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[We] invent without scruple a new principle to every new phenomenon…we only desire, by a number of falsehoods, to cover our ignorance of the truth.  –  David Hume

The states of Arizona and Washington appear to be competing for the dubious distinction of most prolific font of “sex trafficking” rhetoric.  While Arizona tends to lead in terms of pure vileness of the filth it spews, Washington is the clear leader in the areas of deep absurdity and unintentional hilarity.  Here are some choice excerpts from Washington’s latest bizarre anti-whore screed:

Bellevue has been in the spotlight…regarding a perceived uptick in sex trafficking and prostitution, but the police here say current events only highlight an issue that has long been prevalent in the…region…a Drug Enforcement Administration investigation of a Bellevue anesthesiologist for alleged sex trafficking and money laundering just [scratches] the surface of the regional problem with prostitution, said Bellevue Police Lt. Lisa Patricelli…”We can’t arrest our way out of this problem,” she said.  [But] former Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo created the Vice Unit three years ago, to address complaints…regarding the influx of illegal Asian massage parlors…

asian massageThe contradictions and nonsense are apparent right from the beginning.  Prostitution is defined as a “problem”, and since it exits everywhere in the world and always has, the statement that it has “long been prevalent in the region” is a bit like saying “air has long been prevalent in the region”.  Anywhere there are humans there will be sex work, and it only becomes a “problem” when officials define it as such.  I love the way the cop’s truthful declaration that prostitution can’t be stopped by arresting people is immediately followed by the statement that the vice department in this supposedly whore-infested region is only three years old.

…the greater problem the Bellevue Police Department now faces are the multiple listings for sexual services on popular online ad sites, the most prominent being Backpage.com.  Without a known strip in Bellevue where prostitutes are seen visually enticing customers, most transactions are happening online and behind closed doors…

As usual, we have the dogged refusal to comprehend that street work is not and never has been the majority of sex work, but it’s especially ridiculous here when we’re told that the lack of the issues which incense most middle-class people against street work (noise, litter, loitering, etc) constitutes a “problem”.  Perhaps Bellevue is jealous of larger cities that have streetwalkers to persecute?

…the Bellevue anesthesiologist…is alleged to have aided his Thai girlfriend’s sex trafficking enterprise, renting out apartments and condos for prostitution and using backpage.com to advertise the women being used…Bellevue…offers a number of high-end hotels, upscale high-rise apartments and condominiums that are being used for…prostitutes, who charged up to $200 an hour for their services…a…vice detective said…”These are the ones where we would most likely see the foreign trafficked gals.”  Prostitution is also a transient problem, he said, as many sex workers travel in circuits, staying a few days in one city before heading to another…

There’s so much to unpack here:  the mention of the girlfriend’s national origin so as to evoke racist stereotypes and “sex trafficking” tropes;  the clumsy dysphemisms like “circuits” and “women being used”; the apparent belief that $200/hour is a high fee; the inversion of the usual “sex trafficking” trope of “slaves” confined in cheap motels; and the startlingly xenophobic claim that businesspeople passing through a town for a few days on business constitutes a problem in and of itself.  Yet in the very next paragraph this bigot with a badge expects the reader to believe he’s concerned with sex workers’ safety.

…Johns, known on the streets these days as “hobbyists”…

Yes, that’s the reporter once again assuming all sex work to be street work despite saying earlier that in this town virtually none is.  Compared to the magnitude of ignorance implicit in this line, the “end demand” pap which follows is practically lucid.

…Carol Loya said she’s using her business, Truce Spa at the Westin Bellevue Hotel, to champion the healing side for sex trafficking victims…Escape to Peace is a global mission to end human trafficking…[that holds] workshops with high school students to decorate flip-flops for victims…Truce Spa also issues clients puzzle pieces – the symbol for human trafficking — for donations of three…bottles that are used to create candles to aid victims in relaxing their troubled bodies and minds.  Loya said she hopes to put informative puzzle pieces up in storefront windows and other businesses around the area where traffickers are known to recruit…

puzzleThe story goes out with a bang, assaulting our minds with a veritable cornucopia of stupidity.  The idea that whores who make $200 per hour need donated flip-flops and don’t know how to relax would seem self-evidently ridiculous, but it’s very popular right now (especially among groups like the “Cupcake Girls“); donation of cheap, nasty used clothes is another recurring theme.  But to me the crowning idiocy of this generous collection of doltishness is the claim that puzzle pieces are “the symbol for human trafficking”.  Since when?  I’ve been covering this beat for four years now, and that’s the first I’ve ever heard of it.  But this sort of off-the-cuff confabulation is the rule rather than the exception in the rescue industry; while many of the fetishists are happy to regurgitate the same mildewed myths and tired tropes, those who seek to distinguish themselves often do so by inventing some new “fact” or at least embroidering on an old one.  And none of the ersatz “journalists” who cover this rubbish ever notice that the so-called “experts” are just making it up as they go along.

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I hope one day you find happiness…though “Happiness” will probably be his prison name.  –  Canadian cops who think they’re funny

The ACLU really did care about civil liberties once, as you can see by today’s second video (provided by Brooke Magnanti); it’s a series of TV spots from 1974.  Of course, it still does care when that caring intersects its other agendas, as in the link from Stella Zine immediately above the video.  The first video demonstrates the concept of spontaneous order, meaning things humans choose to do together without threat or coercion; it was contributed by Mistress Matisse.  Every link above the first video came from Popehat, and the links between the videos from Eddie J Cunningham (“signage”), Michael Whiteacre (“Canada”), Jemima (“coming soon”), and Angela Keaton (“never call the cops”).

From the Archives

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Treating adult humans as children, pets or dolls is offensive and repugnant.  –  Zoee Garza

License to Rape

Cops raping whores is so ubiquitous, non-cop rapists often pose as cops to facilitate the crime:

…Michael Edward Baker…was convicted [of rape in Maryland]…after…[rejecting] a plea deal in which he would have received a six-month sentence…Baker sexually assaulted a 25-year-old prostitute…after she…refused to have unprotected sex with him, he flashed what appeared to be a police badge…and then pretended to call a superior officer, before propositioning that he wouldn’t arrest her if she obliged him.  After she refused, once again, to have unprotected sex with him…Baker punched her in the mouth and raped her, before forcing her to perform other unprotected sex acts and fleeing…After he had raped the woman, Baker had called the victim’s cell number a few times in an attempt to befriend her…

Welcome To Our World

Note the easy way inane arguments that prostitution magically ignores economics also work against surrogate motherhood:

Proponents of surrogacy claim that it is completely different from prostitution…The fact that altruistic surrogacy is legal in Great Britain and commercial surrogacy is legal in many American states (but not anywhere in Australia), ought to suffice to keep people from looking abroad, according to this argument.  On the contrary, however, Americans, Britons and Australians are dominant amongst the foreign buyers in India…If the procedure is legalised…the risk that a black market will develop increases…the distinction between altruistic and commercial surrogacy is a dishonest one…in both…the woman is reduced to a container…

The author, though a neofeminist fanatic, is right about one thing: surrogacy is absolutely a form of prostitution.  See also One Size Fits All (TW3 #311).

A Whore in Church Strippers Protest Church

I know I covered an earlier round of counterprotests, but I can’t seem to find it:

Topless dancers at an Ohio strip club went on the offensive…baring their breasts in front of a church where congregants have protested their presence for…nearly a decade by picketing the venue on weekends and photographing guests’ license plates…[last] Sunday, workers, friends and family of [Foxhole North protested New Beginnings Ministries]…during service…Because it’s legal for both men and women to be topless in public in Ohio, the demonstrators faced no criminal charges…

Against Their Will (TW3 #3)

Rescue industry organization abducts the children of sex workers and brainwashes them against their mothers:

Far away from the murky world of brothels, children of sex workers have found shelter in a free residential school on the outskirts of Kolkata…To ensure their minds are free from the stigma attached to the lives of their mothers, they are kept with other children…”Apne Aap Women Worldwide” rescued these children…and brought them to the school…Reluctant initially to stay away from their mothers, the children, aged between 6 and 16, are now a happy lot…

Apne Aap is probably the most unscrupulous and dishonest of the many anti-whore groups in India.

A Broker in Pillage

Despite years of criticism of the state’s asset forfeiture laws, Pennsylvania lawmakers approved a new human trafficking law that expands law enforcement’s ability to seize assets of the accused, without any statutory oversight of where seized property and proceeds end up…There is no required audit of the proceeds, something civil liberties advocates say could lead to abuses…

Above the Law

“Authorities” will call it anything to avoid saying a cop raped someone:

Former Jemez Springs [New Mexico] police chief Shane Harger – fired by the town in February for “questions of judgment” – has been indicted on criminal sexual penetration and other charges…A 19-year-old woman filed a complaint in January after she…was taken…to the police station [and raped] for three hours…a grand jury indicted Harger on charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual penetration, criminal sexual contact and extortion…

Gingerbread House

It takes a special kind of obtuseness and cultural illiteracy to actually name your disguised prison “Gingerbread House”:

[Sex] trafficking of children…is a growing problem around the world.  Thirty-five local kids that entered the Gingerbread House last year are victims or potential victims of trafficking.  Caddo Parish…is handling 13 red flag cases where trafficking may be a factor….Shobana Powell…says…sex trafficking…is…”not this highly organized crime that you see in the movies”…

