First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. – Martin Niemöller
In “Whorearchy” and “Little Boxes” I pointed out that those who wish to criminalize sex, whether they be politicians, moralists, neofeminists or just plain busybodies, are always drawing arbitrary lines between the “sexual” and the “non-sexual”, between “good” sex and “bad” sex, and between “legal” and “illegal” forms of sexual activity, especially sex work. The unwise or selfish react by claiming to be on the “right” side of such lines, but this is foolish because…
…attempting to define sexuality (commercial or otherwise) as being in the “permissible” or “legal” category rather than the “unacceptable” or “illegal” one is a tacit acknowledgement that such lines of demarcation are valid and that government has the right to draw them. That is a losing strategy because even if one wins the battle, the government can simply re-draw the line to include one’s entrenched position. The only way we as a culture will win the war for liberty is to reject any and all claims by “authority” to power over the private, consensual behavior of individuals, no matter what that behavior is or how far it falls outside of the boxes which define our own personal comfort zones.
As my epigram demonstrates, one cannot stand idly by while others’ rights are trampled simply because one is not a member of the persecuted group, not even if one is an enemy of that group (Niemöller was staunchly anti-communist); the machine one allows to crush others will eventually crush him. Or in this case, her; I’ve written before on a number of occasions about neofeminists’ contribution to the erosion of women’s rights, but today we’ll narrow our view somewhat to examine the inevitable results of “legal” sex workers failing to stand up for “illegal” ones. Take porn, for instance; it’s been legal to film it in California for quite some time, but that didn’t stop the City of Los Angeles from moving the imaginary line so as to make the great majority of it now illegal, nor stop a jury in that same city from convicting a filmmaker of “obscenity” for crossing another imaginary line between “good porn” and “bad porn”, nor prevent another city within the Greater Los Angeles area from firing a teacher for past work in a supposedly legal job.
Of course, there’s always an excuse, whether it be “health” or vague legal principles or “educational disruptions”; Sarah Tressler was fired from her reporter’s job at the Houston Chronicle for having been a stripper, but the excuse was that she “didn’t disclose her past”. I daresay most of the people working for the Chronicle (or any other company) don’t list every single job they’ve ever had on their applications; does anyone imagine Tressler would’ve been fired for failing to disclose that she worked for Astroworld when she was in high school? Of course not, because we don’t give governments power to regulate “theme park behavior” nor pretend that there are “good” park workers and “bad” ones. Once an activity is designated a “special case” the door is open to the sort of abuse for which Texas is notorious; Houston in particular is renowned for trying to shut down adult businesses by declaring them havens for drugs and prostitution, or more recently “human trafficking”:
The City of Houston filed a lawsuit…[alleging] that employees and owners of Treasures allowed human trafficking and prostitution for profit…Treasures’…attorney…said [they were] “actively engaged in litigation with the city for over ten years”…[and] since the city couldn’t get their liquor permit revoked they are trying now to file suit to have the club declared a nuisance.
Houston is not alone in the pretense that strip clubs are magically different from other businesses, thus justifying special harassment; Missouri enacted draconian restrictions on them under the premise that the sex rays emitted by naked female bodies cause “negative secondary effects”, and the total lack of proof for any such phenomena didn’t stop Illinois from enacting a “pole tax” using exactly the same excuse: “Sexually-orientated businesses contribute to objectifying and exploiting women,” said [Lieutenant Governor Sheila] Simon…“There’s been a strong, scientific recognition that when you associate those industries with alcohol, that there’s a substantial effect there, an increase in crime, particularly sexual assault.” Actually, the exact opposite is true; study after study after study demonstrates that stripping, porn and prostitution reduce the incidence of sex crimes, particularly sexual assault. Most politicians aren’t as stupid as they pretend to be; they know about these facts, but because they’re inconvenient they ignore them. Their real motive is visible in this story on California’s attempt to impose the same sort of tax using the same poppycock:
Another strip club tax is being considered by California’s Legislature. AB 2441…would place a $10 fee on visitors of establishments that offer alcohol and topless or nude performances…It’s the fourth attempt to tax sexually explicit businesses in the past four years in California. All of those bills, which would have taxed patrons up to 20 percent on sales or services at sexually explicit businesses including strip clubs, were shot down. AB 2441, however, would be the first [attempt] to mandate a fixed-fee “pole tax”…[whose] beneficiaries…would include programs that treat and prevent sexual assaults…Pole taxes are now mandatory in Texas and Utah, with legislation being mulled…in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. “Most who go to these establishments know very well they’ll have to bring an extra few bucks,” [the bill sponsor’s spokesman] said. “So, for those who go, $10 is not so much to sacrifice. Let’s face it, adult entertainment does very well even during a recession”…
In other words, “they’ve got money and the moralists will back our efforts to rob them because they refuse to understand the precedent it sets.” Nor is it just the moralists or neofeminists who fail to comprehend; in a “tweet” following a link to that story, Furry Girl wrote, “Remember that link, OWS/anti-capitalist sex workers. The ‘we should take their money because they have too much’ argument hurts *you*, too.” If you’re a “legal” sex worker who supports persecution of “illegal” ones, or a feminist who supports persecution of all sex workers, or a Christian who supports persecution of “sinners”, or a pillar of the community who supports persecution of “undesirables”, or a have-not who supports persecution of those with more than you, remember that the rope you’re providing the politicians will hang you just as effectively once the noose is adjusted a bit for your individual neck.
One Year Ago Today
“Perquisites” explains how a large fraction of hookers’ fees are charged to corporate expense accounts.