The phrase "moral panic" refers to a fear-driven mass overreaction to a phenomenon that is either false or minor. Witch hunts are the usual manifestation of a moral panic. There are no witches (well, technically not true, at least these days, but the witches didn't poison the well), so to freak out and persecute women because they might be a witch is a classic example of moral panic. The Satanic abuse craze of the 1990s is another. Again: a "moral panic" ensues when there is a mass freakout over something that doesn't exist, or is extremely minor and in no way justifies the size and intensity of the reaction.
The other day, I saw on Twitter someone saying that they are a good liberal and all that, but they are really worried about what they're seeing regarding the emerging culture of the medical and teaching professions encouraging children to transition to the opposite sex. "But," said this person, "I don't want to surrender to a moral panic."
I submit to you that a moral panic is precisely the correct response to this egregious phenomenon. That is, what is happening is so hideous, and so widespread, and the reaction by most people to this point has been so muted to non-existent, that if you are not panicking, you are not paying attention.
Most people are not on Twitter, and if you're one of these people, you may not be aware of the extent of the insanity. The media are not covering it, of course. It falls to badasses like Matt Walsh, Chaya Raichik (who runs the Libs Of Tik Tok account), Christina Buttons, and Chris Elston, the guy who runs the Billboard Chris website and Twitter account, to sound the alarm.
The things they document are not nut-picking (the practice of finding extreme weirdos, and falsely using them as an example of the whole). They are completely mainstream. These are things that, if we had a functional media instead of a Narrative-massaging industry, would be widely reported, and discussed intensely. Let me give you an example:
"Oh, come on," some of you are saying. "That doctor is clearly bonkers. Who else believes that?"
So glad you asked. Major children's hospitals, for one.
Libs of TikTok has an important essay about the Left's attempts to sever the relationship between parents and children. This phenomenon is one of the clearest and most alarming examples of the totalitarian nature of the contemporary Leftist project. When I was researching Live Not By Lies, people who escaped Communism kept telling me that one of the characteristics of the totalitarian regimes they escaped was the State inserting itself between children and their parents. This is well known to historians, as a matter of fact. The theory was that the State is the true parent, and as such, needs to defend the rights of children against their parents, who are carriers of old, oppressive values. This was necessary to liberate children from the past, and from its evil values.
I remember first learning about this aspect of Communism many years ago, and thinking that this is one thing that would never, ever be accepted in America. People would go to the mat to defend their children, and the sacred relationship between parents and children. But now it's here. Here's LOTT:
Various states across America have begun implementing laws and policies to allow children to make healthcare decisions without a parent or guardian’s consent — and the medical industry is promoting it. Many of these states are using these new laws to allow for drastic medical decisions to be made without parental consent including hormone therapy, gender reassignment surgery, and medicated mental health treatment.
New York has hopped on the bandwagon of removing parents from the treatment room as well. New York-Presbyterian recently sent out emails to their patients explaining that accounts for 12-17-year-olds must be updated to reflect the adolescent’s personal email address as the primary contact as New York State law allows children “to keep their sensitive medical information private and to consent to some of their own medical treatment.”
Do you get what they're doing here? Major hospitals and liberal states are making it possible for minor children to choose to have hormone therapy and other interventions to change their sex without their parents consent, or even knowledge! If you aren't morally panicked by this, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.
Here is what the policy-setting elites of medicalized transgenderism are now saying:
Ross Douthat's column on Sunday was about how the politicized Covid response, and now monkeypox, has destroyed his faith in public health authorities ("I can never trust anything these people say again."). The way the entire medical field has surrendered to gender ideology now makes trusting your doctor dangerous. You see this kind of thing more and more:
Take a look at what Boston Children's Hospital is so proud of that they've made a series of videos promoting their standard of "care". For example:
Billboard Chris, Matt Walsh, and LOTT have been sending around Boston Children's Hospital's own promotional videos, which are predictably outraging normal people. So now the libs are accusing these three of terrorism. This is standard operating procedure for the Left today: if you think something controversial they do or promote is good, then you're fine, and a glorious Ally™ -- but if you notice it and object, then you are a bigot and a terrorist who must be shut down.
It's not just Boston Children's, not by a mile.
