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Are very shy women fit to be prostitutes?  Also, does semen always smell bad or does it depend on the man?

If by “shy” you mean “painfully introverted” or “extremely  modest”, sex work is definitely not for you.  Though a whore needn’t necessarily be gregarious (and in fact many are somewhat introverted), she needs to at least be able to meet and smoothly interact with new people in order to carry out the basic activities of her trade.  Likewise, she need not be so comfortable with nudity that she can flash crowds on Bourbon Street in broad daylight, but she can’t be so averse to it that she’s paralyzed by the prospect of getting undressed in front of strange men.  If, on the other hand, you simply mean the shyness that comes of inexperience and uncertainty, my previous column “Inexperience”  may provide an answer.

In answer to your second question: the smell and taste of a man’s semen varies with his body chemistry, health and diet.  The semen of two different men living in the same environment, or of the same man under different health conditions or diets, can vary to a surprisingly wide degree; however, some factors (such as muskiness) may be relatively constant in an individual no matter what his diet.  In other words, if you find the taste or odor of a particular man’s semen intolerable, it may be something he’s eating, or it may be due to a health condition, but it could also just be the way he’s put together (or the way you’re put together).

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

LOTR ChicagoIt’s a good thing I approve of polyamory, because Chicago did her best to win my heart from St. Louis last week.  But while St. Louis seduced me with her Southern charm, Chicago was a bold, brassy dame who swept me off my feet and refused to take “no” for an answer.  From the time I arrived until the time I left she kept me busy nearly every waking hour; I was actually concerned that I wouldn’t be able to finish TW3 #430 on time, and indeed a lot of it was finished Friday night in Cleveland and I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM, a mere four hours before publication!

I had at least one event every single day, and on several days I had two.  I’ve already mentioned my dinner with Cathryn Berarovich on the night I arrived; the next day I had my first reading in an actual bookstore, Bucket O’Blood, which as you can probably guess from the name specializes in horror.  The owners were lovely and welcoming, and among the attendees was Reason‘s Zenon Evans, who was in town visiting friends.  Then on Monday I went to breakfast with one of my “Angel” level patrons, and had dinner with Aspasia Bonasera; after dinner we went back to her home and I got to meet her wonderful mother, who welcomed me as family.  We spent the rest of the evening talking, and at 1 AM I reluctantly returned to the hotel for much-needed sleep.  On Tuesday I didn’t have to start quite so early, but I finished just as late; after my presentation for Liberty On the Rocks (which was attended by Mark Draughn, Serpent Libertine of SWOP Chicago, sex-positive writer/podcaster Eric Barry and prominent criminal defense lawyer Joe Obenberger) Serpent recorded a short video in which I was interviewed by Cathryn.

On Wednesday afternoon, I had to go to the Fox TV studio downtown to be interviewed remotely for a short segment on The Independents, a libertarian show on Fox Business Network; that evening I gave a presentation at SWOP Chicago to a very respectable crowd.  The group was much smaller at my book reading Thursday night for Uncharted Books, but I’m equally happy to read to small groups as large ones because I think I win new allies to the cause at every event, no matter how small, and obviously I have more one-on-one interaction in small groups.

By the time I left Chicago on Friday I was quite enamored of her and plan a return visit as soon as possible (though based on what I’ve been told, NOT in the winter).  Still, it’s a good thing I didn’t stay longer because I was absolutely exhausted!  After resting for a night in Cleveland I moved on to Pittsburgh, but my experiences there will have to wait until next week; Chicago needs a column all to herself. SWOP interview 7-22-14

Here’s my tour schedule, which is still in flux; check back when I’m getting close to you for details of local appearances.  If your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have even more impact if you can suggest a specific place I could do a book reading or give a talk, and it’s virtually assured if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

Traffic Updates

 Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard.  –  Sharee Sanders Gordon

Acting and Activism Scully confused

Another entry in the clueless celebrity division of “sex trafficking” fetishism:

Hollywood actress Gillian Anderson says the growing problem of human trafficking must no longer be ignored, and hopes her new film [Sold] about a young Nepali girl sold as a sex slave will highlight the horrors of the trade…Anderson…rose to fame playing Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files

Remember, kids, an actor doesn’t actually have to be skeptical or rational to play a rational, skeptical character on TV.  But really, Anderson’s right at home in a story based on ridiculous, exaggerated conspiracy theories, so I guess it makes sense.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

This otherwise-typical collection of “sex trafficking” tropes contains an interesting inflation; prohibitionist politician Jeffrey Chiesa claimed that his favorite masturbatory fantasy “is most likely to occur at large stadiums or arenas with a steady stream of events”…in other words, he’s claiming that the so-called “trafficking” occurs at the stadium itself, merely than in the host city.  It’ll be interesting to see if this particular absurdity catches on.

