Craigs List and now the Village Voice have been attacked for their “enabling” classified ads.
My primary experience with Craig’s List has been watching my neighbors exchange junk to stuff into their houses with other people in town. The Village Voice classifieds that I recall seeing were often very (very!) adult. But I didn’t recall seeing anything that was illegal –at least not in NYC.
Now Craig’s list and E-Bay have both been used by criminals to get rid of their misgotten gains. The police are onto that one, and have caught a number of people that way. But illegal fencing of goods (which they never handle) is not what they are being accused of. They are being accused of being pimps to small children!
Real Men Get Their Facts Straight: Ashton and Demi and Sex Trafficking
Martin Cizmar, Ellis Conklin, Kristen Hinman, Village Voice, 29 June 2011, (Hat tip: MR).
"It's between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today," Ashton Kutcher told CNN's Piers Morgan on April 18. That, says Kutcher, is how many kids are lost to prostitution in America every single year. "If you don't do something to stop that, that's when there is something wrong with you, in my opinion."
In order to "make a difference," Kutcher and Moore recently launched a series of public service announcements under the banner "Real Men Don't Buy Girls." In the spots, Kutcher plays a scruffy doofus who'd rather toss out his smelly socks and put on a pair fresh from the package than do a load of laundry. "Real men do their own laundry," an off-camera voice booms. "Real men don't buy girls."
The message is somewhat bewildering, given the lack of context, but there are more like it, all part of a campaign featuring celebrities Justin Timberlake, Sean Penn, and Jason Mraz doing cartoonishly manly things, such as trying to shave with a chainsaw and find a car while blindfolded in a parking lot.
The problem with all this Hollywood Hi-jinks-is that there is absolutely no evidence for such a large number. While the police certainly don’t arrest every underage prostitute, they are not generally accused of ignoring the problem completely. It is fairly obvious that this is the type of problem that is going to be more prevalent in the blend-in anything goes big cities. But there are only 827 arrests of underage prostitutes a year in the 37 largest cities in the country. Some of the cities (Vegas) make hundreds of arrests, some of them (Salt Lake City) have none.
So where did the enormous 100,000 to 300,000 number come from? Apparently a study by two Proffessors at the University of Pennsylvania, Richard Estes and Neil Weiner in their The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
They did not say that 100, 000 to 300,000 children were child prostitutes; they said that 100,000 to 300,000 were at risk. Well actually at first they did say, that 100, 000 to 300, 00 were child prostitutes at first; they put in the qualifier “at risk” after people started asking question. How to the define child prostitutes (now only “at risk”)?
1. All runaways: even though 77% return within a week and only 7% are gone more than a month.
2. All transgender kids and female gang members. Plausible if you define prostitution as “being sexually active”.
3. All kids who live near the Mexican or Canadian border and have their own transportation. One wonders if this would include the horse riding children of homesteaders in North Dakota: likely.
The magazine has this quote as way of explaining the last item:
"All you have to do is go to San Diego and look at who fills the San Diego trolley going to Tijuana on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and it's very, very obvious that the kids are on the way to Tijuana to make money, and they come back Sunday totally stocked," he says. "They go there for cheap drugs, cheap money, cheap sex—[Tijuana's] full of everything. And that's using public transit, right to the border station."
Bizarre, I wonder if children who live along the Great Lakes and have access to a sailboat count?
Oddly enough, when they asked the good Doctor how many children were kidnapped and forced into sex slavery he took a guess at a few hundred. That would be less than 3 in each of the 37 largest cities noted.
So where does this leave us?
With Hollywood, and our follow along for the spectacle media, forcing us to watch strange commercials that distort the issues of a real problem. Similar to the prevalence of the youth Satanic cults of the 1980s-90s (formula: Dungeons and Dragons players and heavy metal listeners = ritual sacrificing Satanists) the problem is so over the top, that people are bound to pay attention.
If the people involved were smart enough, you would almost think they are trying to distract us from some real issue.