Archive for May 9th, 2011

To hear some men talk of the government, you would suppose that Congress was the law of gravitation, and kept the planets in their places.  –  Wendell Phillips

Lawheads suffer from a sort of collective hubris; they honestly believe that a government can define reality by proclamation.  If lawmakers define a particular object or substance as “evil”, Presto!  It actually becomes evil in the minds of lawheads, even if it wasn’t the day before.  Define teenagers as children, and Alakazam!  They magically transform into helpless toddlers no matter what the lawhead’s senses and personal experience tell him.  But this legislatorial thaumaturgy is not limited to mere transmogrification; lawheads even believe in the power of governments to violate the Law of Conservation of Energy by conjuring things and events out of thin air.

A recent example of lawhead belief in these miraculous powers can be found in this article from the Washington Times of April 28th:

More than 80 percent of the 2,515 suspected incidents of human trafficking investigated by law enforcement agencies between January 2008 and June 2010 involved adult prostitution or the exploitation and forced prostitution of children, a Justice Department report released Thursday says.  The report, written by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), says 48 percent of the investigated incidents involved adults, while 40 percent uncovered the exploitation or forced prostitution of children.  The remainder, about 350 cases, involved allegations of labor trafficking…Under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, according to the report, human trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of a person to perform labor or a commercial sex act through force, fraud or coercion [but] any commercial sex act performed by a person under age 18 is considered human trafficking, regardless of whether force, fraud or coercion is involved…

I’m sure even the sleepiest reader caught the bit of legal legerdemain in the last line; though the crime of “human trafficking” is clearly (and sensibly, except for the weird and unnecessary singling out of sex work from other kinds of labor) defined in the first part of the sentence, legislators conjure “victims” out of thin air by defining ANY prostitution by someone under 18 – even a fully-cognizant and willful act of prostitution by one who looks much older – as “human trafficking”, despite the total absence of either force or anyone to apply that force!  Long-time readers may remember that I was universally taken for “about 25” since I was 16, and that my first act of outright prostitution was an opportunistic one shortly after my 18th birthday; had this asinine law been in effect at that time, and had the opportunity arisen just three months earlier, I would have magically become a “victim” of “human trafficking” – and presumably, a “trafficker” would have obediently materialized to “exploit” me.

But the other sleight-of-hand here is a bit more subtle and appears in the first line.  See it?  “More than 80 percent of the…suspected incidents of human trafficking investigated by law enforcement agencies…involved…prostitution…” That sounds like a serious problem until one realizes that the “authorities” choose which incidents to investigate, and just because 80% of those they pursued involved allegations of sex trafficking does NOT mean that 80% of all incidents (or even all reported incidents) involved it.  Sex attracts the attention of cops just as it attracts the attention of anyone else, and one “teen prostitute” is vastly more likely to be reported and investigated than hundreds of sunburned guys picking vegetables.  Furthermore, carefully compare the first two lines with the third; did you notice the missing word?  In the reference to forced labor the word “allegation” is clearly stated , but it’s omitted in reference to prostitution in order to make those cases seem like proven ones when in fact they, too were mere allegations; according to the actual (conveniently not linked to the Times article) BJS report, only 30% of them were “proven” even by the lax standards of the Bureau of Justice.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr…[called] human trafficking… “modern-day slavery”…[and] said it was “an affront to human dignity,” adding that men, women and children were being exploited for sex and labor in “virtually every corner of our nation.”

Abracadabra!   Having defined victims into existence, Holder then waves his magic wand and disperses them to “virtually every corner of our nation.”  The word “virtually” is a bit ironic, since these victims are “virtual” in the computer science sense, in other words “nonexistent in physical reality”.

…According to the report, more than four-fifths of the confirmed victims of sex trafficking — about 83 percent — were U.S. citizens, while 95 percent of the confirmed victims of labor trafficking were either illegal immigrants or foreign nationals working legally in the U.S.  The report also said the confirmed victims of human trafficking were predominantly female and that among the confirmed sex trafficking victims, they were “overwhelmingly female” at 94 percent and made up 68 percent of the labor trafficking victims as well.  Most of the confirmed sex trafficking incidents involved the prostitution of children (about 60 percent) compared with adult prostitution (about 40 percent)…

Hocus-pocus!  Since we define “victims” any way we find convenient, these “statistics” are worse than meaningless; they’re made to order from nothing.  And considering that A) anyone under 18 is defined as a “child”; B) the definition of “sex trafficking” is ludicrously broad for those individuals; C) “child sex trafficking” is the witch hunt du jour; and D) “authorities” determine both which cases to investigate and the standard by which cases are “confirmed”, I’m actually amazed that only 60% of the “confirmed” cases involve “child prostitution”.  Perhaps Holderini felt that pulling too many “child victims” out of his hat might attract undue scrutiny from the audience and thereby reveal that his performance relies entirely on smoke and mirrors.

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