I do not like to get the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons. - Ogden Nash
In the days before television and car radios, newspapers sometimes put out “extra” editions in the afternoon if a story came up which was too important or fast-breaking to wait until the regular edition the next morning. “Extras” were usually short and were hawked by newsboys with stacks of the special edition, shouting “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” followed by the headline. Once radios became portable extra editions became less common because there was no way to get them out quickly enough to beat the radio news to the “scoop”, and once television news became popular in the 1950s extras went the way of the dodo. Newspapers then concentrated on telling the stories in detail rather than with speed, leaving the “breaking news” to the broadcast media because they knew people would want to read the full story the next morning anyhow. Unfortunately for publishers, the internet has taken a big bite out of that market share as well by making it possible to publish in-depth print stories as quickly as TV or radio stations can interrupt their “regularly scheduled programming” for the quick & dirty sound-bite-fest which is broadcast news. Papers are folding (please pardon the pun) or downsizing everywhere, and many publishers are concentrating more heavily on their websites than on print editions in order to keep their businesses afloat.
I run this blog much more like a newspaper than like a TV broadcast; that is, I don’t generally worry too much about getting there “first with the most”, but rather on examining a story through the lens of harlotry. In other words, The Honest Courtesan may not be the first place you encounter a new story, but you probably won’t encounter my spin on that story in many other places. When my husband is on the road I try to write two columns every day unless I have other stuff demanding my attention, and unless I’m completely tied up all day (no comments from the peanut gallery, y’all) I can usually manage at least one (my record is four). What this all boils down to is that I tend to have 10-14 columns “in the pipeline” at once, and if I want to get a new column out quickly while the subject is still topical I just rearrange the dates and push low-priority columns (such as fictional interludes or “harlotographies”) back as needed. So if I ever tell you to look for a column on a certain day and something different appears, now you know why. Anyhow, this is all by way of introduction to two stories which I would usually hold for my monthly “updates” column, but felt they deserved an “extra” due to their topicality.
Even Worse Than I Had Thought
I had already written yesterday’s column several days before this op-ed column from the MetroWest Daily News came to my attention on Monday (see how that works?) I considered rewriting it to reference this, but it’s really too good to mention in passing so I decided to do this column instead. The article, “Puritans With Badges”, is worth reading in its entirety, but I’ll give you a taste of the part that attracted my attention:
…Attorney General Martha Coakley, leading legislators and district attorneys have decided that what Massachusetts really needs is an all-out offensive against prostitution. They are proposing a new crime: “human trafficking for sexual servitude,” which would allow convicted pimps, madams, or anyone else facilitating the exchange of sex for money to be imprisoned for up to 20 years on the first offense, with a mandatory 10 years in the pen if convicted a second time. The 20-year sentence would also apply to anyone who recruits someone to engage in a “sexually-explicit performance.” If you’re planning a bachelor party, better do it soon, since this law would empower Coakley to shut down the “gentlemen’s clubs” and hire-a-stripper operations. The proposed law considers prostitutes the “victims” of prostitution, so it doubles the sentence for their customers. “Whoever pays, agrees to pay, or offers to pay another person” for sex can be sentenced to up to 2 1/2 years in jail and a $5,000 fine, “whether such sexual conduct occurs or not”…Personal ads, online or on old-fashioned newsprint, indicate there are lots of consenting Massachusetts adults engaging in the business of pleasure. Well, we can’t have that, can we? Here in the land of the Puritans, there are some pursuits of happiness the authorities will not abide…
As you can see, it’s even worse than the NPR article I referenced yesterday made it sound; that one left out the criminalization of stripping in favor of the story of the bill’s poster child. After reading the column, I sent an email of thanks to the author, Rick Holmes; he responded by asking if he could post my email in his own blog, which had a bit more to say about the issue. I of course agreed, and was rather impressed with what I saw there; we may be seeing a new addition to “Friends of Whores”.
You Can Trust Us, Really
Two NYPD cops are being eyed in the Long Island serial slayings after investigators learned they got into trouble for hiring prostitutes while working for the department, according to sources familiar with the probe. One cop was forced out of the job in the 1990s when his supervisors learned he spent time pursuing hookers and paying street walkers and down-and-out women for sex while he was supposed to be on patrol…The other officer still works for the NYPD but was stripped of his gun and badge years ago because he allegedly assaulted a prostitute and got arrested during a sting operation. The woman complained to police supervisors about the officer but no criminal charges were filed and an internal probe went nowhere, sources said. The patrolman was allowed to return to the force, they said, though he was placed on modified duty — transferred to a paper-pushing job in Manhattan where he’s not allowed to make arrests or respond to emergencies…It’s unclear if the disgraced cops know each other or what evidence investigators might have against them in the serial murders…The cops are not the sole focus of the investigation, which has expanded over the last several weeks, sources said.
Now, as I wrote last month, the police have suspected since at least the end of March that the serial killer might be a cop, yet they’re only now looking into what cops that might be? As A.K. Smith pointed out in her column of May 16th:
If cops have been working this as a possible serial killer case since December, and have thought at least since March that the killer might be a cop…why are they just now looking at cops with this kind of history? If it was a child sexual assault and murder you can bet they’d have questioned all the pedophiles in a 60-mile radius the first week. Another question springs from that: why are cops so surprised that prostitutes don’t want to come forward with evidence? Imagine you were the victim of officer #2′s assault, walked into a police station, and saw him (or another of his ilk) sitting behind a desk. Would you walk out or make a report?
I have nothing more to add, except to say that tomorrow’s column will examine A.K.’s rhetorical questions in a somewhat unusual manner.