Our ability to selectively engage and disengage our moral standards…helps explain how people can be barbarically cruel in one moment and compassionate the next. (Albert Bandura)
Some human actions bear such a degree of negative value that the very consideration of their status within the ordinary categories of moral philosophy would appear to give them an unwarranted degree of dignity. And so they are described using terms like obscene, horrific, heinous, vile, atrocious, depraved, abominable, etc. They are without standing in the court of moral law.
Sex trafficking, slavery, and the criminal organizations that enable and facilitate such terrorizing practices are three examples of such activity, and are treated as virtually universally criminal throughout the world.
In the following presentations we hear from some of the world’s leading experts in each area.
In the ethics of human sexuality the issues most directly associated with pornography are its potential to foster sexism and violence against women, and its detrimental psychological effects upon women and men alike.
The moral and social impact of pornography may be more far reaching than this, however. The same values that inform the social acceptance of things like pornography and legalized prostitution could also be a contributing factor in the practice of human trafficking for sexual exploitation, particularly when one considers the role that demand for such “services” plays.
To give you a sense for the nature and extent of commercial sexual exploitation in the world today, here is Sunitha Krishnan describing her work rescuing women and children from this dark side of human desire:
A common misconception of human trafficking is that it is a problem limited to the less developed parts of the world. But developed nations like those in Europe and America bear at least equal responsibility for the problem as the primary sources of demand in the sex trade market. For example, consider the story of trafficking in Tampa Bay, Florida:
If human trafficking is indeed fueled by the same moral assumptions and attitudes about human sexuality that look upon pornography as an acceptable social practice, it is not a stretch to say there may be a causal link between the two. Having already learned to virtually dehumanize the object of one’s desire, it is not a long step to the next level of dehumanization.
Kevin Bales in an interview with Maria Hinojosa on One on One:
Journalist Misha Gleny has spent much of his career tracing the lines of organized crime around the world. Here he reveals what he has discovered about how criminal organizations work and explains why he believes it is the “western desire to consume that is the primary driver of international organized crime.”
Misha Glenny at the RSA: