I have long been convinced that institutions purely democratic must, sooner or later, destroy liberty or civilization, or both. - Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay
At last the madness is over, and the world is relieved of the poison Americans vomit out everywhere in advance of our presidential elections. The pretense that one fascist is somehow superior to the other is of no concern to this column, but ballot initiatives in Colorado, Washington and California are. Let’s start with the good news: possession and use of small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized in Colorado and Washington, and Coloradans are allowed to cultivate up to six plants and give away weed as long as no money is exchanged. State authorities have been granted plenty of time (8 months in Colorado and 13 in Washington) to draft and adopt regulations for commercial cultivation and sale, and though the federal ban still stands it’s going to be rather difficult for the feds to enforce that, considering that 99% of all marijuana arrests are committed by state and local police (who in those two states will now be forbidden to act).
But while the forces of prohibitionism lost a little power over 12 million people, they gained a great deal over 38 million. Not only did Michael Weinstein’s crusade to turn porn movies into creepy goggle-and-glove festooned condom commercials succeed, but also the horrific Proposition 35 passed by a landslide due to its dishonest portrayal as an “anti-human trafficking” measure. The law defines a “‘commercial sex act’ as one that…occurs on account of anything of value being given or received by any person… ‘anything of value’…[could] include…dinner…a movie…a drink…” and defines coercion so broadly that a wide spectrum of previously non-criminal behaviors (including begging or buying a woman a drink) falls under it. Parents, adult children, roommates, spouses and landlords of prostitutes could all be charged with “pimping”, which along with “coerced commercial sex” is defined as “human trafficking”; million-dollar fines, decades-long prison sentences and lifelong “sex offender” registration are the penalties for the new “crime”. Furthermore, it demands that those condemned to this registry turn over all internet screen names, passwords and other “identifiers” to the police so they can be continually spied upon, forever (though this one narrow portion of the law has already been challenged by the ACLU and EFF). Finally (and most incredibly), the registration and its attendant surveillance are retroactive to 1944, so a 90-year-old woman convicted of “pandering” in the last days of World War II for assisting a hooker friend could be forced to register as a “dangerous sex offender” (with all that entails).
The word “Kafkaesque” falls utterly short.
Tomorrow is the 237th anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps, and is observed by Marines as the Corps’ “birthday”. Military men have been among the best clients of whores since men first started going to war, and that will always be so despite the recent efforts of evil-minded prudes to change it. You can read my personal and professional thoughts on the subject from two years ago at the link above, and from last year also. And if you know a Marine, he’s sure to appreciate a “Happy Birthday!” tomorrow.
“Sex addiction” seems positively reasonable compared to the notion of an escort service that “wasn’t prostitution or anything”:
…Jennifer…was hooked on heroin in her early twenties…but straight after she left rehab, a new problem began to emerge. “I’m not really sure how it happened, but I started to work for an escort service…It wasn’t prostitution or anything, but what drew me to this particular company was the fact that all I had to do was go on dates with men…lots of men.” Jennifer says she didn’t sleep with her clients, but that working as an escort made her feel the same “high” that drugs had given her, because of all the attention she received. At the same time, she also became obsessed with constantly posting provocative pictures of herself on her Facebook page…After a year of this…Jennifer…quit working as an escort and [sought] counseling. She was told she was “addicted” to male attention…While the American Psychiatric Association doesn’t classify Jennifer’s condition as an addiction, some mental health professionals say they regularly encounter behavior like this in recovering addicts…Cindy Grassin…emphasizes that an obsession with or addiction to male attention is different from a sex addiction…
Actually, they’re exactly the same: obsessions which quacks mislabel as “addictions” to capitalize on a fad.
Prostitution stories involving Florida cops would be hilarious if their moronic shenanigans didn’t hurt real women: “The alleged illicit activities…not far from Walt Disney World…came as a surprise to some central Floridians. ‘That’s crazy…because people are coming here for fun,’ said…Tamika Stevens.” If Tamika thinks sex isn’t fun, I suggest she seek a competent therapist. “‘Every time we’ve been here it’s been as safe as anything,’ said visitor Wayne Aston. Law enforcement officials said they want to try to keep it safe. And to help do so, they are cracking down on prostitution.” Because we’re dangerous criminals! One never knows when a hooker will burn a kid with a flashbang grenade, or taser a pregnant woman, or machine-gun a bystander in the back…oh, wait, that’s cops.
Though brothels are illegal in the UK, the city of Edinburgh has long tolerated prostitution in saunas as a way of reducing streetwalking. But when the licenses of 13 of the 15 saunas came up for renewal recently, protests were filed by busybody prohibitionists spouting idiocy such as “…The buying and selling of vulnerable women…is not a private matter…it harms us all.” Fortunately, the city council did the right thing and renewed the licenses anyway:
Twelve saunas in Edinburgh were…granted…licences by councillors, despite…one [man’s]…campaign against them. Michael Anthony, 59…left the City Chambers in protest…He had earlier accused police…of turning a blind eye to criminal activity…[but] police officers at the meeting said they had no grounds to object. Ten of the licences were granted and two were continued, because of ongoing police investigations, and will be reviewed within six months. Until then they will continue trading…Scotpep, a campaign group supporting sex workers, welcomed the decision…However, Jenny Kemp, co-ordinator of Zero Tolerance, said: “We are appalled by this decision. Sexual exploitation is a huge problem in Edinburgh and saunas are a key place where that…happens.”
