The Myth of the Migrant

Laura Maria Agustin wants frank talk about migration and the sex trade

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If you picked up, moved to Paris, and landed a job, what would you call yourself? Chances are, if you're an American, you'd soon find yourself part of a colorful community of "expats." If, while there, you hired an Algerian nanny—a woman who had picked up, moved abroad, and landed a job—how would you refer to him or her? Expat probably isn't the first word that springs to mind. Yet almost no one refers to herself as a "migrant worker."

Laura María Agustín's Sex at the Margins catalogues the many ways in which wealthy Westerners cast immigrants as The Other, and for this reason it is a profoundly uncomfortable read. Having spent many years as an educator working with expatriate sex workers, Agustín turns her attention to the "rescue industry" and the way those who would help describe the migrants they've pledged to assist.

Comparing the ways immigrants describe their experiences and the ways NGO personnel and theorists describe immigrants, she writes, "The crux of the difference concerns autonomy; whether travellers are perceived to have quite a lot versus little or none at all." Theories of migration portray migrants as unsophisticated and desperate people who are "pushed" and "pulled" along a variety of dimensions. "The tourism and pleasure seeking of people from 'developing societies', rarely figures, as though migration and tourism were mutually exclusive," she writes, "Why should the travels to work of people from less wealthy countries be supposed to differ fundamentally from those of Europeans?" Supposedly, "migrants" travel because they are poor and desperate and "expatriates" travel because they are curious, self-actualizing cosmopolites. But Agustín searches in vain for an immigrant whose self-identity reflects the wretched portrait of the model migrant drawn by those who would help.

As Agustín shows, nowhere are these human caricatures more exaggerated than in the contemporary conversation about human trafficking, or—to use a term Agustín detests—"sex trafficking." While selling sex may be a rational choice for some, governmental and charitable anti-trafficking initiatives rarely discriminate between those who would prefer sex work to the relevant alternatives and those who have been wronged. Sex slavery statistics are so tenuous that debunking them is a sport for skeptical journalists, while genuine labor abuses go ignored.

Collective anxiety about women who traverse sexual and spatial boundaries is anything but new. As Agustín writes, "Women who cross borders have long been viewed as deviant, so perhaps the present-day panic about the sexuality of women is not surprising." Immigrants are human beings with the courage to leave the comforts of home. In Sex at the Margins, Agustín asks readers to leave behind easy stereotypes about migrants and welcome the overlooked expats among us.

reason spoke with Agustín in December.

reason: What experiences led you to write Sex at the Margins?

Laura María Agustín: I was working in NGOs and social projects on the Mexico/US Border, the Caribbean, and in South America. I worked with people who called themselves sex workers and gays having sex with tourists. To us, this was normal, conventional. Everyone talked about it. Obviously many of these people didn't have many options. Some of them had the guts to travel, and I felt I understood that.

In '94 I hadn't heard the word the work trafficking in this context. In the sex context, it's a creation of the past 10 years. I started running into the term when I came to Europe and saw what people who were trying to help migrants were doing and saying. The whole idea of migrants who sell sex being victims was so different from what I knew. My original research question was, why is there such a big difference between what people in Europe say about people who sell sex, and what those people say about themselves? It took a while for me to answer that question.

reason: You write that migrants are considered "separate, uncreative, and unsophisticated" in theories of tourism and migration. What are we missing when we assume all migrants are simply desperate?

Agustín: People may feel under the gun, but people who end up leaving home to work abroad have mixed motives. They may be poor and without many choices. But they also are normal human beings who have desires and fantasies. They daydream about all the same pleasurable things that richer people do. The human ability to imagine that things can be better, that getting ahead is possible, is in play. These motivations mix together in the project of leaving home—legally or not—to go somewhere else.

And it's not the most desperate, like famine sufferers, who manage to undertake a migration. In order to go abroad you have to be healthy and you have to have social capital, including a network that will get you information on how to travel and work. You need some money and some names and addresses; you have to have at least some official papers, even if they're false. You need at least a minimal safety net. People at the most disadvantaged social level rarely get into this situation.

reason: How are attitudes about trafficking related to the idea that women shouldn't be leaving home in the first place?

Agustín: Women are sometimes called "boundary markers": When States feel threatened, women's bodies become symbols of home and the nation. This is a common sexist idea in patriarchal societies. The idea that women are domestic and symbolize home and hearth —but also that they should stay home and be home—is deeply entrenched all over the world. And while richer countries might favour gender equity for their own women, they often "domesticate" women from poorer contexts.

The U.N. protocols on trafficking and smuggling of human beings are gendered. The trafficking protocol mentions women and children, and mentions sexual exploitation, but doesn't say anything about voluntary leaving. The smuggling protocol talks about men who want to travel but have crossed a border in a less than kosher way—and sex is not mentioned.

People talk about a contemporary "feminization" of migration, but the evidence for this is shaky. There have been other waves of women migrating in numbers, as in the late 19th century from Europe to Argentina, where they were often accused of being prostitutes. Europeans didn't want to think these white women would set out on their own like this or end up selling sex, which is where the term "white slavery" derives from. The phenomenon was similar to what we see today, only the direction has shifted.

reason: What do you make of the State Department's claim that 800,000 people are trafficked each year?

Agustín: Numbers like this are fabricated by defining trafficking in an extremely broad way to take in enormous numbers of people. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons is using the widest possible definition, which assumes that any woman who sells sex could not really want to, and, if she crossed a national border, she was forced.