Law of the Instrument

The need to see all transactional sex as coercive is a mental illness:

The Gucci handbag often gives her away.  Along with the expensive lingerie, the sex toys, the designer watch and the multiple iPhones.  But the dead giveaway is the tattoo, often of the pimp’s street name, marked on the back of her neck or the inside of her wrist.*  Sometimes, there is another woman in the hotel room known as the “bottom bitch” who is in charge of…ensuring the working girl hustles seven days a week and has sex with up to 15 men a day…young girls…are being trafficked by pimps…having sex with countless men and never seeing a dollar of their earnings**.  Everyone agrees they are victims…The girls are often beaten to keep them in line and some are fed drugs to get them addicted…[usually they] are hostile and refuse help, often suffering from Stockholm syndrome…

**See “The Widening Gyre” below.
*Except for the money they use to buy the Gucci handbags, expensive lingerie, designer watches and multiple iPhones, of course.

Maier’s Law

When the facts don’t fit the theory

…South Carolina…investigators are looking…for…indicators that [arrested masseuses] were involved in a larger-scale human-trafficking operation…the women…specifically told authorities they weren’t [coerced].  One…drove a BMW and another a Mercedes, and each explained to authorities that “this was just their job”…but the…case does share some similarities with many recent cases…that have been described as human trafficking.  From Colorado to Michigan and from Alabama to the Carolinas, dozens of…trafficking rings have been uncovered.  Many times, the businesses are masquerading as…massage parlors, but they offer no licensed therapists…

The obtuseness of both cops and reporter is almost Pythonesque.

The Law of Averages 13 cult

This particular myth-element has grown so large, it has become a cultic totem:

April Bentley…stood alongside more than 50 volunteers …on the steps of the Milwaukee Central Library to promote the campaign dubbed  “Unlucky Thirteen,” which…is meant to call attention to sex trafficking …through the number 13 — the average age a person starts being trafficked for sex…

As is typical, Bentley’s experiences supposedly took place decades in the past…much too long ago to actually check on.

Profit from Panic

Notice that none of those supposed activities actually produce any concrete, measurable results that might have to be reported to investors:

Through EPCAT USA, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization…the travel industry is taking an active role against sex tourism…with continued support ECPAT USA can continue fighting for these child victims of exploitation. A gift of $50, $100, $250 or any amount will be used to…advocate for improved…laws…Raise awareness that children are being commercially sexually exploited…Equip…students to fight this problem…[and] collaborate with ECPAT affiliates around the world…

The Widening Gyre

There’s a PhD dissertation in examining the absurdities people will believe without any proof whatsoever if they’re part of a moral panic:

Sharee Sanders Gordon…an…attorney in Los Angeles, said…One middle school…is having a serious problem with prostitution…“Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard”…According to Gordon, a pimp in San Diego County brands his girls with tattoos inside their mouths, as if they were property.  The branding is all part of the pimps’ indoctrination process…

Worse Than I Thought

However horrible a fad law is already, Louisiana politicians can figure out a way to make their version worse:

Governor Jindal signed four bills into law that will crack down on human trafficking in Louisiana…HB 1025…[creates] the crime of “unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity” and…expands the definition of “racketeering activity” to include pornography involving juveniles [and] computer-aided [violation of any prostitution law]…It…[also permits] the court to seize…personal property…HB 569…[establishes]…human trafficking courts…HB 1105 …requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in outpatient abortion facilities.  Often perpetrators of human trafficking force women and children to undergo abortions so that the victims can continue working in the industry…HB 1262…requires that, prior to undergoing an…abortion, a woman must be provided with information on coerced abortions and human trafficking…

Yes, the first law defines any sex worker who advertises on the internet and any client who contacts her via the internet as a gangster.  Note also the increasing connection between “sex trafficking” hysteria and abortion restrictions, which activists have been predicting for several years now.

