I’ve been following the “Pizzagate” (a.k.a. “Pedogate”) scandal since it broke late last year. Of all the public crises I’ve seen over the years, this is easily the most sickening. If anything positive can be said it is that many people have defied a whole range of threats in order to keep investigating it, and to tell others about what has been found.
An outgrowth of the citizen investigation is infighting between some of its researchers and others. Part of the conflict no doubt has to do with paid “shills” infiltrating research forums and intentionally creating contention. But part of it is also the natural course of events when different people seek to serve as spokespeople for a cause.
I don’t want to get into the weeds of this particular case, but rather it seems important to extract a few key nuggets from its unfolding. And there are only a few, but they are important.
- First, if you have taken on a very serious issue that threatens the reputation of others, it is critical that you cleanse your personal and professional slate of any conflicts of interest. In this case, one of the researchers was promoting a product while also making videos about the issue. This naturally led people to question his credibility, and in order to restore that he severed those financial ties. Fair or not fair, you will be held to a higher standard if you take this kind of thing on.
- Second, if you engage with other spokespeople who have been victimized by the outcome of the cause, it is very important not to exploit (or appear to exploit) their suffering. In other words, it is one thing to join forces; it is another to engage a victims’ name for the sake of advancing your own personal brand.
- Third, if you take on a high-profile controversy, understand that your every word and every move will be scrutinized closely. You aren’t necessarily going to like that – of course. But if you take on the mantle of a citizen crusader, expect that you yourself will be targeted and criticized harshly. That is just the way it is.
- Finally, and most importantly, if your name and involvement becomes a distraction in the campaign, then it may be worth considering whether to back off and let others take over the fight. Only you can make that determination, but if the cause is truly more important to you, and you can’t shed the baggage that’s leading people to focus on attacking you in particular, it is counterproductive to keep on putting your name out there only to divert attention.
I am suffering in my heart from the information that is out there. It’s evil and it’s too much for me to take sometimes.
But I am heartened at the courage of the citizen researchers who have put their names, their voices and their time toward bringing forth evidence for law enforcement to consider. They see the same thing I see, and it is no doubt incredibly difficult to work with this kind of subject matter every day. But they are putting their pain to good purpose.
Thank you not only to the citizen researchers, but also to the nonprofits who stand up for victims of child sex trafficking, our men and women in law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies, Ivanka Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and of course Donald Trump, the President of the United States.
All of you make me proud to be an American.
All opinions my own.
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