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Served Cold

Revenge is a dish best served cold.  –  proverb of uncertain origin

Obama & SS goonsI’m sure all of you remember the ridiculous “Secret Service prostitution scandal” of April 2012; a group of G-men who were sent to Cartagena, Colombia hired whores as such men nearly always do, and one of them made the mistake of thinking he could cheat his escort by denying her the agreed-upon fee.  Unfortunately for Agent Cheapskate (AKA Arthur Huntington), sex work happens to be legal in Colombia; the wronged lady, Dania Suarez, went to the cops, and there followed months of hand-wringing in which the Ruling Hypocrites pretended that fair and typical business transactions were themselves the problem, rather than government agents trying to turn such transactions into rape.  We were forced to endure the farce of government officials who frequently partake themselves  pretending that “this just is not part of our [institutional] culture” and insisting that they would make magical proclamations which would ensure that never again would even the lowliest government actor ever, ever pay for sex, as long as the Capitol building stands.

Well, the public forgot about it as soon as the media found something else unimportant to obsess about, but you can bet the White House didn’t.  Grudges do not merely dry up and blow away in Washington, so I’ve been waiting to see what sort of petty revenge the executive branch might choose to inflict on the sex workers of Cartagena; a recent cluster of articles would seem to be its harbingers, though I suspect the vengeance itself will be both worse and more long-lived.  The first was this one from two weeks ago:

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.  But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never…publicly acknowledged…the way the White House handled the scandal remains a sore point among rank-and-file members of the Secret Service more than two years later.  Former and current…agents said they are angry at the White House’s public insistence that none of its team members were involved and its private decision to not fully investigate one of its own — while their colleagues had their careers ruined or hampered…The agents were told that they jeopardized national security by drinking excessively and having contact with foreign nationals…

Some of you may have wondered why I didn’t mention this story in that week’s TW3 column; it was because I suspected there was more to come.  I didn’t have long to wait:

…a privately funded organization, Operation Underground Railroad, [executed] what they called Clear Hope; a mission that would prove to be the biggest child trafficking rescue operation in history.  One hundred and twenty-three children were saved [on October 11th] in three simultaneous operations based in Colombia and resulted in the arrest of 15 perpetrators…

“Privately funded” means “we don’t need to tell you where we get our money”.  I’m sure the organization’s having been founded by a retired CIA agent has absolutely no bearing on that funding, or with the disturbing spectacle of a “private” organization working hand in glove with a US government agency to carry out operations in a foreign country:

A popular Colombian beauty queen was arrested this past weekend for her alleged role in a child prostitution ring aimed at foreign sex tourists.  The United States Immigration and Customs (ICE) led a joint operation, Cristal II, in cooperation with the Colombia’s Navy and Coast Guard to arrest 22-year old Kelly Johana Suárez Martínez Moyam and four others during a party attended by 25 minors, among others…An additional three were arrested in Armenia and four in Medellín for their involvement…The arrests took place…just a short boat ride from Cartagena…Undercover agents posed as foreign sex tourists to break up the child prostitution ring…Kelly Johana is not the typical ringleader for a child prostitution ring, but her credentials and her reputation…make her an effective recruiter of young girls and boys…

As regular readers know, the term “child prostitution” is a lie; actual children in the sex trade are very rare, and most so-called “child prostitutes” are 16 or 17.  Dr. Thaddeus Blanchette, who has studied sex work in neighboring Brazil for over a decade, has this to say about the subject:

…in ten years of work researching Rio de Janeiro’s brothels…I have not encountered a single child prostitute.  Frequent police raids on these establishments also generally come up a cropper.  There are a few cases, of course, but I can count them on the fingers of one hand, from over a ten year period.  Where, then, are these legions of child prostitutes?  If the police and I and my co-researcher, Dra. Ana Paula da Silva, can’t find more than a handful in all the hundreds of commercial sex venues in Rio de Janeiro…where are these kids?…

It’s true that Colombia is not Brazil, but they’re a lot more alike than, say, Colombia and Washington, DC.  So when cops and government bureaucrats report something that contradicts years of work by respected academics, you’ll have to forgive me if I ask for their proof.  And when the operatives involved just happen to work for a different division of the same government branch that was embarrassed by other members of the same industry in the same region of the same country, and the targeted individual just happens to share a surname with the sex worker at the center of the earlier scandal, don’t be too surprised if I assume that their real motivation is the execution of a vendetta.

