01 November 2012

On the slavery and pimping proposition.

I’m not sure why or when “human trafficking” became the more formal term for “slavery” or “pimping.” Or why we can’t just go with “slavery” and “pimping.” More people will recognize what those things are, and immediately recognize they’re against them. Or recognize they ought to be.

Though when I was a kid, “pimp” was slang for “promiscuous heel”—someone who slept with a lot of women, and treated them dismissively. I knew such pimps throughout high school, college, and my first two newspaper jobs. They took pride in the number of women they had, then disposed of; I considered them sluts. (Yes, you can use that word to describe men.) I lost all sympathy for them after one self-proclaimed “pimp” had got a friend of mine pregnant, then pushed her into having an abortion. Yeah, it was her choice, but she had the abortion anyway, all in the hopes of hanging on to him… futilely. Hence I’m against those pimps as well.

Okay, enough tangents on semi-related subjects. California’s Proposition 35 is meant to crack down a little harder on pimps and “human traffickers,” since they insist on using that term in the prop’s language.

Proposition 35. Human Trafficking. Penalties. Initiative Statute.

What I’d call it. Yo, you thought a pimp’s life is hard, yo.

The problem. Well, there’s slavery: People are kidnapping kids, or smuggling them into California, for the cheap labor. Often the labor is in the sex trade. Of course, there are the rumors about organ harvesting, but I expect that falls under “murder.”

Existing law makes it so if you’re caught slaving or pimping, you can be sentenced for up to 5 years; 8 years if you’re selling minors. If it’s sex-related, you also have to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement. Fines can be up to $100,000—but only for selling kids for sex, although if you didn’t force the kids to participate, and didn’t know they were minors (yeah, right), you could actually get away with just a warning.

Sound like too light a penalty? Sure it does.

The solution. First, hike the sentences. If you’re caught slaving, you can be sentenced for up to 12 years, with an extra 10 added for bodily harm, and an extra 5 years per prior conviction. If it’s sex-related, 20 to life. Fines would now be up to $1.5 million. And “I didn’t know they were underage” is no longer a defense.

If someone is busted for prostitution or being in this country illegally, they won’t be prosecuted if it turns out they were doing these things as a victim of human trafficking. The thinking is this’ll get more people to turn on their captors. Hope so.

Fines would be split between law enforcement, which gets 30 percent; and support services for the victims, which gets the rest.

Lastly, sex offenders have to provide more contact information to the cops. This includes Internet providers, screen names, email addresses, and other ways they poke around the web. If they change any of that information, they have to update law enforcement within 24 hours.

If it doesn’t pass: Nothing changes.

Argument pro. California sucks at busting human traffickers. This will protect our children. Think about the children!

Rebuttal. Hey, there are perfectly legal sex workers out there who might get busted for human trafficking. And their families might get busted for supporting them. We want to retain the right to f--k for money!

Argument con. You know, criminalizing sex workers isn’t gonna stamp out prostitution. And not all child prostitutes have pimps. And all us sex workers [yes, the people who wrote the “con” argument are sex workers] are gonna get hassled. You need to legalize prostitution, not just increase the penalties for human trafficking.

Rebuttal. Stop the sexual exploitation of children!

My view. My libertarian friends are being rather inconsistent when it comes to this proposition. The bulk of them are actually voting for it. They’re not siding with the sex workers, the pimps, and the slavers, and permitting them their right to exploit whatever workers they wish, without any government interference. Their argument: Child exploitation is wrong. My argument right back at them: Child exploitation is wrong only because the government has laws against it, and I thought you were the guys who were pushing for deregulation.

Yeah, I have far too much fun messing with my libertarian friends. But let’s face it, they are being inconsistent. Because they don’t care a whit about morality until sex gets involved. Add sex to the equation, and they’ll vote against it every time. Well, most times; they’ll forgive Newt Gingrich’s extramarital behavior. Not so much Bill Clinton’s. Let’s just say their forgiveness has to follow party lines.

So the reason they’re against human trafficking is because, of course, the sex trade is involved. If it wasn’t—if it was just a matter of companies shipping illegal aliens to the States to make ’em work in sweatshops, or to steal their livers for wealthy organ recipients—they wouldn’t care so much. Though it’d be much smarter to ship the jobs elsewhere, rather than the people. In their homelands, you never have to worry about a raid from La Migra. Plus the bribes are cheaper.

The sex part of it makes it icky, so they’re voting yes on Prop 35. Those arguments of the sex workers about how it oughta just be legalized? Won’t work on these libertarians. They’re willing to legalize drugs and corporate exploitation, but whenever you bring up legalizing prostitution, they just can’t help thinking, “My daughter might get sucked into that trade.” So they vote with their gut.

As for me, I’m no libertarian. I believe the sex trade is detrimental and harmful to society, and if voting for Prop 35 will hamper the existing trade as well as the illegal trade, that’s just a happy bonus. Voting yes.