The Problem With Freedom – Day 3

There is a concept in medicine called “herd immunity.”

If you are trying to immunize a population of 100 people against some nasty disease, you don’t have to reach everyone with the vaccine. That is hard to achieve. The concept of herd immunity means that if you manage to treat a certain number of the population – for argument’s sake we’ll say 80 – then the disease does not have enough places to live.

It survives by infecting a host and reproducing, passing itself to the next victim. If one person gets the disease, but doesn’t run into one of the other twenty unvaccinated people, then the disease can’t continue the process. It will die out in its host whether their immune system takes it out or the host expires. Now there is one less option for spread.

I think the concept of herd immunity is key when discussing sex trafficking and reducing demand.

I’ve spent the past couple of posts talking about the problem with freedom. (Day 1 and Day 2) To sum up: in Western culture and especially America, we like to say that people should have the freedom to do whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. The problem becomes that we don’t always realize the unintended consequences of our actions, and more people are hurt than we realize.

We may enjoy our chocolate, but the cocoa beans sold to our favorite candy company finance a brutal regime. We may want a purebred puppy, but this supports puppy mills that churns out animals that are unhealthy and contributes to an overpopulation of pets.

Men may think they can look at pornography or solicit sex with a prostitute, and it is only their business. It’s not hurting anyone, and they have the right. Right?

My second post on this topic connects the increasing demand for porn and prostitution with the exploitation of children in the sex industry, as does this excellent Newsweek article. I started this whole series because of an article in the Village Voice trying to debunk statistics regarding human trafficking and attacking the campaign by Ashton and Demi’s DNA Foundation that wants to eradicate child sex exploitation and trafficking.

I’ve described the problem. The solution is always harder than identifying the problem.

Men, we have to realize that we are contributing to the exploitation and ruination of thousands of teen girls and vulnerable women. Our lust is providing a disease with plenty of hosts. The young and vulnerable women who are exploited by this industry are the victims, being ravaged by abuse, violence, and neglect. Whereas the DNA Foundation, IJM, Free the Slaves, and GEMS among others work to help these women, the Village Voice continues its defense of its adult services site Backpage.

As the Newsweek article details, the anonymity of the internet has created a huge increase in the demand for sexual buyers. Men think we can do what we want in private without hurting others. Whether downloading items off the net or arranging services at a clandestine location, it is a right. However, it feeds an industry that is devouring more and more of the “herd”.

If men would stand up and say “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” if men would realize that these activities are not harmless or private, but contribute to a larger problem, then perhaps we would start seeing some herd immunity develop. If enough men were vaccinated, as it were, then the demand would lessen and there wouldn’t be as much exploitation of the vulnerable.

I am not naive enough to believe we can eradicate this problem fully. I do believe we can work to educate men, the demand part of the supply and demand equation, that their actions are harmful and reduce the problem this way. Look at the major public education campaigns in the past:

  • Telling people how HIV is transmitted and how to protect themselves.
  • Reducing CFC’s to protect the ozone.
  • Eliminating racist words from being used in mainstream culture.
  • Abolishing the slave trade in the 1800’s through William Wilberforce and others.

The problem of men flouting their freedom and fueling a sick industry is real and worsening. People are waking up to this and speaking out, like at the DNA Foundation. The position of the Village Voice is wrong not because I am a religious fanatic or zealot. Their position is wrong because it hurts many people and deserves to be debated and debunked.

Community is not built by everyone having their own way. Community is built by people agreeing to limit themselves for the greater good, by seeing that limits are required to live together and provide true freedom for all.

The Problem With Freedom – Day 3

There is a concept in medicine called “herd immunity.”

If you are trying to immunize a population of 100 people against some nasty disease, you don’t have to reach everyone with the vaccine. That is hard to achieve. The concept of herd immunity means that if you manage to treat a certain number of the population – for argument’s sake we’ll say 80 – then the disease does not have enough places to live.

It survives by infecting a host and reproducing, passing itself to the next victim. If one person gets the disease, but doesn’t run into one of the other twenty unvaccinated people, then the disease can’t continue the process. It will die out in its host whether their immune system takes it out or the host expires. Now there is one less option for spread.

I think the concept of herd immunity is key when discussing sex trafficking and reducing demand.

I’ve spent the past couple of posts talking about the problem with freedom. (Day 1 and Day 2) To sum up: in Western culture and especially America, we like to say that people should have the freedom to do whatever they want, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. The problem becomes that we don’t always realize the unintended consequences of our actions, and more people are hurt than we realize.

