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Lauf’s kitty litter silliness is part of a long American tradition

Tuesday, Oct 4, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* In response to Republican congressional candidate Catalina Lauf’s revival of a completely debunked rumor about cat litter in schools, a Twitter user posted this story from ten years ago

Did you hear? Teens are getting dangerously drunk by soaking tampons in vodka and shoving them up their butts. Or, wait, are they getting dangerously drunk by drinking Four Loko? Or maybe they’re getting dangerously high huffing human poop? Or are they having dangerous sex at Rainbow Parties?

We know: it’s hard to keep track of all of the many moral panics we’ve encountered over the last ten years or so. Which is why we’ve collected all of them into a handy, convenient timeline that will help you determine which violent, drug-fueled sex act is currently sweeping through your teenager’s school.

Go read the rest. Yuck.

* Sometimes this stuff is mostly just amusing, like when TV news showed up in a little Utah town my family lived in for a couple of years because rumors were flying that “Devil worshipers” were holding late-night ceremonies on our airport’s runway.

Sometimes it’s harmful, like the day-care sex-abuse moral panic which swept the nation for years.

Remember the people who were completely freaked out a couple of years ago about widespread rumors that Antifa was going to invade their Downstate town?

I’m not sure how to effectively counter this crud because a large percentage of our country’s population and the folks who bring us the news are so eagerly gullible. And, of course, it’s Halloween month, which seems to bring out the kookie in all of us.

Your thoughts?

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51 Comments
  1. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:28 am:

    For a party that loves to complain about fake news, they sure do fall for it a lot.


  2. - need - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:33 am:

    Is the internet a net positive or net negative for society? I’m leaning the later. Might be the one thing I agree with SC on, going after social media companies for what their sites are used for


  3. - TheInvisibleMan - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:34 am:

    Don’t forget the ‘random piles of bricks’ lying around.


  4. - AlfondoGonz - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:41 am:

    I no longer think it’s necessary or possible to combat the crud the GOP feeds their eagerly gullible base.

    Vote for Catalina; she’ll get the kitty litter boxes out of classrooms.

    Ok. Go with that, I guess.

    I’m afraid the people who believe such nonsense aren’t people who can be reasoned with.


  5. - vern - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:47 am:

    === I’m not sure how to effectively counter this crud===

    I think what’s been tried already is “ignoring it” and “fact-checking,” and neither have worked particularly well. This might sound self-serving from an anonymous commenter, but I think the next thing to try is large-scale mockery. Kooks want nothing more than to be taken seriously. As we’ve seen with Awake, a lot of them can dish it out but can’t take it. Spreading lies is a type of bullying, and bully theory is pretty straightforward.

    For the press, this means rediscovering the language they used to use for this stuff. It’s perfectly ethical to describe Lauf’s statements as “bizarre” or “unhinged.” It’s certainly more ethical than the treatment that was given to George Romney or Howard Dean after their “outbursts.” That’s the model, I think, more than the smarmy “fact-checking” patronization that’s clearly having no effect.


  6. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:49 am:

    Large parts of society have lost any ability to think for themselves.

    The GOP has figured out large groups of their base simply don’t care to research or understand anything other than another group of people are a threat to them and their way of life.

    Lather rinse and repeat. Reminds me of Sangamon County republican state employees who kept supporting Rauner while he declared war on state employees.


  7. - Michelle Flaherty - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:49 am:

    Catalina Lauf believes Pop Rocks and soda killed Mikey.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:50 am:

    “Lauf-A-Bel” muppet of a candidate has no thoughts to what it means to be a member of Congress

    ===Remember the people who were completely freaked out a couple of years ago about widespread rumors that Antifa was going to invade their Downstate town?===

    In perfect October framing, the rubes sat in pumpkin patches (Illinois is the #1 pumpkin producers doncha know) like Linus waiting for The Great Pumpkin… that never comes.

    Priceless


  9. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:51 am:

    “Don’t forget the ‘random piles of bricks’ lying around.”

    Nails on the ground? Can’t have fallen off a contractor’s truck, must have been Antifa trying to spike everyone’s tires.
    A friend of mine in Park Ridge lives next to retired CPD officer. He told her she needed to put her car in the garage one night this summer because rumors were that Antifa would be coming through. I wonder if that guy sat up at night with his glock waiting for the gang of masked leftists to come down his leafy suburban street.


  10. - Steve Rogers - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:52 am:

    These nutty beliefs have been going on for way, way longer than we’ve been around. It used to be the fringe that bought this nonsense hook, line, and sinker. Now it’s mainstream GOP talking points.

    How to counter it? Historically speaking, I’m not sure you can. Most of these fringe beliefs eventually peter out–see Salem witch trials–but not without serious damage done until that time and even beyond.


  11. - CentralILCentrist - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:54 am:

    It’s also a gateway to indoctrinate with anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. the “furry” movement (which spurred the supposed-to-be-ironic litter box schtick) is tied in to the TikTok crazed youth movement to open up to “alternative lifestyles” back in my day, the anti-prog-rock movement stated that Marilyn Manson and NIN would be the scourge of our youth, hereby getting the blame for Columbine, and so forth. Enter the bubble-gum pop fad and suddenly we were lamenting that generation’s lower back tats and chemical tans.