The numbers are egregious partly because the research is cross-cultural. The US, calling itself the world's moral arbiter on these issues, uses its embassies in other countries to talk to the police and other local authorities, supposedly to find out how many people were trafficked. There is a language issue —all the words involved don't translate perfectly, and there is a confusion about what trafficking means. People don't all use it the same way. Even leaving aside language issues, we know the data aren't being collected using a standard methodology across countries. 800,000 is a fantasy number.

reason: Is there a legitimate core of abuses that need to be addressed?

Agustín: Some conscientious people talk about trafficking as applicable to men, transsexuals, or anyone you like, no matter what kind of work they do, when things go very wrong during a migration. When migrants are charged egregious amounts of money they can't possibly pay back, for example. However, we've reached the point in this cultural madness where most people mean specifically women who sell sex when they use the word "trafficking." They usually mean women working inside brothels.

reason: So there is an attempt to conflate the terms prostitution and trafficking?

Agustín: There is a definite effort to conflate the terms in a stream of feminism I call "fundamentalist feminism." These feminists believe there is a single definition of Woman, and that sexual experience is key to a woman's life, soul, self-definition. This particular group has tried to say that prostitution is not only by definition exploitation but is trafficking. It's bizarre but they are maintaining that.

reason: What about the fundamentalist fundamentalists?

Agustín: The alliance between fundamentalist feminists and some fundamentalist Christians sees its work as global. So you get the Southern Baptist Convention and some feminists writing to the government of the Czech Republic to urge against legalizing prostitution. Many kinds of fundamentalist thought share values about home, family, sex, and violence.

reason: Are anti-trafficking activists preventing the liberalization of prostitution laws?

Agustín: Probably. But I don't think the obsession with trafficking is solely about women and sex. It's become a cultural phenomenon up in the stratosphere with fears of terrorism. Governments are making it an issue of policing the borders, and I believe they are less concerned about women "victims" than male "perpetrators". The UN protocols on trafficking and smuggling were attached to a convention on organized crime. It's the same as the terrorism story, the idea that bad guys don't respect States and will set up their own societies, go where they want and disobey all laws. The borders will not hold, the martians are invading. Everything is Falling Apart.

reason: Is there a romanticization of home at work here? The idea that it's always best to stay in the place you come from?

Agustín: Immigration procedures still assume that everyone calls some country "home", but many people's situations don't easily fit this idea. They've got more than one home or don't want to call anyplace home. The collective fantasy says home is always a lovely place, but many people have a contrary experience. People who actually want to leave home may feel they have failed—whether they were leaving behind their parents, partner or children.

reason: You write: "Believing Passionately that women must tell their stories is a governmental urge."

Agustín: When I started studying, I thought it would be easy: Why not listen to what migrants themselves say? Then I found an enormous literature, much of it explicitly feminist, urging subjects to speak authentically, to get up and tell their true stories for everyone to hear. With all kinds of marginalized people, the idea was they've been silenced and should be allowed to speak.

Except it turns out that lots of people don't want to tell their stories, they don't want to stand up anywhere, they'd just as soon let someone speak for them. Or they don't care or know they are being talked about, they just want to do whatever they feel like doing. So I had to question my own desire to push people to present themselves in a certain kind of way. It's not enough to say, "we will facilitate people giving voice." No, because also that gives us a job. Then we can see our job as being a virtuous person who is going to help the poor and silenced of the earth speak.

It's also not clear that they would get anything out of speaking, because governments, and most people, don't listen when they do. Those who see themselves as helping believe they Know Best how we should all live and benevolently provide necessary services to us all.

reason: Both the U.N. and the U.S. have promoted the idea that human trafficking is perpetrated by organized crime rings. How accurate is this?

Agustín: The Interpols and FBIs of the world are trying to find out exactly who the bad guys are who are doing the trafficking. They have a terrible time of it, because trafficking in the sense that they mean includes most irregular migration. Millions and millions of people are involved, most of them working on a small scale—petty criminals, not big-time mafiosi. I lived in Spain for five years and at least once every week the media carried a story about the police breaking up a trafficking ring – which means there are always more and more.

But there's no evidence that large-scale organized crime has gone into human trafficking the way they did into heroin trafficking decades ago. What researchers have found is small-scale operations–people who know one person they can call in Berlin and one in Istanbul, who use mobile phones, who move around. Small-time entrepreneurs, some meaner, some acting like regular travel agents.

reason: What policies would you recommend for people concerned about legitimately coercive situations?

Agustín: I'm trying to get people to slow down on the rush to determine a definitive policy. Because the prostitution debate is so limited and moralistic, vast amounts of information that policymakers need is still absent. Research on traffickers themselves is just beginning. The diversity of experience is enormous. There isn't going to be a single social policy that will work for everyone.

Kerry Howley is a senior editor of reason.

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92 responses to “The Myth of the Migrant

  1. I encourage certain people (you know who you are) to resist the impulse to post unnecessary comments (you know what they are) on this thread.

  2. It’s truly sad that we haven’t yet reached the libertarian utopia where there are no borders and people can move anywhere they want and do anything they want.

    P.S. Vote Ron Paul!

  3. That was a mediocre article. Kerry is capable of much better, and this is a topic that deserves exploring, but this article is superficial (perhaps that was the fault of the interviewee). A semantic point: I don’t think of emigrants or immigrants as “migrant workers”, I think of migrant workers more like nomads, constantly moving to find the next job available. I could be wrong, but I think that’s the way most people use the phrase.

