Many of us grew up staring at Ashton Kutcher on the television, on the silver screen and suffering fits of jealousy over whatever woman was on his arm. We watched Punk’d with no shame, laughing at the situations and responses. That Ashton Kutcher would like internet trolls who tell him to “stick to his day job,” when he begins to discuss political issues, to know that his day job isn’t what they think it is.
Kutcher is the co-founder of Thorn, and that foundation is making the software that has taking searching for victims and perpetrators of human trafficking in the deep well of the dark web down from 3 years to 3 weeks. That tool is called Solace. He testified before Congress on this bipartisan issue, it is a testimony that every American should see:
This is about the time when I start talking about politics that the internet trolls tell me to “stick to my day job.” So I’d like to talk about my day job. My day job is as the Chairman and the co-founder of Thorn. We build software to fight human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children. That’s our core mission. My other day job is that of the father of two, a 2-month-old and a 2-year-old. And it is part of that job that I take very seriously, I believe it is my effort to defend their right to pursue happiness and to ensure a society and government that defends it as well. As part of my anti-trafficking work, I’ve met victims in Russia. I’ve met victims in India. I’ve met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico. Victims in New York, New Jersey, all across our country. I’ve been on FBI raids were I’ve seen things that no person should ever see.
The statement above followed an impassioned plea to protect the right to pursue happiness, in the most basic sense possible. A slave can not be free to pursue happiness:
I’m here today to defend the right to pursue happiness.
It is a simple notion, the right to pursue happiness. it is bestowed upon all of us by our constitution, every citizen of this country ahs the right to pursue it, and I believe that it is incumbent upon us as citizens of this nation, as Americans, to bestow that right upon others, upon each other, and upon the rest of the world but the right to pursue happiness for so many is stripped away. It is raped. It is abused. It is taken by force, fraud or coercion. It is sold for the momentary happiness of another.
Ashton Kutcher was moved to emotion several times during his just over 15-minute testimony. He spoke about seeing video content of a child the same age as his own, with an American man, a so-called “sex-tourist” in Cambodia, who was so conditioned that she thought she was playing. Kutcher spoke passionately about receiving a call from the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) asking for their help finding the person(s) responsible for a 7-year-old girl’s abuse. DHS had watched her for 3 years, helpless to find the villains or save her as they spread her hell on the dark web.
[The DHS], asking us for help. we were the last line of defense. An actor and his foundation were the potential last line of defense. That’s my day job, and I am sticking to it.
It is certainly a long way from jump-scares, pranks, and Kelso on That 70s Show. It is the work of a hero. What’s more, it is the work of an American fighting with all of the resources he or she has — a patriot — to secure a better life for all.
Kutcher is asking for money, and he is asking for money for a project that has already shown quantifiable success doing what it is supposed to do. He didn’t talk about how it does that because we are already steps behind the bad guys and finding a way around this work starts when you understand what and how it is doing it. He talked instead about the fact that the software is a “neural net” it grows smarter and faster when it is used. It may even be the kind of thing that costs less each time it comes to budgeting for it, which would make it far more effective than many things we spend money on now.
He makes several suggestions, all quite worthy of our time, and Congress’ as well. He talks about differentiating two types of human trafficking, that of labor and that of abuse, as they have very different needs and actions for each. He talked about putting pressure on corporations to clean up trafficking of labor and how to turn that into American jobs. He talked about the crisis caused by not having “enough beds” for the mental health needs of abuse victims causing huge rates of recidivism. This is not asking for “entitlements,” he said, “it is a demand to end slavery.”
Never let anyone tell you to “stick to your day job,” when it comes to making the world a better place, or when it comes to fighting corruption, or evil, or standing up for the right thing. That is every American’s day job. Bravo, Mr. Kutcher, for taking your resources and putting them into action to right a very serious wrong in our world, and in our Country.
A good man draws a circle around himself and cares for those within – his woman, his children. Other men draw a larger circle and bring within their brothers and sisters. But some men have a great destiny. They must draw around themselves a circle that includes many, many more. – From the motion picture 10,000 B.C.
Here is his full testimony: