Scott Hardie | June 25, 2020
I don't know what I'm more disappointed by: The angry mob in Milwaukee that burned a house down yesterday because they believed it to be used by sex traffickers despite authorities saying that there's no evidence of this, or my friends and family members who cheered on the mob. :-(

It took me a while to understand the recent trend of people alarmed about sex trafficking, especially among the rich and powerful. (That is, the people on your Facebook feed who still keep posting "Epstein didn't kill himself" as if we need to hear it for a thousandth time.) Kelly explained the trend to me as people feeling like the rich and powerful get away with too much in society while us plebes have relatively little freedom, and this drives our desire to see the worst among them brought to justice. I get that; that's an understandable desire in general. But specifically to focus on sex trafficking, especially when it's driven by conspiracy theory and unfounded rumor and rampant speculation, just seems like a blueprint for reckless dumbassery. It strikes me as today's equivalent of the fear of Satanic child abuse in day cares in the 1980s, equally unfounded and equally catastrophic for the people falsely accused.

I am no expert on what happened in Milwaukee yesterday, but from what I saw in the news, there really isn't any evidence of sex trafficking. The police have investigated and found nothing. This is of course interpreted as the police being "in on it" or "paid off." The locals say that "everybody knows" that sex traffickers are in houses on this street, but I can't tell what that's founded upon. That could be rumor, where everybody's said it for so long that it's assumed to be fact. If someone has proof, they should share it with the authorities, instead of complaining from the sidelines that the cops are ineffective.

But I guess what it comes down to for me is that an angry mob is not something to cheer on, ever, under any circumstances. Angry mobs don't have protocols for gathering evidence and proving guilt. Angry mobs don't have accountability for their actions. Angry mobs take whispers and rumors and conflate them with fact, with dangerous consequences for innocent people. And if you aren't knowledgeable about this Milwaukee neighborhood and only hear about this event online, you really shouldn't root for the mob just because the mob is opposed to sex trafficking. They can both be terrible things.

Am I wrong?

Scott Hardie | June 25, 2020
To clarify: I am being unfair by overstating the support for the mob that I observed. It was more like "implied agreement with" than "emphatic support for."

Scott Hardie | June 27, 2020
Also to clarify: I have heard that it sounds like I'm minimizing sex trafficking. That was absolutely not my intention. Sex trafficking is a heinous crime that deserves an effective response from law enforcement.

Denise Sawicki | June 28, 2020
I agree these people burning this house probably have no idea if the owners are involved in any kind of crimes or anything. I suppose the pandemic may be helping people get a little nuttier than usual.

Samir Mehta | June 30, 2020
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