Pedophilia, Ref. 90, and Politics
Just talking about children and what is quaintly called "the facts of life" makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Talking about sexual abuse of children is downright disturbing. "Make it go away! Ugh." Sexual predators are feared, despised, and widely shunned--appropriately so. Comprehensive Sexual Education (in the early grades especially) is meant to assure that children are equipped with the basic facts necessary to understand and call out inappropriate behavior--whether that behavior comes from a stranger, a family member, or a trusted social leader like a scout leader, a minister, or a priest. Making this point--education as protection, a sort of sexual exploitation proofing--is not glamorous; it does not make headlines. Failing to loudly make this point leaves a gap for cynical exploitation of humanity's discomfort with the subject of sex and children--and sex in general.
Enter Referendum 90. Early this year Washington State Republican operatives, were quick to sense a wedge issue ripe with potential for riling their base. They leapt at the opportunity to "refer to the people" the new Comprehensive Sexual Health Education Law (aka "Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5395"). (Such a "referral" to a vote of the people is a "referendum," hence, Referendum 90.) They gathered twice the required number of signatures necessary to get Ref 90 on the ballot--in spite of pandemic restrictions. They accomplished this feat by spreading overblown fear and lies of what such sexual education might entail, and then used their alliance with a network of churches for signature gathering. Even if they fail to block the law, for the statewide fundamentalist Republican base sex is a winning issue--it gets out the voters to cast votes for Republican candidates. Visit and observe that Referendum 90 is front and center on the Spokane GOP website. In fact, it is the only voting issue linked on their introductory page. All else is presented only as general statements.
If I needed proof of humanity's fascination with and discomfort over matters sexual, it was confirmed by the reaction to my post Pedophiles Against Sex Ed! on August 19. No other post in almost four years of writing got more attention. It garnered a click rate of 54.9%, a full ten percentage points above the rough average. For mentioning pedophilia in the priesthood I was accused of anti-Catholic prejudice by a friend from whom I have not heard since. Such are the deep emotions that sexual matters raise in our country.
The combination of sex and children as expressed in the word pedophile commands attention. It broadly evokes revulsion and disgust.*
In Washington State Republicans exploit human unease with the educating our young about sex, but national Republicans go a big step further. Trump and his son are busy painting their opponents as pedophiles.
Growing numbers of Republican supporters subscribe to the QAnon conspiracy, the completely whacko idea that Donald Trump is engaged in a pitched battle with a ring of pedophiles and sex traffickers associated with the Democratic Party. QAnon is a cult, a group as impervious to reason and fact as glass is to water. Several Republican candidates nationwide are QAnon cultists, and some appear poised to become members of the U.S. Congress. [Locally, Rob Chase(candidate in LD4) and Jenny Graham (incumbent candidate in LD6) dabble with QAnon conspiracy theory.] Most alarmingly, Mr. Trump, while pretending not to know what QAnon stands for, dogwhistles for their support.
But this takes the cake: Trump Junior, stumping in Arizona on September 22 with Charlie Kirk (See P.S. below) said, “You know what the left is doing? They’re justifying pedophilia,” Like his father, Trump Junior lies and distorts with impunity for political gain, but in this statement he is only echoing a whisper campaign around pedophilia currently spreading on electronic media. The accusation: California lawmakers have legalized pedophilia! It is utter bullshit, of course, spread through networks of folks apparently unequipped or unwilling to question it. The truth: California recently passed a law that allows for some sentencing leniency in the case of consensual heterosexual sex between two young adults unfortunate enough to have ages that bracket the 18 year old cutoff that defines statutory rape. This is a commonsense legal adjustment known as a "Romeo and Juliet" law. I strongly urge you to watch the 3:27 video that is part of this news report debunking this base-riling BS. Trump Junior and Charlie Kirk are disgusting excuses for humanity. They deserve to be kicked into the dustbin of history.
If Trump--and a lot of other Republicans--manage to eek out victory in the November election it will be with the very considerable aid and support from groups and people with ideas that should be evoking disgust, revulsion, and a huge voter turnout among Democrats, Independents, and all decent Republicans. If Republicans do not eek out victory, then we have a long road ahead trying to educate the citizenry around honesty, integrity, and fact-checking.
Keep to the high ground,
*The word "disgust" took on new meaning for me when I came upon its etymology. The word is related to nausea, revulsion and nausea when presented with rotten material, a very, very basic human emotional response that protects against consuming something that might sicken or kill us. Consider its close relation to "gustatory," of or relating to taste. The English thesaurus offers synonyms: "revulsion, repugnance, aversion, distaste, abhorrence, loathing."
P.S. Does the name Charlie Kirk, youthful founder of Turning Point USA and darling of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), ring any bells? This lying provocateur was scheduled to appear yesterday as a speaker at the Candlelight Christian Fellowship just across the border in Coeur d'Alene. There is another local tie: Charlie Kirk was the featured speaker right here in Spokane at the Spokane GOP's Lincoln Day dinner in April 2019. Click that link for more.
I listened to the livestream of the 9AM Candlelight Christian Fellowship yesterday, September 27. It was far more like a political rally than a church service. Mr. Kirk presented to an audience that held him in awe for his glib presentation of alternative reality.
(The Candlelight Christian Fellowship was recently in the national news as its mask-eschewing pastor, Paul Van Noy, struggled against the resultant Covid-19. He was in the ICU for 18 days at Kootenai memorial hospital and given a 20% chance of survival.)