Bangkok Comes to the Super Bowl
A good fifteen years ago I read about how American tourists, men, would travel to Bangkok for the express purpose of paying for child sex. The trips were basically booked as sex tours. One thought that went through my head when I read it was “well, at least not in America”. It’s not that I am so naive to believe that every prostitute in the US is eighteen or older. I just didn’t think that outright child sex trafficking went on in America.
Then earlier this week I got an e-mail from Change.org which opened with:
Every year, children as young as 11 are trafficked involuntarily to Super Bowl cities. There, football fans – usually men, often inebriated – will pay traffickers to have sex with them.
Now as much as I admire Change.org’s mission to right wrongs and fight injustice, their e-mails tend to be on the Debbie Downer side, each one more depressing than the one before. So when I read this, I immediately asked myself is anyone covering this besides Change.org or is this melodrama? A quick Google search ended any doubt immediately. This from McClatchy back in February of last year:
Two dozen volunteers from around the country gathered inside a Miami conference room earlier this week to prepare for the Super Bowl.
They’re not here for the game, though, but to spend several days fanning out through the city to rescue underage girls who have been trafficked to South Florida as sex workers.
Ernie Allen, who heads the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said girls typically enter prostitution at age 11 or 12.
“This is truly an example of supply and demand,” said Allen. “They use these kids as commodities for sale or trade, and go to where demand is the greatest, and where they can make the most money. That’s why they follow events like the Super Bowl.”
So, it turns out pedophiles don’t need to travel to Bangkok to get their fix. I’m not a big football fan to begin with but it sure does seem to take a bit of luster off the game to contemplate as you’re watching the fourth quarter action that some of the fans in the stands are looking forward to scoring with an 11-year-old.
The Civil War was about Slavery, Imagine That!
I always get a kick out of the Conservative habit of re-writing history to suit their ideology. One the latest memes to surface is that the civil war was not really about slavery but about much much more. In their Five Myths series, the Washington Post (and author James Loewen specifically) takes on five myths about the Civil War. Three of these myths gave me a big kick:
1. The Civil War was about States rights. Myth! The South believed in a strong federal government and was angry that the Fed was not enforcing slavery related laws in the North.
2. The Civil War was about high tariffs and taxes. Myth! Hysteria over high interstate taxes peaked under Andrew Jackson in 1833. The tariffs in effect in 1860 were written by Southerners in 1857 and were the lowest they’d been in decades.
3. Most white Southerners didn’t own slaves so slavery could not be the driving force behind the war. Myth! While it is true that most Southerners did not own slaves, most aspired to own them. It was emblematic of having made it, of having entered the upper class. To end slavery would be to end one of the cultural touchstones of nobility in the South. So those who did not own slaves still had a lot vested in the ability to own them.
The next time you’re tempted to celebrate the Confederacy, remember what it was really about, enslaving fellow human beings and treating them like property.
Reaping What You Sow
Could someone please explain to me why we elect an evangelical Christian and then get our panties in a knot when he acts like … wait for it … an evangelical Christian? Robert Bentley, the new Governor of Alabama made quite a splash this week when he said, “Anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.” He subsequently apologized after the left and separation of church and state, and anti-defamation groups lost their lunch. But should he have apologized? I say no.
Let’s start with the location. He made the statement in a church service following his inauguration. He assumed, I think rightfully, that he was addressing fellow believers. But let’s also examine what he said. “I want to be your brother.” That is exactly what evangelical Christianity is all about. It is the belief that everyone needs to be saved. It is the belief that it is the duty of the devout to turn others to Christ and save their souls from eternal damnation. Bentley’s comment was completely consistent with his belief system and stated in a completely appropriate venue. To my knowledge, Bentley did not campaign as an atheist, a Jew or a Muslim.
Bottom line: Alabama got what it paid for. Now let’s just pray that Romney, Huckabee or Palin doesn’t choose Bentley as their running mate in 2012.