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The GOP’s New Moral Panic and Incitement

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April 12, 2022 12:29 p.m.

One of the things mainstream American media does a particularly bad job of is communicating to a larger public the campaigns of incitement and predation animating Republican alternative media. Over recent weeks Republicans have been pushing a new line equating any policies that support or express openness to the concerns of transgender youth to “grooming” and sexual predation. Clearly there are a lot of unsettled ideas in the society at large over how to approach, treat, support transgender youth and gender dysphoria generally. There are people who have a good faith belief that teaching kids about transgender issues or having a more open and supportive approach to kids experiencing gender dysphoria actually encourages gender identity confusion. But I want to be clear: this is different. This is the specific claim that teachers especially are “grooming” children to become transgender as part of a large plot of sexual predation. “Grooming” isn’t a neutral word. It’s part of the vocabulary of pedophilia and sexual exploitation. Thus we’ve had a growing confluence of messaging about any discussion of transgender issues in schools with claims that Ketanji Brown Jackson is “soft” on pedophiles and thus President Biden and Democrats generally are pro-pedophilia.

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