Links #224

From what you’ve told me you don’t need an ambulance…You could try a warm bath but if you collapse, become unconscious [or] unresponsive…it’s 999.  –  Heidi Nicholls

I’m very disappointed at the tardiness of Halloween spirit the last few years; there’s only one more Links column before the big day, yet I’ve seen virtually no seasonal links and only one seasonal video (the first one below, contributed by Aspasia).  I had to go looking for the second one myself, though I’m quite pleased with it.  Everything above the first video is from Rick Horowitz, and the links between the videos from Brooke Magnanti (“colon”), ManCrack (“Dick”),  Clarissa (“hammer”), Jesse Walker (“clowns”), Molli Desi (“medicine”), Saladin Ahmed (“authoritarian”), Radley Balko (“prohibition” & “bicycle”), and Mistress Matisse (“plug”).

From the Archives

[To a prohibitionist California judge] “help”…means keeping a pregnant teen locked up in juvenile jail because she accepted payment for sex, but still talking to her in really nice tones.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Think of the Children! Moongoyle

I’m sure this sleazebag reporter is proud of himself:

…Slicing Beauty is a fairly typical…slasher flick, featuring gratuitous nudity…[which] was produced and directed, under an alias, by the principal of [a Connecticut] Middle School.  And the film’s script…was written, also under an alias, by a guidance counselor at [another] Middle School…Mark D. Foley…[and] Aaron Vnuk…have been making movies together since at least 2008…the pair formed a company that became Moongoyle Entertainment…in movie credits, they use the names Mark Daniel and Aaron Thomas Howell…[but busybody Matthew Kauffman] determined their identities by comparing information in state corporation records…to state educator records…

And this, kiddies, is why Maggie McNeill, LLC is registered in Delaware.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

A…Dallas…vice detective accused of giving a prostitute protection in exchange for sexual favors coached the woman to say she was his confidential informant if questioned about the relationship…Jose Luis Bedoy…was…charged with…obstruction of…justice…Bedoy met the woman…in early 2009 during a raid…[he] alerted her to police investigations and sought sex in return…

Sales Pitch

At least a few Swedish politicians seem to get it:

Sweden’s new coalition government is trying to make it an offence for Swedes to use prostitutes when they are…in other countries…But their plans look set to be blocked by the centre-right parties that made up the former governing Alliance…Some argue that making it illegal for Swedes to pay for sex in places where prostitution is…legal, could lead to other countries starting to punish their citizens for activities that are allowed in Sweden…”It would be terrible if people got punished because they had a homosexual relationship…or…an abortion in Sweden,” [said] Moderate party Justice spokesperson Beatrice Ask…

Schadenfreude 

Yet another rescue industry fraud:

…Frits Rouvoet regularly walks in Amsterdam’s Red Light District…most prostitutes see [him] as “this idiot that always brings flowers”, and often try to get rid of him by pretending to be on the phone…[he] regularly claims to have “saved” a woman…and has been doing so for years, while I still see the same girls at work every day…how come nobody has noticed the women that have gone missing, because he has “saved” them?…It also makes one wonder [why]…these “oh so violent pimps”…let Frits…take away “their girls” without a fight…Does Frits Rouvoet possess some kind of supernatural…powers, that [protect] him…?

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs

Somaly Mam and Uncle Sam will not be happy:

New [Cambodian] government regulations for the entertainment industry…aim to offer sex workers…increased protection under the Labor Law…Chan Dyna…of the National Entertainment Workers’ Network, said…“The government has finally recognized that entertainment workers are actually workers, like all others”…

Above the Law 

Rapist cops come in two main types, the sleazy:  “Florida sheriff’s deputy [Ted Arboleda] was arrested…after he was accused of allowing a woman to avoid arrest in exchange for oral sex…”…and the openly brutal:

Authorities have arrested a…[Colorado] sheriff’s deputy…The woman told investigators she was driving [Timothy Joseph] Hay home after drinking at a bar…when Hay asked her to pull over at a warehouse…[he then slammed] the woman’s head to the ground and [raped] her…

Finding What Isn’t There

This story makes much more sense when one realizes that the word “evidence” was substituted for the proper term, “propaganda”.  Here, I’ll demonstrate:

New figures…which…show a continuing decline here are “very alarming”…said the Immigrant Council of Ireland.  The figures are contrary to European [propaganda]…There was…just one reported case of a trafficked child, compared to 16 last year…[Denise] Charlton said…“It is worrying that the figures have come down…There is so much [propaganda] that those who enter the sex trade do so as teenagers.  Why are we not finding these children?”…

Damned If You Don’t

New York…Port Authority police…have arrested more than 60 [men] this year in the bus terminal on public lewdness charges…Most…were accused of masturbating in the second-floor bathroom…by plainclothes officers…[spying on] them at an adjacent urinal…the Port Authority’s interpretation of the law [seems] to criminalize the use of public urinals…

Enough is Enough

Monkey Business

They certainly deserve it more than zygotes:

…a New York court will decide whether or not Tommy the Chimpanzee qualifies as a legal person…late last year…lawyer Steven Wise discovered him being held in a small, unclean cage and receiving inadequate care…if Tommy is declared a legal person, it does not mean he is human…it would just afford him protection beyond existing animal cruelty laws.  Personhood would give him rights pertaining to his self interest that would hold up in a court of law, similar to a parent or guardian acting on behalf of a child or disabled adult…The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP)…acts on behalf of nonhuman animals who are intelligent, self-aware and autonomous, including great apes, elephants, and dolphins…

That Old Black Magic

Scotland Yard has received 27 allegations of ritual child abuse linked to witchcraft in the past year, with police believing many more remain “hidden” by families…one child was swung round before being smacked over the head in order to “drive out the devil”.  The Telegraph reported instances of children having chili rubbed into their eyes…[or] dunked in baths and forced to drink noxious liquids in exorcism ceremonies…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #316)

Watching pornography could soon be banned in Telangana…as a means to reduce crimes against [women]…state police said they have been asked to…use technology similar to the one used by the Chinese government to block content on search engines…banning pornography may not have any effect in ensuring security of women as several studies have shown that such content does not instigate…rape…

In fact, studies show it has exactly the opposite effect, but prohibitionists never care about little things like facts.

Monsters

This has been a month of horrible violence against transwomen, from Australia:

…Marcus Volke worked around the world as a male prostitute before moving to Brisbane just weeks before he murdered his wife and cooked her on their…apartment’s stovetop.  Volke, who was found with Mayang Prasetyo’s dismembered body…the couple had both worked in a Melbourne brothel and Volke had also made a living from sex work in Copenhagen.  After moving to Brisbane he was working under the name of Heath XL while his wife was [working] as a “top high class Asian shemale”…Volke took his own life while fleeing police…

To the Philippines:  “A US Marine has been detained over the murder of a transgender woman…26-year-old Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck was found dead by strangulation…with her head in the toilet…”  To New York:  “A 28-year-old trans woman was beaten by four men on a Bushwick street…with a 2 X 4…She is…in stable condition…but [may]…have permanent brain damage…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

Another stupid “sex trafficking” play:

It’s Not Fair is a collection of tales taken from all over the world…from the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast to the dingy bars of the back streets of Thailand, behind the respectable facade of a London home and into the offices of an anti-trafficking organisation…Using a unique blend of theatre, storytelling and music, the performance brings these stories to life in an entertaining, powerful and moving way…that raises awareness of the problem…

Hussies

The horror of good customer service:

…Anna Burgese…says she was attacked early last year in the lobby of a South Beach W Hotel by drunken hookers who mistakenly believed she was competition…As a result…[she] hired undercover agents to visit W Hotels all over the country…[and] claims that they found…prostitution runs rampant in the hotels…The filing also alleges that The W…provides guests with free condoms and that its website advertises sex toys.  “These agents engaged…employees who openly, and without hesitation, procured the services of prostitutes for the agents…”

In other words, these supposed agents “found” that a W concierge does exactly what the concierge in any expensive hotel will do.

