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What do they mean, “trafficked”?

This phrase set me off: “a UK initiative established to raise awareness of the plight of workers trafficked into the sex industry.” (1)

Why “trafficked”? What’s with this terminology? You see it all the time. “Tantamount to slavery.” “Conditions indistinguishable from slavery.” Why “tantamount”? Why “indistinguishable from”?

It IS slavery. It is slavery of the worst and most disgusting sort. Even hard labor does not involve body invasion. It is slavery with every possible revolting humiliation included. It is slavery with physical torture, disease, and early death, just like “real” slavery. It is human beings carrying a price tag, bought by men. That isn’t “tantamount” to slavery. It IS slavery.

Why do so many people work so hard to call it something else? Look at the terminology in that first sentence: “workers,” “trafficked,” “industry.” Workers is what we all are. Nothing special there. Traffic is just a term for buying and selling stuff, with connotations of a busy bazaar, borderline deals, and smuggling. Maybe bricks of cocaine are being moved around. And “industry,” well, that’s positively good. Hard work, salt of the earth. Admittedly, it’s qualified as being the “sex industry,” but still. It feels like they’re talking about regular economic transactions.

What they’re talking about without euphemisms is the plight of women and children sold to men.

Slaves aren’t “workers” unless workers are now locked up and beaten. The women aren’t bricks on a conveyor belt, shunted to new buildings. Lies and kidnapping keep the pipeline full of new slaves, just as they did in the bad old days. Unless you want to call selling organs an industry, that’s the wrong word for it. It’s a crime.

In our free and enlightened time, there are more people enslaved than ever before. The estimate is some twenty seven million living in slavery (1999). That includes only forced labor, not workers struggling with appalling conditions. Of those 27,000,000, over 70%, three quarters, the vast majority, most, are women or girls. Fifty percent of all slaves are children, most of them girls. Female slaves are generally violated, even when suffering sexual torture isn’t their primary function.

Slavery is no longer focused on a class or a race. Now it’s not whites who think blacks don’t feel pain the way real people do. Now it’s men who think buying women is okay because who cares what they think and anyway they like it.

Slavery is not okay. Everybody knows that. Maybe, if we called it by its right name, there’d be no way to continue pretending it is.

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Why is Romney the Almost-Human?


Everybody — well, me, and Charles Pierce, and bostonboomer, and well, everybody — sees him as a stiff awkward robot with less charm than a Roomba.

picture of Roomba

Yes, that’s at least partly because he’s a rich guy who has to mix with the rubes on nothing stronger than caffeine-free Coke. And it’s partly because he’s been lying for votes for so long, it takes more and more time to get the right lies out of storage. A Roomba doesn’t have to do either of those things.

But, really, are those issues unusual for a politician? They all have to campaign among the manyheaded and sanitize their hands every few minutes. They all lie like tombstones, and we know it. So what is it with Romney? Why are the other politicians just doing what politicians do, but Romney gets called a robot?

I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s because he’s so bad at lying. It’s written all over his face that he doesn’t believe any of the drivel himself, that he’s reading his speeches to the proletariat because that’s what you have to do, that he’s going through the motions.

He’s such a bad liar, we can see him doing it. But truth-telling is so far off the table it’s in the Marianas Trench somewhere. That means we have to examine the only alternative. Good liars.

In the RE (Rove Era), elections are about piling on the most stimulating lies. For three and a half years we’ve had someone doing pretty much the diametric opposite of everything he campaigned on, and when he goes out campaigning now … people still believe him when he says the next four years will be different. He’s one of the best liars in all history.

It’s like a choice between being swindled out of your money or your house. Both alternatives are repulsive, but with a bad liar, we might be on our guard and actually get ripped off less. With a sweet-talking bamboozler, in Vastleft’s inimitable words, half the country accepts it while the other half demands even worse.

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Civil rights aren’t religious

The Prop. 8 stuff here just goes on and on and on. The anti-gay marriage crowd is using the law to delay civil rights as long as possible, and the courts let them get away with it because due process is more important than the rights the process is supposed to protect.

It would take any normal human being outside the law about a quarter of a minute to figure it out:

  • 1. Are all people considered equal before the law? Yes. Go to point 2.
  • 2. Can some people get married? Yes. Go to point 3.
  • 3. Therefore: all people can get married.

That’s how it works with civil rights. Very simple.

Religions, of course, can be much more complicated. If you deeply believe same-sex marriages are wrong, there is something you can do. Don’t marry someone of the same sex.

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