Porn and Human Trafficking in Spokane

On the surface, Spokane, Washington, seems like any other big city in the Pacific Northwest. Yet it is a city in the grip of a public health crisis. On February 23, 2019, a nationally assembled team of doctors, academics, sociologists, psychologists, and law enforcement officers met at Spokane’s Gonzaga University to examine the city’s crisis and to educate citizens how to mount an effective response.

The crisis in question concerns the pervasive use of pornography in the city.

In many respects, Spokane is a cameo of America as a whole, where the widespread use of the smartphone has enabled the sex industry to begin realizing its goal of making porn affordable, anonymous, accessible, and addictive.

It is this last point—the addictive nature of porn—that was a key focus at the Gonzaga conference. The conference was also set up to expose the links between porn addiction and human trafficking.

Two days before the conference, I had a phone conversation with Dr. Alfonso Oliva, a Spokane surgeon who helped put on the symposium.

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Salvo Magazine #50: Fighting the Porn-Trafficking Axis

Salvo Magazine #50 is now hot off the press. My article on porn and human trafficking in Spokane has been made available for free so that non-subscribers can read it. Here’s a link:

This article is a follow-up to my earlier article, “Human Trafficking in the Pacific Northwest,” and my ongoing series on Porn and Immodesty.

If you are not a subscriber to this magazine, now might be a good time to fix that by going here to subscribe.

Self-Esteem, Self-Compassion and Self-Love

Should you love yourself?

Is self-esteem good? Should you love yourself? What about self-love? There currently exists much confusion on these questions. Moreover, each of these terms require careful unraveling. Let’s begin with self-esteem.

Self-Esteem = BAD

Self-esteem is generally understood as involving a subjective decision to evaluate oneself (including one’s abilities, accomplishments and circumstances) in a positive way. The goal of self-esteem is not to help a person become better, but merely to feel better. Accordingly, self-esteem is disconnected from questions of virtue (i.e., “is the decision to think of myself in this way moving me closer towards ethical goals?”) as well as disconnected from questions of truth (“is the decision to think of myself in this way in line with the objective reality about myself?”). Through its dislocation from virtue, self-esteem can easily collapse into narcissism, while its dislocation from truth can cause self-esteem to collapse into delusion.

In the mid 80’s, the State of California poured thousands of dollars into an initiative designed to raise children’s self-esteem. Based on the secular humanist wisdom at the time, lawmakers fully expected that an increase in self-esteem would cause a boost grades and a reduction in bullying, crime, teen pregnancy and substance abuse. In reality, the initiative was a complete disaster.

Further empirical research has continued to confirm that self-esteem has many negative effects, including narcissism, self-absorption, contingent self-worth, self-righteousness, aggression in response to threatened egotism, and self-validating assessments of one’s abilities that undermine the process of further improvement. Self-esteem can also lead to a fragile sense of self-worth, since one’s self-worth becomes dependent on self-concepts that may be threatened through failure, lack of external validation or genuine self-knowledge.

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Human Trafficking in the Pacific Northwest

“You Work For Me Now”

Amber grew up in foster care, spending time with various families in Eastern Washington. Although Amber was popular at school and appeared well-adjusted to the outside world, she struggled to believe in her own self-worth. She spent time with some loving families, yet she always knew that people were taking care of her only because they were paid to.

While Amber’s school friends looked forward to growing up and going to college, Amber knew that once she reached seventeen, she would be on the street. Six months before aging out of foster care, at the bus station Amber met a man named Randy.

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