Archive for May 14th, 2013

Humor does not rescue us from unhappiness, but enables us to move back from it a little.  –  Mason Cooley

Oyster StewPsychologists still aren’t entirely sure what makes a given thing funny.  Oh, there’s been considerable thought about it in the past few decades, but no general consensus on some important details such as why one person finds something funny while another may not.  Part of this undoubtedly comes down to taste; for example, while I find absurd situations intrinsically amusing, others may only find them irritating.  And while many people find exaggerated depictions of misfortune hilarious, they only make me uncomfortable.  This accounts for my mixed reaction to the Three Stooges; though I find ridiculous scenes like Curly fighting a living clam in a bowl of chowder to be extremely funny, the physical slapstick leaves me absolutely cold.  Of course, some humor depends on knowledge; those in the know will get the joke, while those who aren’t, won’t.  Sometimes the latter may even take a situation very seriously, while the former recognize the irony and so perceive it as ludicrous.

That was the case when I read this recent story about a “sex trafficking” propaganda session held by Shared Hope International at a Washington State high school.  What first attracted my attention to it was the fact that though the speaker admits to having been naïve and ignorant at the beginning of her supposed “ordeal”, she is still just as clueless as ever, but doesn’t realize how her words betray that fact to anyone who’s ever done any kind of sex work (or even set foot in a modern strip club).  I planned to use the story in TW3 #318, but the more I looked at it the funnier it got, and I realized it needed the full-column treatment.  I hope I’m able to help most of you see what I saw, and if not…well, I guess you had to be there.

…Brianna…sketched a scene of lost innocence.  She was in Seattle on a whim to party with two older guys she barely knew.  She’d lied to her parents, telling them she was at a girlfriend’s house for the weekend.  The guys seemed nice enough, attractive, possibly wealthy.  But she soon discovered their motives weren’t merely impure, they were also likely criminal.  They told Brianna, who’d just turned 18, she could make a lot more money stripping than she could working her other job, waiting tables…

In other words, Brianna is a spoiled, sheltered moron who thinks it’s perfectly safe to spend the weekend with complete strangers 200 km from home without anyone knowing she’s there.  That’s not “innocence”; it’s exceptional stupidity.  Even so, these guys (if they existed at all) don’t appear to be “criminals” to me, unless telling the truth has been criminalized in Washington; a good-looking 18-year-old girl CAN make a lot more money stripping than waiting tables.  Surely Shared Hope and reporter Tyler Graf aren’t denying this?

“The strip club was really loud and really dark — it smelled,” Brianna said…”Everything there was really sticky.  It had germs on it.”

My guess is that Brianna has never actually been in a strip club; her description appears to be a combination of something she saw on a TV cop show and what somebody told her about seedy porn theaters, embellished on suggestion of her handlers.  Germs!

The guys told her she could make a lot of money with her young looks.  So why not get out of La Center?  Why not head down to Phoenix, Ariz., and catch some sun?  Why not empty her bank account and hand it over?  They’d take care of her.  In only a few days, the requests became increasingly unreasonable, and she realized something was wrong.  What she didn’t know until later was that she was on the brink of entering the sex trade world.

“Increasingly unreasonable”?  Really?  You mean, more unreasonable than “Hey, why not travel halfway across the country with two dudes you don’t know after turning over your bank account to them?”  Because I’m honestly having difficulty thinking of something that could be more unreasonable than that to anyone who was reared outside of a Skinner box and has a greater cerebral capacity than the average stray dog.  Though we aren’t told how Brianna “escaped” from these guys, it’s pretty obvious they did not actually intend to harm or (criminally) exploit her; she clearly lacks the intellectual agility to outwit a goldfish, much less a pair of gangsters (even assuming they were relatively obtuse).  I’m also very amused by the phrase “sex trade world”, which was clearly shat out by the same Yellow Journalism Phrase GeneratorTM that produced “sex trafficking world” and “sex trafficking trade”.

Brianna’s brush with sex trafficking two years ago is documented in…”Chosen,” which made its premiere…in front of more than 100 La Center High School students.  The 20-minute video, produced by…Shared Hope International, is meant to be an educational tool warning teens and others about the dangers of the sex trade.

Shouldn’t that be “sex trafficking trade”?  Or is it “sex trade world”?  One needs to be precise about these things.

In the video, another young woman details how a pimp groomedCurly spin her as a young teenager.  He bought her expensive gifts before eventually setting her loose at strip clubs in Portland.

I just can’t help picturing her running around the club going “woop woop woop” and “nyah nyah nyah”, then falling on her side on the floor and spinning around in a circle.

Law enforcement officials consider…Interstate 5…to be a major arterial for sex-trafficking operations, especially of underage girls…


“You might think pimps are cool — like, they have lots of money and cars,” senior Olivia Loreth, 19, said.  “They get a lot of women because they’re just that cool.”

You might, if you were a complete imbecile.

…Former U.S. Rep. Linda Smith, the founder of Shared Hope International, says she wants the video to be another tool in fighting the rise of human trafficking…

…which is “an extension of the ‘pro-life’ cause.”  Finish your sentences, Linda.

…Smith said more awareness of the realities of sex trafficking needs to be coupled with stronger state laws that punish Johns and pimps but protect victims.

I’m starting to get the giggles every time I see some po-faced twit use the word “john” to mean a client.  Even more so when he capitalizes it.  And the irony of one of the chief disseminators of “sex trafficking” myths and lies using the phrase “realities of sex trafficking” is just icing on the cake.

Washington has been a leader in this.  It’s one of a handful of states that has what’s known as a “Safe Harbor” law, which redefines prostituted minors as victims…

What does it mean? WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?

What does it mean?

Here’s an example of Washington’s “leadership”, and the truth about “safe harbor laws”.  I know this bit isn’t funny, but it does demonstrate Smith’s duplicity and Graf’s credulity.

[A new Washington law] will toughen the definition of sex trafficking, making every minor who participates in a sex-for-money scheme the victim of trafficking…

That’s right, the law has the power to rewrite reality like the Lathe of Heaven and make them victims even if they weren’t.  Justice!

In the two years since her ordeal, Brianna has rebounded.  She often joins Smith to spread the word about the realities of sex trafficking, and she’s enrolled in a nursing program at Clark College.

If I might offer a bit of unsolicited advice, Brianna, I don’t think you’re cut out for nursing; perhaps fantasy-writing or acting would be a closer fit.  Or better yet, stand-up comedy.

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