Graham Linehan’s Trick or Treat

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A video recently went viral online showing footage from a daycare centre. One of the staff members is pacing around in a Halloween mask — the poor kids look utterly terrified — while a second worker watches on laughing. The incident made international news and the daycare in question (Lil’ Blessings Childcare and Learning Center in Hamilton, Mississippi) fired the staff members responsible.

I’m not going to pretend to know exactly what was going on in the heads of the masked woman and her accomplice. Possibly it started out as a good-natured Halloween prank, but the fact that the woman carries on even when the tiny children are clearly distressed means that this excuse really doesn’t stand up. It’s the sort of behaviour that would be ugly enough coming from a dim-witted teenage sibling; seeing it from a professional entrusted to take care of children is rancid.

Since she (and along with three people who apparently enabled her) have been fired, I’m not sure there’s much more that needs to be said. Times being as they are, however, this incident of a twit scaring kids in a Halloween mask has been worked into a wider narrative.

Had this happened in the 1980s — the era of the McMartin preschool trial — I have to wonder if the case would have become part of the Satanic Panic: I can just imagine the incident being exaggerated into some sort of occult ritual.

But since the incident instead occurred in 2022, it’s LGBT people who are somehow to blame.

Enter former scriptwriter Graham Linehan, who used the video as the lead-in to a Substack post entitled “Queering the classroom”. He opens with a paragraph introducing the footage as “VERY DISTURBING” and suggesting that readers follow a link to a Daily Mail article rather than watch the video for themselves. Then, after the video, he adds this paragraph:

I don’t know. Between paedophiles working for charities that chop off children’s genitals and this appalling video, it seems to me that the spread of queer theory/gender identity is doing exactly what Barry Wall said it would. Queer theorists like Mermaids Trustee Jacob Breslow are intent on the destruction of the very idea of the child and only in a world where childhood innocence has been polluted with the ideologies of men like him could such sights be possible.

Linehan comment about “paedophiles working for charities that chop off children’s genitals” is a garbled reference to the disgraced Mermaids trustee Jacob Breslow, and the remainder of the post is taken up with links to the gender-critical site Reduxx on the Breslow affair.

The Breslow business is a can of worms I’ll leave aside for now, as it really has nothing to do with the behaviour depicted in the video. Linehan has made a colossal leap of logic in concluding that the woman running around the daycare in a Halloween mask is somehow “queering the classroom”.

A number of people in the comments section point out that the mask video has noting to do with queer theory, but one poster — Kevin Cargill — clearly disagrees:

Apparently those responsible were fired on the spot as soon as the headteacher was shown the video but as you say Graham this sort of behaviour is all part of the blurring of the lines between children and adults and just a few years ago would never have happened. These woke idiots are so enthralled by Queer Theory and GI [gender identity] they have convinced themselves they can abuse the very youngest of children with impunity if it fits with their new religion.

How remarkable that he was able to infer from the video that the woman running around in the Halloween mask must be a “woke idiot enthralled by queer theory”. Curious, also, that he blames the incident on “the blurring of lines between children and adults” (a phrase apparently lifted from the Barry Wall video linked to by Linehan) when an adult putting on a monster mask to scare children is almost certainly aware that the people she’s scaring are, in fact, children, as the prank is considerably less likely to work on a roomful of adults.

I also have to question Kevin’s assertion that the behaviour in the video “just a few years ago would never have happened”. With a few choice search terms, I was able to find an incident from 2011 where a high school teacher pranked a 15-year-old with what appeared to be a chainsaw (whether it was the real thing or a prop is unclear from the report), and the teenager broke a leg trying to escape. Somehow, I doubt anyone thought to blame “queer theory” at the time.

Linehan’s post is a testament to how “queer theory” has become a bogeyman-concept in gender-critical circles, one liable to be blamed for a spectrum of behaviour that isn’t queer at all — just nasty.

EDIT: My comparison to the Satanic Panic turned out to be more apt than I’d thought. After I made this post, somebody added the following comment to Linehan’s commentary:

Maybe we should re-think “Satanic Panic”. This would not be believed — no-one would believe the children about this if it were not on “videotape”.

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