SAN FRANCISCO, CA JUNE 24, 2018: California State Senator Scott Weiner waves to the crowd at the 2018 San Francisco Pride ParadePhoto: David Tran / Shutterstock.com
A gay lawmaker in California has been targeted by rightwing media as part of what they believe is a pedophile conspiracy because he introduced a bill to treat LGBTQ sex offenders the same as straight sex offenders. He is now receiving “thousands” of homophobic and anti-semitic messages.
Currently, judges in California can exercise discretion in statutory rape cases that involve a defendant and a victim of similar ages – like if a 19-year-old and a 17-year-old have sex – and keep the defendant off the state’s sex offender registry. The law doesn’t tell judges how to use that discretion, it simply gives them a choice.
Related: California to consider bill that aims to lower rates of STD diagnoses
But the law only applies to penetrative vaginal sex, not anal or oral or other sexual contact. This means that judges don’t have the same discretion for cases involving same-sex sexual encounters.
California Rep. Scott Wiener (D) introduced legislation that would give judges that discretion, making the law for straight people and LGBTQ people equal.
But rightwing blogs have been using the bill as an example of part of the QAnon conspiracy, which is the idea that there are people in the “deep state” – government officials, Democratic politicians, and also liberal Hollywood stars – who are trying to end Donald Trump’s presidency because he is working to defeat an international child sex trafficking ring. The conspiracy was started by an anonymous commenter on various online forums who went by “Q” and claimed to be a government official dropping cryptic hints about the conspiracy.
The conspiracy theory relies on numerous false claims – like that former Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) hired the Salvadoran M-13 gang to kill Democratic staffer Seth Rich, that Donald Trump only pretended to collude with Russia so that he could better investigate Democrats secretly, and that drinking bleach is a cure for coronavirus – but it has been promoted by comedian Roseanne Barr and Donald Trump’s son Eric.
Even Donald Trump himself has retweeted messages from QAnon accounts at least 90 times, according to Media Matters.
Websites that promote QAnon are presenting a distorted picture of Wiener’s bill, including saying that it would legalize 22-year-olds raping 12-year-olds (the bill does not apply when the victim is under 14) and that it would protect pedophiles when all it does is give judges discretion over part of the punishment in some statutory rape cases, the same discretion they have in cases involving sex between people of different sexes.
“It’s a noticeable uptick” in hateful comments online, Wiener told Mother Jones. His staff said that he has received “thousands” of messages related to the bill.
“The comments are gross. There’s a ton of them. They’re much, much nastier than what I’ve received before,” he said.
Some of them are anti-semitic as well – Wiener is Jewish and the nonprofit organization ADL, which fights anti-semitism, has noted the anti-semitic undertones of the QAnon conspiracy theory in the past.
The comments show up on several recent posts on Wiener’s Instagram account. Most are simply the words “Pedo” or “Pedophile,” but others go on longer. For example:
it’s absolutely outrageous! That means if the sexual predator is 19 And the victim 10 they wouldn’t need to be register as a sex offender ? What kind of crap is that ?!
#savethechildren Stop protecting pedophiles!
It’s not a surprise that Jews are at the forefront of promoting pro-homosexual and pro-pedophile propaganda. Jews like Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein have been raping children for decades.
Trump will send you to jail
Interesting how it’s homophobic. Someone’s always got to play victim. Instead you could be focusing on protecting those who are being victimized instead of supporting pedophiles.
Move to greece home of the pedophile fa9z with tom hanks
Anything to secure the black vote and deviate the attention from what u Democrats are really up to! Race baiting, child abusers!
“Social media platforms need to do a lot more to deal with toxicity that is so damaging to society,” Wiener said. “I know it’s hard. I get that they don’t want to be thought police. Not everything is clear cut, but some things are. What’s happening here is clear cut, when you have all these comments calling me a pedophile, when you have all these homophobic, anti-semitic remarks.”
On Twitter, Wiener said that he was doxxed – that is, personal information like his address were published online to encourage people to escalate harassment – on Instagram by a prominent QAnon influencer.
It’s been a dark week & today I found out that my personal information has been doxxed online by a prominent QAnon follower.
Thank you so much to everyone for the videos of support. It means so much to me, and it’s an honor to serve this community.
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) August 8, 2020
He says that her account has not yet been removed even though doxxing is against Instagram’s terms of service.
2/ We think she has something like 5 Instagram accounts. I’m sorry, but if you doxx someone, it needs to be one strike & you’re out. @Instagram needs to crack down on this sociopathic behavior. This is harming real people.
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) August 9, 2020