A local incident in Vacaville, California exhibited signs of human trafficking, leading to investigation and (I think) the bust of a pimp. My sweetheart was able to make phone calls and work some networking magic, leading to the local high school offering to host Elle Snow of itsgameover.org (Who’s not this Elle Snow). Snow did her two-hour presentation on trafficking detection and prevention.
It was my birthday, but it was also the day the high school scheduled Elle Snow’s presentation, so we postponed ice cream until Friday. Instead, we went for a hard deep dive into the world of sexual trafficking in the United States. Tasty! I’ve talked about trafficking before and some of my data is out of date, but it’s still a big, serious, outrageous, exasperating issue.
I’m still processing the presentation, and this piece is a part of that.
I Am So Triggered
We, as a species, suck at being civilized. I knew this to some extent, but sometimes peering at our most egregious examples of interpersonal exploitation drives this home. With time I’ve been able to better shape an ambition — a fantasy, really — that we can some day reform society so that people don’t have to suffer all that much, and certainly not for the benefit of an elite few. Some day, I dream, no one will thrive by beating down the other guy.
It’s a good thing I have this fantasy. Without it, I might be tempted to go all Dr. Doom. …Or a bit more accurately, Dr. Peters. If civilization cannot advance beyond suffering and internal oppression, I wonder, what makes the continuation of our species worthwhile in contrast to others? Sentimentalism? (Heh. I’m half way there already.) Would it not be better to remove ourselves, and give rest of the planet and other species a better chance?
The Era of Alternative Facts and Fake News
In retrospect, focusing this much on the realities of sex trafficking here in the California Basin was something like looking at aborted baby pictures in high-school that were brought in from the pro-life community. I’m profoundly disgusted beyond my capacity to reason.
But that’s not a great comparison: I’d discover as an adult that the baby-shaped gore I was exposed to as a child turned out actually to be (non-induced) miscarriages. By the time a fetus is formed enough to be recognizably human, they’re typically wanted by the mother. And abortions at that stage are for medical complications that put the mother and / or child in jeopardy. Also the resulting biomatter of an abortion (that is, an induced miscarriage) tends to look nothing like a mostly-intact baby corpse, so they rely on non-aborted miscarriages for their abortion gore. The pro-life woman was not only exposing me to something wretch-inducing on the argument abortion is icky, but was being knowingly deceptive about it.*
My high-school experience with the pro-life woman and her dead-baby pics is now another brick in the wall (Hah!) of suspicion and distrust I put between myself and activists who might be willing to lie for their agenda. Elle Snow suggested some trends that were radically contrary to what I understood. And my research efforts online, later, to see what’s what confirmed that she was mistaken or (giving Snow the most benefit of doubt) informed of data not yet online.
I really don’t like when someone gives me false information, especially when that someone has a specific agenda and seek to recruit me into the ranks. From them it seems deliberate, an act of hostility. The thing is, I’d expect Elle Snow would know better, as a trafficking victim who had been lured into her captivity by deception.
But then I say this while large portions of the nation are cleaning up after a barrage of late-summer hurricanes, and the climate-change denialists are striking pre-emptively.
My hope for the species hangs by a thread today. Man, it’s a totally good thing that I haven’t developed an XDR strain of yersinia pestis. Nor have I distributed samples of the strain to dissemination teams at Boulder, Gulfport, Cleveland, St. Paul and Salem. Nor have I convinced those teams they’re on a holy mission to bless public water reservoirs with small vials of holy aphrodisiacs. (Go easy on them please: They’re misguided and mischievous, neither criminal nor nihilist.) And those guys are totally not already activated, so that if I’m captured or killed, it will only assure they fulfill their mission in the names of peace, love and Jesus. This is all fiction and that’s such a good thing right now.**
Hot Buttons For Everybody
To others, appealing to pity or outrage works. As does resorting to complete falsehoods, even when they’re obvious. And while human trafficking is a real problem that’s affecting real kids, while its a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States alone (how much exactly is hard to say, but it’s a lot) we’re already seeing the horror of kid rape being used to push through power-consolidation agendas.
