Thursday, June 30, 2011

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.

1 comment:

  1. Good post. I've never been able to agree with anything I've found in The Village Voice. I remember it from way back...maybe thirty years ago.