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Archive for October 17th, 2016

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.
–  1 Corinthians 13:12

through-a-glass-darklyAuthoritarians always have some high-sounding excuse to justify why they have the “right” to meddle in others’ lives, up to and including rationalizations for inflicting violence (or recruiting proxies to do so).  Very often, those excuses involve imaginary villains (or real people cast as villains) upon which the authoritarians can project their own sick need to control others; they can then pretend that their own actions are intended to “protect” (and sometimes “serve”) those they wish to dominate.  It is the traditional duty of journalists to shine light upon claims publicly made by those in power or seeking it, but at some point in the past few decades most of the profession abdicated that responsibility in favor of becoming the handmaidens of the powerful and mindlessly parroting whatever narrative will increase their power.  And so we find journalists publishing dark, lurid sexual fantasies like this one:

A Texas teenager was lured into sex trafficking after meeting her alleged captors on Snapchat…John Clark, a Houston-area energy executive, turned detective to rescue his 18-year-old daughter weeks after she went missing in April of this year…Clark hired a private kidnap and rescue firm, consulted experts, and even bought his own 1-800 number to get tips…Clark [says]…his daughter was “groomed” by her alleged captor starting at age 16.  The trafficker was in his 20s…The teen…was still in high school when she went missing…Last month, Clark launched a petition to strengthen Texas’s anti-trafficking laws.  The petition, among other things, asks the state to increase the age to work in sexually oriented businesses from 18 to 21…in a Facebook post describing how traffickers and their recruiters groom their victims, Clark warned parents “never [to] worry about being over protective…The only luck we had with Snapchat was to literally grab my daughter’s phone unexpectedly… and look at recent communications, but even that had limited effectiveness”…

Such a brave hero!  He went above and beyond to protect his “child”, and now he wants to help others!  How noble!  But look a little closer: the daughter is a legal adult, and he hired thugs to literally abduct her…and if he actually admits to literally assaulting his daughter to grab her phone, what else did he do that he didn’t admit?  Elizabeth Nolan Brown, one of the minority of journalists who still practices real journalism, found out:

A Texas father’s story of “Snapchat sex traffickers” has gone viral as he pushes for legislation that would, among other things, allow parents to have their 18- to 20-year-old offspring involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities for engaging in sex work…John Clark…has claimed repeatedly that Heather was lured by a sex trafficker…But…the facts he offers suggest Heather left her parents’ home willingly, did not want to return, and only did so after Clark had her tracked down by FBI agents and private investigators…on Saturday, April 30…Heather ditched her car and cell phone and…didn’t return home…According to a May 21 Facebook post from John Clark, he and his wife…”went through her phone several times a week”…[she] wasn’t allowed to take her cellphone upstairs to her bedroom and “when she went upstairs she had to leave her phone on the kitchen counter, so we could check it.”  They required Heather to provide them with “all her passwords”…and installed a GPS tracker on her car…they “Facetimed her every time she went out to make sure she was where she was supposed to be, and she was with the people she was supposed to be seeing”…he writes:  “Children…have no right to privacy.  We have a responsibility to search EVERYTHING.  Install an application like mobistealth or Mobil-spy on your kid’s phone”…I can’t say I’d blame an 18-year-old for wanting to get away from that environment…

Since then, Clark has been meeting with Texas and federal lawmakers, circulating an online petition, and [demanding new laws]…Changing the minimum age requirement for working at a sexually-oriented business (such as strip clubs or adult-video stores) to 21 years old…[and] “Providing extended parental guardianship in specific circumstances and emergencies”…The guardianship period could be triggered if at least four of following six criteria are met: the young adult 1) lives at home, 2) is still in high-school, 3) is a full-time college student, 4) was claimed as a dependent by the parent(s) on the prior year’s tax return, 5) has never been married, and 6) has not been the subject of any child protective services (CPS) investigations…Here is a man who permitted his 18-year-old daughter almost no privacy, went to great lengths to track her down after she left home and told him she didn’t want to return, and has publicly assigned more culpability to Snapchat than his daughter…and…he’s now asking for…changes to…law that would allow him…to continue treating adult offspring like literal children…Under Clark’s proposal, a 19-year-old single woman who lives on her own, attends college, and makes money selling sex in her spare time could find herself back under her parent’s rule (and subject to their medical whims) so long as her parents were never investigated by Texas CPS and had claimed her on tax returns the previous year…

fogged-up-glassesThis is just one case; there are a myriad of others like it, all over the world, every day.  And in most cases, the tyrants trying to gain greater control over other people’s lives don’t even have the dubious excuse of a misguided sense of parental responsibility, because the people they want to control are not their children.  Furthermore, Liz didn’t have to go to any extraordinary lengths to discover the truth; all she had to do was look at Clark’s public Facebook page.  Kate Briquelet, the Daily Beast reporter responsible for the first version, could’ve done the same thing; she simply couldn’t be bothered (or else she intentionally spread Clark’s warped view of events on purpose, which is even worse).  And that’s the real tragedy of modern moral panics:  the facts which could dissipate the fog generated by authoritarians are readily available to all, but neither ordinary citizens nor those with the duty of disseminating facts are willing to put forth the minimal effort required to wipe the glass clean.

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