Free-Range Kids

A Man Took a Selfie in the Toy Aisle of Target. Obviously, He Must Be a Predator.

The religion of fear



What a month. By believing that predators with puppies are grabbing kids in broad daylight, right and left, and by videotaping that made-for-TV scenario, Joey Salads helped reinforce one of the fastest growing beliefs of the day: That any man who interacts with children is doing it for his own perverted purposes.

That belief leads to situations like this: In an Australian Target store last week, a man stopped to take a selfie with a cardboard Star Wars cut-out. He thought it would be fun to show his kids. Another woman saw him with his camera in the toy department and immediately assumed the he was photographing her children. She snapped his photo, pasted it on Facebook along with what she thought he'd done, and it went viral.

Now, according to the Herald Sun:

THE MAN at the centre of a social media firestorm has been left devastated at being labelled a paedophile on Facebook.

While he was reluctant to speak about his experience, he told the Knox Leader exclusively that he wanted some good to come from the "nightmare".

We have chosen not to identify the man.

He said he was horrified that his image had been shared thousands of times and he had been called a "creep" and a "sex offender". He said he has also had death threats on Facebook.

The man is now afraid to leave his house.

Every day we are groomed by the media to believe the worst of the worst about men anywhere near kids. The Joey Salads video did not create that fear. It just repeated it, like a tired sermon. Salads believes he is warning parents about something they don't know, when in reality all too many parents already believe it with every fiber of their beings.

And the media repeats this lie it every day, despite the fact that kids have never been safer.  Here's a totally unrelated-yet-related story of a 5-year-old boy who left school without anyone realizing it and walked a mile home on his own.


Big deal. This is news?

Yes. Because the media figured out how to bend it to tell the same old story: When they boy walked home, even though he wasn't abducted, he could have been. The reporter tells us there are sex offenders in town. The implication is obvious: It's just incredible luck that they didn't spot him out their window, run outside, and lure him to his doom.

Over. And over. And over.

Every story that somehow fits that narrative will make it to the media because that is the story the media knows we want to keep hearing: Kid almost/maybe/could have been/will someday be abducted. We keep sharing and repeating it, as if it is new and vital information that we are lucky enough to have learned.

Mark my words—well, actually, Prof. Frank Furedi's words in this remarkable lecture: In our atomized, pluralistic society, the one unifying belief we share is that our kids are in constant danger from "creeps." If you doubt it, you are a heretic.

NEXT: Rand Paul Roundup: Leading in New Hampshire, in Civil Liberties Outreach

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  1. Another woman saw him with his camera in the toy department and immediately assumed the he was photographing her children.

    Sue the bitch. And Facebook, while you’re at it.

    1. This.

      A 9mm slug in her forehead comes to mind. Too violent? Too bad. I’m beyond through with idiots like her – ruin a dude without ever confronting or confirming anything. Fuck you, you paranoid whore.

      1. From the looks of him on this story, he could blow up her planet.

        1. Turns out he was the kid’s FATHER! Irony!

    2. Facebook for … being a common carrier? That’ll work!

      On the more important note, someone should spread the rumor that Sex Predators (that aren’t too busy fighting Sex Aliens) are using hidden cameras under their clothes, with fiber optic lenses.

      That way “everyone wearing clothes near a child” will be a presumptive Sex Predator, and their heads will @$^%@ explode from the cognitive dissonance.

      1. I wouldn’t mind a story that the NSA in collecting all texts and pics sent over phones is actually the largest collector of child porn in the history of mankind.

  2. So many people absolutely love to prove that they are better/more concerned parents than anyone else. That’s where this shit comes from. They “prove” how much they care, how good of parents they are, by trying to out-retard anyone else about things like this. “See? I’m a better parent because I won’t let my kids walk home from school alone.” “Oh yeah? Well I’m a better parent because I look for predators in the toy department!” “Oh yeah?!? Well I see predators under every rock and behind every blade of grass! So *I’m* the best parent!”

    It’s just another form of retarded social signaling.

    1. Nailed it. Totally signaling.

      1. I remember seeing the ramping up of this in the late 80s, actually. At the time I called it just an expansion of “keeping up with the Joneses”, but that’s social signaling too.

        It’s amazing how insidious it can be.

    2. Yes, but it’s worth noting that Facebook is *designed* around getting people to signal, a lot, as much as possible. That’s what it’s FOR. That’s why you have a “like” button.
      It’s totally all about making people feel compelled to signal, all the time, constantly.

      1. Yeah, but is Facebook driving the social signaling, or is the human social signaling desire driving Facebook? Honestly I think it’s the latter. So all Facebook does is give people a way to do something they “like” (ha!) anyway.

