Our Culture’s Sick Obsession with Children and Sexuality

I’ll start with a point made by writer Sam Thielman in an opinion piece for NBC News online two years ago. The country was up in arms about the film “Cuties” being broadcast on Netflix. The movie featured 11- and 12-year-old French girls in a dance competition; their performances included twerking and other sexually provocative moves while wearing skin-tight costumes.

Thielman dismissed the outrage as nothing more than “a cynical ploy” by “the pedophile-obsessed American right, driven by QAnon.”

It should be clear at this point that anyone concerned for the well-being of children, regardless of their political persuasion, has good reason to be shocked and outraged about the disturbing amount of pedophilia in the country, as well as sex trafficking at the southern border, and the pervasive obsession with immersing children in sexual content generally. But many of our cultural gatekeepers share Thielman’s condescension. Every week brings more headlines about children being exploited, abused, manipulated or exposed to material that they lack the intellectual and emotional maturity to understand or process.

Earlier this week, a former CNN producer, John Griffin, pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl at his Vermont home. Evidence given to a grand jury included correspondence from Griffin calling all women “wanton whores” and saying, “When handled appropriately, a woman is a woman regardless of her age.” (In a truly disgusting twist to this story, Griffin was apparently recruiting young girls through their parents. The mother of the 9-year-old has been charged with child abuse and child sexual assault.)

The multipart Twittergate document drop over the past week revealed the arbitrary and dictatorial decisions made by a small cadre of “progressives” in the company’s top management to censor and ban conservatives, including former President Donald Trump. Twitter’s former head of Trust and Safety, Yoel Roth, was proudly instrumental in those decisions. (Roth resigned after Elon Musk bought the company.) It did not take long for people to find tweets from Roth going back years with plenty of cheerful support for porn and oblique comments about minors and sex. Musk underscored concerns when he tweeted that “Trust and Safety” had done little to police child sex predators on the platform.

Last week, Project Veritas released an undercover video during which Joseph Bruno, a dean at the Francis W. Parker School in Chicago, described in graphic terms how students had sex toys handed out to them in class and got to discuss how to use them, including the relative merits of certain types of lubrication versus others.

Two weeks before that, the world was shocked by a Balenciaga holiday ad campaign featuring toddler girls holding teddy bears wearing what appeared to be bondage gear.

That same week, The Washington Post published a glowing review of the Broadway play “Downstate.” The headline read, “‘Downstate’ is a play about pedophiles. It’s also brilliant,” and reviewer Peter Marks described playwright Bruce Morris’ depiction of pedophiles “not as monsters but rather as complicated, troubled souls.”

It isn’t just in Silicon Valley or America’s largest cities. Twitter account Libs of TikTok has posted video after video after video of elementary and middle school teachers bragging about how they talk about their sexuality in the classroom, deliberately foster gender confusion among the children in their charge and plot ways to hide their classroom practices and policies from parents.

This is abuse. And yet when these instances are exposed, the media jumps not to the defense of the children, or their distraught and irate parents, but to the defense of the abusers.

Chaya Raichik, who runs Libs of TikTok, has been repeatedly attacked by the press (most notably by Taylor Lorenz of The Washington Post), despite the fact that Raichik only posts videos others have created and posted for public consumption.

Media Matters accused “right-wing media” of “baseless, bigoted attacks” against Yoel Roth, and of using the tactics of “QAnon adherents.” Joseph Bruno was defended by the Francis W. Parker School administration, who praised the sex toy lesson as part of their “inclusive, LGBTQ+ affirming, and comprehensive approach to sex education.”

The schools are definitely a big part of the problem.

In Loudoun County, Virginia, in the spring of 2021, a male high school student sodomized a female student in the girls’ bathroom (the male student was allegedly “gender-fluid” and allowed to use the girls’ facilities) and was then transferred to another school where he sexually assaulted another female student. At a school board meeting where parents spoke and expressed their outrage, the board denied knowledge of any sexual assault. The father of one of the victims was violently escorted out of the building.

The New York Times, of course, immediately jumped to accuse conservative parents of hysteria, in an article titled “The Right’s Big Lie About a Sexual Assault in Virginia.” The parents aren’t truly concerned about their children’s safety, of course; these are just more efforts to oppose diversity, equity and inclusion.

A Virginia grand jury disagreed, returning indictments this week against the superintendent of Loudoun County schools and the school system’s public information officer for mishandling the sexual assaults — including lying to the public about them.

Across the country, parents are not just protesting. They are taking steps to change the school boards that hire the teachers and administrators and approve the curricula and the books available to children in the school libraries. And yet, true to form, when parents are successful keeping sexually explicit materials out of schools, or changing the composition of the school board in response to masking or vaccine policies, as has happened in several counties in Florida, the media goes on the attack again — against the parents.

We’re in the fight of our lives, for our children’s lives. And those who should be fighting with us are fighting against us.

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Laura Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree in English and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Hollis' career as an attorney has spanned 28 years, the past 23 of which have been in higher education. She has taught law at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has nearly 15 years' experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her scholarly interests include entrepreneurship and public policy, economic development, technology commercialization and general business law. In addition to her legal publications, Hollis has been a freelance political writer since 1993, writing for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, and the Christian Post, on matters of politics and culture. She is a frequent public speaker. Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist and audio engineer, and they live in Indiana with their two children, Alistair and Celeste.

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