Fargo Forum: Our Sex Slaves Aren't As Bad As Williston's


With human trafficking much in the news, the editorial board at the Fargo Forum decided to weigh in on the side of prostitution being bad.

Bold, right?

But here’s where things get a little silly. The Forum tries to draw a distinction between the sort of prostitution that happens in Fargo and the sort of prostitution that happens in, say, Williston:

Hold on, complain deniers in the Oil Patch. It’s no different than what goes on in Fargo, they say. Not so. Sure, prostitutes work in Fargo, but the organized, girl-trafficking aspect of what is happening in oil country is not a feature of Fargo’s relatively small problem.

Second, prostitution follows population and money, so Fargo has always had some level of such activity. But big-money organized prostitution trafficking in Williston? In Watford City? In Dickinson? That’s new. It’s disturbing because it’s an in-your-face threat to a way of life in those places. It should be of deep concern to community leaders, who are seeing the quality of life in their towns deteriorate.

I’m not so sure you can say that there’s no human trafficking going on in Fargo – the Forum’s own reporting seems to undermine that claim – but I got a chuckle out of the idea that hookers contribute to the deterioration of quality of life in western North Dakota but not, you know, Fargo.

“[P]rostitution follows population and money, so Fargo has always had some level of such activity,” writes the Forum. Ok, so what exactly do they think is happening in western North Dakota where incomes are skyrocketing and populations are booming?

Is the idea that we should be more concerned about prostitution in western North Dakota, where there is a new market for it, but not eastern North Dakota where the market has existed for some time?

That’s…kind of offensive. As though geography had something to do with the seriousness of the crime.

How about we just admit that human trafficking – sex slavery, to use a more blunt term – is wrong wherever it’s done (consensual prostitution is another matter, and ought to be legal I think)?

Of course, that might not fit the Forum’s editorial narrative about the no-good oil boom. If Fargo has a prostitution problem too, then they can’t make this all about the oil boom. But if they can somehow make prostitutes in Williston and Dickinson something different than prostitutes in Fargo, then the narrative stays intact.