February 21, 2007
Mag crew exploitation
The latest article in a series that the NY Times seems to be doing about really horrible exploitation of vulnerable kids is today's piece on traveling magazine sales crews, who go around the country trying to get people to buy magazine subscriptions, often while being abused by their employers. The article is long and incredibly thorough, but might make you throw up or decide that the whole world sucks.
Even though this industry was investigated by Congress decades ago (article includes links to coverage of the hearings), it seems like no changes have been made. Here are just a few excerpts:
By then, Mr. Pope said, he had seen several friends severely beaten by managers, he and several other crew members were regularly smoking methamphetamine with prostitutes living down the motel hallway, and there were warrants out for his arrest in five states for selling subscriptions without a permit.
"You’re involved in bad stuff, you’re seeing bad stuff and they tell you, 'No negativity,' " said Jennifer Steele, 23.
In September 2004, Ms. Steele said, she was drugged and raped by two men who were partying with crew members at a motel in Memphis, where her crew was staying. When her manager told her to go back to work the next day, she said she "threw a fit." But she did as she was told, and worked part of the day before filing a police report and having a rape kit performed. She stayed with the crew for another seven months before quitting.
Asked if they ever went overboard, two enforcers [employed by magazine companies to keep sellers in line] recalled an incident in November 2005 involving an 18-year-old recruit from Dayton, Ohio, named Rudy. "All we were told was that Rudy had shoved and disrespected the manager." For 10 uninterrupted minutes in a motel stairwell in San Francisco, Mr. Simpson, Mr. McClinton and four other enforcers beat Rudy unconscious, Mr. Simpson and Mr. McClinton said. One held his mouth shut. Two others pinned down his arms and legs. Tearing off his shirt, they pressed a flaming lighter into his back. Mr. Simpson kicked him in the face and body. "I stopped because I ran out of breath," Mr. Simpson said.
Ugh. It's sadly reminiscent of Kurt Eichenwald's now-legendary articles about solicitation and exploitation of kids in internet chat rooms, and how child abusers encourage each other online.
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