Thought Control would-be censor Andrea Lavigne

Grosse Pointe Park [Michigan] residents demanded that the Metro Times be banned in the city and in libraries…[the excuses] went beyond typical complaints about obscenity when some charged the…tabloid’s advertisers with promoting human trafficking…the editor…countered that [sex work] ads are no more sexually explicit than many of the books on public library shelves.  And she said that complaints about sex trafficking should be taken to police, not to librarians…officials…[insisted] that constitutional freedom-of-speech guarantees would trigger a lawsuit…The…Library Board…then voted…to stack the Metro Times out of sight…Patrons…will have to ask for copies from now on…

King of the Hill

Forget about states or even cities; a New York politician claims he can place the “epicenter” of “sex trafficking” on one particular street:

…Sen. Jose Peralta…said…“Roosevelt Avenue is a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and throughout the five boroughs…[gangs] are participating in bringing women from all over the world…right to Roosevelt Avenue…It’s really a hub and epicenter of human trafficking”…

Checklist

This article includes the following telltale indicators of “sex trafficking”:

Warning signs include sleeping bags in nail salons…or workers who appear exceptionally young…a young girl might refer to an older man as her…”daddy”…Other signs might be security measures…[such as] barbed wire inside a fence or bars covering the insides of windows…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) Tracy Dean

A young woman leaves home after telling friends that she was in some kind of trouble; naturally, all possible explanations are instantly discarded in favor of the panic du jour:

A 17-year-old Washington girl missing for the last [month] left a chilling message in her journal…”If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead”…Authorities fear she’s become a victim of human trafficking…The blue-eyed brunette left behind her cellphone, ID, bank cards and the eyeglasses she needs to see…”She had been telling some people for a while that she was involved in something, that she was in over her head, that she was scared. But they couldn’t get any more information than that out of her,” [said] her…mother, Lynda Jorgenson…

Dysphemisms Galore

Cops and prosecutors do their best here to make a perfectly ordinary escort service, much like the one I owned, seem like a sinister and nefarious criminal conspiracy; of course, any sex worker or client can tell this was written by a pompous clown:

Investigators say [Amber Batts, who is] accused of sex trafficking to roughly 800 clients in [Alaska] maintained a slick website and multiple payment methods — which led straight to her bank account [as opposed to where?]…“The website advertises for escort services…and is organized into different sections, including a…‘providers’ (listing the women being trafficked)…the Blog section… describes a sexual encounter for money.”  The material on the website also included advice for patrons of the sex trafficking ring…

Profit from Panic (TW3 #321)

Other countries teach their young people math and science; we indoctrinate ours in ridiculous myths and teach boys to demonize their own sexuality:

…20 [high school] seniors…watched a documentary about child sex trafficking and wanted to do something about it…The students…visited with a [cop] who specializes in [persecuting sex workers] and talked with [a politician]…”Harsher punishments for johns,” said Ben Prewitt.  “If there were harsher punishments, the demand would go down”…Prewitt wanted [paying for sex] to be a felony with a requirement to be registered as a sex offender…the average age of a victim is 16 with some as young as 8…Jeff Goode said he used to live behind three strip clubs…and saw some of the ugliness surrounding the places…

That “as young as 8″ is popping up often now; look for the focus to shift to that number soon.

Schadenfreude (TW3 #322) Paul Libri

More of this, please:

…Tim Taylor of the Metro Atlanta Human Trafficking Task Force…isn’t Tim Taylor.  His real name is Paul Michael Libri.  He has a criminal record and currently faces trial for impersonating a police officer…Libri…is seen as a pest by police officers – someone in the way when they are trying to solve trafficking cases…

Long Spoon

These people are NOT allies!

…anti-human-trafficking advocates raised concern about the arrests of adult females [in FBI raids]…even adult women in the sex trade likely began as trafficked children…“The vast majority of those people…are currently victims, or they have been victims,” said Lauren Hersh…Traffickers and pimps subject their victims to a process called  “seasoning,” involving rape and forced drug use to break down the woman who is to be sold…

Lauren Hersh is a prosecutor who resigned in disgrace for railroading men for rape; she’s a sleazy prohibitionist whose most recent scheme involved trying to set up fake sex worker organizations to lobby for imposition of the Swedish model.  Also note the latest “trafficking” fantasy-term no actual sex worker ever heard of.

Vendetta

There’s never a shortage of politicians willing to lick Swanee Hunt’s arse:

The city of Boston has launched an initiative to reduce demand for prostitution…by going after the men who buy sex…Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the program…at a [prohibitionist circle-jerk]…Boston…is partnering with Demand Abolition…to develop and implement campaigns…to disrupt the commercial sex industry…

A Mound of Filth

It’s hard to imagine how this article could be more fellatory:

…Young women who used to be dismissed as bad-girl prostitutes are now recognized as victims…That’s where Arizona is now, as police, prosecutors and courts look for realistic ways to deal with people whose histories left wounds and unspeakable scars…Making the effort to identify victims of sexual trafficking among minors arrested for…other crimes is part of the new paradigm…Gov. Jan Brewer gets credit for naming a task force…to look into how little girls become merchandise in the sex trade…Take a moment to savor this shining example of public officials doing absolutely the right thing.