“Long gas station lines and empty gas pumps have plagued drivers across New York and New Jersey since [tropical] storm Sandy slammed into the East Coast last Monday, leaving a gas shortage across the region…now it seems…Men have been taking to the personals on Craigslist, trading gasoline for sex…” To the credulous mind of the modern “reporter”, a few clueless idiots trying to get laid for about $20 of goods is “People trading gas for sex on Craigslist.”
Behold: Olympic-level mental gymnastics:
…Jackie Samuel…is a professional cuddler…[who] turned to snuggling with strangers to help pay for her studies and provide for her young son…her college has threatened to expel her – while others have called her a prostitute…She said: “I think I was born knowing how to snuggle. Snuggling is healthy, spiritual and fun…Some of my older clients, their wives have passed away, and they just need someone to be with, like someone to experience touch with. Some of the younger clients are between relationships, some are in problematic relationships, and some people are just really curious and they come to just find out what it’s going to be like”…clients…are banned from touching parts of her body covered by underwear, which she wears under pyjamas. The business has done so well she has even hired another snuggling professional, Colleen…[who] has joined Jackie on two occasions in what they have termed a “double cuddle”…
Ireland’s Turn Off the Red Light (TORL) campaign…already enjoys having their own letters widely published in…Irish newspapers, whilst sex worker letters are almost always ignored, but they want more…so…the Irish Feminist Network (IFN) reached out in a mailshot…calling for volunteer “letter writers”, only actually they meant shills. “TORL will provide the letter – all you have to do is put your name and contact details to the end of it”…
…a police officer in Texas burst [Rebecca Van Hooser’s] breast implant by using excessive force when he arrested her during a traffic stop. Pantego Officer Eric Alvarez pulled [her] over…for a headlight violation [then] discovered a warrant for her arrest for an unpaid speeding ticket…”She gets out of the car, [Alvarez] grabs her, throws her against the car…kick…spreads her legs and…yanks [her arms] very hard behind her back,” [said] her attorney, Susan Hutchison…Van Hooser is suing the Pantego Police Department for the Oct. 28, 2011, incident, which…caused her right implant to split and leak fluid into her body. “She’s screaming in pain, and his response is, ‘This isn’t supposed to be comfortable,’” Hutchison added…
…workers at one company that helped to collect ethically raised chickens were apparently themselves victims of human trafficking and beatings…its…license [was] revoked…after allegations that it kept workers in debt bondage, among a series of other claims…roughly 29 Lithuanian men…said that they had been told that these would be well-paid jobs…but earned…less than $150 a week…
Dutch “authorities” seem determined to destroy their historic tolerance by outlawing more aspects of sex work and then feigning surprise when the number of illegal whores increases (translated with Google’s help):
…police allege…that there is illegal labor and prostitution in many Chinese massage parlors…there were “signs of sexual acts” in two of the four Chinese massage parlors in Amsterdam…Twenty staff were checked by the police. Two employees were illegally employed, one was illegally residing in the Netherlands and in one case there were “indications of exploitation”…None of the salons proved adequate records of cash transactions. About 75 of the 300 massage businesses in Amsterdam are believed to be “happy-ending” establishments…and police concentrated on Chinese parlors in particular because of alleged “signs” that forced women are employed in them…
After sponsoring a soccer team in Larissa…brothel owner Soula Alevridou is now extending her financial support to a school in Patra…[by donating] 3,000 euros…to purchase a photocopier and a library for the school…
Nine (of Feminist Ire) looks at the willful blindness of “Rhoda Grant MSP…the latest public figure to have jumped on the criminalisation bandwagon” by promoting the Swedish Model; Nine writes that “The proposal, based on a lack of understanding of what the sex industry is actually like, has been put together by someone who doesn’t want to learn about it. The consultation paper draws from unethical research and selectively uses small-scale studies on specific sectors of the sex industry to define sex work as a whole…” That’s why it’s important for as many sex workers and allies as possible, even those who don’t live in Scotland, to add their voices to the process.
This Week in 2010 and 2011
Besides my Marine Corps birthday columns and the two previous Guy Fawkes Day columns I mentioned on Monday, this week saw entries on Biblical queens and drama queens, two psychological aberrations which can affect men’s attitudes toward sex, a shift in the attitudes of reasonable people toward sex workers, the incompatibility of facts with dogma and science with law, and the nonexistence of free lunches. I also featured reviews of several books and short articles on trafficked wood, the weirdness of legalization, the presumption of guilt and a sociological group’s pro-decriminalization statement.