This isn’t a new thing. Early in the 20th century, no one cared who was fucking kids (so long as you married them first). Child labor was cheaper than adult labor, and easier to recruit, and no one cared when orphans were abused or were ground up (literally) in the gears of industry. We put them in our factories as readily as we put them on our farms. It would be a long, slow, painful process to get them out, and in 2017, we still accept American products made abroad by children. Heck, our president and his family is notorious about using suppliers that employ (and mistreat) children, and advocacy of children’s rights and interests is notoriously quiet in contrast to advocacy of fetal rights and interests.
But advocacy of children became a hot topic in the early 20th century and it wouldn’t be long that every political position that could fit children’s welfare into it, somehow, did. It became cliche and a point of relentless satire by the 1980s and 1990s, making it even harder for us to push issues that might really serve children.
Like sex trafficking, or child porn. It’s how our foster care system is a hotbed for trafficking victims. One might think the trafficking problem is a symptom not the cause. (Remember Russia had the same problem after the USSR broke up.) But I’m getting (way) ahead of myself.
To Be Continued…
At this point, I’m outraged again. And as human trafficking and child sexual abuse are difficult topics for me, so I’m going to have to break this up into smaller doses of rant. But there’s two examples of what’s going on happening right now that I hope to get into in future posts:
Operation Pacifier was FBI’s justification to release viral malware into the public. The sting targeted the Playpen website, a real child-porn exchange site. In doing the FBI so released malware intended to infect the site’s end users and trace their IP addresses. (They were using of TOR to anonymize themselves.) But now, this malware is now out in the public. It was poorly written, cannot be remotely deactivated and doesn’t shut off on its own or self-destruct. Instead it continues to spread, having used one of the zero-day exploits our government chose not to reveal for sake of public computer security (before the CIA hacks). The FBI doesn’t know (nor does it seem to care) how many systems are infected and how much of the public is being harmed the outbreak. Courts have decided the FBI evidence regarding the Playpen website was obtained unethically, way, way, illegally and with a lot of collateral damage. And yet it’s being admitted anyway because child porn. (EFF take on the Playpen sting)
S.1693 , the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017 or SESTA is a bill to revise Section 230 of US telecommunications ordinance which holds websites immune to content posted on their sites by end-users. The revision would provide for criminal and civil litigation against classified-ad sites (such as Craigslist or Backpage) for facilitating ads for trafficked victims (id est, prostitution). This is to say, if a trafficker posts an ad, the website host can be shut down, its owners charged with facilitating human trafficking, and the victims represented in those ads could sue the site for money. This is going to kill most of the interactivity on the internet, given that any site with public forums can be used to advertise trafficked victims. Like all prior black-marketers, they’ll learn to do so surreptitiously. A profitable website cannot hire enough human moderators to monitor all user traffic (and that wouldn’t really help). And automated filter systems are really bad at determining bad guys from good guys (especially since the badguys actively seek to trick the AI). The big ones (Google, Facebook, Twitter…) will get hobbled, and small startups will be annihilated for concern of accidentally hosting traffickers, since it’s better to not go into business than end up in jail. (EFF take on SESTA)
I hope to cover these and other issues around the Human Trafficking problem (such as how, once you take the sex out, the abuse of trafficked victims compares very closely with abuse and bullying common in typical workplaces). But I’m going to have to eat this elephant one bite at a time.
* If showing the grotesquery of a topic was fair game for anything but abortion, I’d think it would be a valid approach for anti-war and anti-recruitment efforts. It would be a challenge to get the imagery. Our government is allowed to classify whatever it wants to hide (Abuse of which is a big problem in the United States) Plenty of good material trickles down through anonymous media sites: grotesque footage of torture or war atrocity or even merely soldiers shooting the shit out of each other at the receiving end with machine guns and artillery. (Exploded heads from sniper hits are super popular!) That would dissuade plenty of folk signing up to serve as the toy soldiers for rich kids. This is what you’re signing up for. Somehow, we’ve given anti-abortionists free pass with the dead fetuses, which they don’t deserve and have long abused.
** A point for fiction writers: designer plagues are probably the easiest doomsday device to design. It takes patience, and you need to use full safety measures and never get lazy about it, but you can otherwise make a supergerm in your own garage-lab. Typically viruses are the choice thanks to our vast range of antibiotics, but now that we can make XDR bacteria strains, we can go old school. Of course, I’ve already discussed the treatment for XDR bugs Curses! Foiled again!