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Ashton Kutcher Helped Promote a Bogus Sex Trafficking Claim. Will We Ever Shake It?

The claim that 100,000 to 300,000 underage people were being sex trafficked in the United States was used in effort to destroy Backpage.com's founders.

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One hundred thousand to 300,000 underage people are sex trafficked every year in the United States.

The anti-child sex-trafficking movement has cited that statistic repeatedly. It was used to build a case against Backpage.com, the online classified site that's now the focus of a criminal trial. In 2011, Ashton Kutcher recited the claim several times, including on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight in 2011.

The number sounded fishy to Backpage.com's former co-owner Michael Lacey. Reporters at The Village Voice, which Lacey also co-owned, traced it back to a 2001 University of Pennsylvania study by Richard J. Estes and Neil Weiner. That paper estimated that there were 100,000 to 300,000 children deemed at risk for sexual exploitation in the US, Canada, and Mexico—not just the United States.

The Voice also found out that the study's methodology was flawed because its figures were based on guesses at who might end up a victim of sex trafficking, instead of actual cases. Furthermore, the data was more than 12 years out of date by the time Kutcher and others were citing it. The Voice published its findings in a cover story called, "Real Men Get Their Facts Straight."

The Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire told researchers and journalists in 2008 not to cite the study and its lead author, Estes, told the Washington Post that "clearly, a new, more current study is needed for research."

The 100,000 to 300,000 number still appears in online stories and newspaper op-eds and it's often attributed to outdated government publications.

The video above is an excerpt from Reason's documentary "The War on Backpage.com Is a War on Sex Workers." Watch the complete film.

Darkest Child A by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100783
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Photo of Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher; Credit: SIPA USA/SIPA/Newscom

Photos of Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore at Clinton Global Initiative; Credit: Sharkpixs/ZUMApress/Newscom

Photo of Mike Pompeo; Credit: Camilo Freedman/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Photo of FBI; Credit: Album/Prisma/Newscom

Photo of FBI; Credit: World History Archive/Newscom

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  1. Wait….isn’t this fraud? The intentional misrepresentation of a material fact? Did this Ashton Kutcher know he was saying something false?

    1. I am making 10,000 Dollar at home own laptop .Just do work online 4 to 6 hour proparly . so i make my family happy and u can do …….. Read More

  2. No, because we can’t even get people to understand that a child made up statistics and now plastic straws are being banned.

  3. “…including on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight in 2011…”

    15 or so idiots who think Rachel Maddow is intelligent were fooled!

  4. Dude, where’s my false Sex Trafficking stats?

  5. Michael Kelso has breaking news:

    He’s toasted.

  6. To be fair, you have to take into consideration one’s bubble. Just as Pauline Kael expressed amazement over Nixon’s election because “nobody I know voted for him”, I suspect that Ashton Kutcher could take a quick mental survey of his social circle and conclude that child sex trafficking is quite common.

    1. The way I see this, is Kutcher is engaging in virtue signaling that’s so popular among “his bubble”.

      I watched part of a movie he was in “Spread” where he essentially was a gigolo. He was sex trafficking himself. Seems like it’s almost personal amends for him.

  7. “There are more slaves than ever before in human history”
    -Ashton Kutcher

    This is a bold faced lie.
    Census USA 1800

    New York slaves: 20,613
    Maryland slaves: 102,465
    Eastern Virginia slaves: 322,199
    Western Virginia slaves: 23,597
    Kentucky slaves: 40,343
    North Carolina slaves: 133,296
    South Carolina slaves: 146,151
    Georgia slaves: 59,699

    Far more slaves in the USA in 1800 that Michael Kelso is talking about.

      1. Nope. Ashton Kutcher say “Slaves” not sex slaves (1:00 in video above).

        1. Sorry, listening to it again, the quote is: “There are more slaves *in the World today*, than ever before in human history”

    1. North Carolina slaves: 133,296
      South Carolina slaves: 146,151

      Really? That’s all? Must have really ramped up in the 60 years before the civil war.

      1. That’s all? Really? That’s your response? The total population of North Carolina from 1880 census was only 487K so slaves were more than 1/4th of the states total population.

