People often harbor irrational fears of expressions of individuality. When someone expresses themselves in such a manner, it is identified as behavior that exhibits little resemblance to predicted behavior based on known environmental effects. When you are at a funeral, you expect people to cry. When you are at a comedic play, you expect people to laugh. When people do what you don't expect, it is their individualism showing.
For some it is quite disconcerting. Questions of safety come into play because our organism is designed to regard random input as being potentially threatening. That is how we have persevered as a race, through an over abundance of paranoia (better safe than sorry). Anyone we see acting in a way we cannot predict sends up red flags because it potentially means we may not rely on their actions in the next instance. They may be the ones who decide on a whim that it is ok to leave the gates to the fort unlocked to the enemy. So we feel a compulsion to examine their behavior further and ascertain the actual threat level. Our accute sense of paranoia can be seen in everything from our sense of country border protection to the number of litigation cases pending concerning people becomming offended by the actions of another.
Individualism has been the very aspect of human existence that has driven societies to greater heights in the fields of scientific exploration and religious studies. The Natural sciences, Humanities and Religion, if you will permit the distinction. It is a well known phenomenon for the histories of ground breaking idealists to be decorated with instances of being laughed at for their now accepted cosmologies. Usually by authoritative organizations, because these are what make the best news of the day. "They" laughed at Galileo, and "they" laughed at the Wright brothers. In some cases, the laughter did not remain uncomfortable giddy mirth. It crossed the line into persecution. The Athenian philosopher Socrates in 399 BC must surely be the most popular and depraved account of what a paranoid society can do to a citizen. A person put to their death for developing non-mainstream ideas and spreading them to the "youth". The man that gave birth to the concept of the Socratic Method and the many influential dialogues recorded by his pupil, Plato, was put to death for being too different. For questioning traditions that made others feel uncomfortable.
Has the current U.S.A. society risen from these dark, medieval age (middle age) lines of thinking? For the most part I would say yes. People are not being killed outright with government sanction for their thinking. Just a bit of imprisonment and torture. As we keep redefining torture to exclude sleep deprivation and water bording, we may well change that statement to be 'just a bit of imprisonment'. There is still an underlining current of paranoia that makes it seem justified to persue thought police tactics on the hopes of discovering the one that would leave the fort gates unlocked. Meaning having associations with undesirable or criminal elements. Being linked to fabricated ideological "societies" that maintain non-patriotic views. Publishing ideas that diverge from the "norm". Criticizing the business practices of Wal-Mart. Some of these activities gets you a definite red flag from any judge that reviews your case for a possible search warrant. Some of them just get you a pink flag. Provided you are lucky enough to have a judge look at your case, there is a slim chance of mis-diagnosis. If homeland security laws are used to overstep these bounds, watch out!
Another problem with the fear of differences is with maligned alliances. A person expressing their individuality openly is probably a person who is more open to other viewpoints and experiences. Someone that is open to the beauty of life's diversification can be seen as someone that might take up sympathetic ties with the "enemy". An educated and enlightened person might be able to see the enemy's side. They might feel that they have this understanding of the human experience which allows them to see the enemy as a victim of circumstance, and possibly desire to educate the rest of us by assisting them in some symbolic jesture of goodwill, which ultimately results in a breach of security for all the rest of us.
The educated, thinking, individual among us can be seen as a potential threat. If only because they pose that unknown question. What will they do next? Will it be logical, and rational as I understand those terms? Will they suddenly compromise my or my family's safety in some kind of jesture of principles? Will they not buy the merchandise scholared marketeers push on the rest of us and thereby undermine our economy? Will they come into contact with my children and influence them to think for themselves? Will they publish brochures against business practices and cause the share price to drop on my stocks? It's just so hard t nail down what those free-thinkers are going to do next. Perhaps it's in your best interest to not even employe them. And again, the paranoia flame gains fuel.