  4. Seems like a lot of PC bs to me. Less “insightful” than the usual.

    I bet those “expat” whores become “victims of trafficking” pretty fast when they get caught and are facing deportation.

  5. Up yours, Voldemort! I liked that article. As usual, Kerry Howley can be counted on to find the angle in every geopolitical story that is both libertarian and feminist.

  6. I’m a pretty liberated guy, but it’s really hard for me to think of women of illegal status working as sex workers in a foreign country as not being taken advantage of. I’m not saying women should stay home and make sandwiches and raise babies, and it isn’t about the borders either. It’s hard for me to think of drunk chicks at a frat party as not being taken advantage of. …even if they want to be taken advantage of.

    An awful lot of people out there will take advantage of anyone vulnerable whenever the opportunity presents itself. It’s like the Stanford Prison Experiment.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

    It’s like supply creating its own demand.

  7. Ken Shultz:
    I’m a pretty liberated guy, but it’s really hard for me to think of women of illegal status working as sex workers in a foreign country as not being taken advantage of.

    Apologies in advance for being blunt, Ken, but your chivalry is sucking you into a moral panic. Sorry.

  8. “Apologies in advance for being blunt, Ken, but your chivalry is sucking you into a moral panic. Sorry.”

    Actually I’m not in a panic at all. …but go ahead–ignore the part about the Stanford Prison Experiment.

  9. Ken, I already know about that experiment, and I’m calling you on de facto political panic anyway.
    You’re ascribing victim status to people who, in most cases, would not call themselves victims. If that’s not paternalism, what is?

  10. “Apologies in advance for being blunt, Ken, but your chivalry is sucking you into a moral panic.”

    You’re right by the way. I’m they type that wouldn’t take advantage of a drunk chick at a frat party.

  11. You’re right by the way. I’m they type that wouldn’t take advantage of a drunk chick at a frat party.

    But apparently, Ken, you don’t mind if the government acts like every migrating woman’s father, striving to defend her virginity.

    Let’s stick to the subject on this thread, Ken.

  12. “You’re ascribing victim status to people who, in most cases, would not call themselves victims.”

    I don’t know that most illegal sex workers wouldn’t call themselves victims. Agustin seems to think the statistics are dubious, how’d you get to a majority?

    “If that’s not paternalism, what is?”

    Ascribing sexual adventurousness to victims.

  13. Ken, you can’t defect Brian’s point by conflating “taking advantage” of an intoxicated woman with employing a willing immigrant-sex-worker. Also, if in your scenario you’re referring to a “drunk chick” who “want[s] to be taken advantage of” then the only real obstacle is probably your repulsion at the sight of a person who wants to be used. (Ahh, libertarianism!)

  14. Ascribing sexual adventurousness to victims.

    You haven’t demonstrated any victims, and yet you ask why I assume they’re venturesome. That’s a circular argument.

    The “assumptions” started on your side of the debate, not mine.

  15. Thank you, Ventifact. Ahh, libertarianism, indeed, for that creed generally assumes adult human beings of both sexes to act of their own free will.

  16. What side of the debate and I on?

  17. the innominate one | December 26, 2007, 4:58pm | #
    That was a mediocre article. Kerry is capable of much better, and this is a topic that deserves exploring, but this article is superficial (perhaps that was the fault of the interviewee).

    I think it was the nature of the interview and that it is, essentially, an interview with an author about her book.

    A semantic point: I don’t think of emigrants or immigrants as “migrant workers”, I think of migrant workers more like nomads, constantly moving to find the next job available. I could be wrong, but I think that’s the way most people use the phrase.

    I tend to think of “migrant workers” as those who emigrate to another location, state or country, with the intent of earning money with the hopes of returning “home” one day. Whether the migrant in question is an American working legally in Dubai, a Mexican working illegally in America or a Texan pretending to work on the North Slope, they are all “migrant workers”.

    Alternatively I view “immigrants” as people who move to a location to permanently remove themselves from their ancestral home for whatever reason.

    My $.02

  18. Ken, since you seem to think you know better than the two women who co-created the article, Howley and Agustin, about how a bunch of other women you’ve never even met should live their lives, and since Howley is on the anti-government-meddling side, I can only guess that you’re on the other side.

    In other words, I’m guessing you’re on the side that says, “When in doubt, panic and overreact.”

  19. “The “assumptions” started on your side of the debate, not mine.”

    So when you said that most of these women wouldn’t call themselves victims, what did you mean?

    For the record, I’m on the side of the debate that’s against women being coerced into prostitution and who remains dubious about “most” trafficked sex workers being in the business of their own free will.

  20. For the record, I’m on the side of the debate that’s against women being coerced into prostitution and who remains dubious about “most” trafficked sex workers being in the business of their own free will.

    OK, know-it-all. How do you propose to encourage the real victims to come out of the woodwork and report their problems to the police as long as prostitution is illegal?

    Since government intervention (i.e. prohibition of consensual adult prostitution) created the problem you describe, what other intervention will you pull out of your hat to solve it?

  21. Who said I was against legalizing prostitution?

  22. OK, know-it-all.

    You’re right by the way. The pool of my knowledge is both deep and wide.

  23. Where’s scofflaw/Lysander Spooner Jr. when we need him?

  24. Ken, it was hard for me not to think of you as being against it, since you protested so loudly, wringing your hands for the “illegal” prostitutes-who are only so because of other unjust laws besides the laws against prostitution. In the end, I believe that libertarianism will turn out to be something of a package deal, at least as far as broad policy issues like immigration and prostitution (no pun intended, I swear!) are concerned.

