I am troubled by what “lockdown” connotes and what is normalized by its wide use. When I hear that authorities have locked down a school, a workplace, a transit system, a cell phone network, or a city, the subtext seems unmistakable: We are now in control. Listen carefully and do as you are told. What I hear is the warden saying that communication will flow in one direction only, and that silence and obedience are the only options.
I suspect that part of the appeal of “lockdown” to authorities who issue orders stems precisely from its semantic ties to the world of prison. In that world, the word is meant to imply not only We are now in control, but Never forget that we are always in control, you pathetic scum. Perhaps this is what makes the word so chilling. It reflects and affirms a dominator mentality that holds citizens in the same contempt as inmates.
The Wikipedia entry for “lockdown” defines it as “an emergency protocol to prevent people or information from escaping.” I was surprised to see information included in that definition. But if a lockdown is understood to be about establishing control and inducing docility, it makes sense that information too would be locked down. The likelihood of dissent is greatly reduced if people can be kept in the dark about what’s going on and kept from talking to others.
~ from The Lockdown Society Goes Primetime by Michael Schwalbe ~