Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la. – Traditional Christmas carol
It’s hard to believe that another year and 365 columns have gone by since I wrote my last New Year’s Eve post. At that time, I was worried about running out of steam and even thought I’d decrease my rate of posting, but by February I had hit on a few strategies which made the process both easier and more flexible (such as pre-posting columns days ahead if I know I’ll be busy or away from home), so I’ve been able to continue at the same rate without burning out. And let me tell you, I’m really glad I managed it; I really feel like what I’m doing here is important and I’d like to keep up this pace for as long as possible.
But the ability to persevere in the effort is nothing without the motivation, and a lot of that comes from y’all, my readers. Every week I receive numerous complimentary comments and emails, plus a plethora of links and attributions all over the internet (and that means all over the world). That started in earnest only a few weeks into the year, largely due to my efforts at debunking the trafficking mythology in general and the “Super Bowl sex slave invasion” in particular. But it would’ve only lasted the proverbial fifteen minutes if not for the unflagging loyalty and tireless support of my readers; please don’t ever think your kind words, enthusiastic participation and topic suggestions are superfluous, because they mean more to me than you can possibly know.
2011 was a strange, eventful year; it started with the aforementioned Super Bowl hype, fed by a general explosion of “sex trafficking” hysteria which was accelerated by endorsements from a number of second and third-rate celebrities. One of these, Ashton Kutcher (along with his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Demi Moore) started a really stupid anti-prostitute ad campaign supported entirely by misinformation, and when called on it by the Village Voice he responded with a rather absurd tirade on Twitter which called unwelcome attention to his advisor’s disregard for facts. And though the campaign against Backpage which Kutcher championed has gained in popularity, the fact that it hasn’t a legal leg to stand on has robbed it of any real relevancy. Yellow journalism on the subject from CNN, the New York Times, Newsweek and Huffington Post reached new lows, but other media outlets support our rights and study after study after study after study confirms what prostitutes and our advocates have been saying all along.
Witch-hunts against sex workers of all kinds, carried out by busybodies who are almost entirely fueled by American dollars, driven by American State Department propaganda and threats and encouraged by self-promoting journalists, continued unabated around the world, while some other jurisdictions preferred to persecute men and infantilize women by promoting the “Swedish Model” of anti-prostitute law (or rhetoric) and/or schemes derived from it, and still others simply resorted to robbing sex workers or their associates or clients instead. Several sex worker rights organizations have fought these crusades via ad campaigns that demonstrate sex workers are not victims or slaves but ordinary people, and several lawsuits defending the sexual rights of individuals have been filed.
While American police departments continue to harass and rob strip clubs and waste tremendous sums pursuing high-profile campaigns against escorts and our advertising venues, New York police have made no progress whatsoever in finding the Long Island Killer except to decide that he’s one man and probably a cop. And of course there was the usual mixed assortment of politicians who were caught with their pants down.
Moral panics always get worse before they get better, so I don’t think we can expect things to improve anytime soon; however, they can only go so far, and perhaps by this time next year we’ll at least have passed the climax of the hysteria. And that, I think, is a worthwhile subject for a New Year’s toast.