As the US continues to struggle with a global pandemic, incompetent governance, and mass unemployment and poverty, over 200 events have occurred to protest against child sex trafficking and a secret cabal of global-elite, Satan-worshipping pedophiles. The protests were tied to the conspiratorial QAnon movement that believes the world is controlled by a group of pedophiles who are plotting against Donald Trump while ruining a global sex-trafficking ring, and seem to be adding to a growing moral panic. On my Facebook, the hashtag #saveourkids seems to be everywhere, while social media stars, politicians, and the media have been accused en masse of being pedophiles and predators.
While paranoia and moral panics over child predators have always been around in American society, the fear has increased substantially since the arrest (and subsequent death) of Jeffrey Epstein because he allegedly1He died, allegedly by suicide, before any trial concluded trafficked and sexually coerced teenage girls for himself and his many powerful friends. The story has continued as questions continue to emerge about his many connections to high profile individuals from Donald Trump and the Clintons, to Prince Andrew of the Royal Family. The media has profited from an emerging cottage industry of child predator exposés of powerful men. Films like “Leaving Neverland,” “Surviving R Kelly,” and—most recently—the Netflix documentary “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich” reveals a world of celebrities, politicians, and other powerful, wealthy men and women grooming, trafficking, and enslaving young girls and boys. While all of these cases are truly disgusting and should be exposed, it seems this focus has begun to seep into the rest of society, to the point where people see pedophilia everywhere.
As the paranoia about a secret world of pedophiles increases, so does the fear of growing tolerance and acceptance of these criminals, and as a result, books, films, and other art are enduring a mass hysteria campaign. The upcoming French film “Cuties” was recently put on blast for the film’s poster and trailer, which a petition claimed, “sexualizes an 11-year-old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles.” When looked into more, the film is indeed about an 11-year-old Senegalese girl, but one who is torn between her traditionalist family and her desire to dance with other girls in a dance crew. Other films like “Call Me By Your Name” have been scrutinized by the likes of Karamo Brown of Queer Eye, who claims the film was “problematic as fuck” and that “it looked like a grown man having sex with a little boy.” The book (and movie adaptation) is a gay love story between a 17-year-old (played by the 20-year-old Timothee Chalomet) and his father’s 24-year-old graduate student (played by the 30-year-old Armie Hammer) set in Italy in 1983. Those who enjoy these problematic movies or books are also worthy of suspicion, as pop star Madison Beer found out the hard way. After claiming her favorite book was Vladimir Nobokovs 1955 book Lolita, a Twitter storm emerged, accusing the singer of romanticizing2Seriously, are people confused about Lolita based on reading the Wikipedia plot summary or something? Most of it takes place inside Humbert’s head and the prose is so romantic because it is taking place inside his head and he’s a tragic, obsessive figure. Nabokov didn’t mean him to be a sympathetic character, fuckos. –Ed. the book’s pedophilia and the hashtag #madisonbeerisoverparty exploded. Keep in mind, Lolita is widely regarded as one of the best novels ever written and appears on numerous lists that claim to rank the very best things ever published in English (including the top 100 best novels list by Time Magazine). Very suspicious that someone might enjoy it, indeed.
Like Madison Beer, numerous other top media stars have been accused of being predators or child grooming. 20-year-old Tiktok star Tony Lopez—known for his online dance videos—was accused of sending sexually explicit messages to a 15-year-old girl. Another top TikTok star, 19-year-old Benji Krol, recently announced that he tried to commit suicide after being accused of grooming and sexting a 15-year-old boy. While it was clearly inappropriate for these young adult stars to sext highschoolers, to claim they are pedophiles or predators seems like something of an overstatement. A crime against a child is always heinous, but drawing a distinction between the violation of prepubescent children and inappropriate communication with young adults is a subtlety that hasn’t translated well in all of the online hysteria.
One doesn’t even have to be involved with a minor to draw the ire of the mob: Many rising center-left politicians and media figures have also been accused of grooming and predatory behavior, like Glenn Greenwald and Alex Morse despite both only ever being implicated in consensual adult relationships. Another center-left political winner, Alex Coleman, dropped out after defeating a corporate democrat incumbent after accusations of predation stemming from posting revenge porn involving a fellow student when he was 13 and in middle school. Right or wrong, scrutiny of anyone in the public eye is first and foremost focused on the possibility that they are a sexual predator or part of a grand conspiracy to harm children—even those who were children at the time.
Now to be clear, there is a real issue with child trafficking and sexual predators, but this legitimate reality has exploded into outright moral panic. Moral panics have been a consistent force in history—sometimes leading to witch hunts—most often targeting individuals and groups that society wishes to suppress or eliminate. The story is usually the same—of young people being preyed upon—-whether it is the opium dens of Chinese people, “predatory black men” going after young white women, or gays trying to recruit and prey upon young people to bring them into the “gay lifestyle.”3Which we absolutely are, to be clear, but “the gay lifestyle” is the immortal science of gay Marxism-Leninism. For those accused of predatory behavior, the end result is often the same: violence, repression, and strong media condemnations, possibly followed by a complete rejection from polite society and guilt by association for any other member of the suspected group. Many of those rightly exposed by the media (like Michael Jackson or Epstein) have their wrongdoing revealed after a long fight by their victims who wanted their stories to be told and justice to be served. In other cases, though, it seems to be the ultimate weapon to use to destroy progressive media and political figures, or (in the case of TikTok stars) to be a source of online clout, as authorities never seem to be involved to investigate.
While it’s likely possible that seeking justice, political sabotage, or social media clout could be a contributing factor to the massive hysteria, there is something clearly much bigger going on—-none of these accusations are new, but the tenor of the conversation is different. Putting aside those who are simply weaponizing a new sex panic for personal or political gain, there is a sincere and militant set whose genuine concern for children fuels a fervent crusade. When the #MeToo campaign emerged, many had to finally acknowledge the number of victims in society and the many powerful men who had abused with impunity and who had never faced justice. As new accusations kept emerging, it seemed like people in power—primarily in Hollywood and government—were aware of the sexual violence and trafficking. The issue seemed to validate right-wing conspiracies about these industries of which the public was already suspicious; undoubtedly you could find similar issues on Wall Street or in the military. As society hit massive levels of unemployment during the COVID pandemic, more and more people gained (not necessarily voluntarily) a lot of free time, and quarantine isolation forced more people online to search for increasingly unsatisfying sources of entertainment or distraction. Many family members of QAnon believers claim the isolation and excessive time online led them down this path—often resulting in greater isolation from family and friends—much like a cult. As the world seems to keep crumbling and trust in institutions (like government) dwindles, conspiracies and moral panics seem to give disenfranchised people an explanation as to why the world is the way it is. Like all the past moral panics, they help deflect the horror of true mass crimes—those perpetrated against humanity by the Capitalist class—while weaponizing it to attack their competitors (those in the same class) and their class enemies (those challenging the capitalist class from below, or those hoping to replace them in seats of power). Capitalism enables abusers and always disempowers those who would try to challenge them–financially, or due to simple corruption. Why would you settle for phony QAnon-style conspiracies when the real villains keep doing all of this out in the open and without challenge?
|↑ 1||He died, allegedly by suicide, before any trial concluded|
|↑ 2||Seriously, are people confused about Lolita based on reading the Wikipedia plot summary or something? Most of it takes place inside Humbert’s head and the prose is so romantic because it is taking place inside his head and he’s a tragic, obsessive figure. Nabokov didn’t mean him to be a sympathetic character, fuckos. –Ed.|
|↑ 3||Which we absolutely are, to be clear, but “the gay lifestyle” is the immortal science of gay Marxism-Leninism.|