So, somewhere in between killing the trucker hat and replacing Charlie Sheen, Ashton Kutcher decided to get serious.

He and Demi Moore recently launched a series of P.S.A.s with the tagline "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" speaking out against underage sex slavery. The Village Voice, in response, wrote an article called "Real Men Get Their Facts Straight" that took Kutcher, among others, to task over the alleged inflation of certain statistics cited in the war on underage sex trafficking. And then things got ugly.

Kutcher has been viciously tweeting about the Voice's habit of advertising for escort services in their classified ads, with the tenacity of someone with very little actual work to do. That's not to say that his work isn't admirable, and that child sex slavery isn't a cause worth addressing, but his feelings seem very hurt by the mean, mean, things the Voice said about him, and he is not going to let that shit slide. Anyway, the most recent back-and-forth between the two of them is below, and there's much more where that came from.


Children, please. This is ridiculous from both sides. First of all, I don't like Ashton Kutcher, but attacking him for having possible inflated facts in his campaign against child sex slavery is a little much. I understand the Voice's position: they're all for integrity of information. But Ashton doesn't have a well-organized network of investigative journalists — he probably has an overworked assistant who he told to Google "sex-trafficking statistics."

And Ashton, let it go, please. You're fabulously wealthy for doing so very little, you're ridiculously good-looking, you've got the number-one cougar in the land on your arm, and you're upset that a free weekly paper in New York is quibbling with you? Half the people who consider you a viable source of information probably aren't even aware of the Voice's existence. Everybody here just needs to relax and let the public decide who to believe. 

Commentarium (23 Comments)

Jul 01 11 - 1:57pm
@AH

"First of all, I don't like Ashton Kutcher, but attacking him for having possible inflated facts in his campaign against child sex slavery is a little much. "

First of all, why would a reader care what you think about Kutcher? Nothing personal but you don't seem insightful enough for your opinions to matter much.

Hey, I have an idea! Instead of covering this meaningless snit, why not cover the "true" facts about child sex trafficking.

It's incomprehensible that you'd cover such an important issue in this way.

Jul 02 11 - 1:53am
lolwut

Today's headlines include "The Doors Suck" and "Five Killer-Robot Movies You Should Watch Instead of Transformers 3". I don't think Nerve is supposed to be some kind of muckraking investigatory journalism outlet - and I like it that way.

Jul 01 11 - 2:09pm
D

This is ridiculous from both sides? It seems mostly ridiculous from Kutcher, who is acting like a child. He, along with numerous other publications, cited amazing statistics on child sex slavery in the U.S. The Voice fact-checked and discovered that those numbers were bullshit, and that the reality was likely much less frightening than some would make it out to be. They further recognized that the moral panic instigated by such over-inflated numbers would draw attention away from the real problems, causes, and treatment of underage sex work.

Kutcher, for his part, appears to see underage sex work and adult sex work as similar things, hence why he calls the Voice out on its supposed hypocrisy for the content of its paid advertisement section. There are no parallels between the two. To me, it is telling that he chooses to attack the Voice on this perceived hypocrisy rather than the content of their criticism. It amounts to a sort of ad hominem attack.

Further, while Kutcher may not have the Voice's research team, anyone mounting a national PSA campaign on behalf of a social concern does bear responsibility for making sure that concern is accurately represented. Kutcher should research twice and inflate his moral indignation once in the future to avoid embarrassment such as this. He looks like a child and Voice looks like a news outlet that did its job.

Jul 01 11 - 2:38pm
dave1976

If I recall correctly, these (or similar) statistics were used to force craigslist to shut down its adult services listings. In other words, these specious statistics were just another tool in the government's arsenal to interfere with the private lives of consenting adults. I guess that's what really ticks me off about Kutcher's stance, his laziness and misdirected jibes are an aide to those who would prefer a government that insulates us from ourselves (and not that I can no longer look up hookers on craiglist. Hookers are still very easy to find elsewhere on the internet. Thank god.)

Jul 01 11 - 3:05pm
Danielle Gibson

I don't like Ashton Kutcher either. I mean he's pretty much made a career out of annoying people. I'm sitting at home, minding my own beeswax, trying to watch The Bachelorette when his cocky mug LEAPS OUT and tries to make me think Nikon cameras are cool. Ugh.

Jul 01 11 - 8:59pm
@Nerve

More censorship? It's probably good when the left shows its real roots - suppression of dissent. You should be ashamed.

Jul 01 11 - 10:58pm
Archie

@"@Nerve":
Uh... your comment confuses me.

The Village Voice is historically pretty to the left. If you're suggesting they're being suppressed by the left in general, you've got to be kidding. They're a part of the left, and I hardly see the rest of the left rallying against the voice anytime soon. This article doesn't seem to be doing that either.

