It’s Personal

I just watched ‘Taken’, the new movie with Liam Neeson online. I hate to encourage bad behaviour, but for those who don’t know, if you google streaming movies, you can pretty much watch anything in the theaters right now on your computer. Of course, sometimes it’ll be a bad copy, dubbed in russian, with chinese subtitles, but most of the time they’re pretty good copies. What’s the morality there? We don’t get such slick Hollywood movies if “we” don’t pay for them. I would never have paid for that movie in a theater, but I digress… The story-line is quite simple. Liam Neeson kills bad people who are tormenting and killing good people (including his daughter, who they’ve abducted.) She was abducted to be forced into sex work.

What’s the morality there? If they aren’t forced into it, prostitution is all good? Not infrequently people find themselves desperate, with few options, and plenty of bad people there to encourage them to worse choices…. Prostitution is peachey if done out of economic desperation? Prostitution is peachy if not done out of economic desperation? I digress, again.

The line in the movie that sticks with you is when he kills yet another bad guy. The bad guy says: “It wasn’t personal”. This particular bad guy runs the auction house where Liam’s daughter was sold. Liam says: “It was personal to me.” The good part of the movie is seeing all the bad people get obliterated. Most of the time that doesn’t happen, though. Most of the time we just don’t see them.

hipsbannerHIPS was founded in 1993 by community and police representatives in response to recognized need for specialized services for youth engaging in sex for gain in Washington, D.C.

HIPS reaches over 100 sex workers each night on outreach and makes over 8,000 contacts each year. That is from the HIPS website.

Just because we aren’t seeing it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. And most of the time Liam Neeson isn’t there to make it personal. I don’t know what the solution is. It seems as long as there is demand, be it for bootleg whiskey, cocaine, or young women/men, people will fill the supply. Prosecution is critical. Support for the vulnerable is critical. So is encouraging responsible personal choice from everyone you ever come into contact with. That’s the best I got. And if you can, please consider supporting HIPS with a donation today.

One of the great things about doing well in capitalism is that it buys you distance from things. It buys you isolation. I’m inspired by the people – including the people who work at HIPS – who voluntarilly confront difficulties that they could buy their way out of sight from.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.