  12. - Dysfunction Junction - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:57 am:

    =Large parts of society have lost any ability to think for themselves.=It used to be the fringe that bought this nonsense hook, line, and sinker. Now it’s mainstream GOP talking points.=

    “I love the poorly educated.” -DJT


  13. - Candy Dogood - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 9:58 am:

    Sometime in the near future we’re going to find out Catalina Lauf has worn a cat costume on more than one occasion. Including out about town and to social events where she even meowed at people and pretend to be a cat while incorporating a fake tail affixed to her costume with safety pins in a provocative — attention seeking — dance. and we’ll learn that this is an effort to distract voters from the fact that Catalina Lauf has identified as a cat in the past.

    This news will likely be accompanied by photos.


  14. - JoanP - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:02 am:

    I never tried it, but, when I was in college, there was a moment when people were convinced that you could get high smoking dried banana peels.

    Also oregano.

    News flash: neither is true.


  15. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:03 am:

    Among all of planet Earth’s animals…humans are the most gullible…and vicious.


  16. - Needs Deleted - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:06 am:

    the internet is without a doubt a net negative…


  17. - Sox Fan - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:16 am:

    Everyone remember to check their children’s candy in a few weeks for fentanyl. Drug dealers are going to be lacing it for….reasons?


  18. - Dan l - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:17 am:

    Literally 2 weeks ago you had various law enforcement agencies entirely fabricating a risk of people adding colored fentanyl to their list of trick or treat handouts.


  19. - Commissar Gritty - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:22 am:

    Do we have any hope of bringing something like the Fairness Doctrine back to news or do we have to continue living in this dystopia where lying incessently is not only without consequence, but actually rewarded in our political system?

    Conservatives are completely detatched from reality at this point. Then President Obama saying they “…live in an alternateu universe” seems quaint compared to the Republicans of today. They were nuts then, but at least most of their attacks had some tiny kernal of truth that they blew out of proportion. Now they just make stuff up whole cloth, and their base cheers on the insanity.


  20. - Baloneymous - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:25 am:

    In 2008, South Park did an episode about “cheesing” where kids sniff cat urine and experience a Heavy Metal-esque drug trip replete with Sammy Hagar music and large chested women. The town reacts by having the DEA round up and remove all cats. Fox News calls the new drug craze “cheesing” because it’s “fon to due”. Cartman fearing for his cat, Mr. Kitty, hides him in the attic and tells him to write a diary (a la Anne Frank) and proceeds to gather and hide as many cats in his attic as he can.

    The reason I’m posting about South Park is that some people would actually believe in cheesing if Catalin Lauf tweeted about it. Cat litter in schools, cheesing to get high, whatever. Some people have just lost it.


  21. - Cool Papa Bell - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:27 am:

    This summer’s family get-together included this kitty litter story, along with a bunch of other phobic takes and boomer angst. The odd thing was how it was just thrown into a normal conversation.

    And the in-laws wonder why do don’t see them more often.


  22. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:27 am:

    ===Fairness Doctrine ===

    That only applied to broadcast stations because the public owns the airwaves. The public doesn’t own cable TV lines nor does it own the Internet.


  23. - Alice Childress - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:30 am:

    The media (fake and some legit) also cause so much overreaction. Rich, the last update yesterday about the Naperville teacher…the lede from the news source was grossly misleading. And when people see that only and make opinions based on a lede, then game over. Because now they’ve cut and pasted to anyone in their social media group. I read the article and I have my own opinions, but man, the lede was horrible and leads to gross overreactions.


  24. - Jerry - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:36 am:

    My school days seem so boring. If you walked into the building wearing sun glasses, a “Loop” shirt, and giggled in class it was a sure sign of indulging in various substances that required a source of ignition to achieve an intoxicating effect.

    Now some politician says kids want kitty litter boxes in the bathroom!


  25. - DTownResident - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:37 am:

    Stranger things touched on the Satanic panic in the 1980s. The original panic was that we were all in trouble with role playing games and loud fast music that might make us all Satanists. This panic over all this stuff feels so similar and is based on fear and not reality. While there were books about the Michigan State suicide and other things that told the truth were ignored during the panic just like Rufo, Proft, Lauf, and others are ignoring the truth now just to stir up outrage and get certain people all worked up for political points.


  26. - The Ford Lawyer - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:39 am:

    I misread Needs Deleted’s comment as the internet is a double net negative. Seems fitting that way. That said, crazy misinformation has been around for as long as there have been elections in this country. 150 years ago, it was the aptly named “Know Nothing” party spreading wild, bigoted rumors about Catholics and immigrants. Before that, it was Andrew Jackson’s people spreading a conspiracy theory about how the other side had stolen the previous election (sound familar?) It’s always something. The internet has just increased the speed at which the stupid travels.


  27. - Furtive Look - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:39 am:

    I’ll leave it to somebody smarter than me to figure out why so much of this wacko stuff includes feces.


