HT from one of my students, Chad H.
In class, Rizzo asked us to compare the amount of deaths due to the accident at Chernobyl and the amount of deaths inflicted by Communist rule in the USSR. He then asked why there is such a difference in the way we react to each.
The amount of deaths from the accident at Chernobyl is estimated at 50 and a possibly 4,000 more due to radiation after the incident. The amount of deaths from Communist rule in the USSR is estimated at 60 million and in the most conservative estimates by the Soviets themselves is still about 700,000.
Regardless of the actual number, the amount killed by the USSR is much higher than the amount that died in the accident at Chernobyl, yet the reaction to the accident at Chernobyl was a much more impassioned than peoples reaction to the the killings due to the USSR. This may be explained by the idea that if it does not directly affect you, you will not be inclined to think too much about it. The accident at Chernobyl represented a very possible outcome that could happen to anyone in the US whereas the USSR killings are unlikely to happen and so people tend to not think about it as much. The accident at Chernobyl demonstrated what could happen to a nuclear power plant in the US and thus a very possible threat to the safety of the citizens of the US, so people are much more likely to feel more impassioned about it, rather than the USSR types killings which seem unlikely to occur in the US.
I like his explanation, even if I find our priorities somewhat messed up here. Tens of millions dead due to the direct actions of people versus several thousand due to an accident. And our reaction is to halt nuclear power and condemn our modern society for producing that danger, but no such similar condemnation among the general public for organizing economies in the name of brotherhood, public virtue and the rights of others to your productive efforts. And of course, we would never make any moves here in the U.S. to move us in that direction, would we?
Update: Directive 10-289 has been issued.