfare attacks across the US. Britain, as the other leading partner in the war on terrorism, has been bracing itself for the last fortnight for a similar campaign.

While all that is happening, it is easy for the mischief-makers. Suspicious letters, mystery packages and hoax calls have been used to create a string of incidents, all of which have so far proved to be false alarms.

Because Prince William is a student at St Andrews, the university and town have been allegedly targeted by Scottish republican extremists.

That particular campaign makes their cause despicable and destroys any claim they have to be "Scottish".

These scares do more than spread panic. The victims have been subjected to personal terror, decontamination and antibiotic treatment, and emergency services have been needlessly tied up.

So far, not a single anthrax attack has been confirmed outside the US. The British public is being kept informed and emergency planning is in place and stocks of medicines have been built up.

The disease cannot be passed from person to person and can only be contracted by direct exposure to the spores. Many of the spores will be dormant and incapable of doing harm.

Yet those with warped minds know that chances cannot be taken. All we can do is take sensible precautions and keep the threat in proportion. Above all, we must not let the crackpots have the last laugh.
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Title Annotation:Leader
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Oct 17, 2001
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