SOUTH BEND – Most of us think cannibalism is in bad taste. So, it’s the perfect issue for culture wars.

In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis stoked culture wars and boosted his Republican presidential nomination prospects with a law to crack down on teaching sexual orientation in kindergarten through grade 3. No more kindergarten teachers grooming kids with sexual orientation topics. No more first graders being taught the LGBTQs instead of the ABCs.
     
One little problem: There were no reported cases of kindergarten or early-grade teachers doing such things. Nor was anyone advocating that the little kids be indoctrinated with sexual topics.
     
So what? That’s not the point. The strategy in culture wars is to create an issue, even if no problem exists. You sucker opponents into expressing outrage over your tactics, creating an impression that they actually support the supposed evil. Then you stand defiantly in their way, a patriot worthy of hefty campaign contributions.
     
Democrats, never understanding why they lose so often in culture wars, get suckered in time after time.
     
While there were reasons for Democrats – and even Mickey Mouse – to oppose the Florida law, it certainly wasn’t to protect inappropriate sex topics in kindergarten. But lot of voters now believe that’s what they promote. And contributions pour in for DeSantis to stop those creeps.
     
What’s next? Cannibalism would be a perfect issue for culture wars. Introduce legislation to prohibit teaching of cannibalism in kindergarten through grade 3. Stop the kindergarten teacher in Tallahassee from grooming little cannibals. Stop the first-grade teacher in Orlando from preaching that cannibal lives matter most. Stop the second-grade and third-grade teachers in Sarasota from promoting a cannibal diet as healthy.
     
Just a guess: There are no such teachers. So what? That’s not the point. 
     
Would DeSantis have an appetite for cannibalism? Probably not. He’s moving on other issues. But if you think nobody would bring up cannibalism as a critical issue facing the nation, you’re wrong. It already has been brought up and spreads across the internet, across the nation.
     
Remember Pizzagate? Conspiracy theorists, interpreting hacked emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, found that Clinton and other Democratic, entertainment and media elites were engaged in child sex-trafficking, part of a global cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles. In addition to molesting the kids, they would eat their victims to ingest life-extending chemicals from young blood.
     
Kids being victimized in Washington were captive in the basement of a pizzeria. The pizzeria has no basement. So what? That’s not the point. The story, even if there are a few flaws in details, riled people to rage, even to shoot up the pizzeria in an effort to free nonexistent kids from a nonexistent basement. It spurred growth of QAnon and spread conspiracy beliefs about Donald Trump storming back, maybe with John F. Kennedy Jr. by his side, to reclaim the presidency.
     
“Save the Children” rallies spread nationwide. Saving children from abuse is commendable. But saving them from being eaten, as some of the signs declared, is something else. Slices of pizza decorated many signs, a reminder of the supposed horrors in that pizzeria basement.  
     
Speaking out against taking Pizzagate seriously risks being accused of opposing efforts to save children and halt cannibalism. Saying the wrong thing, even in innocently ordering a pizza, can be dangerous. Conspiracy theorists delving into the Pizzagate horrors determined that email mention of ordering “cheese pizza” was a code for “child pornography.” Hey, same first letters of the words.
     
To protect your reputation in these days of culture wars, don’t order a cheese pizza. Never ever with extra cheese.  

Colwell is a columnist for the South Bend Tribune.