        1. *LIKE*

          1. How do I up-twinkle this?

        2. Facebook is a business. And that business is in the business of manipulating people’s social instincts. It’s designed to make people addicted by playing on their insecurities. When they rolled it out they even deliberately made it “exclusive” to Ivy-league universities at first to play on people’s desire to signal membership in an elite thing. So yeah, I think Facebook knows what they’re doing and it’s designed to amplify signalling on purpose.

          1. Actually, that business is in the business of making money/increasing net worth. If they feel that giving people more ways to socially signal will do that, and it works, they’re just doing what any responsible business would.

            Businesses don’t drive human nature. Human nature drives businesses.

  3. Do some women lose brain matter in childbirth? I thought nothing could top U.S. soccer moms, but I see the world over is plagued with the type.

    1. When I was a kid in Europe it was really common to have kids on leashes. Kids going anywhere alone without supervision got CPS involved. Until they became teens, then every dirty disgusting lecher was free to fuck your kids. France, in the ’80s.

      Baby-snatching Gypsy stories were (still are?) Europe’s baby-down-a-well. Less kvetching about made-up Satanists, but lots of open racism about dirty ethnics selling nice white children into sex slavery.

      I came to the conclusion that every awful impulse that has seized the American zeitgeist in the last 50 years originated in Europe, and everything cultural of any interest in Europe in the last century is a shitty more expensive copy of something American.

      Shorter me: I don’t like Europeans and people becoming retards when they get their fuck trophy is probably universal.

      1. Europe isn’t a country. I’ve literally never seen a kid on a leash in Germany.

    2. Do some women lose brain matter in childbirth?

      It’s pseudo-intellectualism. When every fad is “scientific,” people who actually care about doing the best for their child can be emotionally manipulated into choosing the snake oil over the tried and true ways. See Attachment Parenting.

  4. A Kentucky ‘off the grid’ family is trying to get back their 10 children, seized by the authorities last week. Critics are calling the living conditions on the family farm “unsafe,” but friends say the parents were targeted because of their lifestyle.

    Free-range or abuse? ‘Off-grid’ Kentucky parents fights to get their 10 kids back

    1. They’re “off-grid” yet maintain a family Facebook page.


      1. Hey, off the grid doesn’t mean off the social media grid! Don’t be insane!

        1. They have a blog too. I have a feeling that “off-the-grid” is a label being applied to them because the writer isn’t familiar with “back to the land” or “self-reliance”. They just strike me as a certain flavor of prepper.

      2. Being off the power grid doesn’t mean not having phones, man.

  5. “This is why men are no longer helping women out,” said reader Steven, who is now wary of helping children in public.

    Just like every man is a pervert, every woman is batshit insane.

    1. Well, yeah – but the “batshit insane” part is TRUE.

    2. Yeah, even if you have kids, you better have them with you when you’re at the toy store, or anywhere else. Because without your kids, how will concerned citizens be able to tell you from a childless bachelor?

      1. Yeah, even if you have kids, you better have them with you when you’re at the toy store, or anywhere else.

        IDK, I think it’s a gamble. I never fear more about being seen/labelled a pervert and having my kids taken from me as when I have to carry one of my own kids out of somewhere screaming.

        1. Fair enough.

        2. So totally fucking this.

    3. It has happened to me.

      I used to go to a UU church and they were always chronically short on volunteers to work with the kids, especially the teens and since my wife was actually a paid staffer in the nursery I figured I would volunteer to help out with the teens.

      A couple of weeks later various women from the church started going up to my wife and asking sideways questions about whether it was normal for a grown man like me to be spending so much time around teenagers.

      In the end I had to stop volunteering to get the whispering campaign to stop

      1. Wow.

        My Scout Master, was a young.ish bachelor and a writer.

        I think today he would’ve been arrested for suggesting he should be able to lead a Boy Scout troop.

        What a shame.

    4. If that is sarc, then you must not be married…

      1. Referring to Fist of Etiquette and his seeming disagreement that Estrogen is a hallucinogen. I’ll eventually get up to speed on this reason commenty thing.

  6. If I saw a child bleeding in the street, it would be so much safer to just call 911 and then move on.

    Fuck all the pants-shitters to death.

    1. eww

  7. I’m annoyed that every article about this woman is blurring out her name in her original Facebook post. She deserves to be named and shamed.

    1. To be fair, if people knew her name they could go to her Facebook account and (unless its been deleted) see the guy’s face.

      1. Apparently she’s deleted it, made her FB page private, and wants to apologize to the guy, so at least she has that going for her. But unfortunately the damage was already long done by the time she did that.

        1. Is there any concept more overrated than the apology? Fuck her.

          1. What are you saying that uttering the magic words “I’m sorry” doesn’t really make all the bobos go away.

            Damn it, what else have they lied to me about?

