The New Abolitionists

Trafficking’s Gray Areas

Thank you very much for Nina Shapiro’s article this week, shedding light on the complex realities of the trafficking issue [“The New Abolitionists,” Aug. 25]. Like many people, I heard of appalling trafficking situations and wanted to “do something.” Last summer, I left my job here in Seattle to engage in the issue full-time and started out immersing myself in research, but then felt I needed a reality check, so I spent the first half of this year in Southeast Asia.

How instructive that I went. I met with nearly 40 nonprofit organizations working in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It was an eye-opening experience and one that allowed me to get beyond my own rather black-and-white initial perceptions, to realize the huge gray areas and complexities of the problem.

Given those complexities, I found myself at times dismayed by the paternalistic, patronizing, and, ultimately, self- defeating approaches of some groups. Or, as a leading expert said to me in Thailand, “feeling good about feeling bad.” So I was especially glad to read Shapiro’s article that brought out the gray areas rather than settling for easy answers.

Trang Tu

Seattle

Nitpicking Slavery

While in town for a Mariners-Royals game, I picked up your paper. I hadn’t read it since my leftist Episcopalian days when I savored every page.

Two problems.

No. 1. Never mind that I couldn’t read the thing in public lest anyone more decent than a child molester might be reading it over my shoulder. Your focus is obvious: sex organs. One-third of page 75 (Books/Reviews) is dedicated to graphic ads for a “dual-action vibrator” and the Sands Showgirls (note upper thigh).

Perhaps it’s too late for you to revert to your formerly thoughtful material: the issues, the books, the culture. Surely you can find advertising to support such a move.

No. 2. Worst of all was your bizarre nitpickery regarding those heroic souls who “have turned human trafficking into a new abolitionist movement” [“The New Abolitionists,” Aug. 25].

Your point being?

Isn’t everybody (except the above- mentioned child molesters) against the enslavement of children and women for the purposes of the sex trade? I sort of hoped so. I tend to think you’d fully support the cause had it been limited to Buddhist and feminist organizations. But dang. Here came the Bush administration and the evangelicals. If these latter two categories had spoken up for oxygen would you suddenly reconsider a need to breathe?

Virginia Leinart

Port Angeles

Too Uptight for Hempfest

I found Mossback’s description of Hempfest cliche and demeaning [“The Fragging of John Kerry,” Aug. 25]. I was there doing voter registration on Saturday along with many others, and we found the vast majority of the crowd already registered and anxious to vote — presumably against Bush. This was one of the most pleasant outdoor events I’ve attended in quite some time — nice venue, lots of friendly people, and good music. I think Mossback is a little uptight.

Patrick Daugherty

Mercer Island

Fragging a Fake

We anti-Kerry vets only started this “fragging” because John Kerry was stupid enough to stand on his “record”; we knew his record was BS from the get-go, but the more he lied about it, the worse it got [Mossback, “The Fragging of John Kerry,” Aug. 25].

It all goes back to the fact that he became “one of them” and while many of us were still fighting he was marching in parades. He did such a good job, the commander of the forces we fought against held out another six months and finally won!

I would almost say anyone who became a wounded vet or gave their life during the time that the war was extended due to Kerry and his antiwar crap would have one hell of a gripe with the man! We wouldn’t let Wesley Clark get elected due to his poor performance, and we will do what we can to keep this fake hero from being elected.

Lonnie Dotson

Covington

Now Walk the Vote

In last week’s article, “They Talk the Vote,” Kimberly Peterson voiced skepticism as to whether youth voting would increase this year due to increased amounts of voter registration. I disagree. I’m currently an organizing intern with EnviroCitizen, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with young voters on winning environmental campaigns in their community and on college campuses.

Getting hundreds or thousands of people registered to vote is a really good effort. But it doesn’t stop there. EnviroCitizen holds voter education events and get-out-the-vote drives to get all those newly registered voters to the polls. It’s just too easy to forget or choose to do something else on election day. But with assistance from groups doing these drives, voter turnout will actually increase, rather than just the number of new people registered.

If more groups give as much effort to voter mobilization as they do to voter registration, then we can really expect the youth vote turnout to rise this year.

Maria Elena Nelson

Seattle

Exercised at Exorcist

I’m usually not one to write a letter blasting some BS film review. But, shit, I got conned by one of yours and now I’m out $8.50 — never mind gas money and having to sit through about 18 minutes of Coke ads/coming attractions. For pure embarrassing, un-fuckin’-watchable drek.

Last week, I read Heather Logue’s surprisingly enthusiastic write-up of Exorcist: The Beginning. She wrote that this Exorcist “comes close” to living up to the original. Claimed also that the effects “weren’t especially showy.”

Saying it “comes close” to the original is a huge statement, and I’m not a huge fan of Exorcist. I feel it’s a shocking, original movie done by a very skilled director based on an intelligent book.

The first few minutes of The Beginning has more effects than I’ve seen collectively in about three years of movie watching. The characters have all the dimension of DC Comics characters. Some lines are just bad. (“Those lesions could be from a dozen different diseases here, but they aren’t the symptoms of any of them.”) The “hard-hitting” “shock” scenes are comical, forced, plus it robs the first movie of all its mysteries — the artifacts, symbols, and most importantly Max von Sydow’s Merrin character — just to get hold of your money.

Goddamn, I just can’t believe how cynical and hateful of their audience the industry has gotten. We’ll have a whole generation (if we don’t already) that is a stranger to what is good, stylish, and cool.

Chris Campbell

Renton

Drugs Are the Answer!

I’m writing to express my thanks and admiration for the recent Drug Issue glorifying pot, absinthe, and Courtney Love [Aug. 18]. Courtney’s a great heroine for any young woman to look up to — why not get those kids started on drug addiction young — and I loved the part about the absinthe guy who “limits” consumption by making people puke. The wonders of chemistry are boundless!

I don’t know if the thoughtful, skilled writers and editors who helped prepare this material realize the great contribution they have made to human progress, but anything we can do to decrease population on Earth is welcome. Promoting drug abuse is only a small step, but an innovative one.

There’s a lot of ground left to cover, though. What about rotgut whiskey and cheap wine? Imagine how much you could lower population density with an article promoting cheap beer and street racing. I await further prizewinning coverage in this remarkable style.

Eric Lucas

Seattle

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