We may enjoy our chocolate, but the cocoa beans sold to our favorite candy company finance a brutal regime. We may want a purebred puppy, but this supports puppy mills that churns out animals that are unhealthy and contributes to an overpopulation of pets.

Men may think they can look at pornography or solicit sex with a prostitute, and it is only their business. It’s not hurting anyone, and they have the right. Right?

My second post on this topic connects the increasing demand for porn and prostitution with the exploitation of children in the sex industry, as does this excellent Newsweek article. I started this whole series because of an article in the Village Voice trying to debunk statistics regarding human trafficking and attacking the campaign by Ashton and Demi’s DNA Foundation that wants to eradicate child sex exploitation and trafficking.

I’ve described the problem. The solution is always harder than identifying the problem.

Men, we have to realize that we are contributing to the exploitation and ruination of thousands of teen girls and vulnerable women. Our lust is providing a disease with plenty of hosts. The young and vulnerable women who are exploited by this industry are the victims, being ravaged by abuse, violence, and neglect. Whereas the DNA Foundation, IJM, Free the Slaves, and GEMS among others work to help these women, the Village Voice continues its defense of its adult services site Backpage.

As the Newsweek article details, the anonymity of the internet has created a huge increase in the demand for sexual buyers. Men think we can do what we want in private without hurting others. Whether downloading items off the net or arranging services at a clandestine location, it is a right. However, it feeds an industry that is devouring more and more of the “herd”.

If men would stand up and say “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls,” if men would realize that these activities are not harmless or private, but contribute to a larger problem, then perhaps we would start seeing some herd immunity develop. If enough men were vaccinated, as it were, then the demand would lessen and there wouldn’t be as much exploitation of the vulnerable.

I am not naive enough to believe we can eradicate this problem fully. I do believe we can work to educate men, the demand part of the supply and demand equation, that their actions are harmful and reduce the problem this way. Look at the major public education campaigns in the past:

  • Telling people how HIV is transmitted and how to protect themselves.
  • Reducing CFC’s to protect the ozone.
  • Eliminating racist words from being used in mainstream culture.
  • Abolishing the slave trade in the 1800’s through William Wilberforce and others.

The problem of men flouting their freedom and fueling a sick industry is real and worsening. People are waking up to this and speaking out, like at the DNA Foundation. The position of the Village Voice is wrong not because I am a religious fanatic or zealot. Their position is wrong because it hurts many people and deserves to be debated and debunked.

Community is not built by everyone having their own way. Community is built by people agreeing to limit themselves for the greater good, by seeing that limits are required to live together and provide true freedom for all.

The Problem With Freedom – Day 2

Your freedom can bring oppression to others.

That’s my hypothesis for this series of posts. I started off on 7/20 referencing back to the Village Voice article that set off a lot of discussion. An excellent report of the growing demand for prostitution was posted this week by Newsweek, that also points out some of the problems with the Village Voice piece.

There’s a issue that the Newsweek article started to expose that the Village Voice completely ignored. Men say they have a right to seek out sexual services, and feminists say that women have the right to offer said services if they want. The issue is that there are a ton of unintended consequences.

The Newsweek article talks about the increase in demand for prostitution. I talked yesterday about how unscrupulous people will work to meet a demand to make a profit. By offering legal services, adults who consent to a sexual transaction drive the problem of underage sexual exploitation.

Pimps who see a way to make a buck will find a way to get a woman out there. They don’t care if the girl is underage and not mature enough to really consent. Pimps (whether male or female, there are women who will control other girls for money) will find the vulnerable to exploit. This can be runaways, kids from broken families, drug addicts, or wounded girls who find someone who pays attention to them.

In the very informative book Girls Like Us, Rachel Lloyd discusses the girls who get drawn into the world of sex trafficking in New York City. Many are recruited by men who claim to love them. Maybe a relative will push them out on the street, or make an internet ad to offer them up. In these cases, they don’t realize what they’re getting into. So women and girls are getting drawn into this violent, dangerous world. From the Newsweek article:

Prostitution has always been risky for women; the average age of death is 34, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that prostitutes suffer a “workplace homicide rate” 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous occupation, working in a liquor store.

The problem truly does not stem from the supply. Yes, there will always be people who offer themselves for such services, but many more are forced into it due to the high demand.

And men, we need to answer for what we are causing. More on this in the next post.

The Problem With Freedom – Day 2

Your freedom can bring oppression to others.

That’s my hypothesis for this series of posts. I started off on 7/20 referencing back to the Village Voice article that set off a lot of discussion. An excellent report of the growing demand for prostitution was posted this week by Newsweek, that also points out some of the problems with the Village Voice piece.

There’s a issue that the Newsweek article started to expose that the Village Voice completely ignored. Men say they have a right to seek out sexual services, and feminists say that women have the right to offer said services if they want. The issue is that there are a ton of unintended consequences.

The Newsweek article talks about the increase in demand for prostitution. I talked yesterday about how unscrupulous people will work to meet a demand to make a profit. By offering legal services, adults who consent to a sexual transaction drive the problem of underage sexual exploitation.

Pimps who see a way to make a buck will find a way to get a woman out there. They don’t care if the girl is underage and not mature enough to really consent. Pimps (whether male or female, there are women who will control other girls for money) will find the vulnerable to exploit. This can be runaways, kids from broken families, drug addicts, or wounded girls who find someone who pays attention to them.

In the very informative book Girls Like Us, Rachel Lloyd discusses the girls who get drawn into the world of sex trafficking in New York City. Many are recruited by men who claim to love them. Maybe a relative will push them out on the street, or make an internet ad to offer them up. In these cases, they don’t realize what they’re getting into. So women and girls are getting drawn into this violent, dangerous world. From the Newsweek article:

Prostitution has always been risky for women; the average age of death is 34, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that prostitutes suffer a “workplace homicide rate” 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous occupation, working in a liquor store.

The problem truly does not stem from the supply. Yes, there will always be people who offer themselves for such services, but many more are forced into it due to the high demand.

And men, we need to answer for what we are causing. More on this in the next post.

The Problem With Freedom

One person’s freedom can be another person’s prison.

Modern America loves its freedom. The rise of Western culture is dominated by independence, especially in this country. We have a national philosophy:
As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, you should have the freedom to do it.

Tell that to the commercially exploited sex trafficking victims.

Yes, I’m still fuming about the Village Voice article slamming the campaign of “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. The article attacks the statistics used by abolitionists for girls at risk of being trafficked in the U.S. More than this, they suggest the fight against trafficking is driven by the desire for federal grant money.

The Village Voice is not a disinterested party. They run Backpage, a solicitation site for adult services. After Craigslist was taken to task for its adult services pages not screening for underage girls (or boys), the Village Voice is being proactive to protect their profit margins individual freedom.

Really. They make it an argument of the right of people to seek out such services.

I agree. In America they do have a “right” to do so if they wish.

However, this doesn’t make it right.

Before I get accused of imposing my morality on others, let’s take a step back for a bigger perspective. According to a recent Newsweek article (excellent, BTW), the demand for pornography and sexualized services is so high in the modern Internet age. The demand can’t be contained by the services of adult women who voluntarily choose to offer their wares.

Entrepreneurs are going to find a way to meet a demand.

When men indulge their lusts, they are feeding into an industry that is preying on vulnerable women and girls. Certainly there are women who freely choose to enter the oldest profession, but many more (I would wager to say the majority) are forced into it in some way, whether it is due to economic pressures or to the degree of full human trafficking. The Newsweek article was sobering when it described a study and the way they had trouble finding a control group of men who did not pay for sex or pornography in some form.

The Village Voice argued that it was the morality police trying to use the overestimated problem of child sex trafficking in the U.S. to shut down Backpage, the way Craigslist backed down on their adult ads. The problem is that they think that the problem of child sex trafficking is not linked to adult services.

Like a pebble thrown in a pond, it can create ripples across the whole body of water. My next post will look at the connection between men fueling demand and the vulnerable being victimized.

The Problem With Freedom

One person’s freedom can be another person’s prison.

Modern America loves its freedom. The rise of Western culture is dominated by independence, especially in this country. We have a national philosophy:
As long as it doesn’t hurt someone else, you should have the freedom to do it.

Tell that to the commercially exploited sex trafficking victims.

Yes, I’m still fuming about the Village Voice article slamming the campaign of “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls” by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. The article attacks the statistics used by abolitionists for girls at risk of being trafficked in the U.S. More than this, they suggest the fight against trafficking is driven by the desire for federal grant money.

The Village Voice is not a disinterested party. They run Backpage, a solicitation site for adult services. After Craigslist was taken to task for its adult services pages not screening for underage girls (or boys), the Village Voice is being proactive to protect their profit margins individual freedom.

Really. They make it an argument of the right of people to seek out such services.

I agree. In America they do have a “right” to do so if they wish.

However, this doesn’t make it right.

Before I get accused of imposing my morality on others, let’s take a step back for a bigger perspective. According to a recent Newsweek article (excellent, BTW), the demand for pornography and sexualized services is so high in the modern Internet age. The demand can’t be contained by the services of adult women who voluntarily choose to offer their wares.

