my name is rick, not john

March 3, 2018

Please Stop Saving The Children

This week has seen 2 very different approaches to the phrase, “Save The Children”. Two very sketchy, very powerful groups are parlaying this cause into very different reactions to advance their agendas. The groups in question are the NRA and the US Congress. The NRA wants to arm the world to improve the gun & ammo sales of their “corporate partners” – Congress wants to sterilize society. When we look at the entirety of both propositions, it’s not hard to see that the only good part of either is the insertion of “Save The Children” after the actual proposal. But let’s put these two ideas into a very simple scenario, and since we’re talking about kids, we’ll go to the playground.

There’s a kid in a playground. He (or she) hits another kid with a stick. My “common sense” does not blame the stick, but it takes the stick away. The NRA school staff’ would arm themselves with sticks, an idea that has been panned from Afghanistan to the White House (for whatever that’s worth). A kid gets mad and hits another kid. The staff starts hitting him with sticks. Some staff accidentally hits other kids. The cops come with their sticks, and since they’re afraid of being hit with sticks, they hit anyone they see with a stick, whether those others are swinging their stick or just holding it. This is the NRA’s solution to “save the children”. No one is safe on the playground.

There’s a kid in a playground. He (or she) hits a kid with a stick. The Congressional FOSTA/SESTA school staff would blindfold, bind, and gag the kids so they couldn’t interact, eliminating all interaction on the playground and strictly monitoring the kids’ actions. But this action makes all the children more vulnerable, as they can’t see or be warned about danger from the staff. There are all ages of kids with varying degrees of experience regarding the playground, which is a tough place. The older kids want to protect the younger ones from both outsiders and the staff. FOSTA/SESTA’s effect would be to prevent the more experienced kids from helping the younger kids deal with the difficulties of the playground. This is FOSTA/SESTA’s solution to “save the children”. No one is safe on the playground.

The NRA is a lobby group promoting gun sales and lax safeguards, not the advocate for responsible gun safety it was decades ago. Although Florida lawmakers passed a bill authorizing teachers for weapons training today, this idea will fade and die as at should. FOSTA/SESTA is much more dangerous legislation the drafters claim will address sex trafficking. One would think this was drafted after examining solid data and research, but this was not the case. This is a quote from a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:

“As with most other data related to human trafficking, there are huge gaps between estimates of prevalence or populations at risk and individuals actually identified as trafficking victims or enrolled in government programs.  Better data and research are needed to begin distinguishing among possible reasons for the gaps between prevalence estimates and administrative data.”

The FOSTA/SESTA bill was drafted based on “estimates of prevalence or populations at risk” instead of “individuals actually identified as trafficking victims”. How did this bill come about with no real information? “Save the children” has become cover for right-wing extremists, liberal un-or-improperly-informed do-gooders, and the anti-trafficking industry to advance their agendas. Neither the NRA nor Congress has done the necessary research to prove their ideas will improve the situation, and there has been no research (or concern) by either group as to the negative effects their plans will be responsible for. This blog by Elizabeth Nolan Brown goes into the harm which FOSTA/SESTA will create if implemented as presented:

The support for this bill, which the DOJ has called unconstitutional, has come from a groundswell of public hysteria generated by manufactured and exaggerated statistics by the anti-trafficking/rescue industry. These efforts have created a ripe market for law enforcement to target all providers under the guise of “trafficking”. A more accurate statistical analysis can be found in “Sex Lies and Statistics” By Dr. Brooke Magnanti, which should have been mandatory reading for every member of Congress in preparation for their vote. But many “rescue” organizations and high-profile anti-sexwork groups like the Polaris Project and Demand Abolition are happy with the bill, since the practical application of these anti-trafficking measures translates into an attack on all sex work. Most rescue groups use law enforcement as the gateway, guaranteeing at least add-on trauma for those in need of actual rescue and the possibility of abuse by the keepers of the law. How effective are these rescue groups? What services can they offer to trafficking victims or sex workers wanting to exit the trade? You will not be impressed, but see for yourself. .

FOSTA/SESTA was drafted with the belief that its implementation would result in hundreds of thousands of trafficking victims being freed and legions of brutal pimps sent to prison for their crimes. Previous anti-trafficking sweeps have resulted in large numbers of sex workers and clients being arrested, with a very small percentage being either underage or trafficked. Trafficking statistics are also muddied by the fact that two sex workers working together can be charged with trafficking each other under current law. Why have the anti-trafficking sweeps not reaped the rewards predicted? Is law enforcement being outsmarted at each turn by those crafty pimps, or are there just not as many trafficking victims in sex work as advertised? Either way, the implementation of FOSTA/SESTA is counter-productive in three ways – it drives everyone involved in sex work further underground, it silences the segment of the population closest and most able to identify and offer real assistance to trafficking victims, and it prevents those who have chosen sex work as their vocation from sharing information which would keep them safe.

“Save The Children” is only one in a line of recent seemingly-unarguable sentiments whose use masks a more devious or unacceptable thought process. “Make America Great Again” was a huckster sales pitch aimed at the lowest common denominator. “Respect the soldiers” was used as a tag line for racism. “Save The Children” is now being used to threaten thousands of citizens or sell lots of guns. Next time you read a universally-acceptable tag line, listen to what it’s covering up. Thanks.