This week I was interviewed about Jack the Ripper for episode 144 of the podcast What are you Afraid of? In 1888 people were terrified of Jack the Ripper. One woman even died of fright after reading about his exploits in the newspapers. Today he is long dead but the name still conjures up terror. People now are afraid of what he represents.
It is the stranger danger that we warn our children about. The remote possibility that an unknown person is lurking about waiting for an opportunity to harm our loved ones. When we look at a stranger and wonder if they are carrying coronavirus, it is the same fear of the unknown enlarged by publicity. Identified serial killers, whose crimes were far worse than Jack the Ripper, no longer scare us. Horror, without resolution does.
The episode also includes a narration of my original short story, Atonement of the Ripper, which attempts to understand the Ripper’s motivations. When we understand why something is happening we are better place to control our reactions to it.