Nice While It Lasted

How can the perpetrators of this violent GFE “circuit” hope to outwit a genius who can violate the Law of Conservation of Energy at will?

In an effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking, California’s Oakland police department is engaging in…public humiliation…On a new website, the department lists the mug shots of alleged pimps and johns, along with their names, dates of birth and charges…Kevin Wiley…describes Oakland as “the hub of the West for child prostitution.”  Oakland and Eastern counterpart Atlanta, he says, tend to be entry points into “the circuit,” a human-trafficking ring that cycles victims around the country…Prostitution is becoming more…closely associated with shootings, homicides and the illegal drug market…“We don’t have a lot of resources,” he says. “But the ones we have, we dedicate 110%”…

Links #212

Several more children are likely to die waiting for New York to implement its medical marijuana program.  –  Judy Netherland

I apologize for today’s column being unfinished when it posted earlier; this is the sort of thing that will inevitably happen from time to time while I’m on the road, and I suppose I should be glad it didn’t happen prior to today.  Since Radley Balko had a slight lead over the other contributors I put his links before the first video, which was sent to me by my friend Phil; the second video is from Nun Ya, and the links between the two from Grace (“fiction”), Rick Horowitz (“curfew” and “animals”), Mike Siegel (“laws”), Jesse Walker (“lizards”), and Walter Olson  (“together”).

From the Archives

Sex work is part of the human story.  Accepting and embracing sex work…should be our humane, as well as our pragmatic, approach to the reality of our human lives.  –  Richard Horton and Pamela Das

Rough Trade

Two [Frankfurt] men were sentenced…to long prison terms for raping and abusing two prostitutes…A 34-year-old has…ten years and three months…[while] his 33-year-old accomplice was sentenced to eight years and three months…

License to Rape

Two American paratroopers stationed at a US military base in Italy have been arrested for allegedly beating, raping and robbing a pregnant Romanian prostitute…The suspects…agreed to pay…But after the three reached a secluded area, they allegedly decided to get what they wanted for free.  The two…beat up and raped the prostitute…for…three hours…then…left [her]…in the…field…and made off with her purse…

Lying Down With Dogs

From Vietnam:

…the People’s Committee has asked the National Assembly to…[increase] the…penalties on sex buyers and publicly naming them in the local community and…[to replace] the words “sexual intercourse” with “sexual satisfaction” [in the law] in order to cover behavior causing sexual arousal and the sex trade of homosexuals…

Saving Them From Themselves

The UK continues its drive to become a colony of the US:

Police have warned teenagers of the risks that…”sexting”, can pose to their safety, with the possibility they could wind up on the sex offenders’ register.  Several teenagers have already been cautioned over the practice…and police have stressed the risk that sexting poses to teens’ future welfare, as well as their criminal record…

Schadenfreude 

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing rescue industry figures exposed as frauds:

…Lady Katerine Nastopka…was surprised to see [reporters] at her fundraiser for the Rescue Children From Human Trafficking Foundation…In 2011, she made national headlines when she called herself a “Countess”…[and] claimed she had a connection to the famous Guggenheim family of New York.  Police arrested her and two others on charges of fraud for lying about the connection.  As part of a plea deal, she promised the court she would never use the Guggenheim name again…Nastopka…agreed to [speak to reporters but]…the interview never happened because [she] ran away…none of [the politicians she claimed as members of her board of directors]…know anything about [it]…

The Sky is Falling!

A reporter breathlessly asks if dating sites have a “prostitution problem“, in other words if sex workers use them to advertise.  You know, like sex workers have been using personal ads to advertise for as long as such things have existed.  But poor little Caitlin seems to imagine that the practice only started with “the advent of Craigslist”, and furthermore that large numbers of professional escorts will waste their time going on dates without first ascertaining whether money is forthcoming.  Her ignorance is so pronounced that it merely comes across as cute rather than deeply insulting when she suggests that it’s sex workers who need (presumably compulsory) “safe-sex education” rather than her fellow amateurs.

