Tim Ballard has interested me from the moment I saw the movie based on his life’s work. This week, I finally got a chance to talk with him.
“The Sound of Freedom,” as you may have heard, has upset a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. First of all, the subject matter is upsetting. According to Tim, 85,000 undocumented children have crossed the Mexican border and are currently unaccounted for in this country. He believes many of them were purchased by pedophiles and are currently enslaved. He has what appears to be an awful lot of proof. Tim also believes that millions of other people – literally millions – are enslaved around the world, caught up in what sounds like an almost unimaginable nightmare of sexual exploitation. If a fraction of what he alleges is true – and the evidence certainly demands a verdict – we have an unspeakable problem on our hands that must be solved. We also have more people enslaved than at any other time in human history.
I’m also interested – albeit, not as interested, but interested nevertheless – in the way Hollywood has reacted to the remarkable success of this crowd-funded film – a film that apparently out-earned both Raiders of the Lost Ark and Mission Impossible. The studios were not pleased, obviously, and baffled by the films appeal. I know for a fact that many executives in Tinseltown are wondering if maybe their old business model is shot. So, there’s that.
Finally, I’m interested in the way Tim Ballard has become the target of so much controversy since the films release. Shortly after we recorded the conversation you’re about to listen to, another very unflattering piece began to make the rounds – this one in Vice. The allegations against Tim are serious, but are once again, leveled by anonymous sources. This episode dropped earlier today, and I’ve already heard from people who believe the allegations put forth in The Sound of Freedom are a “fever dream of Q-Anon paranoia,” and “wildly overstated.” Other say the allegations reported in Vice should have precluded me from talking with Tim entirely.
I disagree, obviously. Not because I know Tim personally, or because I’m able to vouch for his character. I don’t, and I can’t. I just met the guy. But I’m not persuaded by anonymous accusations, or by this curious assortment of detractors who seem determined – hell bent, in fact – on discrediting a man who has spent such a big chunk of his life trying to rescue kids who were – undeniably – taken from their parents and sold into slavery.
Again, I have no idea what the actual number of enslaved children are as of today – six million, six hundred thousand, six hundred, or six. From what I’ve seen, read, and heard, I’m persuaded it’s well into the millions, but I can’t prove it. I can only tell you that one is one too many, and that Tim Ballard has put himself out there in a big way, dedicating his life to making sure that number is as small as possible. It’ll be fascinating, and important, to see what happens as a result.