Slow Your Roll

I see a lot of people celebrating the arrest of backpage execs. At first I was excited, but the cynical abolitionist in me took a longer look at the move by California and Texas authorities and I’m just not convinced that this is more than a token gesture… a PR stunt.

Technically and legally, I’m not sure they meet the definition of traffickers, at least no more than the ISPs/cell carriers the traffickers use, the company that invented bitcoin, or even long dead ancient races that invented currency based trade. Hell, if we’re pointing fingers, I dare say the hoteliers, apartments, and rentals found hosting these rings might be just as culpable. It’s an interesting turn, considering I was recently told that pornographers who produce and distribute child porn as currency are not traffickers…

So, what does this PR stunt accomplish? Raise awareness? Put online entities on notice? Awesome… Or will it drive the most cooperative online posting site in the world to a foreign country (or to the dark web) where it no longer has to cooperate with investigations; and will likely stop providing reporting tools and the plethora of information that is currently shares with law enforcement (upon request without warrants). I don’t like backpage, but in terms of big deals, it’s shooting a sedated lion.

My only hope is that this easy win (for today at least..) inspires other jurisdictions to learn more about how they can combat trafficking in their backyards. I really would rather see the millions upon millions that will be spent pursuing this, being used to train departments, advocates, and open more hospital beds and programs to survivors.

So, what’s my suggestion for all of you? Get back to work. Talk about trafficking to the uninformed, let your leadership know that punishments are inadequate, ask you local victim programs what they need, DEMAND RESILIENCY TRAINING IN SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES, share missing child posters, and be a cheerleader for the boots on the ground. I cannot stress that enough. It’s totally self serving, but in those quiet minutes in the wee hours or when traffic lulls my mind, the weight of it all really hits. I don’t know anyone in this racket that doesn’t struggle. Your support is everything.

Abolitionist c.2015

“I believe tyranny, slavery, and evil can be fought and defeated by civil men with just means. Do not assume that civility precludes the savage. This is the war for the lives and futures of our children. There is no room for cowardice or delicacy on the front line.”

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite quotes.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s mine, but more than that, it says what so many of us are trying to.  We have spent so much time dismissing semantics that our words no longer have the meaning they ought.  I can no longer be “pro-life” because it is perceived as “anti-woman.”

We are currently at war with factions that label themselves “Islamic” and yet, in the US our leadership is chastised by other leaders and the populace for using the same name.  If you take a peek at news coverage of Westboro Baptist Church, they’re readily identified as far leaning Christians.  As a Catholic, I am sickened by their behavior and consider them nothing more than a tax sheltered hate group, but I don’t bristle at the media reporting that they claim “Christian” beliefs to justify their behavior.  I do take exception to being lumped in with them, as I expect any American Muslim would at being lumped in with Daesh or Hezbollah.

I’m having major language issues inside the Abolitionist movement. So you know, I’m talking about the end of modern day sex and labor slavery. I could give you numbers for days, but for now, trust me, it’s pretty bad.

First of all, we’re battling our own definitions.  The government puts out numbers and estimates, but doesn’t alliterate on what numbers they are or are not counting.  By merit of excluding certain types of crimes against children from their sex trafficking head count, they trim a seven digit number down to “approximately 100,000.” Dirty Joe can pay to sodomize a child, but it won’t make it into the count because sodomy isn’t “sex.” Thanks to well meaning but misguided activists, many states no longer have a sodomy law and haven’t re-written rape laws.  I won’t get into the bad stuff, but suffice to say, there are some loopholes that are being exploited by the government to make the numbers look lower than they really are. *cough* John Kerry sucks *cough*

Another language issue we’re having is within the movement, relates to how folks label themselves. So many factions are zealously guarding their corner of the fight that they refuse help or the advancement of the cause from perceived outsiders.  The other day, it was from reps from a “sextortion” FBI task force that were so adamant that their fight was 1000% unrelated to human or child trafficking that it colored the whole presentation. They railed on and on about it being unrelated. I would argue that the exchange of “sextorted” images for other images or for bitcoins (digital currency) would qualify the crime as commerce and the perpetrator as a trafficker of sexually exploitedf855909d23c086734401ef57ad932bed persons. To further prove that they were not abolitionists, one of these feds insisted that “most” prostitutes (adult and child) were willing. She also defended the notion that lured or coerced children are still “runaways”if they were not removed from home by force. I can’t even…

In another vein, I’ve befriended activists that are fighting to get mandatory minimum sentences enacted for crimes against children.  THAT’S MUSIC TO THIS ABOLITIONIST’S EARS!!!  Why? Because people who pay to rape/molest/sodomize children or who exchange sextorted images, or any other variety pedophile would face major time!!  WHOO HOOO! BRING. IT. ON! Oh, but wait.  They don’t want to be involved in the abolition movement because “child prostitutes are different.”

I’ll let you digest that for a second.  Look at the cat.

Yeah, so these people who should be an abolitionist’s spirit animals and super heroes, don’t want to be lumped in.  I tried to explain the grooming process for recruiters and the “seasoning” process pimps use to turn these kids out and was met with exception and accusation.  One woman actually said what abolitionists are fighting is worse, therefore we need our own set of unrelated laws.  By her own admission, she didn’t think sentencing of “regular pedophiles” would stand up to scrutiny if they were sentenced by the same standard as the ones who pay.  So?  End result was I was told to stay in my lane.

I’m saddened by this, because so many jurisdictions are still arresting and charging the CHILDREN who are being trafficked for prostitution and the pedophile johns for simple solicitation.  I’ll accept “regular pedophile” sentencing for these folks if it means they’ll be held accountable for their deviance.

The final language barrier in abolitionism is the triggering one.  I’ve been turned way and cancelled from lectures and appearances time and again because various leaders recoil at the potential for complaint.  One entity was brave enough to ask me to remove a handful of terms and topics from my “Intro to trafficking” presentation.  What words?  I’m glad you asked.

“PENETRATION” “RAPE” “SURVIVAL SEX” “PIMP” 

That’s not all of them, but those are the whammies.  I’ve also been turned away because my call to action for persons to get involved has been construed as criticism of police.  I’m baffled by this, but the bottom line is this: the powers that be are so scare of a complain in the comment box that they’d rather fight positive change than take down the box.

I’ve been removed from, and muzzled by, organizations because they fear the language and the potential for conflict more than they desire to affect change.  Look at the abolitionists of the past and tell me they weren’t willing to risk death or imprisonment to save lives. That’s to say nothing of being unpopular or “triggering”.

I cannot think of an instance where I spoke to a group and didn’t see disgust, rage, tears, or sickness.  If I didn’t see that when discussing the enslavement and sexual torture of children, I’d probably start making serious plans for the apocalypse.