Friday, September 26, 2008
Yesterday, the University of St. Thomas Law Journal sponsored a terrific symposium on Human Trafficking. At some point soon, I'll write a post with some of my own thoughts on the day, but in the meantime, let me share the powerful and thought-provoking comments Chato Hazelbaker, our Director of Communications, posted on his blog:
The symposium gave attendees a lot to think about, particularly from the remarks of Norma Ramos one of the cofounders of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. In discussing her rejection of the term “sex-worker” she asked the simple question when did sex become work, and do we have to live with the commoditization of everything? Is human sexuality something to be traded on and with? In her talk and as part of a panel later in the day Ramos draws clear lines between a “porn” culture, prostitution, human trafficking and abuses that I cannot even bring myself to write about.
This issue of ending the sex-trade in all of it forms really does rise above political points of view and gets at something we may have already lost, the dignity of each human being as a person. Norma Ramos is a card carrying liberal of great pride and accomplishment, but what I heard her talking about are the very things that the right should be caring about and talking more about. This is not an issue of first amendment, this is an issue where we look at the degradation of the individuals involved in the sex trade, and the devastation to the communities in which we live and we have to ask ourselves simply, “Is this something that any reasonable society should live with?” Again, Ramos makes a powerful point here. She took the examples of theft and murder, and pointed out that no society has ever said that theft and murder and going to happen so we should just figure out how to regulate these things.
It is a Christian point of view that looks at a society and cares for the most vulnerable, and here is a place where we are clearly failing miserably. Beyond just the Christian, for a long time people have been told that to speak up against pornography in any form is to be a prude, to reject a reasoned approach to life, and to infringe on the rights of others. Yesterday, Norma Ramos gave me permission to get over that.
I have two daughters, and when she gave the example of a parent holding a young child and the dreams that go through a parents head of what that child will become: doctor, lawyer, missionary, on that list no parent ever thinks “prostituted person”. So today I’m coming before my God and asking myself, why I would ever support or watch something that I would make me angry, sad, or disappointed in what I had accomplished as a parent if I see my child in it?
There is room for broad agreement on this issue. We have sold enough of our dignity. The solution for me personally is not in legislative action outlawing obscene material, it is the simple act of looking at movies, television shows, advertisements and the flood of media in my eyes and saying, that is someone’s child and a child of God.