  25. One sex worker to another, “I had a hard day at the oriface.”

  26. Ken Shultz | December 26, 2007, 5:29pm | #
    I’m a pretty liberated guy, but it’s really hard for me to think of women of illegal status working as sex workers in a foreign country as not being taken advantage of.

    I have been following your comments here and I am confused. In your mind, is it the act of being a sex worker that allows them to be “taken advantage of”, their illegal status or the cross of the two? I am not trying to bait an argument just looking for clarification.

    An awful lot of people out there will take advantage of anyone vulnerable whenever the opportunity presents itself. It’s like the Stanford Prison Experiment.

    It’s like supply creating its own demand.

    Indeed, there are people that will take advantage of others when the opportunity presents itself. So the questions are, is that disadvantage necessarily wrong and if it is, how do we decrease it?

    If, as a business owner, I see a market that another has failed to capitalize on do I capitalize it even though I know in the long run it will financially hurt, perhaps even devastate, my competitor? I realize this is not the same as using a person’s illegal status to coerce them into a profession they would otherwise not participate in, but the underlying concept is the same. I do what is best for me at the expense of another.

    As for coercion, the other question is, what qualifies? Ultimately, barring threats of violence, what is the worst that a “sex-trafficker” can do? Assuming you believe in such a thing, is causing the deportation of the prostitute to a lower income country the same as economic coercion? If a person is willing to be “victimized” instead of being deported, can they really be considered victims? They had the option to leave and not be a “victim” and they chose to stay.

    Sorry, but this is mostly stream of consciousness ramblings.

  27. Sorry, but this is mostly stream of consciousness ramblings.

    Kwix, if those are your usual kinds of brain farts, Ken should be mortified. He’s doomed.

  28. Brian,
    Ken and I converse on a somewhat regular basis, both here an elsewhere. I am just trying to get a feel for what he means and where he is coming from regarding this particular issue.

    I agree with you that “libertarianism will turn out to be something of a package deal”. I fail to see how a person can claim “freedom of choice” without including the choice of profession and choice of movement in there as well.

    Of course, with that freedom comes risk (particularly in the form of decreased social “safety nets”) coupled with increased social choices, many of which people still view as “immoral” including drug use, prostitution and homosexuality. I feel that these are where the largest impediments to freedom will come from, those afraid of change and those afraid of risk.

  29. Obviously, even though I “previewed” my reply multiple times I missed a letter. The first sentence should have read:
    “both here and elsewhere.”

  30. Depressing but sound reasoning about fear of change and fear of risk, Kwix.

  31. “But there’s no evidence that large-scale organized crime has gone into human trafficking in the way they did into heroin trafficking decades ago.”

    That is simply not true, traffickers can and still do take over state structures, even in western Europe.

    It is not a small thing, it often reaches into the highest political offices.

    There is a dishonesty about the issue, the European Union is presently plagued by pro-pedophile extremism.

    The sex-traficking of adult females was a defeated cause a decade ago, that struggle was not a positive result for abolitionists.

    At present, the target for ‘pro-sex’ advocacy is the mainstreaming of pedophilia.

    The Liberal Democrats in England, for example, have the same policy on child pornography as the Dutch Pedophile Party.

    The Lib Dems, are a mainstream party, the third largest, they run schools, they have 4,000 elected councillors.

    They want to repeal the SOA 2003 which criminalized U18 pornography.

    The Lib Dem policy is identical to the Partij voor Naastenliefde, Vrijheid & Diversiteit, the Dutch Pedophile Party.

    Respectfully submitted

    Gregory Carlin

    Director

    Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

  32. There is a dishonesty about the issue, the European Union is presently plagued by pro-pedophile extremism.

    This is nothing personal at all, but I have trouble taking that sentence seriously. It has that whiff of paranoia about it. I’m sorry.

  33. Again, it’s nothing personal, but advocacy groups for or against various things often distort information.

  34. “Since government intervention (i.e. prohibition of consensual adult prostitution) created the problem you describe, what other intervention will you pull out of your hat to solve it?”

    Not true, sex-trafficking thrives whether prostitution is open, hidden, legal or illegal.

    Hybrid versions exist,

    legal in-door, & illegal outdoor, the street being the pension for the former.

    Most of our trafficked clients are caught up in the legal or tolerated sectors.

    Gangsters run prostitution, it is the oldest game in the rackets, and always will be.

    The girls on the street in Holland, they are cast-off, the pimps will import more cheap girl-flesh to replace what they reject.

    Look at it this way, if you had written an article about the Amserdam windows, and went back five years later, well, don’t expect to find the same girls.

    They’re dead, on the street, taken by drugs, or something.

    Pro-prostitution fanatics only look at ‘the moment’ for their lies and it is a lie.

    Once discredited, as they are in Holland, they move somewhere else. London was supposed to replace Amsterdam.

    The Lib Dems in England, are pulling out all the stops to keep their Dutch friends happy.

    The Liberal Democrats are essentially a pro-pedophile party.

    They want 16 year old prostituted girls whilst even my old enemies in Amsterdam are moved towards 21.

    If you want to see pure evil, read some the Lib Dem blogs.

    Make one innocuous anti-pedophile post as a visitor, and watch them eat you alive.

    Gregory Carlin

    Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

  35. yes, those pro-pedophilia political platforms are useful for attracting the European equivalent of the NAMBLA voting block, and we all know what an important, large proportion of the constituency that is.

  36. Gregory,
    Your definition of “trafficking” is so broad, and covers so many different economic, legal, and ethical circumstances, that it means nothing to me.

