A modern democracy is a tyranny whose borders are undefined; one discovers how far one can go only by traveling in a straight line until one is stopped. – Norman Mailer
Just after midnight Wednesday night, I reached half a million total page views; thanks to all my readers for making it happen! And here are twelve other things that happened this week, in the form of updates:
The Rescuers (August 25th, 2010)
…Erik Garcia…ventured on to [sic] the Houston back pages [sic] website with the idea of calling up an escort service…”I would preach to that person and try to get them [sic] to change their [sic] ways, and low [sic] and behold, I got mugged,” Garcia said. Investigators say the woman who answered…was Jamie Vaughn…who’s been arrested more than 10 times…for drugs and prostitution…she picked up Garcia…and allegedly robbed him…
I also made a comment on the story, commenting on its numerous factual errors and pointing out that, while I’m glad Garcia wasn’t hurt, one might point out that he attempted to trick someone and was tricked in return.
What a Week! (November 28th, 2010)
Remember the man with half a head who was victimized by cops for trying to hire a hooker? Well, somebody who knows him made a video, as reported on Huffington Post:
…The Miami New Times, who first spotted the cheerful alleged prostitute-solicitor in its “Mugshots Friday” series, ran across a YouTube account…in which the gentleman himself explains the traumatic injury. Answering to the name “Halfy” and smoking what looks an awful lot like a blunt, he suggests it’s best to stay off drugs…[he] then alleges the president of the United States uses drugs, affirms his love of large women, and makes several sexually explicit remarks…
The video was removed from YouTube but is still available here, at least for now. As you can see Halfy’s statements aren’t anti-drug, they’re against impaired driving and marijuana criminalization.
The Coffee Klatsch (April 28th, 2011)
Our friend Kelly James is now a full-time libertarian activist in Keene, New Hampshire; some of you have probably seen her “Don’t Strip Our Rights” video, which documents her handing out anti-TSA pamphlets clad only in lingerie. Well, it’s attracted a lot of attention, including this recent story on Huffington Post. Congratulations, Kelly, and good luck!
A Procrustean Bed (May 19th, 2011)
Massachusetts has enacted a new law which defines all prostitutes as raped infants and all men who have anything at all to do with them as international gangsters. Fortunately, somebody at the Boston Herald thought to ask the actual experts their opinions:
…a sweeping new human-trafficking law…[is supposedly] aimed at protecting child prostitutes but also hits adult hookers’ clients with fines of up to $5,000 and up to 2½ years behind bars, as part of a broad crackdown aimed at snuffing out prostitution…women of the night…are treated as victims of human trafficking, still facing the same misdemeanor charges but with new rights to sue those who exploited them. “The penalties we’ve had have been far too low,” [said] Attorney General Martha Coakley…But one high-priced online hooker said she’s no victim — and she doesn’t know any women who are. “If you are an escort, you go into it of your own free will,” she said. “Absolutely no one is forced into doing this…” Another call girl who’s happily hooking online said she doesn’t feel like a victim either. Her johns even provide references from other prostitutes…Coakley said the law brings equity to enforcement that for decades targeted streetwalkers almost exclusively, often letting their clients and pimps walk away scot-free. “This is about leveling the playing field and making it fair…”
I’m sure you recognize the Swedish reek on all this, complete with Orwellian redefinitions. I wonder if any crafty attorney will be willing to take on a class-action suit in which escorts sue politicians for exploiting them for PR value by robbing them of a livelihood?
A False Dichotomy (June 22nd, 2011)
In Pardis Mahdavi’s new book Gridlock: Labor, Migration, and Human Trafficking in Dubai she joins Laura Agustín and many others in criticizing the whole “trafficking” paradigm; here’s a review from Rights Work:
…Gridlock offers a fascinating report of the negative consequences…the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai [suffer] as a result of…the UN Trafficking Protocol and the U.S. anti-trafficking law. Mahdavi focuses…[on] migrant workers, ranging from…construction workers to…sex workers…[and offers] a powerful critique of the current paradigm of international anti-trafficking law…arguing that [the laws] hurt the very people they seek to protect…[She says] contemporary anti-trafficking discourse has been inordinately preoccupied with the increased criminalization of sex work…[and] successfully argues for reframing trafficking as an international migration and human rights issue…the term trafficking is used…primarily [to] connote women…who have been duped or forced into sex work…Consequently, the exploitative conditions under which a large percentage of Dubai’s migrant non-sex worker population labors is not considered seriously…[but] all sex workers…are considered to be trafficked…This has been reinforced by US influence on trafficking discourse, particularly, the US TIP Report…which…political and social actors in the UAE experience…as an instance of US imperialism and hegemony…
…sex workers cannot be easily characterised solely as victims or agents…Any attempt to ignore this reality and dictate that all sex workers are ‘victims’ translates into rescue operations, which go against sex workers’ wishes…women who can legally enter…domestic work often choose to enter…sex work for the relative autonomy and higher pay that it offers. They prefer sex work to the highly exploitative working conditions…they face as domestic workers…[furthermore, maltreated] domestic workers [may]…run away from their employers…[rendering] their immigration status illegal…many women [thus] enter sex work through legal migration channels…[US pressure drove] the UAE to step up law enforcement efforts…tighten borders…and dramatically [increase] surveillance of female migrant workers…anti-trafficking discourse…renders abuse in non-sex work sectors invisible, while ‘fetishizing victimisation’ in the sex industry…
Mahdavi characterizes “trafficking” hysteria as a “global moral panic” and states that officials need to stop obsessing about sex work and border crossing and instead improve migrant workers’ rights by improving work conditions. We need more researchers like her, and more organizations like Rights Work which are more concerned with facts and helping people than with promoting anti-sex agendas.
In Denial (Part Two) (August 16th, 2011)
I just love it when actresses clearly demonstrate that our professions haven’t diverged much: “…Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel…got engaged over the holidays…’She wants a fidelity clause in the prenup giving her at least $500,000 if he [strays]‘…[Timberlake]…is offering a cash settlement with no fidelity clause or alimony…”
Counterfeit Comfort (August 28th, 2011)
Control freaks won’t be satisfied until every conceivable behavior of “sex offenders” is criminalized; then they can get to work on expanding the list of registerable crimes to include everyone who isn’t a politician or cop:
A federal judge in…Louisiana has struck down a state law barring sex offenders from using Facebook and other social media…Chief Judge Brian Jackson ruled…that the law…imposed “a sweeping ban on many commonly read news and information websites”…The definition of “chat room” in the law is so broad…the court’s own website could fall under the ban, he said…
Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for Facebook said it supports the law, and the governor’s office opined that it was “necessary” to keep prostitutes, guys who relieved themselves in the wrong place while drunk and other “dangerous predators” from magically reaching through the internet to molest “innocent children.”
Neither Addiction nor Epidemic (December 4th, 2011)
Sex isn’t the only thing busybodies attack with ridiculous exaggerations and addiction rhetoric:
…Britain’s boozing has reached ‘scandalous’ proportions…UK prime minister David Cameron declared last week, referring to what he called the “rising tide” of irresponsible drinking across the country. But it’s not just loud yobbish drunks…it’s also the ‘hidden alcoholics’, the middle-class wine drinkers…As well as emphasising the ‘anti-social behaviour’ alcohol causes, the government and campaigners alike are quick to point to what the Observer…called “the intolerable burden being placed on the health services”. Even by overindulging on the vino by ourselves at home, we are apparently being irresponsible and causing a public nuisance – by potentially contributing to what David Cameron claims could be between £17 billion and £22 billion per year spent on “alcohol-related costs”…The precise way such figures are arrived at is questionable. It is certainly the case that the amount of revenue brought in through taxation on alcohol covers the NHS bill for alcohol-related issues, with a couple of billion pounds left to spare. And, strikingly, the increase in hype about a drinking ‘epidemic’ in Britain coincides with…a steady drop in the amount…drunk by people of all ages…
Just one teensy thing more; remember how some of you thought I was being alarmist when I pointed out that a government which provides health care will eventually make laws against consensual behaviors that tend to increase medical bills?
The More the Better (January 9th, 2012)
My heart lifts a little every time I see another article about how single mothers are increasingly turning to sex work to support their kids; here’s a long one entitled “The Family Prostitute” from LA Weekly. Think the prohibitionists will still be able to sell doom, degradation, “violence against women” and “no real choice” once most women at least have acquaintances who have been there, done that?
Scapegoats (January 26th, 2012)
Though Oklahoma is in the “Bible Belt”, even there the old religious rationalizations for bestiality laws are giving way to “abuse” rhetoric:
…[After a] Pittsburg County woman [traded a dog for two laptops]…she discovered videos depicting a man engaging in sex acts with a dog…[and] drove all the way back to Owasso to alert police about the former computer owner…she worried the dog she traded for the computers was in danger of being molested…[police said] the nineteen year-old Owasso woman [who previously owned the laptops] was being investigated for sodomy and crimes against nature, but once she was booked in jail, she was held on a felony complaint of…distributing obscene material…
The story also states that Lori Hall, the head of Tulsa’s SPCA, said animals can be victims of sexual abuse, “just like children”. Does anyone else wonder what the Owasso police were smoking? The video showed a man shagging a dog, but they arrested a woman instead? Did they suspect her of being a shapeshifter? And now she’s accused of “distributing obscene material”, i.e. giving someone a computer with porn on it. Don’t they have any actual crime in Oklahoma, or is this just the usual police preference for victimizing women rather than going after criminals who might shoot back?
Sex, Lies and Busybodies (January 27th, 2012)
Remember the claims that Aussie whores were spreading disease in mining towns?
Absolute total rubbish, was the response from Sexual Health Services specialist Dr Arun Menon to [newspaper claims]…that the rise in syphilis cases in the North West was due to dubious sex practices in illegitimate brothels in Mount Isa. “The problem isn’t with sex workers or brothels; it’s with young people aged 15 to 30…” Dr Menon said…Queensland Health’s senior director of Communicable Diseases, Dr Christine Selvey, also took exception to the article…”There have been NO cases of syphilis involving the sex trade industry, illegal or otherwise, or indeed the mining industry workforce,” she wrote.
The Course of a Disease (February 16th, 2012)
According to an article in the Jerusalem Post, a new poll shows that 59% of Israelis oppose the proposed client criminalization law, and only 34% claim to support it. But considering that proponents of the Swedish Model never care what sex workers, health experts or anyone else thinks, I hardly believe this will matter.
One Year Ago Today
“Crime Against Society” discusses activists’ efforts to defeat Louisiana’s vile “Crime Against Nature” law.