Key Supporter Of FOSTA, Cindy McCain, Misidentifies 'Different Ethnicity' Child; Claims Credit For Stopping Sex Trafficking That Wasn't
from the see-something,-shut-up dept
In the wake of 9/11, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in New York City hired an ad agency, Korey Kay & Partners, to come up with a “creative exercise” in dealing with the post-9/11 world. They came up with slogan “If you see something, say something” and plastered it all over subways. Incredibly, the MTA trademarked the term (despite its lack of “use in commerce”) and later licensed it to DHS (insanely, the MTA has been known to threaten others for using the slogan). However, despite now sounding like common wisdom, the program has been an utter disaster that has not stopped a single terrorist, but has created massive hassles for innocent people, and law enforcement who have to deal with busybodies freaking out about “weird stuff.”
Take, for example: Cindy McCain. The wife to the late Senator John McCain, recently decided she had seen something and had to say something. Specifically, as she herself claims, she was at an airport and saw a woman with a child of a “different ethnicity.” And, rather than thinking “how nice” or “maybe I shouldn’t be racist,” she thought “I must go tell the police.” Specifically,as she told an Arizona radio station:
?I came in from a trip I?d been on and I spotted?it looked odd?it was a woman of a different ethnicity than the child, this little toddler she had, and something didn?t click with me,? McCain said in the radio interview. ?I went over to the police and told them what I saw, and they went over and questioned her, and, by God, she was trafficking that kid.?
By God, no she wasn’t. The police did go check it out, and whatever McCain thinks happened… did not.
Phoenix police said Wednesday that while officers did respond to the Jan. 30 call, at McCain?s request, they were able to determine ?there was no evidence of criminal conduct or child endangerment.?
McCain is now trying to brush away the criticism by insisting she was just seeing something and saying something:
At Phoenix Sky Harbor, I reported an incident that I thought was trafficking. I commend the police officers for their diligence. I apologize if anything else I have said on this matter distracts from ?if you see something, say something?
— Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) February 7, 2019
Of course, there’s more backstory here and it’s kind of important. Over the last few years, McCain has been really heavily focused on playing up the exaggerated moral panic around sex trafficking. As we’ve discussed many times, sex trafficking is a real issue, but a very small one. The numbers around it are massively exaggerated or distorted, leading to crazy moral panics, and a desire by the police and the press to rush to talk about breaking up sex trafficking rings that don’t seem to actually exist.
A more cynical person than I might point out that Cindy McCain’s focus on “sex trafficking” seemed to coincide with her focus on Backpage, and a desire to extract some level of revenge from that company’s owners, who also, for a time, owned the Phoenix New Times, which published a series of unflattering articles about Cindy McCain (and John McCain).
But, even leaving that aside, in the run up to the debate over FOSTA, multiple people told me that more sane and reasonable versions of the bill were well positioned to move forward until Cindy McCain got involved. Prior to that, there had been real, serious discussions, understanding the problems with the FOSTA/SESTA approach, and an attempt to create a more reasonable policy to deal with (what little) sex trafficking that actually happens online. However, then Cindy McCain “got involved” and basically everyone was told that the awful approach found in FOSTA was what would be in the law.
Of course, since then, we’ve highlighted how FOSTA has failed miserably. Just as many of us had predicted, it has resulted in widespread censorship, many closed services, an increase in online sex ads, and more womens’ lives at risk.
And Cindy McCain “seeing something” and “saying something” and then taking credit for stopping trafficking, when she was really just hassling a diverse family. Maybe we should stop listening to Cindy McCain on this particular topic.