Ashton Kutcher Attacks Village Voice in Late Night Twitter Tantrum [UPDATED]
Ashton Kutcher is throwing a bit of a Twitter fit.
A map showing the actual arrest numbers. Click here to enlarge.
The cause? This week's Village Voice cover story, which takes a hard look at the That 70's Show star's campaign against child trafficking.
Kutcher might be hurt that the article characterized his baffling series of comedic TV spots on the issue as "fatuous and silly."
"Ostensibly about an intense issue--childhood sex slavery--the videos reek of frat-boy humor."
But Kutcher's tone-deaf notion of public-awareness advertising is the least of his problems, as the article makes clear. The bigger issue is this: the catastrophic epidemic of hundreds of thousands of child prostitutes doesn't seem to exist.
In April, Kutcher went on Piers Morgan to claim that there are "between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today." But when the Voice dug into the numbers, it found no such thing. In fact, according to police data from the country's 37 biggest cities, the average number of arrests for juvenile prostitution is a fraction of that: 827 per year.
When the story dropped, Kutcher didn't take well to having his pet project so thoroughly debunked. He let loose with a dozen Tweets last night, including the following:
Hey @villagevoice if you ever want 2 have a productive conversation about how 2 end human trafficking as oppose to belittling my efforts lmk
hey @villagevoice if you want to dispute the online data I've collected about the consumption of child porn or the hard facts from NCMEC lmk
Hey @villagevoice I'm just getting started!!!!!!!! BTW I only PLAYED stupid on TV.
The Voice was happy to take up the conversation:
OK @aplusk, we'll bite. Tell us the hard facts you have collected. We'll fact-check for you.
Kutcher posted, then quickly deleted a tweet that said simply "I'm up now, been up." Then followed with a more reasoned tweet linking to his writing on the subject:
My perspective on human trafficking Data written June 23.. http://t.co/qAr5nn3
If you follow the link, you find this from Kutcher:
Human trafficking data is extremely incomplete due to the psychological complexity of the issue and the lack of funding that has been allocated to research. Often times the data becomes conflated due to the lack of transparency from the victims themselves.
Ashton concedes that math may not be his strong suit.
Sex trafficking is defined as: A commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age
Proving force, fraud, or coercion can be very difficult considering that the victims have often times been brain washed, beaten, raped, molested, threatened, and tormented and fear revealing the identity of their trafficker. Often times what appears to be a voluntary commercial sex transaction is not. Therefore gathering a precise data set can be very complicated. In addition to this, many of the "voluntary prostitutes" are under the age of legal consent. Rough data has shown that the average age of entry into the global commercial sex trade is 13 year old. Mind you this is the average age. And depending on sexual consent laws in a particular country (18 in the US), all girls under that age fall in the category of sex trafficking victims. This alone accounts for many of the "voluntary prostitutes". One must also consider a girl who may have been brought into the sex trade by a trafficker at a young age and now has grown to the age of legal consent. Even though this girl may now be choosing to sell her body for sex, given the pre-existing circumstances, it's extremely difficult to assume that she would have made that choice had she been given prior free will.
However there is a great minority of women who do independently choose to sell their body for sexual services. Rough estimates say 20%. These women are often times rolled into sex trafficking statistics due to poor accounting or NGO's who are unnecessarily compounding numbers based on moral bias.
Ashton is basically conceding he uses "fuzzy math." What he doesn't tell us is that the problem he and Demi are touting on a media tour is a vastly inflated epidemic.
If Kutcher's serious about solving the problem and wants to be a "real man," he'll support the Wyden/Cornyn Sex Trafficking Bill, which actually helps the victims affected by this horrific crime.
Kutcher's twitter-battle with the Voice didn't stop there. See the rest of the exchange after the jump: