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‘Sound of Freedom’ Pushes Forward California Anti-Trafficking Bill

‘Sound of Freedom’ Pushes Forward California Anti-Trafficking Bill

Jim Caviezel, actor in the new human trafficking action film "Sound of Freedom,” speaks during an interview in Washington on June 21, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

John Seiler

John Seiler

7/21/2023

Updated: 7/23/2023

Commentary
Sometimes art influences life. A dramatic case is the recent movie “Sound of Freedom,” which is pushing into law California Senate Bill 14, by Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield). In the bill’s language, it “would include human trafficking of a minor within the definition of a serious felony for all purposes, including for purposes of the Three Strikes Law.”
The movie is about a Department of Homeland Security agent, played by Jim Caviezel, rescuing a young girl from sex traffickers.
We can see the movie’s influence from recent events and the voting timeline on the California Legislative Information website:
  • July 4: “Sound of Freedom” was released.
  • July 11: SB 14 failed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee. The vote was 2-0, with six No Votes Recorded (NVR). A majority is needed to pass a bill in a committee, in this case five votes. NVR effectively counts as a No vote, but allows politicians to say they didn’t vote No.
  • July 12: USA Today reported, “Why ‘Sound of Freedom,’ Jim Caviezel’s controversial child sex trafficking film, is a hit.”
  • July 4-12: Left-wingers began attacking the film.
The Guardian headlined on July 6, “Sound of Freedom: the QAnon-adjacent thriller seducing America,” while the Rolling Stone headlined on July 7, “‘Sound Of Freedom’ Is a Superhero Movie for Dads With Brainworms: The QAnon-tinged thriller about child-trafficking is designed to appeal to the conscience of a conspiracy-addled boomer.”
Image from "Sound of Freedom" movie which will be released on July 4, 2023. (Courtesy of Angel Studios)

Image from "Sound of Freedom" movie which will be released on July 4, 2023. (Courtesy of Angel Studios)

That just gave the movie even more publicity. People wondered why the Left was attacking a movie defending kids against the demonic traffickers—and flocked to see it at the box office.
By contrast, non-leftist news sites ran reviews praising the movie. In The Epoch Times, Ian Kane called it “A Must-See. Powerful performances highlight this stunning exposé on child trafficking.” And J.G. Collins wrote, “‘Sound of Freedom’ Is a Thunderclap Call to Action. Attempts to denigrate the film as ‘adjacent to QAnon’ have only increased interest.”
  • July 12: Gov. Gavin Newsom got involved. He obviously didn’t want the rejection of this bill hanging over a potential presidential run.
ABC10 reported, “It’s unusual for Newsom to publicly get involved in a dispute at the Capitol, especially when it involves the Republican Party. ...
“Newsom said Wednesday he was surprised the bill had stalled. He said he called Grove to talk about the bill, telling reporters that the call ‘is indicative of my desire to see what we can do with it.’ Newsom said he ‘cares deeply’ about the issue, noting he signed a state budget last year that included $25 million for services for children who had been victims of sex trafficking.
Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters at AltaMed Urgent Care in Santa Ana, Calif., on March 25, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks to reporters at AltaMed Urgent Care in Santa Ana, Calif., on March 25, 2021. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“‘I want to understand exactly what happened yesterday,’ Newsom said. ‘I take it very seriously.’”
There’s another aspect to Newsom’s action. As the California Globe’s Katy Grimes wrote, “Remember, this is the same Gov. Gavin Newsom who in 2020 signed Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 145, which lowers the penalties for adults who have sex with same-sex minors.”
The political climate on this issue, even in California, has changed sharply since three years ago.
  • July 13: SB 14 passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee 6-0, with two members listed No Vote Recorded, Assemblymembers Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and Isaac Bryan (D-Culver City). Both also abstained on the July 11 vote.
  • July 14: The Legislature adjourned for its summer recess and will return Aug. 14. The Senate passed SB 14 on May 25, 40-0. And it’s certain the Assembly will pass it in a month, followed by Newsom’s signature.
“When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat,” was a saying of President Ronald Reagan. That certainly applied here.
The California State Capitol building in Sacramento on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The California State Capitol building in Sacramento on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Lessons Learned

The impending victory of SB 14 brought some lessons.
First, in a political sense, this bill is a victory for the super-minority Republicans in the Legislature. They have just eight of 40 senators and 18 of 80 in the Assembly, freezing them out of most policy decisions. But when they advance a bill that resonates widely among Californians, they can get things done.
Second, independent makers of movies and other culture can get a hearing with quality productions. Another example is The Epoch Times’s “Leaving California” full-length documentary, with Siyamak Khorrami, the Southern California edition’s chief editor and host of California Insider. It already has garnered 311,100 views. And the YouTube preview has 248,000 views.
Also instructive are the comments from viewers, such as, “After finishing my degree in 1997, I packed up my wife and daughters and left for good. I saw what was coming, but I NEVER thought that it would get this messed up. As native it breaks my heart to see what has happened.”
Third, fighting for America now can be discouraging. Not a lot of wins lately. But “Sound of Freedom” and the SB 14 votes show we can fight back—and there’s a large audience out there eager to hear our message and join us. The fight is just beginning.
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John Seiler

John Seiler

Author

John Seiler is a veteran California opinion writer. Mr. Seiler has written editorials for The Orange County Register for almost 30 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and former press secretary for California state Sen. John Moorlach. He blogs at JohnSeiler.Substack.com and his email is writejohnseiler@gmail.com

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