Are capitalists really so beaten down by government regulators already that they’re just going to pretend they like this sort of thing?
Granted, Georgia House Bill 141 that sailed through on a 171-1 vote recently and awaits the Senate to probably add its idea of handcuffs is probably a difficult one to openly oppose. Who the heck can possibly favor the modernized bondage of the involuntary sex trade other than those making money from it? Nobody. The situation demands an end be put to it.
However, HB 141 is aimed at combating human trafficking by ordering many of the state’s private business properties to plaster their public restrooms or entryways with mandatory signs. Such would provide guidance to a 24/7 hotline operated by a national nonprofit (National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 1-888-373-7888) that victims can call to ask for advice on how best to escape their sad circumstances. It also specifies the signs be in various appropriate languages, which could be a lot of them given victims are lured to this country from all over the world.
THE LEGISLATION requires the signs to be roughly the size of a sheet of copy paper, contain exactly the language in the law, and be in 16 point type:
That’s this size.
Of course, for the state this costs nothing. The businesses have to put up the signs. The help offered and hotline are paid for by the national nonprofit. However, there’s an upside of sorts for the state. A missing sign — even if an angry pimp tears it down just before a well-meaning citizen reports its absence — results in the business being hit for a $500 fine on the first offense and up to $5,000 for subsequent violations. There’s nothing in HB 141 saying any such income would be turned over to the national hotline folks.
A proposed amendment to the measure to make it voluntary instead of mandatory was crushed, meaning the signage, if HB 141 gets to the point where the governor could sign it, may turn up in places in which this problem has probably barely been heard of — let’s say Cave Spring, although places such as Rome are hardly known for this. That’s Atlanta, believed perhaps the nation’s No. 1 hub for such traffic.
While the few news items about this legislation mention it would be applied to “strip clubs, bars, hotels and other businesses” it is far broader than that. For example, a “hotel” is defined in the measure as any place offering overnight accommodation, which covers bed-and-breakfasts.
IT ALSO WILL be required at: primary airports, train/commuter rail stations, bus stations, truck stops, hospital emergency rooms, urgent-care centers, private employment centers; farm-labor contractors; rest areas along interstates, any business offering massage or “bodywork services” by someone other than a massage therapist (that means yoga, aromatherapy and a lot of other stuff).
And, of course, the always primary target of “adult entertainment establishments” with nude or semi-nude anything, including lingerie modeling (even by women for women?) although exercise clubs are specifically exempted. Semi-nude is intricately defined, including the showing of female breasts with nipples (sounds like homosexual emporiums are exempt but apparently not lesbian gathering places).
The definition also includes the sight not unusual to spot wandering around in public: “any part of the cleft of the buttocks.” Good thing this applies only to private enterprise else government would have to plaster the sidewalks, public beaches and similar with these signs.
Other than continuing evidence that legislators don’t know much about the real world or using the English language with precision, it should make taxpayers wonder why state government is treating so much private enterprise as naughty boys just pleading for a good whipping.
THIS SEEMS an oddball approach that sort of plasters over, on business walls, a very real problem. How’s about calling the cops or, if signage is actually needed, providing directions to the nearest police station to walk into and say: Help! I’m being held against my will!?
Is such state-mandated window-dressing really all that is now left to try? Since it was first reported back in 2005 in a leaked internal Atlanta police memo that about 1,000 Asian women and girls ages 13 to 25 were being “forced to prostitute themselves” in the Georgia capital that rose out of the ashes of slavery, millions in federal and state dollars have been expended trying to crack down on a situation that city officials continue to largely claim does not exist.
It’s not just Asian women (and boys) by the way but also ones from Mexico, Africa and elsewhere. Nor is this strictly “sex trade,” as cases are known involving household servants.
So now along comes HB 141 in the wake of a newspaper investigation some three months ago that indicated of the millions in state and (heavily) federal money spent to put an end to this there has been little result. Apparently the U.S. Justice Department has been looking into the expenditures because, while Atlanta police task forces reported finding more than 200 victims, auditors could only confirm four.
If there is a single case of slavery of any sort persisting in Georgia it is a matter to be taken very seriously and stomped out with vigor. Making every truck stop and bed-and-breakfast in the state put up signs saying there is a hotline available is hardly a solution.
IN FACT, this being the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, it seems only fitting to ask legislators: When that happened, did Southerners instantly free any slaves they might have had? Or did it require an approach somewhat more forceful?
Informational signage and more public awareness of this problem is a good thing, as is the hotline. However, yet more state mandates are no way to tackle much of anything and particularly so when applied with such a broad brush. Certainly any cities or counties that believe they have this problem locally could pass such a requirement on their own. It is little more than what “No smoking” signs represent currently.
What HB 141 proposes will solve nothing and at best help only a smidgen in places where the problem actually shows signs of existing. It is both papering over a real problem and forcing others, at their expense and with new risks for not complying, to join in the pretense.
Sex slavery, or maid slavery, imposed on those who come to this nation because of their belief it is the promised land of opportunity is an affront to us all. For any with such dreams to wind up in the equivalent of bondage is the greatest possible insult to the very principles of individual freedom that led to this nation’s founding.
Both the federal and state governments — and hometown ones as well if they discover the problem exists — have an absolute obligation to obliterate it.
WITH MANDATED signs? The General Assembly needs to get real about dealing with actual problems instead of forcing others to put words up on their walls. Isn’t that a form of involuntary servitude as well?