Sunday, September 05, 2010

Craigslist, Trafficking and the Contradictions of Secular Liberalism

Although the decision by Craigslist to remove its "adult services" section in the US is a small step in the right direction, the move highlights the inherent contradictions at the heart of a secular and liberal worldview.

On the one hand, advocates of a permissive Craigslist cite a perceived right to personal freedoms in relations between consenting adults as a reason to resist calls for such services to be removed. The site, after all, is routinely described as embodying the true spirit of the (uncensored) Internet.

At the same, such advocates must surely recognise the human misery caused by "adult" and erotic services, in which women and children are trapped through drug addictions, or are forcibly trafficked into a system described by the UN as a modern form of slavery. It's 2008 report on the subject estimated that worldwide, 2.5 million people had been trafficked for a variety of purposes, including sexual exploitation.

Therein lies the dilemma for the secular liberal. One man's freedom becomes another (woman's) sexual exploitation. And secular liberalism does not seem capable of addressing, much less resolving, this inherent contradiction.

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