by Guest Contributor (and frequent commenter) Atlasien
It’s all over the news lately: an elaborate sting operation by conservative activists. A man and a woman go into an ACORN office, and ask about how to get affordable housing and file taxes properly. The woman says she’s a sex worker. The ACORN representatives give a variety of advice. Up to this point, I don’t see anything really wrong with what they’re doing. But then the man starts talking about his plan of bringing a group of underage girls, 13 years old, 14 years old, from El Salvador to “turn tricks” in the house. And in the videos shown, the ACORN representatives keep on giving him advice.
I went to the sources and actually read through some transcripts. As an example, see Page 22 of the Baltimore one. It’s just as damning as the right-wingers are saying.
I’m glad that ACORN is firing everyone who took the bait, but I don’t think the accountability ends there. They need to have a consistent anti-human trafficking policy. Apparently some ACORN offices either threw them out or laughed them out (the “pimp” does look rather laughable) but way too many of them them took him seriously. I believe ACORN’s statement about their need for reforms and review is not “caving in”, it’s an important process of accountability.
A lot of people on the left don’t want to talk about this issue. I get a feeling of closing ranks. After all, ACORN has done many, many good things for low-income communities. They work with people on the margins of society that no one else will work with. It’s a difficult balance. Low-income people who work in illegal activities should NOT be cut off and isolated… but activities that savagely victimize other people shouldn’t be supported, either. I would never say that drug-dealing and sex work are “victimless” crimes; that would be a stupid statement because there are very few activities that are truly victimless, either legal or illegal. Selling cigarettes is legal, for example, but not victimless.
But I refuse to believe that there is any kind of gray area when it comes to child prostitution.