  37. Thank you, Vertigo, or whatever the unnameable one’s name is.

  38. I consider it a triumph of enduring progressivism
    that we have been able to recast the moral panic of “White Slavery” as “Human Trafficking”.

  39. There is a dishonesty about the issue, the European Union is presently plagued by pro-pedophile extremism.

    The Liberal Democrats in England, for example, have the same policy on child pornography as the Dutch Pedophile Party.

    They want to repeal the SOA 2003 which criminalized U18 pornography.

    Uh, how about a link to a newspaper article or some other hard proof of this?

    Oddly, a quick Google search for SOA 2003 Liberal repeal yields only blog comments by one Cadiz (AKA Gregory Carlin, Belfast). Mind you, I am not calling you a liar, but just as I like bacon with eggs, I like proof with my accusations.

  40. It figures, Madeline Albright. You would.

  41. Good analogy, Kwix! Is that your own composition?

  42. “Again, it’s nothing personal, but advocacy groups for or against various things often distort information.”

    I am too busy to distort anything. What does Laura Maria Agustin do when she is not promoting prostitution?

    The Lib Dems in England want legal hard core participation at 16 and legal child prostitution, at the age of 16.

    The Dutch Pedophiles copied (the PNVD were in a hurry), their policy (virtually word for word) from the Lib Dems.

    Proposal To Allow 16-Year-Olds
    To Appear In Explicit Porn
    By Andy McSmith
    Political Editor
    The Independent – UK
    3-21-4

    You wouldn’t want your kids to go to a school in a Liberal Democrat LEA area.

    The Lib Dems are presently applying pro-pedophile ideology to what was always a fairly risky proposition to begin with.

    British teachers have historically been the higher-ups in the pro-pedophile movement. That may be associated with the origination of List 99 in the 1920s.

    Previously the Brits tossed their pedophile teachers to the imperial dominions.

    Eventually, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, said enough is enough. List 99 is a secret vetting list. The Brits don’t say who is on it, not to anybody.

    Gregory Carlin

    Irish Anti-Trafficking coalition

  43. “Oddly, a quick Google search for SOA 2003 Liberal repeal yields only blog comments by one Cadiz (AKA Gregory Carlin, Belfast). Mind you, I am not calling you a liar, but just as I like bacon with eggs, I like proof with my accusations.”

    Actually you don’t to appear to, the entire point of the slugger o’toole post by me,

    was to point out that a major newspaper was telling it exactly as it was.

    Proposal To Allow 16-Year-Olds
    To Appear In Explicit Porn
    By Andy McSmith
    Political Editor
    The Independent – UK
    3-21-4

    I eventually also found a Lib Dem lawyer boasting of the same policy in an article for another major newspaper.

    Shall I post that here as well?

    Kind regards

    Gregory Carlin

    Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

  44. Proposal To Allow 16-Year-Olds
    To Appear In Explicit Porn
    By Andy McSmith
    Political Editor
    The Independent – UK
    3-21-4

    The editorial in question can be found here. Though I find it very intriguing that Mr. McSmith’s editorial focuses upon the act of viewing pornography at age 16 moreso than the actual participation in it. Additionally, the vote in question was to modify the Lib Dem’s platform, not an actual law.

    Have the Lib Dem’s made any progress in getting the age lowered?

  45. “Your definition of “trafficking” is so broad, and covers so many different economic, legal, and ethical circumstances, that it means nothing to me.”

    I didn’t define it, I know who did, at least at the United Nations, they’re my friends.

    My own working definition is the usual trickery, rape, gangsterism, passport stealing, threats to life & limb

    Last bit often also includes me, I get death threats on a routine basis, pimps being the way they often are.

    Laura Maria Agustin is a pro-prostitution type of person, she is that way.

    Kind regards

    Gregory Carlin

    Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

  46. “Have the Lib Dem’s made any progress in getting the age lowered?”

    You wouldn’t want your kids to go to their schools.

    Gregory Carlin

    Irish Anti-tRafficking Coalition

  47. Actually you don’t to appear to, the entire point of the slugger o’toole post by me,

    was to point out that a major newspaper was telling it exactly as it was.

    Regrettably, I had not bothered to read both pages of the Slugger O’Toole comment page as I thought your only post was on page 1. I see now that you have indeed referenced a few circulars/newspapers including a link to the Independent Editorial mentioned above.

  48. “The editorial in question can be found here. Though I find it very intriguing that Mr. McSmith’s editorial focuses upon the act of viewing pornography at age 16 moreso than the actual participation in it.”

    So a major newspaper made up the headline?

    I did offer to go get a lib Dem lawyer’s article to another major newspaper crowing about the policy of kids (U18) making hard core etc.

    The Lib Dems are ferociously for real, they will censor any visitor who posts to their blogs on the topic.

    They will also cast-out any Lib Dem member who rocks the boat.

    It is not possible to be anything in the lib-dems iif one does not have a laissez-faire perspective to U18 porn & prostitution.

    To be honest, they have a bit of an image problem, the pedophile issue. Some of them get caught doing quite often.

    Hardly surprising really.

    All the best

    Gregory

  49. there is no objective reason that the age of majority is 18. If there were an objective age of adulthood, the various states of the U.S. wouldn’t have different ages of consent, and 18-year-olds, who can drive, vote, and die fighting in a war for their country, would be allowed to purchase alcohol.

    16-year-olds having sex with legal adults may or may not be exploiting the 16-year-old, but it’s not “pedophilia”.