And when caught out, they lie:
When I was reporting Live Not By Lies, I talked to a senior physician at a major US hospital in a conservative state. The man only talked to me if I agreed not to use his name. His family emigrated to the West from the USSR when he was a child. Now, he said, he is seeing things that didn't even exist in the Soviet Union. He told me that at his hospital, the management instructed all the physicians to give to any patient, including children, any gender-transition assistance they asked for -- even if it violated the physician's best judgment about that particular patient. There was no other health care issue in which doctors were told by the hospital to suspend their medical judgment to give a patient what he or she wants. Why do you think that is, reader? When the lawsuits begin, I wonder if "just following orders" will protect doctors?
By the way, this particular physician told me that the HR department at his hospital monitored their social media accounts, looking for wrongthink. He said that if he didn't have a social media account, that would cause HR to flag him as a potential problem. So he kept his account up, but only put happy-clappy "wellness" things on it. This man is a top doctor at one of the country's biggest hospitals, and he has to live in that kind of fear. Why doesn't he quit? Because he has a family, and tuition to pay, and all the usual reasons. The other day in Vienna, I talked to a young Muslim from Canada, a man who works in IT. We agreed that the Canadian government is insane, and that trans ideology is destroying children and families. "Why don't people stand up?" he said. I asked him if he would stand up, knowing that it would probably cost him his job. He thought for a second, and said, no, he guesses that he wouldn't.
I understood. This is the condition most people are in. You maybe start to see why there were so few dissidents in the Communist world. It really and truly cost you a lot. Everybody likes to think that they would stand up, but when it comes right down to it, almost everybody conforms. In Live Not By Lies, Czech dissident Kamila Bendova, a strict Catholic, explained to me why she and her late husband had no problem at all being close friends and allies with the free-love hippies of the anti-communist dissident movement. She said that when you are in a totalitarian situation, the rarest quality to find is courage. The hippies had it; most Christians, she said, did not; they conformed like everybody else. Kamila said she and her husband knew that they had to stand with the few and the brave, whatever else those people believed.
Let this be a lesson to us all. Your pastor and best friends in your church might be too afraid of being thought bigoted to raise their voices against this demonic evil. Better get it clear in your head right now: when the persecutors come for you, these people will keep their heads down and say nothing; the atheist liberals like Peter Boghossian, on the other hand, will have your back.
You think this couldn't happen to you and your family? If you click on this link, the second tweet in the thread contains video of a speech Martinez gave telling her story:
Matt Walsh has been leading the charge lately against Eli Erlick, a transgender who has publicly bragged about sending unused hormones to anyone who wants them -- this, as a way to violate state laws against giving trans treatment to minors. Erlick has apparently set up a network to traffick prescription drugs to minors. Walsh correctly points out that Erlick has confessed to criminal activity, and has been demanding that authorities do something about it. So far, nothing has happened. But Erlick seems to be covering her tracks.
Why haven't you read about this stuff in the media? Well, why do you think? Ideological capture by the illiberal Left in the USA is all but total.
And children are being heavily propagandized in some classrooms, from the earliest age, to doubt that their body tells them anything meaningful about their sex. One of the most frequent kinds of posts on LOTT are of teachers who brag about how they're queering their classrooms, and introducing doubt about gender categories into the minds of their captive child audiences. Here are just a couple of examples, but if you follow LOTT, you'll see stuff like this every day:
Believe me, I could go on. They are castrating boys. They are chopping the breasts off of girls. They are mutilating young women to create pseudo-phalluses. They cover it all up in Orwellian neologisms like "gender affirmation surgery," but here is the reality, from a medical site's photo of what surgeons do to a woman's forearm to get the tissue they need to make her a Frankenpenis:
"Oh, Rod, why did you have to gross me out with these pictures?" you might be saying. Well, maybe your complacent self needs to be grossed out. The answer is because I am sick and tired of these Mengeles hiding behind euphemism. You have to see this stuff to believe how horrible it is. This is what they are setting children up for. This.
Once again: you are not going to learn about this stuff in our mainstream media. Even Fox News uses the loaded term "gender affirmation" to describe this stuff. Thank God for people like Matt Walsh, Billboard Chris, Libs of TikTok, Christina Buttons, Chris Rufo, and others who are taking the lead, and taking a hell of a lot of heat for it.
