THE CRISIS OF LAUREN BOEBERT’S PHONY MISSING CHILDREN CRISIS: A FEW MEASURED THOUGHTS…
On Saturday, NRA-issued legislator substitute for Colorado Lauren Boebert claimed via Twitter that 365,348 American children went missing in 2020 but “you haven’t heard a word from the media about it.”
There’s a reason for that, Lauren: Because it never happened.
The fact that Boebert is wrong is almost not worth mentioning, as Lauren Boebert is wrong about nearly everything. If she gets her own kids’ names right nine times out of ten, I would lose a bet and so would they.
The real story is why she and her crank constituency believe such an absurd thing to begin with; it’s not because they’re stupid.
To be clear, they ARE stupid, and anyone who says otherwise should be shown the door and then also how to open it, because chances are they’re stupid too.
But oddly enough, this is likely incidental to the problem.
By the way, this blog will touch on issues of sexual assault and child abuse. Mostly in the context of myth and urban legend, but unlike Boebert’s blathering, some real crimes will come up too.
Many news sources have already pointed out that Boebert cited the number of missing child REPORTS from 2020–which of course is different from the actual number of missing children. For more on the distinction between numerical claims and material reality, refer to the account books for the businesses Lauren Boebert owns.
The FBI only recorded 276 incidents of a child being abducted by a stranger last year, and just 2,593 examples of parental kidnapping. The rest are runaways, erroneous reports, “missing youths” (age 18 to 20), anxious parents jumping the gun, Lauren Boebert losing count of how many kids she actually has, etc.
You don’t need to even look at FBI numbers to debunk such a claim; the CDC records around 3.7 million annual births in the US these days, so 365K would be a little less than ten percent of the number of kids born in 2019, 2020, etc.
Imagine if every year, out of a class of 30 or 40 school kids, about three or four disappeared and were never heard from again; not only would people notice such a trend, it would be literally impossible to distract from it. Those are Derry numbers.
Boebert bollocks must believe such things because their #Qanon and Pizzagate religious doctrines dictate that imaginary Satanic cults murder and cannibalize countless children each year, and statistics need be invented to reflect this collective, holographic article of faith.
(It would presumably make a lot more sense if the alleged child victims came from, say, refugee populations or impoverished nations, rather than Middle America. But you’re never going to scare Boebert voters with the fate of non-white kids in countries whose names they think are guacamole varietals.)
Similarly, the idea of a network of powerful predators conspiring against children just isn’t substantiated: The CDC-funded 2015 National Survey of Children’s Exposure To Violence reaffirmed what all past research has shown, namely that when kids are victimized it’s almost never at the hands of strangers, “traffickers,” “cults,” or Boebert’s other types of coded Jewish people.
Overall, 6.1 percent of kids surveyed reported suffering some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, but just 0.5 percent reported assault by a stranger, versus more than twice as many who reported being assaulted by a “known adult.”
But by far the most common form of assault was not from any adult at all but by an age peer: More than 60 percent of those who reported assaults said they were assaulted by a minor within or close to their own age bracket.
(According to Elizabeth Letourneau, director of the Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, “peak age for engaging a child in harmful or illegal sexual behavior is 14.”)
Twitter will also mischaracterize the nature of abuse: Fewer than one in six kids who reported an assault said that they were raped, whereas the most common form of abuse (well over two-thirds of all cases) was sexual harassment, a crime right-wing types usually do not believe is even real.
And as for the specter of “human trafficking?” A 2019 State Department report tallied over 85,000 trafficking victims identified in over 11,000 prosecutions the previous year. That’s 85K worldwide, as opposed to hundreds of thousands just in the US.
Most real victims of human trafficking are exploited not for sex (or witchcraft pizza murders) but for labor: They clean homes and motel rooms, they do dishes and bus tables, they stock shelves, etc. Their exploiters are not cultists but capitalists, who prey on immigrants and refugees rather than kids.
And in the cases where real kids are subject to real sexual abuse, those in the most danger are usually queer youths who don’t have family or support networks to watch out for them.
In case you didn’t catch it: On the rare occasions when the crimes Lauren fetishistically imagines actually do happen, the victims are almost always people she hates anyway.
As I’ve written about many times before, Boebert bungles beliefs about a conspiracy against innocent (white) children because this is essentially the oldest urban legend known to human psychology, and people in all ages believe it reflexively.
In his 2003 book Satanic Panic, sociologist Jeffrey Victor notes that rumors about violence against children are “a persistent tradition in folklore” because they are “symbols for worries about our children’s future” and, by extension, society’s future.
The Boebert brand of baby-eating devil worship conspiracy is “repeated across time and place” religions scholar and entree David Frankfurter notes in his book Evil Incarnate, with rumors of “cannibalism, sexual perversion, abuse and eating of children, [and] desecration of sacred things” haranguing people around the world.
You might expect Boebert believers to argue that these repeated themes actually corroborate their conspiracies rather than debunk them; in reality, I’ve never heard any of them bother to bring this up, because once again, these people are not smart.
(Smart people can be gulled into believing such myths too, of course. But that does not appear to have happened here.)
If anyone ever did broach this defense, the problem with it is that ONLY the themes repeat, whereas the details of the acts and the alleged perpetrators are protean. Case in point, 2,000 years ago you might have heard such allegations against the earliest Christians in the days of pagan Rome.
Indeed, as cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus pointed out in her book The Myth of Repressed Memory, “Rumors and fears are a thin covering for prejudices: Satanists, witches, Jews, homosexuals, communists”–the identity of the supposedly guilty party can be anything and anyone and serve pretty much the same purpose.
And “there enlies” the problem.
A good number of trafficked people end up enslaved in the American South working for farmers. There have been several busts in recent years where mostly Latino workers were held in appalling conditions as they tried to work off their debts to both the traffickers and the farm owners.
Yes, absolutely, another example of the real crisis happening to people the Hysterical Ones don’t care about.
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