How the porn industry targeted activists and victims (and other stories)

A roundup of important news from around the interwebs.

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First, from my friend John Jalsevac, is an impressive piece explaining “Why I’m So Angry.” With Trump turning on Pence, conspiracy theories abounding, whataboutism in response to the Capitol Hill Riots, and much more, John thinks it is time to some serious thinking about where the Right has ended up (echoing some of my own thoughts). An excerpt:

In the days since, MAGA fans have dug up a couple of videos that show, or appear to show, police letting rioters into the Capitol.  These videos, they claim, prove that the whole riot was a “set up”, a “false flag operation”; or that the protest was a “mostly peaceful” – or even “almost entirely peaceful” – demonstration that is being overblown by the media and Democrats.

And so, bathing in the waters of absolution provided by this newest fantasy, MAGA rests with a clear conscience, convicted that it was “them,” not “us“, who is most to blame. (The first rule of political fight club: it’s always “them,” it’s never “us.”)

Fantasy, I say, because in order to believe this theory, you would have to ignore the dozens and dozens of horrifying videos showing hordes of hundreds of MAGA fans physically battling with the police inside and outside the Capitol, pushing through police lines (in one video, a young officer, bleeding from the mouth, screams in pain as he is wedged between a door and his shield, while the mob pushes on, heedless), smashing barriers and doorsdragging a fallen police officer down the steps and beating him while hundreds of rioters continue an all-out assault on officers guarding the door, interrogating and assaulting journalists, and all the while screaming “traitor!” at the policing protecting the Capitol.

You would have to ignore the fact of 60 police officers injuredone dead. Another officer took his own life days after the riot. (I remember the mockery among conservatives when UK media reported on a BLM protest this summer, in which a “mere” 27 police were injured as being “mostly peaceful.”)

You’d have to ignore all the arrest reports of known Trump supporters, including one who showed up with an M4 rifle, loaded magazines, handguns, and jars filled with homemade napalm; or the one who texted to friends, on his way to the demonstration, “Headed to DC with a shit ton of 5.56 armor-piercing ammo.” And then, “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi Cunt’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.”

Many of the people credulously spreading the Antifa/BLM narrative as proven fact, or downplaying the violence, or excusing or even celebrating the riot, or escaping the duty of self-reflection and self-correction with puerile, pathetic whataboutism, or excusing Trump from all blame, are social conservative activists who should know better.

Seriously, read the whole thing. You should. He’s channeled the thoughts of a lot of so-cons who don’t seem to know what’s happening on the Right, myself included. He issues challenges we should consider. If you find yourself getting defensive, ask yourself why. Engage with his piece. As the Trump era falls apart, everyone needs to be doing some serious thinking. John certainly has.

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I have a letter in this month’s print edition of First Things, responding to Mary Eberstadt’s magnificent essay “The Fury of the Fatherless”:

 Mary Eberstadt’s December essay “The Fury of the Fatherless,” an abstract of her essential 2019 book Primal Screams: How the Sexual Revolution Created Identity Politics, is pivotal to understanding the forces currently shaping and reshaping our culture. The tribes clashing on American streets from Portland to Minneapolis, she explains, are a replacement of the tribes we used to be born into—sprawling families of siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins. These tribes gave us identity and taught us who we were and how to live.

Now, in what Eberstadt calls “the Great Scattering,” we are seeing the highest levels of family breakdown in recorded history outside of war or natural disaster and the mass rupturing of social bonds. This change has been cataclysmic, but few seem to recognize that it is the context for much of what is happening.

Identity politics, Eberstadt notes in Primal Screams, “is the screaming bastard child of the birth control pill.” There is a lot of truth packed into that sentence. The real privilege in our society is not primarily racial—it is whether you grew up in a home with two loving parents. So long as progressives refuse to reconsider any of the tenets of sexual liberation and decline to grapple with any of the social effects that have caused such devastation, they cannot be part of the solution. The sexual revolution may have given people freedom, but what it took away was far more precious: a sense of belonging, identity, and families.

Generations have been denied their inheritance. This way of life is now so scorned and foreign that many of the bitter, angry young people marching to the trendy tune of the latest Pied Piper do not even realize that their primal screams are howls of longing for the very things many of them claim to despise.

To understand our times, Mary Eberstadt’s scholarship on the revolution that transformed the West is essential.

If you’re interested, check out my conversation with Eberstadt on this subject on my podcast here.

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Those of you who follow this blog will be familiar with the fallout from the New York Times article “The Children of Pornhub,” which triggered the porn monopoly and parent company MindGeek to remove ten million videos overnight. Laila Mickelwait, an activist who has been tirelessly working to shut down Pornhub, revealed in an op-ed in The Washington Examiner that she and others have been subject to a tireless campaign of intimidation:

No one was more aware of the illegal content on Mindgeek’s sites than Mindgeek itself. The company deceptively bills itself not as the world’s largest pornography titan but as a “tech” leader in search engine optimization and data mining. It has become clear that hiding the truth about itself is Mindgeek’s modus operandi.

Over the last year, this obfuscation strategy let Mindgeek wage an aggressive and sophisticated campaign to cover up and deflect and to discredit and intimidate those who dared to speak out. Leading this attack was Pornhub’s vice president Corey Urman, regularly quoted under pseudonyms such as “Corey Price” and “Blake White.”

Hiding behind these fake identities, Mindgeek executives and representatives have repeatedly told the public that my op-ed, campaign, and petition were “categorically and factually untrue” and “intentionally misleading,” even though they knew the claims were true.

They lied about having “a vast and extensive team of moderators” when, in fact, whistleblowers and internal documents reveal that when my campaign started, they employed fewer than 30 minimum wage “content formatters” per shift, in Cyprus, to review the millions of videos uploaded to all of its “tube sites,” including Pornhub. Most revealing, the company lied about being responsive to reports from victims about their videos. In reality, requests and comments about these filmed sexual crimes were repeatedly ignored, covered-up, and demeaned.

This overt public disinformation campaign is only the tip of the iceberg. For the last year, Mindgeek and its surrogates have simultaneously conducted a very dark, secret campaign to discredit, harass, and intimidate those who have sought to reveal the truth.

It has been infuriating and heartbreaking to witness Pornhub child sexual abuse victims who dared to speak publicly be threatened, harassed, blackmailed, physically attacked, and in many cases effectively silenced. Some of those who spoke out were gaslighted and shamed. Others who went public, who reported fearing for their safety, have now disappeared from public view. Other public victims, after being attacked and blackmailed with their own underage rape videos, have left the country and gone silent.

Mindgeek hides behind the façade of a legitimate company, but this is the stuff of mob movies. I now understand why, when I started the campaign, an advocate who previously had spoken against Mindgeek sternly asked me, “Do you have a safe room? If not, get one.”

During this period, my family and I have also been threatened, harassed, defamed, and doxxed by a group of operatives, many of whom we can connect directly to Mindgeek and its consultants. Close family members had their emails, bank accounts, and cloud storage hacked. Private family photos were emailed to them in an obvious effort to threaten and intimidate them and myself.

When Harvey Weinstein was the most powerful man in Hollywood, his sexual crimes were known among those in the industry, but the fear-inducing intimidation that he wielded was his tool to suppress and silence opposition. Until now, Mindgeek has done something similar. If we are to hold megapredators accountable, we can’t be intimidated or silenced, and we can’t allow the intimidation and silencing of victims who have courageously come forward.

This isn’t surprising, unfortunately. I’ve been threatened with lawsuits by members of the porn community myself. What do we expect from these people?

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More soon.

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