What can we do? First, spread the word. Educate yourselves and others. Your family is not safe, and if you think it is, you are lying to yourself. Last summer, a Slovenian Catholic father told me his 12-year-old daughter was mired in severe depression over her gender identity. The year before, he and his wife got her a smartphone, like all the other kids in her class had. The girl made contact online with some older American teenagers, who convinced her that she might not be a girl. The dad was gobsmacked. He had thought they were safe in little Slovenia. There are no safe places. If you buy your kid a smartphone, you are opening up doors for them that should not be opened. And it's beyond smartphones. It's in the classroom. Did you know that more and more schools are installing "gender affirmation closets," in which clothing is stored for kids who believe they are transgender, so they can change into cross-sex clothing when they get to school, then get back into their normal clothes before going home -- this, to keep mom and dad in the dark.
Do you know what your kids' teachers are saying in the classroom? Do you know what your kids' school's policies are regarding transgender identity and the parents' right to know? Do you know what your family doctor's practices are on this front? You had better!
Second, pressure leaders to get active. Are your pastors or bishops staying silent? Ask them why. What about your school board member? We have to elect politicians who have been red-pilled on the issue, and who are willing to use the power given to them by the people in our democracy to fight this tooth and nail. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been a good example, but we need much, much more of this from Republicans. Do not listen to normie Republicans who blather on, like sweet summer children, about "small government" and "free markets". The only power capable of stopping this monstrous exploitation of children is the State. The Left has captured every major institution in America now with its insane gender ideology (DEI too, but that's another story). This is what soft totalitarianism is: the implementation of a single illiberal ideology within a society within a liberal, free-market society, through total capture of its institutions. As I explain in Live Not By Lies, you don't need to threaten people with the gulag when the schools, big business, the media, academia, medicine, law, the military, and everyone else are all on the same ideological page.
We still, for now, have the power to fight this, if we can gain political power, and are not too squeamish to use it. But trust me, we would be total fools to put all our trust in political victory. The political scientist Eric Kaufmann has shown using survey data that Americans under the age of 30 prize cancel culture's values more than liberty. Either we are going to have to see a massive generational shift in attitudes, and soon, or the window is closing on traditional American liberties -- and that means they will be able to come after your kids, permanently. If that's not worth panicking over, what is?
I am quite pessimistic about the long term, because of the woke ideological takeover of all of society's institutions, especially its culture-forming ones. I hope I am wrong, but I don't see middle-class culture ever rising up meaningfully against this stuff. Few people overall are going to risk their status in bourgeois society to stand against this evil. People just don't want to think about it. Back in 2005 and thereabouts, I was writing about how resisting same-sex marriage was a lost cause, and that we social conservatives ought to marshal our resources behind laws that protect religious liberty. I was piled on by my ideological allies, who accused me of premature surrender, given that back then, democratic majorities were still against SSM. It gave me no pleasure to be proved right in time; popular resistance to SSM collapsed like a house of cards.
Why did I see it coming? Because SSM built on what most Americans already believed about what marriage is (an expression of romantic affection between people, not anything rooted firmly in fixed transcendent values), and because SSM activists were appropriating the civil rights paradigm for their cause. There has so far been no possible resistance to the civil rights paradigm in American life. You could yell until you were blue in the face that race is not the same thing as sexuality, and make those arguments; nobody cared. Back then, normies often said, objecting to people like me, "What does my neighbors' gay marriage have to do with me? How does it harm me?" You could explain to the point of exhaustion how marriage is such a fundamental part of law and culture that radically changing the norms would bring about transitions that ordinary people would not like. Nobody cared. If you said those things, you were "fearmongering," engaging in "moral panic" and "homophobia."