      2. And yes, it really ramped up over the next 60 years. In fact, the number of slaves in NC slightly more than doubled by the 1850 census to 288,548

    2. I’d also wager that the Roman or Mongolian empires had those numbers beat. And Brazil and other South American colonies had more then American colonies. And don’t forget the Russian serfs. All though to be fair there could be more slaves today then ever before but just because the population is greater, but as a percentage of the total world population I highly doubt it.

      1. More words:

        Chinese Dynasties
        AmerIndian tribes took some war prisoners and made them slaves.
        Japanese serf class
        Jews were slaves to the various civilizations

  8. OT: USA TODAY headquarters evacuated after report of armed person

    officers were searching for a former employee of one of the companies who he described as a “person of interest.” He declined to identify the person because he or she might have done nothing wrong.

    “I *thought* I saw a person with a weapon, but it turned out to be a cellphone. The police were totes understanding!”

    1. The media hysteria.

    2. ‘Is that a gun in your pants or are you happy to see me?’
      Close enough for Mae West…

  9. If it looks good on a headline, run it! Hardly any one will peek behind the curtain, and if they do they’re just child hating spoil sports.

  10. OT but screw it:

    I went to a wedding this past weekend. It was a beautiful wedding. A very long-time friend of mine was getting married. Good guy. Married a wonderful woman that I think will be very good to him.

    At the after party, I noticed something strange about a lot of his friends. See, he moved away awhile ago into a new city. I had to travel to go to the wedding, so this was my first time meeting a lot of his new friends. There were roughly 50 people or so. A lot of them in their 20s and 30s, and shit, these people have issues. Lots of issues. From sleeping problems, to dietary problems, to sensitivity to sunlight, to anxiety and depression issues, etc. And they love to tell you about it. They loved to bring up these problems at the drop of a hat and complain about them.

    I have problems too, of course, but I didn’t feel the need to bring these problems up in conversation with people I’m just getting to know. I think that talking about problems with people you are close with is important. But after talking to a lot of these people, you’d think they were horribly crippled and society really doesn’t give a shit about them. These people just seem… fragile. Were these problems that existed before and no one talked about them, or are people just making shit up these days? Are people complaining about minor aches and pains that they used to ignore?

    Also weird, they’d ask me what I do and as soon as I told them I worked with contracts, finance and infrastructure they’d clam up and become disinterested.

    I felt like I walked into the actual living, breathing version of those articles that complain about how annoying millennials are.

    1. Used to be that you knew that you were old when you and old people around started discussing all their ailments.

      Young people don’t have good life stories, good imaginations, or good personalities.

      I would say that they had no idea what you meant by “Worked with contracts, finance, and infrastructure.”

      Some of them likely have some TDS message on Instagram though.

      1. “Young people don’t have good imaginations” is one of the most bizarrely stupid things I’ve ever seen written

        1. Your idiotic comment is very convincing…to young people with no good imaginations.

        2. I have to laugh at trolls that say stupid things and have never read the idiotic articles written by reason staff.

    2. I go through this shit EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

      This is the future. Not only do you not have to perform in life because of ‘X,’ you’re entitled to sympathy and other people’s shit because of ‘X.’ It’s all part of the Victim Olympics.

      Ask them what they’re good at and what their plans are for the future, get ready for a blank stare. Their mouth may go agape. These idiots think they don’t need to plan jack shit or be responsible for jack shit because of ‘X.’

      I’m so sick of this bullshit. Sadly, it’s not going away.

      As a side note, occasionally I hear a legitimate ‘X,’ but apparently no one has explained to these retards; just because something isn’t your fault, doesn’t mean it isn’t your problem TO DEAL WITH.

      1. Ask them what they’re good at and what their plans are for the future, get ready for a blank stare.

        I get this a lot, too. It blows my mind. I’m constantly thinking about my future and what I want to do with it.

  11. The anti-child sex-trafficking movement

    I guess that actually is hyphenated correctly, referring to a movement that is opposed to child-sex trafficking. But the initial response is to see it as an anti-child movement that uses sex-trafficking. Precisely the opposite of what was intended. Or at least, of what they think they are.

  12. ‘Is that a gun in your pants or are you happy to see me?’
    Close enough for Mae West… milf tumblr

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