A Broker in Pillage

…the US Embassy in Pretoria…announced that the Department of Justice was conducting a workshop to teach South African law enforcement the practice of civil forfeiture…civil forfeiture is anti-democratic, and allows law enforcement agencies in the executive branch to attain some degree of independence from civilian or democratic oversight…foreign partnerships in law enforcement investigations allow the DOJ the ability to use worldwide NSA dragnet surveillance to find and acquire targets for asset forfeiture, particularly under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

An Example To the West

retired sex workers in Zimbabwe have opened a prostitution consultancy…to help young women protect themselves from being taken advantage of.  Lima Mankarankara (65) said they teach the new sex workers about the industry and how it works.  They also teach them how to handle clients…pizza girl

The Widening Gyre

I have a mental bet with myself about how silly these “slavery” claims will get before the end of the panic.  Bonus meme: pizza!

…Newspaper Expressen reported earlier this week that human traffickers had gone from “just” selling sex to selling women as lifelong slaves.  The newspaper’s sources said the cost for a slave…is €2,000 ($2680).  For 700 kronor ($100) one can rent a couple of girls for a day, for cooking, cleaning, or anything else…”It’s like ordering a pizza,” Per Hjort, a Stockholm detective, [said]…

King of the Hill

Most of this is the typical masturbatory filth (including the vile claim that most men who pay for sex are pedophiles), but it does include a link to the DoJ fantasy “report” which produced the infamous “top 13 child sex trafficking hubs” list: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Tampa, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, New York, Washington, Las Vegas and St. Louis.  I do not believe these are intended to be in order of magnitude, so I’ll just count them as “top 13″ claims. Lancet sex work infographic

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #44)

The biggest news story of the week was the release of a World Health Organization report calling for total decriminalization of both drugs and sex work; it was accompanied by this reiteration of The Lancet‘s support for our position:

Sex work must be decriminalised if the world is to stand a chance of controlling the AIDS pandemic, say scientists contributing to a series of research papers in the Lancet medical journal.  Sex workers…are subject to repression, violence and abuse…at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold the law, according to the series of seven research papers presented at the International AIDS Conference…decriminalisation of sex work…across all settings…would reduce HIV infections by 33% to 46% over the next decade…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Neofeminist rhetoric and pop “addiction” charlatanry has now been completely incorporated into evangelical Christian beliefs about sexual “sin” to form a fully-developed “sex trafficking” religion:

Opposition to sex trafficking is almost universal…But many also…believe pornography production and distribution is a “victimless crime.”  They don’t connect the dots that lead from pornography directly to sex trafficking.  Pornography is a powerful stimulant that can actually alter brain patterns, creating addiction…Our sexualized culture, with its constant sexual portrayal of women, affects not only boys and men but girls and women, too.  Mass-marketing advertising campaigns directed at young girls seem to dictate that they must dress and act like prostitutes to be valued…girls increasingly view themselves as objects in a process called “sexual self-objectification.”  One result is today’s epidemic of “sexting”…Catherine Mackinon says that consuming pornography is an “experience of bought sex and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen.”  Pornography, she says, is “advertising for trafficking”…

Pimping the Pimp

Nevada “authorities” continue to use ridiculous “pimp” myths to enrich themselves and increase their power:

…A bill which would provide more resources for victims of human trafficking passed in the House of Representatives…Metro Police’s Vice Section rescued 91 women from the slave trade last year and 148 the year before.  The legislation could have an impact on men who trap these women. The prosecution of pimps wouldn’t be possible without the rehabilitation of survivors…The bill accesses millions of dollars for non-profits, who apply for money to serve homeless, runaway victims of severe trafficking…

Presumably, “rescued from the slave trade” actually means “arrested and caged for consensual sex”, because all the police departments in the entire country don’t discover anything like 91 coerced prostitutes per year.  And “serving victims” seems to mean “locking up whores indefinitely until they agree to participate in kangaroo courts.”

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324)

Cathy Reisenwitz spoke to some German sex workers:

…Germany’s decision to legalize prostitution not only helped sex workers, but actually decreased the number of human trafficking victims…According to the data, violence against sex workers is down, while sex workers’ quality of life is up…From 2001…to 2011, cases of sex-based human trafficking shrank by 10 percent…The mean age of a sex worker in Germany is 31.  Besides not being supported by data, the claim that legalizing prostitution increased human trafficking also defies common-sense economics…sex slang

Nasty Words (Extra Edition) 

The guy who did the massive Timeglider charts of slang terms for genitalia has unveiled three new ones: slang for sexual intercourse, for oral and anal sex, and for orgasm, bodily fluids and contraception.  Because he could.

