174 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 39:2 2019]
given by the victims, their parents, and/or their advocates. The testimonies that evoke the
most meaningful emotions and reactions are the ones by the victims and their parents.
Including these testimonies was a clever way of manipulating pathos and ethos techniques,
as seeing and hearing from the actual victims will always elicit strong emotional reactions.
In addition to the testimonies, Mazzio provides old family photos and videos of the young
girls, prior to their abductions. These techniques successfully induce anger, shock and
despair, as they should.
Mazzio also caters to audience members who sway more toward logic and
reasoning by including clips of interviews given by experts in the field of child trafficking.
Experts on the topic included The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s
(NCMEC) General Counsel, Yiota Souras, and the CEO of the Polaris Project, Brad Myles.
Mazzio also offers clips of the opinions and reasonings of credible individuals who are
familiar with the legal system, including all of the attorneys who worked on the victims’
cases and prominent members of Congress at the time. She also includes footage of J.S.’s
trial and Justice Souter’s decision. Including this footage helped illustrate that there truly
is a need to explore and explain how websites like Backpage facilitate child sex trafficking.
Like Mr. Erik Bauer (Mr. Bauer), one of the retained counsels for J.S., states:
When the CDA (Communications Decency Act) is being interpreted
by the courts to allow websites such as Backpage.com to engage in
human sex trafficking we have a problem with the statute or a
problem with the judges, either way we got a problem. If the judges
are too obtuse and don’t get it then it needs to be made crystal clear
that Congress does not support human sex trafficking.
The documentary also features clips and animations to explain legal and historical
background. To explain the enactment of the Communications Decency Act, Mazzio
provides a brief clip from Leonardo Dicaprio’s performance in the Wolf of Wallstreet. From
the clip, we learn that the Act was enacted as a response to an unfavorable ruling against
Stratton Oakmont. For those who have not watched the Wolf of Wallstreet, even for those
who have, this explanation is wanting. The audience is met with a fleeting description and
is then bombarded by testimony of why the Act should be amended. This technique leaves
the audience with no choice but to accept that the Act, in and of itself, is a “bad” Act.
Mazzio did not interview proponents of the Act and did not explore how it has been
utilized in other circumstances. She briefly mentions that two proponents of internet
freedom, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy & Technology,
submitted an amici curiae brief in support of Backpage in its cases against J.S. and Jane
Doe. With a quick Google search on screen we are informed that donors to the Center for
Democracy & Technology, including tech giants like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, are
indirectly supporting Backpage in its suits contesting underage trafficking.