    In any case, even though pedophilia and coercion doubtless do occur, that’s not a justification for prohibition of voluntary prostitution.

  50. Mr. Carlin,
    Unfortunately, at this moment in time, unable to research your organization’s mission and your complete works but from one of your Slugger O’Toole posts you wrote, “I am the head of an anti-prostitution charity”. Since this came with no other qualifiers am I to assume you mean all prostitution, not just that by “exploited” women? I have also noted that you have written elsewhere on the web against “exotic dancers” and pornography. Is this in general or just those being “exploited” or trafficked against their will?
    Thank you for the clarification.

  51. “In your mind, is it the act of being a sex worker that allows them to be “taken advantage of”, their illegal status or the cross of the two? I am not trying to bait an argument just looking for clarification.”

    It’s the combination. Put that many women into the sex work industry, isolated from their families, in a culture they don’t know, leave them at the mercy of the usual suspects associated with the black market and, yeah, you can color me skeptical. …that most of them are there ’cause that’s where they wanted to be.

    “As for coercion, the other question is, what qualifies?”

    Physical abuse would obviously qualify. I’d throw in fraud. Telling a girl she’s going somewhere to be a maid and then telling her she has to pay off her way by working in a brothel is coercion as far as I’m concerned. Did I say girl? …enticing children into sex work would qualify as coercion–even if they wanted to do it.

    I’d like to think decriminalization would work against all those things. …physical abuse, fraud and trafficking in children.

  52. Did I say girl? …enticing children into sex work would qualify as coercion–even if they wanted to do it.

    As Voldemort says here today, wisely, there is no objective, logical age of majority for every social purpose, for every young person coming of age. That may never stop being at least a subtle problem for the finer issues of public policy, but there it is.

    How do you define a child, Ken?

  53. They will also cast-out any Lib Dem member who rocks the boat.

    It sounds like someone is talking from personal experience to me.

    I think 16 should be the age of consent myself, when I grew up in BC it was 14, I don’t know what it is now though and too lazy to look. We never had any problems with it at 14 that I can remember.

    In my experience, the only people that campaign as strongly as Gregory on this (non)issue have issues with it themselves, ergo, he seems creepy to me.

    Who was it that said that men have a special hatred for their own personal vice ?

  54. “Also, if in your scenario you’re referring to a “drunk chick” who “want[s] to be taken advantage of” then the only real obstacle is probably your repulsion at the sight of a person who wants to be used. (Ahh, libertarianism!)”

    People who think of us in terms of what we want to legalize are sometimes surprised by the preoccupation with ethics, but they shouldn’t be.

    In a world where laws governed as little of life as possible, ethics would reign supreme.

  55. People who think of us in terms of what we want to legalize are sometimes surprised by the preoccupation with ethics, but they shouldn’t be.

    In my case, you’ve jumped to a false conclusion. I don’t think of you as preoccupied with ethics. My only problem with you here is that you’re allowing your moral sense to degenerate into crude moralism, which is not the same as true morality.

    I don’t blame you for putting a high value on ethics. In fact, I’m asking you to clarify your own ethical thinking in terms of direct, tangible cause-and-effect relationships between events and between policies.

    I like to think I’m asking you to be even more obsessed with ethics than you already are, Ken.

  56. Windtell, was it Larry Craig? Or perhaps, Ted Haggard?

  57. “My only problem with you here is that you’re allowing your moral sense to degenerate into crude moralism, which is not the same as true morality.”

    If you said that because I wouldn’t take advantage of a drunk chick at a frat party, then you’re a nut. If you said that because I’m against coercing women into prostitution, then you’re a nut. If you said that because I’m skeptical that most of the trafficked women in the sex industry are where they are because that’s where they wanted to be, then you’re a nut.

    I think that’s pretty much all I’ve said.

  58. “I think 16 should be the age of consent myself, when I grew up in BC it was 14, I don’t know what it is now though and too lazy to look. We never had any problems with it at 14 that I can remember.”

    In Canada, I think they certainly do.

    Fifty year old guys and 14 year old boys in hotels etc. I think those kind of probs also attracted a lot of ‘tourists’.

    BC is defintely having probs with teachers. Alberta is the same. The unions do not like background checks.

    The education minister in Alberta is clueless.

    If you have 30,000 teachers and if one is not convicting 1 per 1,000 per annum for sex crime, then home-schooling is the safe option.

    it is a bit like a football stadium full of people and somebody saying I bet some of them are twisted deviants, it is a very safe bet.

    The kind of people in my experience who think 16 is acceptable for hard core pornography and prostitution are pedophiles.

    Lke I say, even my old enemies in Amsterdam want 21 because it just can’t be lower.

    Canada was sex-trafficking girls to work for strip clubs under the last Liberal govt. Females had to sign ‘club’ contracts for prostitution and hard core pornography etc.

    It was a pimping machine and nobody at an official level checked their ages. Fraud was common.

    Gregory Carlin

    Irish anti-Trafficking Coalition

  59. Ken, now all you’re doing is calling me names. I guess you figure you have no hope of winning the debate anymore. I hope you enjoy making a fool of yourself.

  60. Gregory is full of gratuitous name-calling, too. Whatever.

  61. “Did I say girl? …enticing children into sex work would qualify as coercion–even if they wanted to do it.”

    That is you disqualified for running for a Liberal Democrat seat in Britain.

    The age for every social purpose will be the one age, it will be 16, they might lower it a bit later.

    Oblique refrences to lower are the ‘age of criminal responsibility’.

    Pedophiles at Lib Dem events talk in a transparent code. If you can go to prison, you can also do x.

