Should we be suspicious of individuals who have publicly condemned Sound of Freedom? On July 15, Bloomberg writer Noah Berlatsky published a piece titled, "QAnon and ‘Sound of Freedom’ Both Rely on Tired Hollywood Tropes."
Eduardo Verástegui's Sound of Freedom was inspired by the life of a human trafficking activist named Timothy Ballard. According to Ballard, he "worked for 12 years as an agent and undercover operator for the Department of Homeland Security,” and "10 of those years were spent on the border tracking child traffickers, people who would exploit children with child exploitation material.”
Despite the film being based on real and harrowing events, Berlatsky suggests that critics have linked it to the QAnon movement and that anti-trafficking experts claim its portrayal of trafficking is "misleading." His conclusion is that Sound of Freedom is a "QAnon dog whistle" that does nothing to "help victims." Isn't it suspicious that mainstream media is attacking a movie raising awareness of child exploitation?
Not only is Berlatsky facing backlash for his scathing review – he's also under fire for being a pedophile sympathizer. In fact, he once served as the communications director for Prostasia, a "pro-pedophilia" advocacy group. According to their website, Prostasia supports the "Minor Attracted Persons" (MAPs) Club, a notorious group that tries to normalize pedophilia.
Earlier this year, Reduxx reported that a general manager of Prostasia – Prescott Bayern – was active on a pedophile messaging board dedicated to homosexual men who dubbed themselves "boy lovers" – pedophile men sexually attracted to underaged boys.
"Despite claiming to be motivated by a desire to eradicate child sexual abuse, the organization’s efforts have dedicated themselves to crusades against child pornography bans, letter-writing campaigns to state representatives demanding child-like sex dolls be kept legal, and funding research into 'fantasy sexual outlets' for pedophiles," Reduxx founder Anna Slatz explains. "Prostasia has also condemned anti-pedophile sentiment as harmful 'Nazi-like' rhetoric and called for its mass censorship across social media."
On June 17, 2017, Berlatsky tweeted: "Pedophiles are essentially a stigmatized group. Certain people get designated as deviants."
In another post, he wrote, "Young people of any gender who trade sex face arrest and abuse from police. No one is very interested in helping them," adding, "The issue isn't that people care about victims. The issue is that pedophiles are loathed." He took it further in another tweet by stating that sex offender registries are "racist."
In 2020, Berlatsky notoriously declared that "parents are tyrants," equating them to an "oppressive class" like rich and white people. I wonder if he would also demonize parents trying to protect their children from grooming. Berlatsky also has a proud, queer family. His wife is "bisexual and nonbinary," and his daughter identifies as transgender.
Supporters of Bloomberg's newest think piece against Sound of Freedom will likely label those who bring up Berlatsky's disturbing tweets as "paranoid." In this case, I disagree. Skepticism protects against complacency and blind acceptance of the narratives propagated by mainstream media. It prompts individuals to seek alternative sources of information rather than accepting what they're told. Just as they've condemned a film that had good intentions, we should condemn those who put in an effort trying to normalize pedophilia.
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