You wouldn't know it from watching the three Law & Orders, three CSIs, and two NCISs, but the number of confirmed serial murders declined almost 70 percent in the last two decades. Lest one think America somehow solved its mass murder problem--or that such a problem ever really existed--Slate's Christopher Beam says serial killers lost their hold on America's cultural angst after the 9/11 attacks.
Beam explains the natural progression:
Infamous crimes almost always needle the anxieties of their periods. ... Sensational crimes that don't play into a larger societal narrative fade away ...What child abductors were to the '20s and serial killers were to the '70s and '80s, terrorists are to the early 21st century. After 9/11, fear of social unraveling has been replaced by anxiety over airplanes, bombs, and instant mass annihilation. [British serial killer] Stephen Griffiths isn't the new Jeffrey Dahmer. The Times Square Bomber is.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.