As for Kutcher? The Voice disagrees with him. If you're a fan of critical thinking (the pedagogical term, not the literary theory), skepticism and dissent, then you should approve of what the voice is trying to do. The hold-the-party-line take on child abuse would be: "look the other way at possible fudged statistics that support causes the left spends more time championing (such as American cooperation and participation in international human rights programs)."

Instead, the writers at the Voice put aside total political loyalty for their loyalty towards better journalism and the facts. I'm not saying they're right, but that they are willing to take up the question of whether Ashton, who is supporting an agenda that the Left attends to more, is saying things that are true. Kutcher's campaign is more in line with the Left's goals then the Voices, the voice certainly isn't being surpressed, and neither one is being censored here.

So yeah, I have no idea where you're going with that "suppression of dissent" shit.

Jul 02 11 - 9:56am
@Archie

Yeah, you're confused. My comment referred to comments that were posted and then deleted, presumably by nerve.

Nice little rant though.

Jul 02 11 - 7:01am
Nerve Troll Alert

Warning: This thread contains a comment or comments that may incorrectly be interpreted as legitimate incitements to genuine discourse. Do not be fooled.

@Nerve = troll.

Proceed to engage the troll at your own risk and expense, as past performance indicates that the troll lies in wait, constantly refreshing every thread he posts in, and will persist in trollery beyond the capacity of any individual person with a social life to respond.

Jul 02 11 - 9:55am
JockSniffer

Warning: This thread contains a comment or comments that may incorrectly be interpreted as legitimate incitements to genuine discourse. Do not be fooled.

@Nerve Troll Alert = Jock Sniffer

Proceed to engage the troll at your own risk and expense, as past performance indicates that the troll lies in wait, constantly refreshing every thread he posts in, and will persist in trollery beyond the capacity of any individual person with a social life to respond.

Jul 02 11 - 12:04pm
completely

The Voice really just used Kutcher's little escapade as a launching off point into a very well researched and informative deconstruction of the very, very wide-spread, misinformed "100,000 to 300,000." The figure's been used by the Times and CNN: Kutcher is neither its first nor its most high-profile champion.

Jul 02 11 - 12:05pm
completely

That should read, " '100,000 to 300,000' figure."

Jul 03 11 - 11:41am
Publius

Then what is the actual figure (or range), completely?

Jul 03 11 - 11:47am
completely

The number of arrests each year has been around 827 for the past ten years.

Jul 03 11 - 1:40pm
completely

And read the article as to where the "100,000 to 300,000" number comes from. It's pretty astonishing. It involves all young people who are considered "at risk," which includes all minors who use public transportation near the Canadian and Mexican borders, for example.

Jul 03 11 - 3:12pm
Publius

827 arrests nationwide or NYC?

What factor do you use to equate arrests to sex workers?

Jul 03 11 - 4:17pm
completely

Across the 37 largest cities in America. Obviously the number of total sex workers is difficult to categorize, but there are no estimates that put it near 100,000 other than the estimate including "at risk" minors.

Seriously though, I'm sure you'd get a much better sense of the methodology from the article -- it's all up on their site.

Jul 03 11 - 7:05pm
Publius

I'll take a look. It does seem like 100000 - 300000 is inflated. I hate it when "scientists" do that. The reality of needing (or wanting) to make a splash, I suppose.

Jul 02 11 - 10:27pm
ladygrey

Ashton Kutcher is so HOT!

Jul 03 11 - 1:33am
Dan

He's attacking sex work ads. He's got his work cut out for him.

Jul 22 11 - 10:10am
Raynoch

This is exclaty what I was looking for. Thanks for writing!

Aug 06 11 - 2:08pm
Truth be Told

There is a lot of controversy over the topics of sex trafficking, sex slavery, human trafficking and forced prostitution. Regarding what the definition is, the research methods used to find statistics, what the definition of a victim is, the number of child and adult victims involved, forced vs. unforced sex, how the actual prostitutes themselves feel about it, and legal vs. illegal prostitution.

There is a growing number of well respected researchers, journalists, scientists, professors, that have concluded in their research that the sex trafficking, sex slavery concept is based on emotion, morals, and monetary funding rather than facts, evidence and proof. They state that very few kidnapped, forced against their will, physically abused, raped sex slave prostitutes for profit have been found throughout the world. Their research concludes that women who enter into this type of work do so of their own free will. They also state that there are many anti-prostitution groups who simply do not like the idea of consensual adult prostitution and have distorted the facts in order to push their agenda and receive funding and money into their organizations in the form of donations, grants and to change the laws about prostitution. They state that these anti-prostitution groups use made up child sex trafficking statistics which they have no proof or evidence of in order to gain public acceptance for their cause.
http://sextraffickingvictims.blog.com/