Whimsical Notions

A group of former prostitutes has filed a lawsuit against the South Korean government seeking more than $1.2 million in compensation, alleging that it exercised significant control over their activities…The women worked in special government-designated areas near U.S. military bases beginning in the late 1950s…[the regime included] mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and women who were infected were sent to government-run camps…[where] their human rights were violated…It is thought to be the first such legal action taken by women — now elderly, but known as “western princesses” during their youth — who once worked in brothels that catered primarily to U.S. troops…in the decades after the Korean War…

Catastrophic Consequences

SCOT-PEP…exposed proposals from Police Scotland to impose unannounced “welfare visits” on sex workers who work from home…”Operation Lingle”…includes a programme of increased online surveillance of suspected sex workers, a clear violation of the civil liberties both of sex workers and the general public.  Members of the public will also be asked to speculate about which of their neighbours might be a sex worker and report them to the police, despite the fact that selling sex remains legal in Scotland…

As you may recall, we’ve seen this tactic before in Canada.

King of the Hill (All Traffick, All the Time)

Having his ridiculous numerical claims debunked multiple times in the national media hasn’t stopped Texas politician John Cornyn from making more of them:

Child sex trafficking has historically had a huge effect on the current immigration crisis in the U.S., and according to two Texas congressmen…hundreds of thousands of victims [have been] identified…”At least 700,000 people were reported as victims of international trafficking each year, 14,500-17,500 of which are women and children who are trafficked specifically into the United States”…

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #413)

Since their local case was dismissed, they took it to the feds:

…30 strippers are suing the San Diego police department after cops…forced…[them] to pose “nearly nude” for photos taken by members of the police department’s vice squad…approximately 10 officers detained the women for nearly an hour without a warrant or probable cause, and…cops made “arrogant and demeaning comments” while “ordering the women to pose in various positions and expose body parts so that the police could ostensibly photograph their tattoos”…Police department spokesperson Lt. Kevin Mayer described the raids and photos as a “routine” part of the city’s permit to regulate establishments with nudity…and…is meant to deter the women from engaging in “illegal acts”…

The Public Eye (TW3 #423) Land of Smiles poster

This is a refreshing change:

The phrase “human trafficking” conjures thoughts of sex slaves.  Most people mentally picture oppressed and exploited women…chained to a life of prostitution from which they must be freed…Erin Kamler…[traveled] to Thailand…and…found that things are not that simple…she discovered a world where politics and morality trumped human rights…feeling the need to educate the masses, Kamler…wrote a musical about Thailand’s anti-trafficking movement.  The Los Angeles premiere of Land of Smiles will run Wednesday-Saturday, July 23-26, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, before heading to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August…[in] the story…Emma…arrives in Thailand an abolitionist wanting to “rescue” all the sex workers.  After speaking with Lipoh, who is being held at a detention center following a raid of the brothel where she worked, Emma begins to question what “rescued” really means…

Nice While It Lasted

Like hell it doesn’t:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence…Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system…he said…”This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty”…

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 15th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Emperor JulianDuring the reign of the Emperor Julian a man named Numerius, who was governor of Narbonensis (what is today southern France), was accused of embezzlement by one Delphidius; because Numerius was a high official his trial was presided over by the Emperor himself.  Numerius’ defense consisted entirely of denying his guilt, but since Delphidius had no actual evidence this was enough.  When it became clear that his attempts to trick Numerius into self-incrimination had failed, and that the charge would fail with them, Delphidius cried out, “Oh, illustrious Caesar!  If it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?”  Julian’s famous (and quotable) reply was, “If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?”

The principle was not new in 4th century Rome; it is clearly stated many times in Roman law, appeared in both Athenian and Spartan legal codes, and traces of it appear in Deuteronomy.  From Rome it passed into the Western legal tradition, and it is one of the pillars of English common law.  Indeed, every schoolchild knows that a person on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  However, this is no longer true in many cases; all over the West, but especially in the United States, this powerful defense against tyranny once enjoyed by everyone from beggar to prince has been slowly eroded away in the name of expediency.  Prosecutors eager to “score” convictions take advantage of the vast arsenal of overlapping laws to charge people with so many different crimes for one supposed act that conviction on even a small fraction of them would result in decades of imprisonment; the frightened (and often completely innocent) victim nearly always agrees to some lesser charge rather than face the prospect of spending most of his life in a cage where he may be repeatedly raped, tortured  and denied even the respite of death.  Intimidating a victim into confession circumvents the need to have any evidence at all, much less enough to secure conviction in court.

