Takes One To Know One

Honi Soit Qui Mal y Pense

Cory Doctorow
8 min readAug 14, 2022

A finger pointing at the reader.

I first learned about Dr. Thomas Radecki in the mid-1980s, when my grandmother became concerned that my Dungeons and Dragons hobby was going to unmoor me from reality and send me spiraling into delusion and misery, ending in murder.

Radecki was the psychiatrist who testified that the teenager Darren Molitor had murdered another teenager, Mary C. Towey, because he had been driven mad by D&D. Though the court rejected his testimony, Radecki built a career on his willingness to give expert testimony to the effect that young people were being driven to ghastly crimes by D&D.

I forgot about Radecki for decades, and then, last week, I learned that he had lost his medical license following revelations that he had enticed his patients — young people seeking treatment for addiction — into trading drugs for sex. He impregnated one of them. He is now serving an 11–22 year prison sentence.

Radecki attained fame by falsely accusing others of victimizing vulnerable young people for profit. He went on to victimize vulnerable young people for profit.

Takes one to know one.

You can’t possibly have missed the “groomer” panic. Far-right evangelicals have a new blood libel: that any mention of queer sexuality, even a pride flag, is part of a sinister plot to “sexualize children.” Whether it’s the moral panic over Drag Queen Story Hours or the assaults on school libraries, the religious right has convinced itself that the true motivation of progressive, inclusive politics is to groom children for sexual assault. Indeed, in the fever swamp of the right-wing imagination, any child-targeted material produced by someone you disagree with is “grooming.”

The irony, of course, is that “grooming” is epidemic in the religious right and Trumpland. Trump himself has a long history of openly sexualizing young girls, including his own daughter.

It’s not just Trump. Matt Gaetz, a leading Trump surrogate, is credibly accused of trafficking an underage girl for paid sex, and yet the Florida school where “don’t say gay” rules are now in effect are inviting this accused predator to meet with the children in their care.

Cory Doctorow

Writer, blogger, activist. Blog: https://pluralistic.net; Mailing list: https://pluralistic.net/plura-list; Mastodon: @pluralistic@mamot.fr