Broken Record (TW3 #333)

The lies in this article are outrageous even by “sex trafficking” standards.  First, cops’ arrest of 25 underage sex workers and 45 other people (labelled “pimps”) magically transmogrified into “[NGO members] successfully rescued 66 children, and made more than 120 arrests.”  But the second claim was even more egregious:  “a group of experts went to Sturgis, SD during the large motor cycle rally and were successful in rescuing more than a dozen young girls.”  In fact, no sex workers were arrested (“rescued”) at all; photos of adult women were supposedly “age-regressed” and the results were used to entrap seven men.fat prat

Innocence Never Had

Because people don’t like the idea of teens engaging in sex work…they want the government to do something about it, and the way to get people under state jurisdiction is to define them as either criminals or helpless victims.  So if teen sex workers aren’t criminals, they must be children whom the state has an obligation to protect coercively…”to prevent them from returning to their pimps”…Teenagers may not have the full capacity to consent…but they’re not mentally incapacitated.  The government shouldn’t be able to lock up a 15-year-old girl ’til her 18th birthday to stop her from having sex in a way of which it disapproves…

O, Canada! (All Traffick, All the Time)

The idea that women might have minds and agency is unacceptable to Canadian Cops:

…Called Operation Northern Spotlight, the officers in each city used ads on the Web to book “dates” with escorts over two nights last week — then met to [harass and intimidate them]…“Almost all the girls we meet, they say they’re independent,” said Sgt. Rob Huber…Despite denials…Huber suspects most are turned out by someone who reaps the bulk of the lucrative profits.  “But until that girl basically tells us, we don’t have a victim”…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #416) 

Most of this article is the usual ludicrous nonsense from one of the usual suspects (in this case, Washington DC “rescue” opportunists FAIR Girls), but it does have one notable line:  “…the average victim is sold three to five times per night…”  Not 50 or 100?  Very interesting.

Business As UsualThissera's victim

a video showing a policeman beating a young woman…in…Sri Lanka…has generated heated discussion in the media…the police…first…[pretended that] the video [was] unreliable…[then admitted] that the particular policeman…has been identified…but that [the sex worker he beat] appeared to be in hiding…[meanwhile] the woman…began to reveal her ordeal in public…The [attacker's] name has now been revealed as P.P. Thissera…he…has not been arrested or charged with a criminal offence…

Bad Girls (TW3 #438)

Remember the sex worker who killed the cop, and I said there was more to it? 

…the 29-year-old woman told the police that she killed the constable as an act of revenge as it was he who had pushed her into prostitution and ruined her life…although she could have easily escaped after the murder, she chose to…set the body on fire [as]…a warning to corrupt cops…the deceased constable…sold her to a brothel [in 2002, then] three years ago, the woman again met…him…and [he] would often visit her…When she refused to give in to his demands, the constable would…threaten to arrest her…

Wise Investment (TW3 #440)

I’ve heard this woman is actually kind of a nasty character, but it’s still good news if her lawyer can get a raid thrown out:  “The defense attorney for a Salem, N.H., woman accused of running a…brothel wants a police search of his client’s home and vehicle tossed out as evidence in the criminal sex-trafficking and prostitution case.  Lori Barron…is accused of hiring young women [to work in an ordinary massage parlor]…

The Roof Caves In (TW3 #440)

Somaly…Mam’s ex-husband Pierre Legros [said]…”Simon Marks…did his job as a journalist and verified the facts.  I have not met Abigail Pesta who wrote the Marie-Claire story and I…doubtful…[of] her version…Somaly has at least two different versions of her biography …you know fabricated stories are used by everyone to get funding.  But I received death threats from Somaly and her entourage, telling me not to speak”…

Whore Detection

This essay first appeared in Cliterati on September 28th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

Tyrannical laws, especially those against consensual behaviors, are supported by many people suffering from the delusion that these laws (or other, subsequent laws based on the precedent of the laws they supported) will never, ever be used against them or anyone they care about.  Of course, this is nothing but a naïve fantasy; the fact of the matter is that, as I have written many times before, a weapon once forged can be used by anyone who cares to pick it up; furthermore, once its pattern has been invented there is nothing to stop other tyrants from forging similar weapons to use against those they wish to oppress…which might very well include those who supported the first law.  Over and over again we see examples of prostitution laws being used to arrest women who have never been paid for sex in their lives; because a whore looks exactly like any other woman, and her “criminality” derives entirely from taboo motives for an activity which is completely legal otherwise, cops routinely arrest  “women who carry condoms, answer personal ads, wear sexy lingerie, go without lingerie, fail forced ‘virginity tests’ask a cop if he’s a cop, ‘act sexy’, go out after dark without a male chaperone, or even just ‘look like a prostitute’.”  In some parts of the US, some of these acts are themselves criminalized, leading to a bizarre and evil regime in which a woman can be arrested and convicted for “acting like a hooker” even if everyone agrees that no “act of prostitution” took place.

