Free-Range Kids

Local News: Plush Toy Signals Pedophiles, Turns Little Girls into Sex-Trafficking Victims

How stupid can one TV station be?

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Toy

By buying a plush toy with a heart on it, Tampa mom Nicole O'Kelly unwittingly alerted predators that her little girl "is ready to be traded for sex." 

Or so reports (if that's the word) the station WFLA. Using a garbled mishmash of horror and hysteria, correspondent Melanie Michael told viewers that the toy, a pink stuffed truck recently purchased at a Monster Jam event, "held a sick secret; a disgusting calling card for creeps. The heart on the toy was a symbol for pedophiles." 

Um…what? 

The heart within a heart, the reporter continued, is "a symbol used online by pedophiles." 

While presenting no evidence whatsoever that the toy was made to be, or perceived as, some kind of secret signaling device, the reporter interviewed the toy-buying mom, who seemed as distraught as if her child had narrowly escaped the clutches of a kidnapper. "This is pink!" said the mom. "This is for little girls, especially at a predominantly male event." 

Does the mom think the "male event" deliberately stocked up on pink toys that so that unwitting parents would buy them? And then predators would see the symbol, and go, "Look! A heart on a toy. This mom must be willing to sell her child into sex slavery!" 

WFLA—and several other news outlets that carried the story—didn't seem to care that this is hallucinatory. It continued with a clip from a local detective: 

"It's the most vile thing you could ever imagine," said Pasco Detective Anthony Bassone. 

Bassone said the hearts are used for girls while a separate symbol with triangles targets boys. 

I went digging to see if there was anything, anywhere, that suggested even a scintilla of truth to this assertion, and all I could find was an unbylined 2007 Slate article that referenced one single Wiki-leaked FBI memo from the "Cyber Division's Innocent Images National Initiative." It asserted that pedophiles wear jewelry signifying their pre-pubescent predilections with triangles and hearts. 

Even if that were true—so what? The heart on the pink toy looks a lot like this heart, which happens to be on Good Humor bars, which also happens to look a lot like this heart, which seems to suggest my fancy coffeehouse is a secret pedophile ring.

But back to the reporting, and Det. Bassone: 

Bassone has been with the agency for more than 16 years. He has one tough job every day. And, what he encounters, he can't forget. He has to see the worst of the worst as he picks out pedophiles online and busts them, along with two other detectives in the cyber crimes unit at the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. 

These investigators have to deal with the most horrendous, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking material. Sadly, they see children tortured and raped on a daily basis. 

None of which has anything to do with a toy that has a heart on it. But it does have everything to do with putting a story on the air that suggests pedophiles are everywhere, trading toddlers like baseball cards, when not hard at work designing devious plush toys. 

The poor toy company, Feld, Inc., was also contacted, and it told the station: 

"We're shocked. We had no idea. We reacted immediately. We wanted to do the right thing as quickly as possible. Clearly we're in the business with providing high quality family entertainment. This was really obscure. Until yesterday, I had no idea there was an underlying meaning of these symbols and the deplorable behavior. We just don't know if a crime was committed here. 

Can we assume that selling a toy with a heart on it is not a crime? 

And can we assume that detectives who spend 16 years sleuthing for online creeps can get a little odd themselves, believing that even mass-manufactured toys are tools of the pedophile industrial complex? 

And can we assume that when viewers are bombarded with a story this desperate to fan the flames of pedophile panic, we get a population ever more obsessed with sex offenders, ever more demanding of police protection, and ever more convinced that kids are in constant danger, even from a plush toy? 

Here's the report. You tell me. 

NEXT: Obama Administration to Expand Unconstitutional Warrantless NSA Spying on Americans

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  1. I see there are no comments on this article. Frankly, I am at a loss for what to say myself.

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      1. “Mobdro” is clearly a code word used by pedophiles to traffic child sex-slaves!

        1. I actual did laugh out loud at this. Thank God my near by co-workers are lunch.

          1. Confirmed, Swiss Servator is actually a collection of edible arrangements, stationed next to the deli sandwiches in the NSA’s cafeteria.

            Thank God my near by co-workers are lunch.

            “I must confess that I lost faith in the sanity of the world.”

            1. He must be Swiss German and into cannibalism

  2. You tell me.

    Yes.