In some kinds of cases, however, prosecutors don’t even need this kind of barbaric threat to induce a confession, because the presumption of innocence is either directly weakened or effectively nullified by other prosecutorial weapons; or, the accusations are handled in special kangaroo courts where the presumption does not exist; or, the accused is simply punished directly by the police without the need for a trial, evidence or anything else.  And what kind of crime, you may ask, is so heinous that it justifies undermining a venerable principle and virtually ensuring that huge numbers of people will be punished for things they did not do, or else receive punishments that are wildly disproportionate to something they did do?  Mass murder, perhaps?  High treason?  Burning down orphanages?  Stealing war widows’ pensions?  Plunging whole countries into economic depression?  No, something that in the minds of American is far worse than any of those:  pleasure-seeking, especially sexual pleasure.

In many American states, if a neighbor calls the cops because the couple next door is fighting, “the husband is arrested…no matter what the wife says…and prosecuted.  Because many wives rightly refuse to cooperate with such proceedings, the Office on Violence Against Women…authorized so-called “evidence-based” prosecutions, kangaroo courts in which…hearsay…is allowed and the accused man is denied the constitutional rights of confrontation and cross-examination.”  On university campus, a similar third-party accusation can subject a young man to a “campus tribunal” such as the one described here:

…the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved…for citizens’ protection…the…allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible…Nor were [they] supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.  The [accused]…was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel…The many pages of written documentation…were dismissed as somehow not relevant…witnesses against him were not identified…nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser… 

The war against people who enjoy ingesting substances spawned an even viler abrogation of the presumption of innocence:  civil asset forfeiture, by which the police or a court can steal a victim’s property under the ludicrous pretense that it (the property) has committed a crime; since inanimate objects have no rights, the state can take it unless its owner can prove its innocence (a reversal of  the normal burden of proof).  From the drug war the practice expanded to the War on Whores, and in the US and UK the police now routinely rob sex workers and clients of money, vehicles and other property.  And when there’s nothing else for greedy cops to steal, there’s always a victim’s reputation:

[St. Louis, Missouri] police are reviving a push to…humiliate…those prowling the streets for prostitutes.  “Johns”…will receive postcards…admonishing them for their crime, giving reminders about…sexually transmitted diseases and listing their court dates…In addition, police say they plan to routinely provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes…

Pillory stocksThese so-called “Dear John” letters are not unique to St. Louis, nor even to the United States; the practice of publicizing “mug shots” on television, the internet  or even billboards is also widely used.  The pretense used to justify this is that these shaming tactics are not punishments but merely “public records”; I’m sure people who lose their jobs or families due to these actions are comforted by the distinction.  The truth is obvious to anyone whose mind is not warped by the “law and order” sickness:  all of these practices – the extrajudicial punishments, the legally-sanctioned robbery, the kangaroo courts, the plea bargains – are just ways to get around the inconvenient necessity of actually having to prove a person has done something wrong before subjecting him to violence.  Oh, well, presumption of innocence had a good run, almost 3000 years; I suppose we should be grateful for that much.  But it sure was nice while it lasted.

Family Curse

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.  –  Alexander Pope

In January of 2003, soon after I had bought my country property, a spotted dog showed up while we were putting up the shop.  She was in heat, the neighbor’s dog Stampy (yes, he was named for Bart Simpson’s elephant) paid court to her, and she started spending her nights under our house.  At first I referred to her as “Stampy’s lady friend”, which was soon shortened to “Lady” when we decided to let her stay.  When it was time for her to whelp I started shutting her in the shop at night (we set up a wooden frame with blankets for her), and she had eight puppies in the wee small hours of March 10th.  Within a few months, though, we knew something weird was going on; Lady would amble off with the pups into the woods and come back with one fewer than before.  She lost three that way; we’ve never been sure if she was doing it on purpose because she sensed something was wrong with them, or if it was just the way of things, but I wasn’t going to let it continue.

Accordingly, I established the procedure we followed thereafter: Lady and the pups could never be loose at the same time.  When she was out alone she was fine, and when the pups were out without her that was fine too.  But if she got loose at the same time as they did, the whole pack would take off and not be seen until very late at night (or, in later years, even the next day).  When they were all together it was like the pack instinct took over, and their normal obedient ways cast to the winds.  And whenever it happened I would never sleep well until they were home safe.  There was plenty to worry about; this area is full of predators, and while they were more than a match for coyotes there are also cougars, rattlesnakes and other dangerous animals.