I’m sure most of you heard about this incident last month:

[Hollywood actress] Daniele Watts…has claimed she was “handcuffed and detained” by Los Angeles police officers because of her race.  Two police officers approached Watts and her white boyfriend Brian James Lucas when they were seen showing affection in public, the actress said…she refused to produce her photo ID…and was then handcuffed and held in a police car as the officers tried to figure out who she was…

Daniele Watts arrestNaturally, the police chief insisted that the cops acted properly (as police chiefs always do, even when an unarmed person is shot in the back or an autistic teenager is tased to death):  “Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck is defending the actions of officers who briefly detained and questioned an actress…following reports that she was ‘involved in a lewd act’ in a parked car…”  Setting aside for a moment that the initial reports said she was suspected of prostitution, not “indecent exposure”, it seems disingenuous to claim that their being an interracial couple had nothing to do with the harassment.  Here’s an account from a woman who, though she was eventually arrested for having the same name as someone for whom there was a warrant, was initially stopped merely for being a black woman in a vehicle with a white man, despite the lack of “indecency”:

…I rode shotgun in a pickup truck with…my friend, Nathan…On the way to the restaurant we drove too far and had to turn into the entrance of a very wealthy, very white neighborhood to get back on track.  Suddenly we heard a police siren coming from an unmarked SUV, signaling for us to pull over.  Before the arresting officer made it to Nathan’s car, two more unmarked SUVs and a police car joined them…Their first question was addressed to Nathan: “How do you know this woman?”…

In other words, prostitution laws provided a useful pretext for a stop.  Certainly, there are many such pretexts, including the hundreds of inane traffic regulations that actually exist and the dozens of others cops just invent on the spot.  But it’s telling how often prostitution laws are used as that pretext when it’s black women the “authorities” want to harass:

…Kantaki…Washington, Cydney Madlock and J. Lyn Thomas say a member of the [Standard] hotel’s security team accused them of being hookers.  The women had just come down from…[the] bar…and settled in the lobby when several men approached them and offered to buy them drinks…a security guard from the hotel whispered something in the man’s ear and ushered him away.  “After…he comes over to me and my friends and says, ‘Come on, ladies.  You can buy a drink but you can’t be soliciting,’…We were like, soliciting?  He said, ‘Don’t act stupid with me, ladies.  You know what you’re doing’…Dude, I’m a lawyer and these women are educators…Why the hell would I be in here soliciting prostitution?”  Outraged, Washington demanded that the guard give her his name and the name of his manager…When she and her friends approached the manager…they were met with indifference…Several weeks later, Washington received an email from…the hotel inviting her and “three guests back to The Standard for a bottle of champagne…followed by dinner…”  None of the emails…addressed the prostitution accusation…

Of course, they’re lucky he was only a rent-a-cop; otherwise it might’ve gone more like this:

A Galveston couple is suing three police officers who they say arrested and beat their 12-year-old daughter after mistaking her for a prostitute…Named as defendants are…Gilbert Gomez…David Roark and Sean Stewart…Dymond Larae Milburn went outside her home…to flip a circuit breaker about 7:45 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2006.  Responding to a call that three white prostitutes were soliciting in the neighborhood, the plainsclothes officers jumped out of an unmarked van…and one of them grabbed the girl, who is black…the officers did not identify themselves as police and…the officer who grabbed her, later identified as Roark, told her, “You’re a prostitute.  You’re coming with me.”  Her parents, Wilfred and Emily Milburn, heard her cries for help and came outside to see the hysterical girl hanging on to a tree and screaming “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” while two officers hit her in the head, face and throat…Two hours later…emergency room…doctors found she had a sprained wrist, two black eyes, a bloody nose and blood in an ear…Weeks later, the girl was arrested during classes at…school, where she was an honors student…She was tried a year later on a charge of resisting arrest, but the judge declared a mistrial on the first day…Wilfred Milburn was arrested the…day [after the initial incident] for interfering with police and assaulting an officer…

