Ashton Kutcher and the Village Voice are battling it out in 140 characters or less. It began when the Village Voice published a cover story slamming the child trafficking statistics used by Kutcher and Demi Moore's DNA Foundation.
In an April appearance on Piers Morgan Tonight, Kutcher, 33, said that there are "between 100,000 and 300,000 child sex slaves in the United States today." This figure has also been touted the New York Times, USA Today and the Orphan Justice Center. But the Village Voice, "spent two months researching law enforcement data" and came to the conclusion that these numbers were vastly inflated and labeled them "propaganda."
In their article titled "Real Men Get Their Facts Straight," the newspaper mocks the DNA Foundation's "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" campaign and claims the number of child sex slaves reported is based on a study with "no scientific credibility."
Kutcher was none too pleased at the Village Voice "belittling" his efforts. "How's the lawsuit from the 15-year-old victim who alleges you helped enslave them going?" he tweeted Thursday, referring to a 2010 lawsuit against Village Voice Media filed by an underage commercial sex industry survivor. Village Voice Media owns Backpage.com, which is accused in the lawsuit of knowingly promoting forced prostitution of a minor on their online classified site. The Village Voice denies these allegations.
"Hey, Village Voice, speaking of data, maybe you can help me. How much money did your 'escorts' in your classifieds on Backpage make last year? How many of your girls selling themselves on your classifieds are you doing age verification on?" Kutcher ranted. "Find another way to justify that your property facilitates the sale of human beings."
The Village Voice scoffed at Kutcher's "twitter meltdown" and continued to bait him, asking him during a lull whether he slept in or was "just tuckered out from last night's Twitter tirade?"
"Don't spout phony statistics which are then used to justify millions in spending for 'awareness,'" the Village Voice added. "Victims need beds and counseling."
Kutcher retorted with more statistics about child trafficking -- including the staggering number of people searching for child pornography related terms and the nearly 1500 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center this month alone. "Fact: News outlets who have financial interest in trafficking may have interest in applying bias to facts to secure their revenue," he added.
The Village Voice retweeted followers claiming "actors make sh*tty activists" and saying Kutcher "is full of sh*t." Making light of a serious topic, they even retweeted someone who joked: "Next time I get drunk, instead of drunk dialing I'm gonna reread Ashton's tweets to the Village Voice."
Friday morning, the site continued to provoke Kutcher. "Still sleeping?" the Village Voice tweeted. "How about you wake up and help us convince Congress to spend money on treatment of real teen problems, not hype?"
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