We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd. – Norman Mailer
Some of my readers say they need to keep a dictionary handy while they read my essays. That works fine for regular words, but sometimes I use metaphors that may be a bit obscure nowadays. Do most of y’all remember paint-by-number kits? Do they still sell those? For those who have never seen one, a kit consists of a board on which is a line drawing, and each area contains a number corresponding to one of the containers of oil paint that come with the set. One simply paints each area with the proper color, and if properly done it looks (almost) exactly like the picture on the box; if clumsily done, it at least resembles the picture. “Sex trafficking” stories are a lot like that; most of them start out with the same basic outline, and then the
copyist reporter simply fills in the details by the numbers. If done properly, it almost looks like something a third-rate journalist might turn out, but if done clumsily …well, it’s easier to show you.
Many Morris County activists are counting the days to…Super Bowl XLVIII…but not for love of football. They’re already working to reduce the human trafficking that inevitably happens when tens of thousands of tourists assemble…
Our would-be artist, Lorraine Ash, must think that little reversal is very clever; unfortunately, the brainpower she devoted to it would have better been spent on a few minutes of research. Had she done so, she would have discovered things like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and even this…which prove that the word “inevitable” is about as far from the truth as it’s possible to get. Oh, dear; I do believe Lorraine mistook the “6” for a “9” and used the wrong color here. But no matter; let’s see how she does on the next one:
…“There are four times as many people enslaved today than there were in the 1800s,” said Linda Michalski…campus minister at Benedictine Academy…“The value of a slave has actually decreased …Frederick Douglass was sold for $792. Today, somebody is sold for $70 in our country in the 21st century. How can this be?”
Well, at least here she’s only quoting, so someone else looks like a moron instead of poor Lorraine. The pretense that “trafficking” (which is highly illegal) can be compared in any valid way with chattel slavery (which can only exist where there are laws and social structures to support it) is a common, if especially idiotic, claim of the “trafficking” fetishists, as is the use of novel definitions for the word “sold” which do not actually involve transfer of property. But in this case, the apples-and-oranges comparison of the sale price of a chattel slave with some apparently-random sum of money (a streetwalker’s fee, perhaps?) is so deeply stupid it even confuses a high-school religion teacher. But let’s move on to the next number in the pattern:
…Michalski and…other activists…want people to understand that human trafficking…is real and happens in New Jersey.
A flawless execution of the Profession of Faith! And then she puts her own artistic touch on the classic “100,000 to 300,000 trafficked children” myth by attributing it to the Department of Homeland Security instead of the usual FBI or Department of Justice. Estes & Weiner sure do work for a lot of government departments, don’t they? And what “trafficking” masterpiece could be complete without a “King of the Hill” section?
…New Jersey is a big destination state for traffickers because of its ports and because…trains and buses leave from here and go all over the country. There are three airports in the area. Also, because of I-95, it’s very easy to move people through New Jersey and all the way down to Florida…
Trains and buses and airplanes! And an interstate highway, even! Why, no other place has those! What were the madmen who laid out New Jersey thinking to allow so many dangerous things all in one locale? Well, we know what they weren’t thinking of: THE CHILDREN!!!!!
But wait, it gets worse:
There is a prevailing notion that human trafficking does not happen in Morris County because of its wealth, according to Maria Vinci-Savettiere…“The demographics don’t matter…Trafficking is happening here.”
One Profession of Faith per story is enough, Lorraine; your attempts to look more-credulous-than-thou are rather transparent.
“Our focus is on radically changing the way we view the issue,” said Beth Hyre, spokeswoman for the League [of Woman Voters]. “According to law enforcement, our children, our grandchildren, the children we teach, and the children we supervise and mentor are prime targets for traffickers. Our complacency that the issue doesn’t directly affect us enables predators.”
Yes, Lorraine, we’ve got it. People think that trafficking doesn’t happen in New Jersey, but it does, and every single child in the entire state should be kept away from cars, trains, buses, airplanes and football games. You can stop repeating the same color now.
The public also is invited to stand for a maximum of nine hours Oct. 27 with Stand Against Human Trafficking, a gathering on the Morristown Green. Each hour signifies 3 million people enslaved worldwide, according to organizer Yvette Long of the Morris County Human Relations Commission…
Are they going to sway back and forth singing “Kumbaya” as well? Because I don’t think it’s possible to have a really effective lawn-standing session without singing “Kumbaya”.
The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking…is planning a Super Bowl Hotel Outreach in September…“We’re asking hotel management to accept materials…set protocols, and train their staff to spot human trafficking,” said [Melanie] Gorelick, the group’s facilitator…“A lot of times it would be the janitors or the cleaning people who would see a victim…What if a person comes in through a back door? The front desk wouldn’t even see that person”…
But wait, what about the bars of soap emblazoned with subtly huge red labels? WHAT IF THE TRAFFICKERS ARE HIDING IN THE LAVATORY, MELANIE? Without handy hotline numbers, how can they be stopped then? Didn’t think of that, didja Miss Smarty-Pants?
Well, I think you get the picture; too bad most of those who read this story without my helpful annotations won’t. Like most people who attempt painting by numbers without a modicum of skill, some rudimentary sense of proportion and at least a minimal level of judgment, the results are, to the educated viewer, not exactly what their creator intended.