On top of all that, there was the epilepsy.  Oreo had it worst; she started having grand mal seizures after her first year, and eventually died from them.  But Stampy, Jr and Caramel also had it in less severe form; Stampy had petit mal seizures from time to time, and though Caramel never had any obvious seizures she would often have episodes where she seemed upset or frightened of something the other dogs didn’t notice, most likely some feeling inside her.  After Oreo died, we were down to just the three, Lady, Stampy Jr and Caramel; one of the others had been given away, and Damsel met with some accident before she turned one and never came home.  By this point, we had the grim joke that Lady was under a curse; four of her pups had met with unknown dooms, one had perished from a chronic illness and the remaining two seemed marked.

But as the years rolled by, my fears abated somewhat; it seemed the remaining three would live out normal lives.  Except for that strange thing about not being able to let them out at the same time, they were friendly, affectionate, obedient dogs; Lady went everywhere with Grace, and was probably the best-known dog in the whole county.  And though Stampy (the largest of the three at 40 kg) was an accomplished coyote-killer, with humans he was amazingly docile.  He and Caramel had been inseparable since birth, and though she often gave him grief over taking up too much space in the doghouse, he was very protective of his little sister.

Then just a year ago, the curse seemed to return with a vengeance.  They were all getting on in years; the vet figured Lady had been about a year old when she had the puppies, and they were now ten.  Like many large dogs, Stampy had become arthritic; we were giving him medicine that seemed to ease his pain, but he had still slowed down considerably.  And though Caramel (who only weighed about 30 kg) had no such symptoms, she rarely wandered far from her brother.  Neither of them hesitated, though, when one day last July a lone coyote wandered  near where Grace was working, in broad daylight; Stampy and Caramel gave chase and Lady got so agitated she managed to break her leash and follow…trailing a long length of leash into the woods and ignoring Grace’s commands to stop (as was typical when the three were loose together).  When Grace told me what had happened my heart sunk; I knew a long leash dragged into thick woods was a death-sentence.  We searched for hours, and then Grace drove around the whole area calling her for days, hoping against hope she would hear her barking and could go to her aid.  It was no use; we never saw her again, and I only hope the coyotes got her quickly because the alternative is too awful to contemplate.

Last winter seemed especially hard on Stampy; even with the medicine he seemed constantly in low-level pain, and began to move more slowly and awkwardly.  Still, he greeted me every morning with wagging tail when I came outside to let them off of the porch for the day.  But on March 21st, just eleven days after his eleventh birthday, I saw him for the last time; the others were back from their morning run long before noon, but Stampy was not with them.  We called his name repeatedly; again, Grace drove around looking for him.  And again, it was no use.  Maybe he attacked another animal he was no longer young and strong enough to defeat; maybe he just went off to die as animals sometimes do.  But as with his mother, it was the uncertainty that was the hardest part.  Death, as the Bard said, will come when it will come; it’s not knowing a friend’s fate that’s unbearable.

After losing her lifelong companion, Caramel just wasn’t the same; she seemed to grow old overnight, and no longer went off the porch much unless she was following one of us.  Grace noticed that she was cleaning her bottom a lot more than she used to, and fussing with it as though it bothered her; of course neither of us thought much about that at the time, but it sprang immediately to mind when Grace called me on the first leg of my tour to tell me that she had stopped eating and seemed to be straining every time she went to poop.  The vet discovered an intestinal blockage and some swelling, but even after enemas and antibiotics her appetite and bowel movements failed to return to normal.  Grace discovered the only thing that would tempt her to eat was pure meat, but even then she wouldn’t take enough to really sustain a dog her size.  By the time I got home on June 28th she was badly emaciated, like a recently-rescued stray; I cried that night, because I knew what was coming.  We took her back to the vet first thing the following Monday, and an examination revealed the underlying problem: cancer of the anal glands, and in a fairly advanced state.  I held her as the vet did what needed to be done, and the last of her doomed line went peacefully to sleep in my arms.

When we lost Lady last summer, something kept me from writing about it; the same thing happened when we lost Stampy in March.  But this time it was different.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that with Caramel at least, I absolutely knew she was dead, whereas with the others there was no real closure.  Or perhaps I realized deep down that they would all follow one another into the Beyond as closely as they had followed one another in life.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I’ve lost three dear friends in much too short a time, and though it’s hard to type this through my tears, I felt their loyalty deserved the only memorial I know how to give them.  Requiescat in pace, pups; the curse at last is done.

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