Entrepreneurs are going to find a way to meet a demand.

When men indulge their lusts, they are feeding into an industry that is preying on vulnerable women and girls. Certainly there are women who freely choose to enter the oldest profession, but many more (I would wager to say the majority) are forced into it in some way, whether it is due to economic pressures or to the degree of full human trafficking. The Newsweek article was sobering when it described a study and the way they had trouble finding a control group of men who did not pay for sex or pornography in some form.

The Village Voice argued that it was the morality police trying to use the overestimated problem of child sex trafficking in the U.S. to shut down Backpage, the way Craigslist backed down on their adult ads. The problem is that they think that the problem of child sex trafficking is not linked to adult services.

Like a pebble thrown in a pond, it can create ripples across the whole body of water. My next post will look at the connection between men fueling demand and the vulnerable being victimized.

Debunking the Village Voice

 Last week I posted about a Village Voice article that attacked Ashton Kutcher – for daring to stand up to men who fuel the sex trafficking industry in the United States. Since then there’s been a lot of back and forth about this article and the Twitter feud it launched.

Initially it seemed the most vocal were people eager to pile onto Ashton. Many people on Twitter thought he got his tail handed to him.

There’s a problem with listening to the people who spout off first.

There have been some great articles standing up to the Village Voice’s so-called “scientifically backed” article. People who were trashing Mr. Kutcher could do it quickly in 140 characters. The authors who spent time writing articles that showed what fools the Village Voice were took time.

Here are two excellent articles, written with a lot more thoughtfulness than what the Village Voice could muster.

Trafficked: The Village Voice Needs to Fact-Check

 An Open Letter from FTS (Free the Slaves) to The Village Voice


Remember that the Village Voice has a financial stake in this “debate,” as they host a website for “adult services,” without always knowing whether the people offering the services are, in fact, adults or doing it voluntarily. It is nice to see that in the financial arena it has already affected them, as American Airlines has pulled advertising from their website. It is good to see some businesses with a conscience.

I still have more thoughts on some of the root problems for slavery and child sexual exploitation. That will be for another post.

Debunking the Village Voice

 Last week I posted about a Village Voice article that attacked Ashton Kutcher – for daring to stand up to men who fuel the sex trafficking industry in the United States. Since then there’s been a lot of back and forth about this article and the Twitter feud it launched.

Initially it seemed the most vocal were people eager to pile onto Ashton. Many people on Twitter thought he got his tail handed to him.

There’s a problem with listening to the people who spout off first.

There have been some great articles standing up to the Village Voice’s so-called “scientifically backed” article. People who were trashing Mr. Kutcher could do it quickly in 140 characters. The authors who spent time writing articles that showed what fools the Village Voice were took time.

Here are two excellent articles, written with a lot more thoughtfulness than what the Village Voice could muster.

Trafficked: The Village Voice Needs to Fact-Check

 An Open Letter from FTS (Free the Slaves) to The Village Voice


Remember that the Village Voice has a financial stake in this “debate,” as they host a website for “adult services,” without always knowing whether the people offering the services are, in fact, adults or doing it voluntarily. It is nice to see that in the financial arena it has already affected them, as American Airlines has pulled advertising from their website. It is good to see some businesses with a conscience.

I still have more thoughts on some of the root problems for slavery and child sexual exploitation. That will be for another post.

An Unfortunate “Voice”

I’m not Ashton Kutcher’s biggest fan.
Mr. Twitter King has not been someone I’ve really enjoyed in films (alright, he was funny in Cheaper By The Dozen), and I just haven’t paid him much attention.
However, this year my respect grew when he and his wife Demi Moore started the DNA Foundation to help fight child sex slavery and human trafficking. They started an ad campaign that shows different Hollywood actors doing some goofy things being “manly” with the tag line REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS.

The ads have gotten a little flak for supposedly being off-target. I found them humorous enough and appreciated that the message of men not paying for forced child sexual exploitation was getting out. I am passionate about seeing human trafficking end in our lifetime, and hope more people recognize the scope of this issue.

Unfortunately, the Village Voice took exception to “goofy” Ashton getting serious about this issue. Their problem is supposedly “integrity”. The article claims that the numbers used by the DNA Foundation and other activists of 100,000-300,000 children being “at risk” for sexual exploitation are wildly inflated. Oh, the article gives lip service to the tragedy of any child being exploited, but that statement is very weak compared to the vitriol stirred up through the rest of the article.