super cop mind probing machineThe systemic racism of the American “justice” system is hardly a secret, and only a fool would pretend that the removal of any one law would do much to stop police abuse of black people; they would simply use another of the many laws available to them under universal criminality.  But just as legislative precedent can be used to build new laws, so can judicial precedent be used to overturn old ones.  The vast majority of the laws used to harass all people, but especially minorities, are those against consensual activities because they allow cops to stop, annoy, question, beat, chain and cage peaceful people who have done nothing to anyone else, based purely on cops’ whims and feelings.  To accuse someone of prostitution, a cop need not even produce drugs to plant upon his victim; all he needs is a prejudice or a wanking fantasy.  And the eradication of any such vile law is a step toward eradicating all of them.

A Look at the Works

We are hardly ever grateful for a fine clock or watch when it goes right, and we pay attention to it only when it falters.  –  the 4th Earl of Chesterfield

Every so often I get an email or series of “tweets” that causes me to shake my head and wonder whether the author has been paying attention at all at any time in the past four years.  Now, I’m not talking about communications from new readers or from non-readers who just read one column or even one “tweet”; rather, I mean people I’ve corresponded with before who have (presumably) been reading here for a while and should know how I do things.  Recently, I had several such incidents, so I think it would be worthwhile to address the points that somehow seem to have escaped some folks.

clockwork girlFirst, it appears that I need to spell out some details about advice letters (again).  It seems as though some people have made it several decades into their lives without quite understanding how an “agony aunt” column works, so I’ll reiterate and add details specific to mine.  Since there are many different, competing demands on my time (especially while on tour), I cannot promise that I will always get to advice emails quickly.  I understand that people who write are often upset or even suffering, and I really do try to answer every letter as quickly as possible.  Usually that’s within a few days, but while I’m travelling it can be longer; some letters that arrived in July took me almost six weeks to answer.  Yes, I could dash off a quick response, but I hardly think that’s what anyone wants unless the question only requires that sort of response.  Unless you specifically ask me not to publish your question, it may appear in a future Wednesday column, though edited and condensed to remove identifying details or even to broaden the scope slightly.  Some of you may have noticed that if you clarify the situation in a later letter and my advice changes because of that clarification, it’s still the original version which appears on the blog; when that happens it’s because I felt either that the clarified version gave away too many personal details, or that the original version would apply to more people reading.  Though you are only concerned with your own specific problem, you’d be surprised how many other people may find my answer helpful (even if their own issues are slightly different).

Next, some people seem to have failed to notice the level of organization I maintain in this blog, and have made requests of me that, while they might seem reasonable, are actually nothing of the kind.  I’ve noticed that when a reader links to either a column or one of my feature pages to make a point elsewhere on the internet, at least one ass will usually disparage the citation with some variation on “a WordPress blog isn’t a credible source”.  If I ran this like an ordinary blog, a place to jot down stray thoughts here and there as they came to me, that might be a valid criticism; however, as anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed, that isn’t how I do things.  I treat this like an electronic magazine; I write a column every day, hyperlink and cross-reference my citations, and include every post in the extensive subject index.  Once a post is published, the only changes I make are to correct typos or (within the same day or two) to correct some major error or omission; also, I may change a picture for one of higher resolution, or because the subject of a picture asked me to use a different one.  I take an extremely dim view of websites who shove posts down the memory hole just because some readers didn’t like them; I have the philosophy that “you can’t unring a bell”, so once a post is up I will not remove it no matter who finds it offensive.  Besides the ethical problem that would create, removing the index entries and hyperlinks would be like pulling one gear out of a clock; given that many of my posts are reblogged or scraped, it might not even do any good for me to censor a post because it might already have been copied elsewhere.  And if you think I’m going to leave an ugly and conspicuous hole in a four-year-long perfect record just because it hurt your feelings, I respectfully suggest you reconsider your place in the universe.