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  6. “I went digging to see if there was anything, anywhere…”

    Well, somebody’s on a list now…

    1. Yeah, that’s pretty ballsy.

    2. As if Lenore wasn’t already a target for the Preet Bahrararararara’s of the world.

  7. Not only does that symbol attract pedophiles, it attracts new spammers as well.

    1. Attracts? I need to read the article again. I thought the heart thingy turned people into pedophiles.

      Seriously though, I don’t get the connection between the mom buying the toy with the symbol on it and any risk to her child. She buys the toy and takes it home to her kid where it will be randomly discarded on the floor somewhere after the kid plays with it for 45 seconds…and what? It beams out a signal or something? A bluetooth signal that pedobot spams out to pedo boards with the kids location?

      I don’t get it.

      1. That’s because it makes no fucking sense. Because you’re not supposed to think and analyze, you’re just supposed to clutch pearls and shit pants and demand that SOMETHING BE DONE!!1!!!!!

        1. “Reporting” like this causes Donald Trumps. Use with caution.

      2. Yeah, I can’t figure it out either. And it’s reported credulously by the TV station, and taken seriously by their commenters, at least until it got posted on Lenore’s site.

        1. Dude, it is in the fine print of the social contract we all signed.

          “Excuse me maam, I’ll be taking your kid with me now to be my sex slave in my basement”

          “WHAT?”

          “Well, she has a toy with a heart on it which – if you read your social contract – you will see that it clearly entitles the first pedophile who spots her to claim her. Sort of like European explorers claiming any new lands they find”

      3. “I thought the heart thingy turned people into pedophiles.”

        You sure? I thought it had to do with satanic worship and day-care centers…

        1. Wrong decade. We are on to a new hysterical witch-hunt now.

      4. Of course you don’t get it. It’s completely stupid and makes no sense.

      5. You just don’t understand technology, OLD MAN!

        Wait a minute… Old.. Man..? OMG. We got a pedo here!

      6. I think the idea is that supposedly, by purchasing the toy, the mom is unwittingly telling nearby pedophiles that she’s willing to make them a deal.

        Which might cause some nearby oedophiles to um, offer to purchase her child, or something.

  8. The bots have taken over. I welcome our new overlords…

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  10. Regarding the company’s response:

    We’re shocked. We had no idea. We reacted immediately. We wanted to do the right thing as quickly as possible. Clearly we’re in the business with providing high quality family entertainment. This was really obscure.

    Starts out well enough, but then:

    Until yesterday, I had no idea there was an underlying meaning of these symbols and the deplorable behavior. We just don’t know if a crime was committed here.

    Nope, they shouldn’t have agreed that there is any underlying meaning; they should have said they were unaware of any sinister meaning of a commonly-used symbol. And then ther really screw themselves by admitting even the possibility of their having committed a crime.

    I wonder if the reporter or detective has a beef with this company, or an interest in a rival company?

    1. I doubt seriously that the person they interviewed has any experience dealing with cops or press. The press is as bad or worse than cops.

      Never speak to the press. Ever.

      1. Never speak to the press. Ever.

        ^This

        I steer far away when I see a camera-person on the street. Just like anyone with a clipboard.

    2. A rival pedophile-signalling toy maker? The industry is so hyuge that it could be anyone!

    3. What they should have said was “this is idiotic, it’s a goddamn heart on a pink toy”.

    4. Until yesterday, I had no idea there was an underlying meaning of these symbols

      Uh, there isn’t. You would have been better off by issuing a flat denial of any wrongdoing whatsoever, and a statement that the TV reporterette obviously ODed on Botox, causing brain malfunction. You’re willing to let it pass this time, provided the station issues an apology.

  11. And can we assume that detectives who spend 16 years sleuthing for online creeps can get a little odd themselves…

    If we’re feeling charitable, we can.

    1. Excuse me if I find it a little incredulous that a Sheriff’s Detective, from a county of roughly 344,000 people sees “children tortured and raped on a daily basis”.
      Extrapolating that to the entire country would mean thousands of such occurrences each, and every, day.
      Not in my neck of the woods.

      1. Well, he has to spend a lot of his own time watching child porn. For the children.

        1. if I wanted to watch kiddie porn I guess id rather get paid by the government to do so than be an outlaw about.

  12. No child will be left behind. Contra the “Pied Piper of Hamlin”.

  13. Holy shit!! Based on the stuff I saw last Valentines Day, my neighborhood is CRAWLING WITH PEDOPHILES!!

  14. My daughter put a heart decal on a nasty gash on the back of her field hockey stick. I don’t think this will end well.

