It was obviously a terrible situation, but as the case's lead prosecutor pointed out, it's not unheard of with children. Sometimes it's all down to horribly misplaced curiosity, while other times the perpetrators have themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Whatever the cause, the boys pleaded guilty and were sentenced, and the situation was resolved as well as a situation like that can be.
Then thousands of s****y people, both local and not, did what thousands of s****y people will do: They started Facebook groups to advance an agenda. They quickly agreed upon a variety of nasty and far-fetched fabrications, including that the perpetrators were Syrian refugees, that a father had high-fived them in congratulations, that adult men had been involved, that the girl had been held at knifepoint, and that the municipal government and the police conspired to suppress the crime.
Infowars ran an article with the headline "REPORT: Syrian 'Refugees' Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho."
InfoWarsREPORT: INFOWARS FULL OF s**t
Of course, neither of the boys were Syrian and there was no knife, but that was somehow the least of the article's problems. Infowars claimed that an older brother had directed the younger boys to rape and then urinate on the girl, and that it was all part of a spate of crimes by Muslim refugees (refugees in scare quotes, naturally) that also included spitting in the faces of non-Muslims, as well as a rash of hit-and-runs.
InfowarsYet somehow, "Wealthy Media Figure Profits Off Abused Kindergartner" failed to get headline space.
Because of these baseless rumors, the town descended into anti-Muslim chaos. City council was harassed because they weren't kicking all the immigrants out of town. The case's judge was harassed and accused of corruption. The mayor was accused of being part of a globalist conspiracy to destroy America, and was also the victim of a widespread rumor that he was a convicted rapist. His wife received rape threats, and they both, in the worst possible form of marital bonding, received death threats. Local journalists tried to counter with actual reporting, but their reach was minuscule compared to Breitbart and Infowars.
Oh yeah, and fake Facebook accounts connected to the Russian government were later found to have helped spread this garbage. Do try to feign some surprise.
Jordan Breeding also writes for Paste Magazine, the Twitter, and himself, and he isn't a huge fan of Nazis.
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