Finally, some people seem to have developed very strange misconceptions about my status in the universe, so let’s put those to rest, shall we?  I am not a goddess, an angel, a superheroine, a bodhisattva or any other form of superior entity, and have never claimed to be.  Accordingly, I am not perfect; I make mistakes and misjudgments like anybody else.  Because of this, you cannot use the evidence-free accusation that I made one mistake as an argument that my entire body of work is flawed; rather, you can do that, but it will simply result in your looking like an idiot.  Even if you have actual evidence of an error in one essay or statement, it doesn’t ruin my “perfect track record” because I don’t have a perfect track record, and nobody sane ever claimed that I did.  Moreover, I’m not required to explain every editorial choice I make to the satisfaction of whatever random stranger cares to demand such an explanation, and anyone who believes that I am needs more help than I can give in one of my advice columns.

Last month’s tale was inspired by the pulp magazines, but this one was inspired by one of their successors:  comic books, specifically the horror comics of the 1970s that I grew up reading.  Those familiar with them will probably see the influence, but I hope even those who don’t will enjoy the tale.  Happy Halloween, dear reader.

“Daniel, unless you agree to see me more regularly, I honestly don’t know how I’m going to help you.  You not only refuse to come in every week, but to make regularly-scheduled appointments at all; I’m sure you realize that as long as you insist on only coming in when someone else has cancelled, our visits are going to be irregular and infrequent.”  The man she was addressing responded by getting up and walking to the window for the seventh time since the beginning of the session.  “And would you please sit down?”

He complied, then looked around for his bottle of water and began to get up to fetch it; Dr. Nolan pre-empted the move by reaching for it herself, then leaning forward to give it to him.  He drained the last of the water, sucking on the bottle for several seconds after it was dry as if to draw more water from the plastic, then replaced the cap and looked around for a wastebasket; the psychologist took the bottle from him so he wouldn’t have the excuse to get up again.  “I’m sorry, Doctor, but it has to be that way because of the nightmares.”

“You mentioned them last time, but didn’t elaborate; do they have anything to do with your inability to stick with a therapist for more than half a dozen visits?”

He nodded nervously, then leaned forward so his elbows rested on his knees and hung his head forward.  “And with my inability to hold down a job, and with my refusal to set regular appointments,” he said to the floor.  “And it’s why I don’t live near my family and have no friends.”

“But surely your family hasn’t abandoned you; our visits are billed to your father’s insurance.”

He continued to avoid eye contact, but responded, “No, it’s not like that; my family loves me and I have plenty of friends who really want me to come home again.  I know you probably don’t believe this, but until these awful dreams started I never had any mental problems in my life.”

“I believe that you believe it, Daniel, but recurring nightmares so disturbing they drive a person away from his family and friends don’t spring out of nowhere.  They come from some pre-existing issue that you’ve been unable or unwilling to acknowledge.”

“I’ll be damned if I know what that might be,” he said, straightening up suddenly in the chair.  “I can’t remember any kind of childhood trauma, always did well in school, got along fine with everybody, graduated not all that far from the top of my class.  The first person I had the dream about was my mother.”

“Go on.”

“I was living in an apartment, but you know how in dreams you’re sometimes still living with your parents.  Well, anyway, I don’t even remember what I was doing in the dream, but my mother was in another room talking to me about something; it was just a regular conversation, nothing I can even recall.  But when she came into the room, she had no face!

“What do you mean, no face?”

“I mean exactly that, no fucking face!  I mean the front of her head was totally smooth, no eyes or nose or mouth.  And she just stood there with her head turned toward me as though she was looking at me, only she had no eyes.  And I woke up screaming.”

She resisted the urge to ask him to sit down again; if pacing helped him unburden himself, so be it.  “So you kept having this nightmare about your mother?”

“Not just about her.  My dad, my little brother, my girlfriend, all of my friends, my boss…everybody I knew.  Every damned night I had them.  Every one was different; I would be doing some mundane thing, then without warning the other person in the dream would come into the room or turn around or whatever and have no face.  And then I wake up.”

“It never goes any further?”

“No, that’s it, I always wake up as soon as I see that horrible faceless head.”

“So why did you leave your home?”