Now we are hearing some more conservative gay people objecting to how transgender activists have done with the gay rights cause. I understand their objection -- they say, plausibly, that gay rights do not entail transgender rights -- but I don't feel sorry for them. They brought this onto us all. Never did anybody from that side object to the "T" squad in "LGBT". It was sold as part of the same package, fundamentally based on the radically individualistic idea that we have a right to fulfill our sexual desires -- and that society must accommodate that. Had gay rights activists made an issue of separating out the biological claims undergirding the transgender movement, and pointed out that one does not have to accept such anti-scientific ideological claptrap in order to support gay rights, we might not be at this point. But they did not. We have been told for twenty years, at least, that if you want to affirm the LGB, you must also affirm the T. Anything else is a violation of civil rights, and the sacrosanct right to self-definition. So here we are today, with minors who don't conform to rigid gender stereotypes, and who would almost certainly grow up to be gay, being told that they must actually be the opposite sex (research shows that the overwhelming majority of dysphoric minors resolve their condition by age 20 by accepting that they are gay -- then put on a regimen of chemical treatments, and even surgery, to permanently alter their bodies, and make them dependent on the pharmaceutical industry and the broader medical-industrial complex, for the rest of their lives.
The latest piece of insanity is the claim made by trans advocates that very small children "know" that they are trans, and show it by playing with toys associated with the opposite sex. Once again, these claims are not being made by a loony-left fringe: they are endorsed by the top medical authorities in the field:
Here's a crude meme going around that contains more truth about this issue than you will find anywhere in the mainstream media discourse:
Finally, we absolutely have to start preparing for the long resistance to this totalitarianism. For example, forming an underground railroad for parents to protect their children from these ghouls, and get them out of states where Child Protective Services can legally seize the kids and administer hormones. There seems to be a misunderstanding among some conservatives, who think that preparing for resistance in defeat undercuts our commitment to fighting trans totalitarianism politically. This is dangerously wrong. To repeat: we absolutely should throw ourselves passionately into fighting this child-abusing madness! But we should also be working on a Plan B, in case we lose this fight, which, I regret to say, is likely.
I dedicated Live Not By Lies to the memory of the late Catholic priest Tomislav Kolakovic, who in 1943 escaped the Nazis and hid out in his mother's homeland, Slovakia, teaching in the Catholic university in Bratislava. The good news, he told his students, is that Nazi totalitarianism was going to be defeated. The bad news, though, is that Soviet totalitarianism was going to be ruling over them when the war ended -- and that the first thing the Communists would do is to persecute the Church. As I explain in the book, Father Kolakovic knew he had no time to waste to prepare the unready Catholics of Slovakia for the coming persecution. Excerpt from the book:
Father Kolaković knew that the clericalism and passivity of traditional Slovak Catholicism would be no match for communism. For one thing, he correctly foresaw that the communists would try to control the church by subduing the clergy. For another, he understood that the spiritual trials awaiting believers under communism would put them to an extreme test. The charismatic pastor preached that only a total life commitment to Christ would enable them to withstand the coming trial.
“Give yourself totally to Christ, throw all your worries and desires on him, for he has a wide back, and you will witness miracles,” the priest said, in the recollection of one disciple.
Giving oneself totally to Christ was not an abstraction or a pious thought. It needed to be concrete, and it needed to be communal. The total destruction of the First World War opened the eyes of younger Catholics to the need for a new evangelization. A Belgian priest named Joseph Cardijn, whose father had been killed in a mining accident, started a lay movement to do this among the working class. These were the Young Christian Workers, called “Jocists” after the initials of their name in French. Inspired by the Jocist example, Father Kolaković adapted it to the needs of the Catholic Church in German-occupied Slovakia. He established cells of faithful young Catholics who came together for prayer, study, and fellowship.
The refugee priest taught the young Slovak believers that every person must be accountable to God for his actions. Freedom is responsibility, he stressed; it is a means to live within the truth. The motto of the Jocists became the motto for what Father Kolaković called his “Family”: “See. Judge. Act.” See meant to be awake to realities around you. Judge was a command to discern soberly the meaning of those realities in light of what you know to be true, especially from the teachings of the Christian faith. After you reach a conclusion, then you are to act to resist evil.
Václav Vaško, a Kolaković follower, recalled late in his life that Father Kolaković’s ministry excited so many young Catholics because it energized the laity and gave them a sense of leadership responsibility.
“It is remarkable how Kolaković almost instantly succeeded in creating a community of trust and mutual friendship from a diverse grouping of people (priests, religious and lay people of different ages, education, or spiritual maturity),” Vaško wrote.