    If you can vote (at 16), you can sell your body to some nice Liberal Democrat politician three or four times your age.

    In one sense, the Lib Dems are asking for change for ‘themselves’. For their members, they look forward to that day.

    They do have a reputation for being the most deviant political party (of any size) in Northern or Western Europe.

    I will find a link.

    Here it is, it is a spoof send-up of course, however the spoof is grounded in a wider public perception that Lib Dem politicians will be caught doing X or Y more often than the other parties.

    Gregory

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/politics/politics-headlines/lib-dems-are-the-party-of-god%11hating-perverts,-declares-clegg-20071219611/

    LIB DEMS ARE THE PARTY OF GOD-HATING PERVERTS, DECLARES CLEGG
    THE Liberal Democrats are the party of God-hating sexual deviants or they are nothing, new leader Nick Clegg declared last night.

  62. “Ken, now all you’re doing is calling me names. I guess you figure you have no hope of winning the debate anymore. I hope you enjoy making a fool of yourself.”

    What debate?

    What’s your argument? …and who’s arguing against you?

  63. That is you disqualified for running for a Liberal Democrat seat in Britain.

    The age for every social purpose will be the one age, it will be 16, they might lower it a bit later.

    Gregory, don’t you realize what you’re still failing to do? You haven’t actually proven the evilness of 16 as an age of consent. I’m still waiting for an explanation that doesn’t involve labeling me (for example) a pedophile (which I resent).

  64. “Brian Sorgatz | December 26, 2007, 9:34pm | #

    Gregory is full of gratuitous name-calling, too. Whatever.”

    You reckon?

    The Education Minister in Alberta is quite definitely clueless.

    He is right out there.

    Best wishes

    Gregory Carlin

  65. Why should I consider the opinion of the Alberta education minister on anything at all? I never voted for anyone that that official has to answer to. That’s just some irrelevant bureaucrat, for all I need know or care.

  66. ‘I’m skeptical that most of the trafficked women in the sex industry are where they are because that’s where they wanted to be, then you’re a nut.”

    They basically don’t want to do it. The ones I meet would like a job in a shop etc.

    Before long most of them are wrecked on drugs and discarded by the brothel owners.

    Girls who leave the brothels in Amsterdam lose their unemployment entitlements.

    Gangsters run the trade in Holland.

    Kind regards

    Gregory

  67. Gangsters run the trade in Holland.

    Even if that turned out to be fact (which it may not be), it would only demonstrate yet again that libertarianism is something of a grand-scale package deal. Gangsters exist in the first place because of prohibition of adult consensual activity in general. (Remember, the definition of “adult” will never be as clear as we might wish it to be.)

  68. “haven’t actually proven the evilness of 16 as an age of consent.”

    Adults who are involved in child prostitution or child pornography (U18) at this moment in the USA and UK are ubiquitously referred to as pedophiles in the media.

    Libel laws as they exist in Canada, USA, and the EU, allow people endorsing U18 prostitution & pornography, to be described as pro-pedophiles.

    Respectfully submitted

    Gregory Carlin

    Director

    Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

  69. apparently, Gregory Carlin, Director, Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition, is an idiot-bot, what with his red herring arguments and non sequiturs.

    disrepectfully submitted

  70. Adults who are involved in child prostitution or child pornography (U18) at this moment in the USA and UK are ubiquitously referred to as pedophiles in the media.

    Libel laws as they exist in Canada, USA, and the EU, allow people endorsing U18 prostitution & pornography, to be described as pro-pedophiles.

    That’s not proof of the truth of the statement. Rather, it’s a tribute to the glorious First Amendment of the United States Constitution. To hell with the restrictive European libel laws! I’d rather have free speech!

  71. The more I listen to Voldemort, the more confident I am in my choice to ignore the writings of J. K. Rowling. She chose the wrong side in the war. Sorry.

  72. “Gangsters exist in the first place because of prohibition of adult consensual activity in general.”

    They run the legal trade in Amsterdam.

    Hence recent newspaper reports of the brothel windows having had their day and being closed etc. In Amsterdam, they are just sorry it didn’t work out.

    Gangsters are very happy to sell drugs to the street girls. They will therefore also get a slice out of the ‘retired’ off-street workers.

    The girls are exploited to the grave.

    I will make it easy for you, in my many years of experience, pimps tend to be, not terribly good babysitters.

    Kind Regards

    Gregory

  73. Gregory is swimming in his own runny rhetorical shit.

  74. ‘That’s not proof of the truth of the statement.”

    I know folks who gave a lot of money to get people elected. They are my patrons. They have that God thing going for them.

    I find somebody exploiting U18 kids in the USA, the bad person goes to jail for a very long time, forever really.

    Gregory carlin

    Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition

  75. Gregory, I refuse to sink to your level of cynicism about the First Amendment.

  76. “Who was it that said that men have a special hatred for their own personal vice ?”

    Reaction formation,

    a freudian thing, he is so yesterday. Freud was also an atheist.

    “Neither in my private life nor in my writings have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever.”

    When Carl Jung was asked about publishing his correspondence with Freud, he said that he felt the letters were not of great interest.

    Gregory

  77. “Who was it that said that men have a special hatred for their own personal vice?”

    Windtell, was it Larry Craig? Or perhaps, Ted Haggard?

    Homosexuality has to be evil. Otherwise, those fucking faggots wouldn’t keep turning me on.