“A few months after the nightmares started, my little brother went off to college.  Then when he came home for a visit, I had the nightmare about him that very night.  Thinking about it later, though, I realized that I hadn’t dreamed of him even once while he was gone.  I quit my job and went to work somewhere else…and my old boss immediately stopped appearing in the nightmares.  It wasn’t long after that I moved away.”

“Did it help?”

Faceless Girl by Varjo66 (2005)“It worked perfectly.  I only have the nightmare about people I know well, and even then if I see them often.  As long as I spend my days with strangers, my nights are peaceful.  But if I get to know anyone too well, the nightmare comes back starring that person, except without a face.”

“So every time you get to know a therapist well…”

“…he or she starts appearing in the nightmare, and I have to stop going.  Same thing with jobs; as soon as faceless versions of my boss or coworkers start haunting me, I quit.  My neighbors probably think I’m a terrorist or something because I totally avoid talking to them, for fear of being forced to move.  I’m hoping that if I see you sporadically, it will at least take longer for me to start having the dream about you.”

“Well, at least I know what we’re up against now.  Please try to make another appointment as soon as you feel comfortable, and we’ll see if we can’t figure out the real reason you’re so afraid to get close to anyone.”

“Do you think that’s what it is, Doctor Nolan?”

“I think it’s very likely.  Until then, try to keep your mind occupied, and try to at least call your family and friends if you can do that without setting off the nightmares.”

After leaving her office, Daniel felt extremely agitated; talking about the problem had only served to churn up the terror in his mind, and despite the doctor’s advice he didn’t feel it wise to call home too often.  A long walk in the park did nothing to clear his mind, nor did dinner and a movie, and he didn’t like to go home between dinner and midnight because a couple of his neighbors often sat out on the steps talking on fine nights like this one.  So he decided to seek some company from one of the girls who frequented the stroll about ten blocks from his place; the only one in sight when he arrived was a slender, 30-ish woman named Lisa he’d been with a few times before.  It occurred to him that even seeing the same hooker too many times was probably not safe, but if he started dreaming about any of them he’d just have to start going to massage parlors instead.

Lisa recognized him, and the deal was quickly made; he followed her to her room, and the two of them got undressed at the same time.  He was still quite nervous from the afternoon’s session, though, so he tried to focus on what she was doing so he’d get excited and forget about all that, at least for a little while.  He watched as she kicked off her shoes, shimmied out of her dress, removed her underwear, and took off her face.

Only this time he didn’t wake up.

Diary – Week 224

Cat PrayerAs of last Tuesday evening my trains to Chicago and Seattle are paid for; I’ve also booked my hotel room in Kansas City, though I decided to wait a little for Chicago because everything near Union Station was too pricey when I last looked (I’m trying to do this trip on the funds I have left from my fundraiser this summer).  As of right now, the only gig that’s fixed in place is a talk at the Foundation for Sex Positive Culture at 7 PM on Sunday the 9th, the day after I arrive; I expect to hear back from SWOP this week, and then I’ll try to fill in a few private meetings with donors and a few sex workers I know there from online.  Due to a miscommunication about the dates my Portland side-trip is still up in the air, but that should be remedied this week; by next Tuesday I should have the whole trip mostly penciled in just before I leave for New Orleans two days later.  And I’ve even figured out what I’m probably going to do with my internet-less time during the 46-hour trip to Seattle.

I mentioned my leftover donations above, and that reminds me:  if you look at the subscription box on the right, you’ll notice I’ve added text about how to give me a one-time cash gift if you prefer to do that instead of subscribing.  It’s very simple; all you have to do is PayPal whatever amount you like to my email address, maggiemcneill@earthlink.net.  Ta-dah!  I like to keep things simple whenever possible.  But even if your budget won’t allow that sort of thing right now, there’s another way you can help me that won’t cost you a dime.  The pressures of this year seem to have inflicted more stress on me than I bargained for, so I’ve found myself moody and very blue lately and would appreciate your prayers, good thoughts, well-wishing, positive vibrations or whatever the equivalent in your philosophy.  You needn’t worry; these moods do come occasionally and I always get past them.  But I figure a little extra psychic support can’t hurt, even if the effect is only in my own mind…which, since it’s where the problem lies anyhow, seems perfectly reasonable.

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