The Family groups came together at first for Bible study and prayer, but soon began listening to Father Kolaković lecture on philosophy, sociology, and intellectual topics. Father Kolaković also trained his young followers in how to work secretly, and to withstand the interrogation that he said would surely come.
The Family expanded its small groups quickly across the nation. “By the end of the school year 1944,” Vaško said, “it would have been difficult to find a faculty or secondary school in Bratislava or larger cities where our circles did not operate.”
In 1946, Czech authorities deported the activist priest. Two years later, communists seized total power, just as Father Kolaković had predicted. Within several years, almost all of the Family had been imprisoned and the Czechoslovak institutional church brutalized into submission. But when the Family members emerged from prison in the 1960s, they began to do as their spiritual father had taught them. Father Kolaković’s top two lieutenants—physician Silvester Krčméry and priest Vladimír Jukl—quietly set up Christian circles around the country and began to build the underground church.
The underground church, led by the visionary cleric’s spiritual children and grandchildren, became the principle means of anti-communist dissent for the next forty years. It was they who organized a mass 1988 public demonstration in Bratislava, the Slovak capital, demanding religious liberty. The Candle Demonstration was the first major protest against the state. It kicked off the Velvet Revolution, which brought down the communist regime a year later. Though Slovak Christians were among the most persecuted in the Soviet Bloc, the Catholic Church there thrived in resistance because one man saw what was coming and prepared his people.
I should add here that Father Kolakovic faced initial opposition from his own bishops, who accused him of what we now call "moral panic." They could not see, and they did not want to see, the dangers that lay ahead. They thought everything would be fine if Catholics simply kept quite still and waited. That kind of complacency was deadly -- and Father Kolakovic knew it.
The people who escaped Communism to the West, who talked to me for the book, know it too. That's why they are trying hard to warn us about what we are living in, and what's to come. It is not hard to find these people. If you know someone in your own life who emigrated from a Communist country -- not only the Soviet bloc, but also China, Cuba, or Venezuela -- ask them what they think of what's going on in America today. Live Not By Lies has become a bestseller since its initial publication in September 2020. Last week, we crossed the 170,000 sales mark in the US; it is now either in print, or soon will be in print, in ten other languages. It has been by far the biggest seller of my career, selling almost twice as many copies as my next biggest book, The Benedict Option. This has been a heavily word of mouth success story, because the mainstream media, which covered The Benedict Option heavily, has totally ignored this one. It's a word of mouth success story because a lot of people know what time it is, and they know that the ideologically-captured media are lying to us all. They also know that most religious leaders are like the fraidy-cat 1940s bishops of Slovakia: afraid to face the reality of what's happening around them, and to jeopardize their respectability by actually protecting their flocks from the gathering wolfpacks.
In the year 2000, I wrote a piece for The Weekly Standard about the courageous stand two Massachusetts parents, Brian Camenker and Scott Whiteman, took against the stealth introduction of radical sexuality into the lives of public school students in that state. What we now know is that gay activists had already captured the educational bureaucracy in Massachusetts, as well as the media and other institutions. Here's what the men documented in a state-sponsored educational seminar:
Furthermore, Whiteman was called a "slanderer" by a member of the Board of Education, he says. "I knew I wasn't lying. I knew I wasn't making it up. I knew I wasn't an alarmist."
Frustrated by official indifference, Whiteman secretly took his tape recorder along to the 10th annual conference of the Boston chapter of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, at Tufts University on March 25. GLSEN (pronounced "glisten") is a national organization whose purpose is to train teachers and students and develop programs to, in the words of its Boston chapter leader, "challenge the anti-gay, hetero-centric culture that still prevails in our schools."
The state-sanctioned conference, which was open to the public but attended chiefly by students, administrators, and teachers, undercut the official GLSEN line -- that their work is aimed only at making schools safer by teaching tolerance and respect.
The event, backed by the state's largest teachers' union, included such workshops as "Ask the Transsexuals," "Early Childhood Educators: How toDecide Whether to Come Out at Work or Not," "The Struggles and Triumphs of Including Homosexuality in a Middle School Curriculum" (with suggestions for including gay issues when teaching the Holocaust), "From Lesbos to Stonewall: Incorporating Sexuality into a World History Curriculum," and "Creating a Safe and Inclusive Community in Elementary Schools," in which the "Rationale for integrating glbt [gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender] issues in the early elementary years will be presented."