  28. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:42 am:

    Shouldn’t we be celebrating anti-fascism?


  29. - Rudy’s teeth - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 10:54 am:

    Ms. Lauf is another candidate who exemplifies the “empty words from an empty head” phrase.

    Someone has spent too much time chasing wacky theories. Another embarrassing candidate.


  30. - Correcting - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:07 am:

    Huffing feces and drinking Four Loko is real. The former is called “jenkem” and Four Loko literally had to change their formula to remove caffeine because people were having heart attacks. Antifa rioted and caused billions of dollars in property damage, and people died during those riots too. Go fact check that. Likewise, therians and otherkin exist. You have no clue what you’re talking about. Keep up the damage control though.


  31. - Dotnonymous - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:12 am:

    All illegal drug dealers communicate daily… sharing carefully complicated plans targeting/killing their future customers…with a double secret code?


  32. - MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:12 am:

    “Your thoughts?”

    To be honest, after they made it clear that they would not take a free vaccine to protect themselves against a deadly global pandemic, I pretty much gave up on reaching these cuckoo-bananas.

    Any time and effort spent on trying to change their minds would seem better used to try to limit the damage that they can cause to themselves and the rest of us.

    IMHO YMMV etc.

    – MrJM


  33. - Blue Dog - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:14 am:

    I think I’ve outlived my time on this planet.


  34. - Bigtwich - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:16 am:

    Electrical banana
    Is bound to be the very next phase


  35. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:20 am:

    My thoughts are that the world is filled with far too many kooks and these kooks are managing to support ultra-kooks for political office and some cases even getting them elected. It’s scary.


  36. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:27 am:

    Did I miss the response of the anonymous poster from 7:06 last night who, after a number of others asked for the name of the kitty litter school in Boone County, I’m sure replied naming the school?


  37. - The Velvet Frog - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:31 am:

    But aren’t we supposed to believe every claim posted on the internet with no specifics by an anonymous rando?


  38. - Roadrager - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:35 am:

    ==Huffing feces… is real.==

    I trust you speak from experience on the matter.


  39. - Give Me A Break - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:35 am:

    Electrical banana, I think they played our HS homecoming in 1977.


  40. - Baloneymous - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 11:43 am:

    ===Huffing feces and drinking Four Loko is real===

    A quick wikipedia search and it shows you are grossly exaggerating both of your claims. The Four Loko page does not even mention death or heart attacks. And the hospitalization or one death mentioned were more about blood alcohol levels.

    In November 2007, there was a moral panic in the United States after widespread reports of jenkem becoming a popular recreational drug in middle and high schools across the country, though the true extent of the practice has since been called into question. Several sources reported that the increase in American media coverage was based on a hoax and on faulty Internet research.

    But you got in your shot about Antifa.


  41. - G'Kar - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 12:43 pm:

    I don’t know how I survived playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 70’s.


  42. - Give Us Barabbas - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 12:46 pm:

    I heard if you turn off the lights in your bathroom and look at the mirror while chanting “CRT” three times, Malcom X will appear… Or something. It has to be true; I read it in a Proft Newspaper.


  43. - Baloneymous - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 1:06 pm:

    - Give Us Barabbas -

    That wins comment of the day in my book. Thank you for that. I was just about to rewatch Candyman soon since tis the season.


  44. - Colin O'Scopy - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 1:59 pm:

    When you got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.


  45. - filmmaker prof - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 2:08 pm:

    Blue Dog +1. When I see these things, it makes me happy that I’m old.


  46. - Flapdoodle - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 2:25 pm:

    All of this would not be happening if it did not fill needs or voids in people’s lives, did not salve the “quiet desperation” in which so many people of all sorts live these days. People want to feel they have some control over their lives, want to feel they have some understanding of their worlds. When these or the means to them are lacking, which is often because they’re difficult to achieve and people are disinclined to the hard work of thinking, people turn to whatever is ready to hand, to what’s easy, to what gives them a sense of belonging and in the know. History gives many examples of this process, from witches to cats to pogroms to reds to elections.
    Them’s my thoughts, FWIW. Peace out.


  47. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 2:33 pm:

    The Pantagraph ran a big headline front page story on Satan worshippers sacrificing a sheep in rural McLean County when I was a kid. A couple weeks later a small note on the inside said it was determined a dog had killed the sheep.

    It just goes round and round.


  48. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 2:38 pm:

    Also, there is like one person outside of the family who has ever tampered with Halloween Candy and those tattoos are not LSD.


  49. - Henry Francis - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 2:50 pm:

    “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.” -HST


  50. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 3:05 pm:

    ==the last update yesterday about the Naperville teacher…the lede from the news source was grossly misleading.==

    That’s because it wasn’t from a news source, it was from one of Dan Proft’s litter pan liners.


  51. - Proud Sucker - Tuesday, Oct 4, 22 @ 4:03 pm:

    “Shouldn’t we be celebrating anti-fascism?” My great uncle was pretty anti-fascist on the morning of 6/6/44 - and for the 13 months which followed.


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