sex trade workers and free will

here in vancouver, the courts are finally dealing with willy pickton, accused of murdering dozens of women.

these were women with friends, family, children. women who laughed and told stories and wrote christmas cards.

i personally met two of them. they were also people who were addicted to drugs. they were poor. many of them were mentally ill. most of them sold sex for money or drugs.

a few weeks ago, another serial murder of women happened, this time in england. here is how one reporter, richard littlejohn, talked about it:

no one with a shred of humanity would wish upon them their ghastly lives and horrible deaths. but mother teresa, they weren’t …

we do not share in the responsibility for either their grubby little existences or their murders. society isn’t to blame.

it might not be fashionable, or even acceptable in some quarters, to say so, but in their chosen field of “work”, death by strangulation is an occupational hazard.

that doesn’t make it justifiable homicide, but in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss.

they weren’t going to discover a cure for cancer or embark on missionary work in darfur. the only kind of missionary position they undertook was in the back seat of a car …

frankly, i’m tired of the lame excuses about how they all fell victim to ruthless pimps who plied them with drugs. these women were on the streets because they wanted to be.

we are all capable of free will. at any time, one or all of them could have sought help from the police, or the church, or a charity, or a government agency specifically established to deal with heroin addicts. they chose not to. …

this wasn’t a case of women going on the game to put bread on the table, or to look after their “babies”. that’s what the welfare state is for. they did it for drugs.

i disagree. i think we do share in the responsibility of what happens to our neighbours. when my neighbour falls ill and i hear about it, i need to participate in his care to the best of my ability. it may not be very much at all, but i do need to do what i can.

and you already know what i think of name-calling. is there anything more offending than calling someone’s whole life a “grubby little existence”? and saying that a person’s life is “no great loss?”

the most revealing part is where littlejohn opines that these women could have made a different choice. one of the commentators on his story puts it very well:

i just hope that all these people in agreement with littlejohn never have to deal with drug addiction, alcoholism or mental health problems with their children. you will soon find out that these people don’t make choices in the way that we lucky ones do … there but for the grace of god …

a person on drugs or a person on the streets is always in survival mode. for an addict, getting a hold of drugs is the most basic necessity. when you’re in survival mode, choice is out the window. all you can think of, if you can think at all, is to find the quickest way to survive for the next day, hour or minute, to find the fastest route to a moment of relief and comfort, however small.

littlejohn keeps on talking about “the brutal truth.” the brutal truth is that in most cases, choice and free will are a luxury for people who feel that their basic survival needs are not taken care of.

if you find littlejohn’s ideas as objectionable as i, you can sign this petition, started by diana di natale, who knows about this business from the inside out, and who, thank god, lived to tell the tale.

isabella mori
counselling in vancouver

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