Why the ‘Libs of TikTok’ Controversy Matters
Before addressing the subject of this week’s column, an issue of grave concern, I begin with a quote from J.R.R. Tolkien’s book, “The Fellowship of the Ring.” I make specific reference to the scene where Gandalf stands alone on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm facing the Balrog, a sinister being. Gandalf knows that unless he overthrows his enemy, the Quest of the Ring and the lives of all the Fellowship will come to an end. He also understands that the works of evil are no more than a shadow, even the fire of the Balrog. Here, in this critical moment, Gandalf makes his stand, and with clarity of thought, he fearlessly addresses his adversary saying with conviction, “The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass!”
We too are at a critical juncture, facing a sinister, coercive, secular mindset determined to impose its will, threatening our families, our children, and society. When all we love and cherish is in grave danger, what will we do? Will we stand firm as Gandalf did?
Last week, the Washington Post published an “exposé,” revealing the true identity of the woman who runs a popular Twitter account called “Libs of TikTok.”
Although a controversy about a Twitter account that posts videos from TikTok might not seem worthy of serious attention, this story is an important one for a variety of reasons, not least that it serves as yet another warning to parents to closely monitor their children’s internet usage.
“Libs of TikTok” has gained nearly a million followers (a number that, ironically, has gone up enormously since the Washington Post article) simply for taking videos that progressives post on TikTok, and then reposting them on Twitter.
And yet, doing this has made Libs of TikTok one of the most-followed (and most-hated) social media accounts on the Internet.
The wildly popular podcaster Joe Rogan has called Libs of TikTok “one of the greatest accounts of all time.” Daily Wire personality Matt Walsh has said, “Probably the top journalist in the country right now is the anonymous person running Libs of TikTok on Twitter.”
Opponents of the account, however, have accused it of spreading anti-LGBT hate and other nefarious things. “It feels like they’re single-handedly taking us back a decade in terms of the public discourse around LGBTQ rights,” Ari Drennen, LGBTQ program director for Media Matters, told the Washington Post. “It’s been like nothing we’ve ever really seen.”
The Madness of Progressivism
It might seem strange that Libs of TikTok is receiving so much hate simply for reposting videos that were already public.
But of course, what Libs of TikTok is doing is “curating” the videos, i.e., spotlighting certain videos in order to make a point. The point in this case being that progressivism is becoming increasingly unhinged from reality and dangerous, particularly to children.
Taylor Lorenz, the author of the Washington Post article, was particularly outraged that Libs of TikTok had reposted a video of a Kentucky sex educator, Tanya Turner, and had called her a “predator.”
Well, Turner is one of the organizers of an online sex-ed camp that I wrote about a few weeks ago. That camp included sessions with titles like, “Sex with ME — Self pleasure,” “Sexy Trans Sex Ed,” “Self-Managed Abortion Info Share,” “Reproductive Health: The Basics,” “Sex on Drugs,” “The 3 P’s: Pee, Poop, and Pleasure,” and “Contraceptive Options.”
As Christopher Rufo reported at City Journal, Turner “calls herself a ‘femme, fat, queer, magical pleasure worker’ who was raised by ‘a host of witchy women’ in a ‘coven-like mountain matriarchy’ and uses ‘crystals,’ ‘sex toys,’ and ‘tarot’ in her teaching.” In the video reposted by Libs of TikTok, Turner talks about how she strongly encourages people of “all ages,” including toddlers and children, to masturbate.
Now, “predator” is a strong word. And yet, it is hard to think of what else to call a woman who openly dabbles in the occult while targeting children and teens with graphic information about every sexual practice under the sun. It goes without saying, of course, that Turner should not be harassed. But neither should she be allowed anywhere near children. And parents have a right to know what she, and others like her, are teaching their children.
Many of the videos posted by Libs of TikTok are similarly creepy. For example, there was one a few days ago of a woman explaining how to talk to children about their private parts. “When babies are born, parents sometimes guess the baby’s gender based on their genitals,” she says in a cooing voice, as if speaking to a young child. “They tend to guess ‘boy’ for babies who have a penis, and ‘girl’ for babies who have a vulva. Sometimes parents guess wrong though.”
The reason the Libs of TikTok account is so hated, is that it is successfully casting the bright glare of daylight on things that progressive activists wanted to keep hidden. They want to post propagandistic videos like these, steering children towards transgenderism and sexual experimentation, but they don’t want those children’s parents to know.
The Hypocrisy of the Left
Another reason this story is important is that it exposes the staggering hypocrisy of the progressive left.
Defenders of Libs of TikTok have pointed out that Taylor Lorenz, the journalist behind the “exposé” in the Post, has repeatedly posted scathing denunciations of people who “dox” other people online (for reference, to “dox” someone is to publish private information about someone on the Internet). Just a few weeks ago, Lorenz broke down in tears during an interview on MSNBC, saying that she had PTSD from people harassing her online.
And yet, days after that interview, she boasted that she was about to expose the anonymous owner of the Libs of TikTok account. She also sought comments from someone she thought might be linked to the Libs of TikTok account by threatening them that they were “being implicated as starting a hate campaign against LGBTQ people.”
As journalist Glenn Greenwald noted, “The same people who – just 2 weeks ago – were insisting that criticizing Taylor Lorenz is wrong because it generates ‘harassment’ toward her are now cheering as she shows up at the homes of the relatives of Twitter users to dox them.”
Writing at UnHerd, Mary Harrington points out that the hypocrisy in this case goes far beyond Lorenz’s rapid about-face on posting private information about people online. Harrington notes that the outrage directed at the Libs of TikTok account exemplifies the pervasive sense of entitlement that political and moral progressives have in order to control the media narrative.
“The account didn’t so much create hateful content as violate the progressive consensus edict that its members alone may curate and narrate the internet, and thus shape real-world politics,” noted Harrington. “For this, a private individual has had her identity exposed, potentially subjecting her to the attentions of all manner of eccentric and possibly vengeful individuals.”
This immediately calls to mind the recent fury directed at Elon Musk’s attempt to purchase Twitter. Although Musk is hardly a traditional conservative, he has taken pleasure in recent years in poking progressive sacred cows. He seems to have little patience for progressives’ proclivity to censor political and cultural views and opinions they don’t like, and also to champion transparently absurd causes, such as some of the more extreme versions of gender ideology.
Musk has also increasingly criticized Twitter for its harsh enforcement of a sweeping “speech code” that bans such things as referring to a transgender person by his or her biological sex, or questioning the official narrative on aspects of the COVID pandemic. After Musk offered to buy the company, many progressives reacted with what can only be termed hysteria. One journalism professor even compared Musk’s potential purchase of the platform to the rise of Nazism in Germany.
One article in the Washington Post argued that we need “regulation” to “prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication,” in response to which many people noted the irony that the Washington Post – one of the most-read papers in the world – is owned by…Jeff Bezos, the second richest man in the world next to Musk.
But this, of course, is how progressives think: censorship is wrong, unless we’re the ones doing the censoring; rich people should not control the channels of communication, unless they’re our rich people; doxxing and harassing people online is an evil thing to do, unless they’re people that we think deserve to be doxxed and harassed.
Parents Be Warned
Perhaps the most important lesson from this controversy, however, is that when it comes to their children’s education and internet usage parents absolutely must educate themselves, speak out, and step forward.
A scroll through Libs of TikTok’s account is a potent reminder that progressive activists with truly crazy and dangerous ideas are deliberately targeting young children on platforms where they can feel confident that the children’s parents are not listening.
Social media platforms like Twitter and TikTok can be useful for certain purposes. But more often than not, they are nothing more than a distraction from the things that matter most. As Cardinal Sarah discusses in the Power of Silence, the dictatorship of noise constantly strives to distract and divide – like a ravenous beast.
I feel so sorry for our young people who are suffering as a consequence of these ideologues. Children deserve to have happy and healthy childhoods. They need to be outside playing, reading books, practicing their hobbies. Not endlessly scrolling social media, having their minds filled with rubbish.
It is up to parents to stand between their children and the ideologues who would destroy their innocence. Do not allow your children to be overwhelmed by the dictatorship of noise. Introduce a spirit of joy and prayer into your home. Monitor your children’s internet use. Keep your children busy with healthy activities. And pray together as a family.
As president of Human Life International, Fr. Boquet is a leading expert on the international pro-life and family movement, having journeyed to nearly 90 countries on pro-life missions over the last decade. Father Boquet works with pro-life and family leaders in 116 counties that partner with HLI to proclaim and advance the Gospel of Life. Read his full bio here.