The more things change, the more they stay the same. - Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
Despite what the naïve and the chronically optimistic like to believe, human nature does not change; individual people are the same today as they were at the beginning of human civilization some twelve thousand years ago. And while we have made some social progress in that time, it is by no means the one-way trip imagined by the idealists but rather a zigzagging course full of false starts, backslides, missteps, blind alleys and going in circles. Societies often ignore the obvious solutions to their problems, make problems out of things which aren’t, and return time and again to the same old nonsense despite the fact that it has never worked in the past.
In my column of August 9th I talked about the “white slavery” hysteria concocted by the social purists of the late 19th century to provide an excuse so the general public would swallow their foolish and repressive campaign against prostitution. Proponents of this hysteria purported that tens of thousands of young girls were being abducted by slave traders and forced to serve in brothels in foreign countries, and they demanded tougher laws against voluntary adult prostitution in order to combat it. The fact that extensive (not to mention expensive) investigations found absolutely no evidence for any of this reassured almost nobody, as is typical in a moral panic. Fortunately, such manufactured hysterias tend to vanish like the insubstantial shadows they are in the harsh light of true crises, and the “white slavery” hysteria was no exception; by the end of the First World War it had abated. Unfortunately, it is impossible to formulate concise laws against nonexistent threats, so legislation born of such hysteria is nearly always incredibly broad and unconstitutionally vague; the Mann Act was just such a piece of legislation, and it was for decades employed as a vehicle for malicious persecution until the U.S. Congress finally limited its scope in 1986 to actual criminal acts rather than undefined “immoral purposes”.
But just as Prohibition returned in the guise of the “War on Drugs”, and the witch hysteria of the 16th century returned as the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s and ‘90s, so the “white slavery” hysteria has returned as the contemporary hysteria over “human trafficking”. As in the first two decades of the 20th century, exorbitant claims are made about the extent of the sex slave trade in Western countries and used to justify laws against voluntary adult prostitution; all over the United States prostitution laws which were defended only a decade ago on “moral” grounds or by the excuse that prostitution attracts crime (a vague and bizarre notion in itself) are now being defended on the grounds that they are “needed” to combat “human trafficking” despite the fact that these laws were enacted long before the current moral panic. It’s a bit as though governments were trying to defend 1930s laws against marijuana use on the grounds that they were “needed” to combat the use of methamphetamine, or justifying 19th-century laws against homosexuality on the grounds that they were “needed” to combat the spread of AIDS, except of course for the fact that methamphetamine and AIDS actually exist in the countries with those laws.
The hysteria is particularly troubling in the United Kingdom, where prostitution has been technically legal (though still persecuted) for several decades; it is obvious that the new “white slavery” hysteria-mongers intend to turn back the clock on prostitution rights if allowed. Thus the potential damage is greater than in the US, where prostitution is suppressed anyhow and the renamed “white slavery” hysteria is just the latest excuse in a long parade of stupid, dishonest, hypocritical rationalizations for tyranny against women. Since Stephen Paterson’s blog about UK prostitution law has already published an exhaustive summary of the claims made by “human trafficking” alarmists contrasted with the actual truth about those claims, it would be silly of me to attempt to cover the same ground over again; instead, I’ll just provide a link to the article here, and enthusiastically recommend it to my readers. Another excellent article, reprinted from The Guardian of last October 20th, can be found on the website of the International Prostitutes Collective here.
Just as at the end of the 19th century, the “white slavery”/”human trafficking” hysteria springs from the neurotic perversion of sexually-repressed middle-class white women who have derailed the feminist movement into their own personal crusade against men, sex and those who provide men with fair access to sex (i.e. whores). But unlike a hundred years ago, “moral purity” won’t really play with the average voter any longer, so the neofeminists (IPC calls them “fundamentalist feminists”) have been forced to hide their hatred of us behind the pretense that they wish to “save” us, as discussed yesterday.
Since I really do want you to read the various things I’ve linked above (especially the Wikipedia article on moral panics and the Stephen Paterson blog), I’m going to do something unusual today and cut my column short so as to give you the time to do so. But I’ll leave you with this second entry in the “Here We Go Again” department, a paraphrase of an AP article which describes a renewal of the control freaks’ war against Craigslist which I mentioned in my column of August 17th.
The attorneys general of seventeen of the United States announced Tuesday (August 24th, 2010) that they have sent a joint letter calling on Craigslist to get rid of its adult services category because they say the website cannot adequately block potentially illegal ads; they say Craigslist is not completely screening out ads that promote prostitution and child trafficking. The site creators pledged in 2008 to improve their policing efforts. The states which participated in this exercise in tyranny were Arkansas, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia; fortunately, Craigslist is based in San Francisco, California (the home of the American prostitutes’ rights movement) and is therefore not subject to the laws of those 17 states.
Note the linking of adult prostitution with child trafficking as though they were related; note also that prostitution was technically legal in Rhode Island from 1980 to 2009 (though still persecuted as in the UK) but was outlawed again on November 3 of last year, thus proving the statements I made in the first paragraph. I’m sure nobody will be surprised when I tell you that the new law was championed by a privileged white woman and supported by cops who claimed they needed it to “conduct sting operations at brothels where women and children were abused and enslaved by pimps and sex-traffickers.”
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!