Ashton Kutcher and the Bogus Underage-Sex-Trafficking Numbers

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Professional doofus Ashton Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore recently decided that ending underage sex trafficking was a cause celebre worthy of their combined celebrity. After seeing a horrifying documentary on child prostitutes, KutchMo took it upon itself to create the "Real Men" campaign, a series of befuddling PSAs in which Justin Timberlake and Sean Penn (among others) do stupid things like make grilled-cheese sandwiches with a hot iron.

What this has to do with sex trafficking is anyone's best guess, but the fact that Kutcher and Moore have chosen to throw their considerable weight--a combined 10 million Twitter followers--behind a worthy cause is not something anyone is going to argue with. The only problem is that in order to make their point that child prostitution is a growing concern, the celebrity couple have been tossing around some seriously bogus, seriously panic-inducing numbers.

How do we know? For the past two months, a team of Village Voice reporters have been investigating the oft-repeated, never-questioned claim that on any given day there are between "100,000 and 300,000 child prostitutes" in America.

Sounds horrific. If only it were true.

Turns out the claim is based on a scientific study that was anything but scientific. In this week's cover story, our reporters even got the people behind the study to admit that Kutcher, Moore, and every other news outlet (meaning all of them) parroting the numbers had failed to mention that what they were actually measuring were kids at risk of becoming child prostitutes, a broad measure that includes just about every child who's ever slammed their bedroom door in anger after being grounded.

This is most certainly a national issue. But it's also a Seattle-centric issue as well.

Philanthropist to the stars Trevor Neilson, who gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to advise celebrities like Kutcher and Moore on where they should direct their tax write-offs, is a former spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools, a Washington State grad, and an ace at karaoke. And Linda Smith, the devout former Congressional representative of Washington's 3rd District, is the government-teat-sucking founder of a Kutcher-and-Moore-supported group that claims to want to stop underage prostitution by getting at its root causes--in short, she wants to make it illegal for adults to buy pornography and for teenagers to feel each other up (a cause we will fight to the death to defend).

But don't take my word for it. Just read the article on underage sex trafficking.

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