    1. Do you know where she is right now? Almost certainly in the hands of a pedophile sex trafficking ring.

      1. OR, Zombie Jimbo is the head of a pedophile sex trafficking ring!

    2. My daughter put a heart decal on a nasty gash on the back of her field hockey stick.

      I dunno about pedophilia, but AFAICT, this sentence certainly has more than one explicit interpretation.

      1. I noticed that as well; I suppose that makes both of us perverts and in need of re-programming.

    3. daughter … nasty …. gash

      Go on…

      Sincerely,
      Guy Who Buys Inscribed Heart Themed Merchandise At Monster Truck Rallies

  15. And a swastika looks an awful lot like a multiplication sign. So fucking what?

      1. Can we do calculus?

        1. Just don’t drink and derive…

          1. I need a safe space to get away from arithmetic!

  16. Sadly, they see children tortured and raped on a daily basis.

    Unless they’re torturing and raping children themselves, methinks this is a bit of artistic license on the part of the writer. I hesitate to say “reporter” because that implies communicating about actual things that have been actually seen.

    In fact, I’ll go a step further and say that, categorically, the idea that there’s a child torture/rape epidemic in Tampa, let alone the entire country, is unlikely to the point of being bullshit. If I’m wrong, and there are so many children being tortured and raped that two detectives in what I assume is a fairly large police department of a major city see it happening to different victims every single day, then, statistically, I’d guess that it’s a matter of time before every single child in the country has been tortured and raped. I mean, we’re talking more kids being tortured and raped than catching the flu. And if that’s the case, the only thing for it is to stock up on ammo, bar the door, and make a last stand against the hordes of child predators sweeping the country.

    1. The only epidemic in Tampa is asshole drivers with Bucs license tags.

    2. Keep in mind that as far as the legal system is concerned, a child waiting in a car for five minutes is being tortured, and a sixteen year old girl having sex with her sixteen year old boyfriend is being raped.

    3. Quick note: The detective quoted was from Pasco county, which AFAIK doesn’t include the city of Tampa, but is just north of it.

    4. “And if that’s the case, the only thing for it is to stock up on ammo, bar the door, and make a last stand against the hordes of child predators sweeping the country.”
      It’s too late, we’re a majority of voters now, the police and military work for us.

  17. The Pink Pedophile Letter.

    1. Harry Potter contest is in the other thread, dude.

  18. “It’s the most vile thing you could ever imagine,” said Pasco Detective Anthony Bassone.

    I agree with the detective. What kind of monster makes pink, plush, stuffed trucks?

  19. so i guess lucky charms are only for gays? it has rainbows on the box… gays use rainbows.. do i have to stop eating kosher dills if I’m not Jewish? Does liking Monty Python automatically mean agreeing with everything from the BBC?

    1. that would depend upon who is investigating you; they can arrive at any conclusion they want, and then publish and broadcast it.

    2. Does liking Monty Python automatically mean agreeing with everything from the BBC?

      Yes. Yes it does.

      Sadly, I’ve had to agree with everything from the Beeb since 1971 or thereabouts. It’s painful.

  20. What? Like pedophilia doesn’t exist? And, by it’s very existence, isn’t it a huge problem?

    WHY DO YOU HATE THE CHILDRENZ?

  21. What does this say about me?:

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    I just like wolves.

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  22. Who starts these rumours? Who invents this shit? A company is going down in flames over this, and somewhere some one is chuckling over this gag. I want to find these people and slowly lower them headfirst into a pool of ravenous pedophiles.

  23. That’ll teach you to get your news from the entertainment media.

    Turn off the TV, go to the library, and read.

  24. Even if that were true?so what? The heart on the pink toy looks a lot like this heart, which happens to be on Good Humor bars, which also happens to look a lot like this heart, which seems to suggest my fancy coffeehouse is a secret pedophile ring.

    The pedophils are *everywhere* Lenore. Don’t you get it? By publishing articles like this you are putting our children . . . oh shit.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEStsLJZhzo

  25. Come now, Reason, just admit that you’re doing this to protect the Koch brothers secret pedophile ritual child sex abuse ring that they’ve been running for years in order to enlist the aid of demonic forces in support of their libertarian policy goals.

    Detective Bassone is on to them and now you’re doing everything in your power at the behest of your satanic Koch masters to discredit him!

    We can put two and two together!

  26. Pedophile industrial complex. Classic.

    1. “PIC” for short. Hmmmmm.

  27. Slow news day down at WFLA…apparently nothing NEWSWORTHY happening in the whole wide world. That, or they can’t afford any REAL reporters. #%+?!~ Internet…

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