The article goes to lengths to paint Ashton as a doofus who is more interested in self-image than the actual issue. It discusses a “celebrity charity advisor” that helped Ashton and Demi craft a message against child sex trafficking. It attacks the studies used to get the above number, and tries to suggest it is wildly over-estimated.

The interesting part is when the article insinuates that faith-based groups working to help end slavery are in it to win big government bucks. The disdain and bias shows clearly when talking about anyone religious participating in this work.
A disclaimer reveals Village Voice’s stake in the situation:
Congress hauled in Craigslist on September 15, 2010. There, feminists, religious zealots, the well-intentioned, law enforcement, and social-service bureaucrats pilloried the online classified business for peddling “100,000 to 300,000” underage prostitutes annually.
It goes on to say that Village Voice has always advertised for adult services, and feels attacked by the “devout” now that Craigslist was taken to the woodshed.
I am shocked how Village Voice can take such an issue and turn it into a First Amendment argument? I have no experience with this magazine, as it seems to be a New York phenomenon.
I am certain that the numbers for child sexual exploitation and trafficking are very difficult to nail down. Even if the study chided in the Voice article is flawed, so is their selective research and analysis. They should be talking to people in the field like Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS. Still, the dismissive way they talk about faith-based advocates reveals a philosophical agenda that doesn’t give any respect to the concern over human lives being so damaged and used.
I’ll have more to say on this topic soon. I’m interested to see where the Village Voice goes now after staking such a horrible position. It drove me to become more of an Ashton Kutcher fan and a follower of his on Twitter. Maybe there’s a little reverse effect going on. 
My final thought is a lyric from a song from the 90’s:
“Human rights have made the wrongs okay”
Slavery sucks. People need to see some of the root causes and stand for what’s right.
— 

An Unfortunate “Voice”

I’m not Ashton Kutcher’s biggest fan.
Mr. Twitter King has not been someone I’ve really enjoyed in films (alright, he was funny in Cheaper By The Dozen), and I just haven’t paid him much attention.
However, this year my respect grew when he and his wife Demi Moore started the DNA Foundation to help fight child sex slavery and human trafficking. They started an ad campaign that shows different Hollywood actors doing some goofy things being “manly” with the tag line REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS.

The ads have gotten a little flak for supposedly being off-target. I found them humorous enough and appreciated that the message of men not paying for forced child sexual exploitation was getting out. I am passionate about seeing human trafficking end in our lifetime, and hope more people recognize the scope of this issue.

Unfortunately, the Village Voice took exception to “goofy” Ashton getting serious about this issue. Their problem is supposedly “integrity”. The article claims that the numbers used by the DNA Foundation and other activists of 100,000-300,000 children being “at risk” for sexual exploitation are wildly inflated. Oh, the article gives lip service to the tragedy of any child being exploited, but that statement is very weak compared to the vitriol stirred up through the rest of the article.

The article goes to lengths to paint Ashton as a doofus who is more interested in self-image than the actual issue. It discusses a “celebrity charity advisor” that helped Ashton and Demi craft a message against child sex trafficking. It attacks the studies used to get the above number, and tries to suggest it is wildly over-estimated.

The interesting part is when the article insinuates that faith-based groups working to help end slavery are in it to win big government bucks. The disdain and bias shows clearly when talking about anyone religious participating in this work.
A disclaimer reveals Village Voice’s stake in the situation:
Congress hauled in Craigslist on September 15, 2010. There, feminists, religious zealots, the well-intentioned, law enforcement, and social-service bureaucrats pilloried the online classified business for peddling “100,000 to 300,000” underage prostitutes annually.
It goes on to say that Village Voice has always advertised for adult services, and feels attacked by the “devout” now that Craigslist was taken to the woodshed.
I am shocked how Village Voice can take such an issue and turn it into a First Amendment argument? I have no experience with this magazine, as it seems to be a New York phenomenon.
I am certain that the numbers for child sexual exploitation and trafficking are very difficult to nail down. Even if the study chided in the Voice article is flawed, so is their selective research and analysis. They should be talking to people in the field like Rachel Lloyd, founder of GEMS. Still, the dismissive way they talk about faith-based advocates reveals a philosophical agenda that doesn’t give any respect to the concern over human lives being so damaged and used.
I’ll have more to say on this topic soon. I’m interested to see where the Village Voice goes now after staking such a horrible position. It drove me to become more of an Ashton Kutcher fan and a follower of his on Twitter. Maybe there’s a little reverse effect going on. 
My final thought is a lyric from a song from the 90’s:
“Human rights have made the wrongs okay”
Slavery sucks. People need to see some of the root causes and stand for what’s right.
—