January 28, 2004



Douglas comments on this Landesman deal. Douglas says "The point of Landesman's article is not to prove that sex slavery is horrible (of course it is), or that it exists in the U.S. (Landesman cites one example right up at the top), but that it's epidemic in the U.S.: that it is everywhere here, and condoned by people in a position to do something about it."

Landesman likes big, dangerous stories, rocks the old-fashioned moral obligation, and enjoys the fact that he's written a big flag piece. He's a feature writer--he wants to get as much color into the box as possible. None of these things bother me, because my interest in this story is instrumental: If Landesman pushes consciousness of these issues, hot dog. If some anecdotes and numbers turns out to be fudged, who the fuck cares? Was all of Silent Spring absolutely accurate? What's more important: actual progress or the allegedly sacred precepts of journalism, which allegedly serve the alleged people? And isn't it funny when tough guy journalists put their toes in the sand and cry "Don't hurt our home!" when it's sort of obvious journalism is the best-armored cockroach in town? And since everyone loves to trumpet their integrity when someone turns out to be a fudger, don't discount guys getting a boner for the octopus back-pat maneuver.

My marrow starts to hum when I see two MEN scrambling to unplug Landesman's hysteria. Yes, his rhetoric is hysterical. When four-year-olds are being sodomized and 12-year-olds are being forced to blow people all week long, hysteria seems like the perfect thing to bring to the party. The urge to correct and discredit Landesman is just creepy. It's like standing in front of Ground Zero and arguing about which tower fell first.

My original waahh waah handwringing about this piece was preciesly imprecisely asserting that this piece is NOT just about proving that sex slavery is an "epidemic." It's about demonstrating that this flesh trade is the logical outcome of these variables:

1) The internet's Pavlovian reward system and consequence-free encouragement of fantasy drives.
2) The American imperative to satisfy desires Right Now, above and beyond the law.
3) The capitalist imperative to earn above and beyond the law.
4) The ongoing sexualization of everyone, including children, which is correlated with variable 1-3.
5) The infinite disgustingness of human beings.

I think Landesman did a good job. I am done. We will see how this plays out. If people want to send more comments, go on ahead and I'll post what I can.

Jennifer Lena forwarded this June 20003 UN Wire article reproduced in The Atlantic.

Hua Hsu adds his angle on Shafer and Bales.

Thank you to Suzanne from Honolulu for writing. She says: "It's Wednesday here, and I'm still searching for ways to ease my conscience. What do I do? What CAN I do? I've started collecting toys and stuffed animals and blankets. I'll put them in boxes and see how best to distribute them. I may discover that the best bet is to go local; donate to abused children shelters around where I live. I'm looking for ways to volunteer, foster, whatever is humanly possible."

There's lot of opportunites to provide post-trauma assistance. A quick session with Google will put you in touch with your local agencies. The harder question is at the other end of the food chain: How can we be less ignorant and assy now? What choices do we make every day that help maintain a system where this happens? Like, get a coffee cup that says "Am I An Ass?" and then think about it.

Posted by Sasha at January 28, 2004 11:02 AM | TrackBack