          2. Fuck her.

            Meaningless apology sex? I approve!

          3. Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness.

          4. Is there any concept more overrated than the apology?

            “Showing remorse”? “Taking responsibility”?

    2. Her name and address should be on every article

  8. “”Maleness in itself is not a crime or an illness of something we have to fight against,” Mr Greagen said.”

    Really? What makes you so sure?

  9. I’m male. I’m more than 30 years old.

    Not that long ago, I began something I almost hate myself for and that is: If I ever go into a restroom in Walmart or any place other than my own home, and there are youngsters in there and no other adults, I am OUT of there immediately, and wait until all of them are out of there.

    I don’t care if one of them is choking or killing one of the others, I will NOT expose myself to that bullshit. One word from one of these kids can RUIN your life.

    America, you wanted it and you got it.

  10. Joey Salads helped reinforce one of the fastest growing beliefs of the day: That any man who interacts with children is doing it for his own perverted purposes.

    Fuckin’ Teddy Joey Salads… Where is Mr. Neutron when ya need him?

  11. Twitter and Facebook are both evil.
    They are both explicitly designed to facilitate and encorage social signalling, and to play upon people’s insecurities to get them to engage in more signalling behavior.

    It’s fucking horrifying and destructive of genuine human social relationships. It’s not impossible to have a real conversation on facebook, but it’s definitely harder when everything you say is rated by the number of “likes” it gets.

    And it instigates mob-mentality behaviors like this, that actually hurt innocent people.

    1. Twitter is a great resource, but it also encourages the behavior you describe above. If you have an unprotected account and someone with even a decent following doesn’t like or deliberately misinterprets a tweet, you can be fired within hours.

      It’s a shame, because it’s such a great source for real-time news and commentary, and a great way of interacting with people you never would otherwise be able to.

      1. Twitter is a great resource

        I can see that argument being made for Facebook, but what the fuck is Twitter “great” for?

        1. I use twitter far more than I use facebook. I find it much more entertaining and it allows me to follow folks I don’t know and wouldn’t otherwise interact with. Facebook, on the other hand, I almost never use.

          1. Personally I think Twitter is destined to be replaced by something else. Maybe there is some way to design a system that preserves the good features, like being able to follow people without being invited to a friends list, but cuts down on the juvenile signalling bullshit.

            Maybe something that doesn’t have a “like” button, so people can’t get into moralizing circle-jerks. Or something that limits the number of tweets you can see from people you aren’t following.

        2. Trolling celebrities?

          1. Anyone else here get banned by micheal chicklas? Or how ever you spell the name of that actor from the Shield?

            1. Just call him Vic Mackey or The Commish. I’m sure he loves that.

        3. I can see that argument being made for Facebook, but what the fuck is Twitter “great” for?

          Late breaking stuff.

          Facebook: Keeping up with family and interacting with a few groups of people with like interests

          Twitter: What’s the latest news on X?

  12. The lecture that you linked to was outstanding.

    Kudos to you and kudos Mr. Furedi for being a voice of sanity (wanted to say reason but I don’t have an alcoholic beverage on me at the moment.)

  13. Look. I don’t get what’s wrong with you people. This woman was right the first time. Listen and believe. Her internalized patriarchy is what’s making her apologize now. Don’t try to tell me nothing happened, listen and believe. /Valenti/Marcotte/et al

  14. sue zuckerbergs facepants off

  15. It’s shit like this that make me scarred to go anywhere alone with my daughter. I always feel like I am one meltdown away from being tackled by security.

    And can you imagine if your kid gets really pissed off at you and decides to yell loudly “Get away from me, you’re not my dad!”?

    1. And can you imagine if your kid gets really pissed off at you and decides to yell loudly “Get away from me, you’re not my dad!”?

      But look! I’ve got pictures of her on my phone and in my wallet!

      1. Oh, so you’re a creepy stalking pervert! TAZE HIM!!!!!!!1!

    2. If my kid pulls that, he’s disowned.

    3. And can you imagine if your kid gets really pissed off at you and decides to yell loudly “Get away from me, you’re not my dad!”?

      Had a friend whose kid threatened to call CPS because the kid didn’t get what s/he wanted. My friend found the number for CPS, tacked it to the refrigerator, and said, “That’s fine, but remember, they take the CHILDREN, not the parents.”

      Not one more word.

  16. I always don my “I DON’T WANT TO FUCK YOUR KID!” t-shirt before entering any establishment catering to children. For some reason, I’m always left a wide berth then promptly asked to leave.

  17. I feel rather awful that in all this discussion, my name never came up.

    1. #lurkstrong

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