The Mind Polluters
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The Mind Polluters is a 2021 propaganda film for fundamentalist Christian parents who are easily gulled into believing that children are being sexually abused in public schools. It allows them to fantasize that their kids are being "groomed for sex with pedophiles" when public schools actually teach critical thinking skills, basic sex education, and consent skills. The film stars Mark Archer (who also wrote, directed, and produced), Biblical literalist Ken Ham, QAnon conspiracy theorist Craig R. Sawyer, and Amber Archer (who also wrote and produced).
Summary, so that you don't have to actually watch it
Nominally a documentary, the film does not actually include any kind of investigation, like speaking to any public school teachers, administrators, academics or experts in public health or child psychological development. Instead it consists of rants by the filmmakers themselves, and "experts" Alex Newman (who works at a Bible education organization), homophobic conspiracy theorist Judith Reisman, and Ken Ham.
Though the film was made in 2021, it uses language more typical of the anti-gay panic of the 1990s: it stokes fear of a "radical homosexual agenda" and the "perversity of homosexual marriage." The movie was created by Mark and Amber Archer, a husband-wife filmmaking duo who doubtlessly have an extremely normal and secure heterosexual marriage.
The Mind Polluters represents an intersection of two movements: one obsessed with sex, the other intent on destroying public education. It whips the sex-obsessed parents into a state of weaponized fear, then points the fear-weapon at public schools.
The film is screened at gatherings of worried parents in conservative states. (They have to show it at private screenings, because streaming services such as Amazon don't show hate propaganda.) The film forms the centerpiece of a homophobic roadshow; local nutcases promote the film at each location, and then lead fearful parents to local school board meetings. The parents harass teachers and administrators with their film-inspired paranoid rantings, convinced that "government schools" (which normal people call "public schools") are grooming their kids to be attacked by pedophiles.
By targeting sex education, critical thinking, and consent — which give kids the tools to resist sexual and religious abuse — the film flips reality on its head, claiming that education is the cause of abuse. Thus the film is likely to enable abuse. The filmmakers say they want to protect America's status as a Christian nation, which apparently means a nation of abused children.
Alex Newman's rants in the film are an extension of his work as executive director of Public School Exit, an anti-education organization. Public School Exit describes its evil mission with remarkable directness:
[Public School Exit is] the nation’s premier ministry working to rescue American children from the horrors of government "education". The organization exists to facilitate a massive exodus from public schools by raising awareness and knocking down barriers for parents, pastors and children.
I did Nazi that coming!
How shocked are you to find out that there are neo-Nazis involved in The Mind Polluters? Try to contain your surprise.
Judith Reisman is a Holocaust denier, specifically of the part of the Holocaust where gay people were killed. She reverses the victim and the perpetrators of the Holocaust, assigning blame to "the German homosexual movement." Unsurprisingly, wild-eyed parents driven to school board meetings by the movie tend to make fanciful claims that queer people are secret Nazis or other mass killers from history.
These wild claims might make you guess that they don't like Nazis. But they do! The groups screening the film are sometimes explicit about their Nazi fandom: One sponsor called Nebraskans for Founders' Values displays a banner quoting Hitler at a booth at their local county fair. Another, Protect Nebraska Children Coalition, is an affiliate of an SPLC-designated hate group, Family Watch International, which advocated for mass murder of gay people in Uganda.
- What Happens When Ex-Navy SEALS Go Full QAnon? Former special forces soldiers are flirting with a wide array of conspiracy theories, including QAnon. They also seem to be uniquely suited to pivoting to IRL violence. by Kelly Weill (Updated Sep. 01, 2020 2:29PM ET / Published Aug. 18, 2020 4:40AM ET) Daily Beast.
- The Mind Polluters IMDb.
- Claim that sex ed ‘grooms’ kids jolted Nebraska politics a year before it swept the nation by Beth Reinhard & Emma Brown (July 24, 2022) Washington Post.
- Minds polluted? Film claims teachers are "grooming" students. Experts say it’s filled with falsehoods. by Carson Vaughan, Flatwater Free Press, July 15, 2022
- Anti-LGBT Conspiracy Theorist Judith Reisman Tapped as Expert Witness in Jamaica (May 13, 2014) Southern Poverty Law Center.
- The People Behind the Anti-LGBTQ Propaganda "The Mind Polluters" by Rita Bennett, Seeing Red Nebraska, February 24, 2022.
- Assault on public education, East Texas edition (MMarch 19, 2022 · 9:55 PM PDT) Daily Kos.
- Alex Newman Public School Exit (archived from February 7, 2022).
- Family Watch International, Southern Poverty Law Center