Whiteman sat in on a "youth only, ages 14-21" workshop called "What They Didn't Tell You About Queer Sex & Sexuality in Health Class." If "they" didn't tell you about this stuff, it's probably because "they" worried they'd be sent to jail.
The raucous session was led by Massachusetts Department of Education employees Margot Abels and Julie Netherland, and Michael Gaucher, an AIDS educator from the Massachusetts public health agency. Gaucher opened the session by asking the teens how they know whether or not they've had sex. Someone asked whether oral sex was really sex.
"If that's not sex, then the number of times I've had sex has dramatically decreased, from a mountain to a valley, baby!" squealed Gaucher. He then coaxed a reluctant young participant to talk about which orifices need to be filled for sex to have occurred: "Don't be shy, honey, you can do it."
Later, the three adults took written questions from the kids. One inquired about "fisting," a sex practice in which one inserts his hand and forearm into the rectum of his partner. The helpful and enthusiastic Gaucher demonstrated the proper hand position for this act. Abels described fisting as "an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with," and praised it for putting one "into an exploratory mode."
Gaucher urged the teens to consult their "really hip" Gay/Straight Alliance adviser for hints on how to come on to a potential sex partner. The trio went on to explain that lesbians could indeed experience sexual bliss through rubbing their clitorises together, and Gaucher told the kids that male ejaculate is rumored to taste "sweeter if people eat celery." On and on like this the session went.
When the men made the tape public, they became instant pariahs in Boston. The media and the legal establishment turned on them as alarmist bigots. I wrote at the time in that piece:
But will their expose ultimately make a difference? GLSEN/Boston boasts the most advanced programs of its kind in the nation. As goes Massachusetts, in time, so may go the rest of America.
And so it has.
What are you doing to prepare yourself, your family, and your church, synagogue, or mosque community? (By the way, though Live Not By Lies is written from a religious perspective, it has been embraced and promoted by left-wing atheists like Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, who understand that its anti-totalitarianism message and advice are universal.) Here's some good news, maybe: Live Not By Lies will finally be out in paperback on October 11 -- you can preorder it here. This will make the book more affordable for group study. I hope you won't simply read the book, but will act on the advice the anti-communist dissidents give for how to prepare for resistance. For those who have bought the book, or who intend to do so, here is a link to a free, downloadable study guide I prepared to help guide group discussion.
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I am perhaps more sensitive to this than most because I am extremely focused on child protection. As longtime readers know, I became so engrossed in writing about the systematic sexual abuse of children within Catholic clerical circles, and the systematic cover-up of same, that I burned out, and lost my ability to believe as a Catholic. I am grateful to be an Orthodox Christian now, but I wish I had managed my anger better. But I don't regret my outrage itself, because it was entirely appropriate to the scale of the moral horror. Part of what drove me over the falls with anger was the obstinate complacency of so many in the Catholic laity, in the face of revelations of what some priests did to children, and what many bishops did to keep the public from finding out about it. Far too many lay Catholics preferred to keep their peace of mind, even though it was based on sheer denial of the reality of evil in their midst, than to take a stand.
We are at this place again, except the monstrous child abuse is not happening behind closed doors. It's happening out in the open, in major hospitals, schools, and other institutions. Like eugenics in the early 20th century, it is celebrated by all the most progressive institutions in our society. All of us are propagandized daily to accept and affirm it. What the criminals in clerical collars who violated the innocence of children never dared to do openly, the trans-totalitarians in doctor's coats and other symbols of authority now shout from the rooftops. As Chris Rufo recently documented, these activists have infiltrated schools with an army of sex-and-gender radicals. Meanwhile, from the rest of us? Aside from resistance here and there, nothing.
What are you going to do about it? What are you going to tell your children one day? Chris Rufo, Matt Walsh, Christina Buttons, Chaya Raichik, and Billboard Chris Elston will be able to hold their heads up in honor, if they will have been allowed to keep their heads, that is. How about you, pastor? How about you, doctor? How about you, Mom and Dad?