  78. Er, I mean, imprison all the pedophiles! Then imprison all the jailbait Lolita sluts who tempt me!

  79. “I have also noted that you have written elsewhere on the web against “exotic dancers” and pornography. Is this in general or just those being “exploited” or trafficked against their will?”

    I eliminate what demand factors I can close.

    In Ireland it was a clean sweep, no legitimate strip clubs. They were all involved in something, drugs, guns, child procurement etc.

    The GTA in Canada was more or less the same.

    High status clubs would snitch out the bottom feeders. That would work on expensive islands or platinum resorts.

    The mafia types may then send people with guns etc. Usually, the gangs or bikers will eventually run everything.

    Some ‘sex trade’ is akin to the models on boats at the Cannes Film Festival. That is getting harder to find.

    People, Lebanese, Jewish mob, are building sex resorts in Africa using blonde girls. Importing them from Russia.

    Middle of Africa or Asia stuff.

    Kind regards

    Gregory

  80. Still, Gregory is clueless about cause and effect as opposed to guilt by association.

  81. I eliminate what demand factors I can close.

    You sound arrogant about eliminating all demand, Gregory. Man to man: aren’t erections caused by strange women loads of fun?

  82. I can’t find the original quote, try as I might, checked Ted Haggard and even Freud quotes, but it wasn’t there.

    Gregory: I’m sure that some of the things you say on drug running and fronts have happened, if not in the all emcompassing way that you present them. But, that stuff is already illegal, no one is arguing that it should be.

    Also, while I don’t agree with Freud on much at all, someone being an Atheist isn’t a good reason to mock him. I’m an Atheist leaning agnostic myself.

    As for the rest of your arguments, tearing most of them down is easy, the rest would take some time at Wiki. Please do try and stay on topic though and back up accusations.

  83. “the innominate one | December 26, 2007, 10:10pm”

    that is why.

    you should install

    1/2 a bee’s filter

    it makes this thread shorter.

    respectfully submitted,

    some random moron of teh internets

    whose socks are too loose.

    O’Tool.

  84. Moose

    I actually went out of my way to read all of Gregory Carlin’s batshit comments. They just seemed to whacky to be true.

    Left me shaking my head going Wow…oh…wow. And I’m an old man who thought he’d seen and heard ’bout everything.

    Gregory Carlin, you sound like one of those old church deacons who thinks that just because he gets a hardon everytime he sees one of the choirboys everbody does. I think you need to spend more time worrying about your own tortured mind and leave the rest of us alone.

  85. Issac:

    You, Sir, have much more patience than this ruminant. 🙂

    And Greg’s cousin George is much more entertaining!!

  86. How do you define a child, Ken?

    Brian, there’s an entire socio-political philosophy that just cranked the age of “child” up quite a bit, due to a brain study concluding lack of development and critical thinking skills.

    I’m reading this thread with great interest and I see lots of potential for “gotcha’s” on both sides of the issue, so be careful.

    For instance, there are some who want to try a 16-year-old as an adult because there’s no logical age of majority and surely the child understood consequences of action. Others will say that the 16-year-old is a child, cannot possibly understand the consequences of the crime, or have the maturity to face adult charges.

    Yet there seem to be some that suggest that a 16-year-old might voluntarily enter into prostitution– sorry, “sex work”, (no coercion here, nothing to see, move along). Others will contend that a 16-year-old is in no way capable of reasoning out the consequences of prostitution– legal or illegal.

  87. Brian, there’s an entire socio-political philosophy that just cranked the age of “child” up quite a bit, due to a brain study concluding lack of development and critical thinking skills.

    Sorry to disappoint you, Paul, but it’s a fallacy to assume that any particular policy question will find a definitive answer in brain science (or any other kind of science per se). For example, what if, hypothetically speaking, subtle differences between the intellectual capacities of the races were irrefutably found? Should it change anybody’s notion of the equal liberty and equal dignity of all human races? I should hope not!

  88. Another example of the same problem, Paul, is the speed limit. Science can’t tell us by itself what the limit should exactly be-even though it can tell us that faster driving is generally less safe driving, all else being equal.

  89. Sorry to disappoint you, Paul, but it’s a fallacy to assume that any particular policy question will find a definitive answer in brain science (or any other kind of science per se).

    Uhm, I’m afraid that you’ve conflated my beliefs with my descriptions of the beliefs of others. I don’t presume to suggest that definitive answers can be found, but others have.

    I remember having to listen to the painful remonstrations of a defense attorney shouting that science had “settled” the matter, and we should retool our entire justice system and adjust sentences for these “children” with undeveloped brains into their twenties.

    My point was this:

    It seems that in listening to arguments about the age of majority, many people can bounce between a hard, legal age of majority, and a fuzzy one, depending on the issue of the day.

    I merely ask: if we can argue in the scope of prostitution and sexual consent, that there is no hard age of majority, then we can also argue that putting younger people on trial as adults may also have merit. They are both, after all, issues of maturity, understanding of consequences and influence of environment.

    Believe me, I’m all in favor of leaving the age of majority fuzzy.

  90. I just wanted to comment on the actual article.

    I thought it was elegant. Agustin who did the research questioned a number of her own previously held concepts. She also stopped and thought about how other people thought about various ideas. The point being that these concepts were not absolute, universal, or staganant.

    Too much of human thought is engaged in the hubris of imposing one person’s thoughts and solutions on everyone else. To see someone step aside from their own views and consider the many possible ways a given subject could be seen by other people… well, all I can say is, “Thank you.”

    It’s not about finding the perfect solution. Sometimes it’s just about understanding someonelse’s story.

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