Why Is Everyone So Willing to Believe ‘Fake News’ About Sex Trafficking?

On the latest Libertarianism.org "Free Thoughts" podcast, I talk with hosts Aaron Ross Powell and Trevor Burrus about the conflation of consensual prostitution and sex trafficking in American culture and courtrooms, both in general and in terms of recent high-profile cases (such as The Review Board and "K-girl" agency bust in Seattle last year). How did we get here? Who's driving the confusion? Who are the winners and losers in America's quixotic crusade to "end demand" for prostitution? And why do so many people seem so willing to believe "fake news" about sex workers and human trafficking?

As a society, we seem to "desperately want to strip these women of agency [and think] that they're forced into it," observes Powell, "and it seems like it's part of this broader attitude that, 'I wouldn't want to do job X, and I can't imagine doing job X, and so therefore anyone who does job X must be doing it against their will.' And so you see this in prostitution, but... it shows up in people arguing against 'sweatshops,' or Uber drivers, or hell it even shows up with stay-at-home moms.... It's like we lack enough empathy to understand the choices of others, and therefore deprive them of agency."

Download the audio on Libertarianism.org, or give it a listen below: