Culture Wars/Current Controversies

FOSTA and the Federal Seizure of Backpage.com

The state always needs a moral panic to justify the expansion of its own power. Gay rights are now mainstream, marijuana legalization is moving rapidly, sanctuary cities are resisting immigration enforcement, skepticism of the drug war is growing, support for criminal justice reform is expanding, and protests against police brutality are now common. In other words, the state is losing many of its tools for self-expansion. This is one reason why political correctness is increasingly becoming incorporated into the state’s ideological framework, and why we are likely to see “traditional” cultural groups (i.e. gun owners, religious traditionalists, conservative whites, etc). becoming increasingly under attack in the future.  However, the Red Tribe continues to be a major player in US politics, and currently controls all three branches of the federal government, plus a majority of state governments, even if the Red Tribe is losing ground and does not reflect majority opinion per se. Therefore, the state needs yet another target. Just in the nick of time, here comes hysteria over sex trafficking. Sex trafficking hysteria is becoming the new war on drugs, with the predictable bipartisan enthusiasm in the mainstream, and acquiescence on the part of much of the Left, as there was with the war on drugs. In the future, there will be a sex workers rights movement similar to the gay rights and marijuana legalization movements.

Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Cato Institute

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