It’s interesting, however, that even some rescue industry people are now moving away from the myth of international “trafficking rings”.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #30) Somaly protest

Another example of the effectiveness of disruptive protests:

On Sunday 15 June…Traffic Jam, an Internet based anti-trafficking organisation…[linked to] the American…A 21 Campaign (A21) , attempted to launch their new website in…Sydney…To the surprise and ill-disguised antipathy of the organisers, a group of sex worker activists…gatecrashed the event, refusing to pay the AUD $25 entrance fee, and demanded stage time to speak to the audience about trafficking issues.  The protesters carried placards referring to the recent [exposure] of Somaly Mam…once migrant sex workers and their allies took the stage, their interactions and exchanges with the audience seemed to far out-weigh any of the previous engagement the audience had with the anti-trafficking speakers…[and] the…take-over of the stage outlasted the initial time allotted to the Traffic Jam event…

Checklist

Another pathological-liar cop (pardon the redundancy) spouting ridiculous “signs of sex trafficking”:

Every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry…and Portland has one of the highest…rates…[cop] Mike Gallagher has personally talked with more than 2000 sex trafficking victims…He and others…held a conference to instruct people on the signs of a sex trafficker.  “Things like paying with a prepaid Visa or cash at check in”…Traffickers are often proud of their work and often sport tattoos alluding to it…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318)

Ugly Mugs…by Peta Brady…is…based on confidential accounts of assaults…given by sex workers for inclusion in the Ugly Mugs  publication (closed, for distribution only to sex workers)…this represents both a breach of trust and an alarming low point in exploitation of sex workers through “pity porn”…Concerns were promptly raised with both hosts of the play – Malthouse Theatre and Griffin – neither were willing to accept sex workers concerns.  Instead we were offered free tickets…presumably because seeing your rape played out live…always makes you feel better…

It looks as though Brady, a Salvation Army worker, used her status as a social worker to steal a copy of Ugly Mugs from an ally’s office in order to use it for her own purposes.

Still a Child undeveloped brain

On July 25, FIRE President Greg Lukianoff testified before the United States Commission on Civil Rights…Commissioner Michael Yaki asked Greg…whether college students’ brains are sufficiently developed to handle freedom of speech…The following is Greg’s answer…”What we’re really saying is that 18- to 22-year-olds are children…[who] can’t handle the real world…[or] the duties of citizenship…we have decided in this country that 18…is considered the age for majority.  We also send our 18-year-olds to war.  Unless you’re actually also willing to make the argument that nobody below the age of…22 should go to war, and we repealed the 26th Amendment, we’ve got a serious problem…

Race to the Bottom

Sex workers in Seattle are trying to fight the anti-whore madness that’s now epidemic there:

Seattle Against Slavery would have us believe that anyone who patronizes a sex worker is guilty of exploiting a victim of human trafficking.  But only a tiny percentage of sex workers are trafficked…Seattle Against Slavery is…partnering with “members of the law enforcement community” to [spread lies]…despite the fact that “criminalization [of sex work] and aggressive policing have been shown to increase sex workers’ vulnerability to violence, extortion, and health risks“…

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #404)

Another respected policy magazine calls for decriminalization, this time The Economist:

…This newspaper has never found it plausible that all prostitutes are victims.  That fiction is becoming harder to sustain as much of the buying and selling of sex moves online.  Personal websites mean prostitutes can market themselves and build their brands.  Review sites bring trustworthy customer feedback to the commercial-sex trade…the web will do more to make prostitution safer than any law has ever done…Governments should…rethink their policies.  Prohibition, whether partial or total, has been a predictable dud.  It has singularly failed to stamp out the sex trade…

Sincerely Seeking

Here’s a superb essay from recently-retired stripper Zoee Garza on the “Cupcake Girls” and their patronizing “ministry” to sex workers:

…On August 3, 2014 Oregonian journalist Kelly House reviewed a spa event thrown by the Portland branch of The Cupcake Girls…The stereotype that I found most troubling is that sex workers are not loved…It is judgmental to assume that being a sex worker and being loved are mutually exclusive…Another myth the article seemed set on perpetuating is that all sex workers are in dire need of primping…The stripping industry is one of image, entertainment and competition.  As with many professionals, dancers make a point to have enough money…for massages, pedicures and dye jobs…if we were [needy] we would need some quinoa or a steak—not a cupcake…In the video on her website [founder] Joy [Hoover] compares the women that she has helped through The Cupcake Girls to her unborn child, she goes on to refer to herself as “The Stripper Whisperer,” similar to the “Dog Whisperer”…

Delightful Conversation Danielle Staub

Seriously, what is it with stupid ex-whores who actually expect people to believe they never had sex with their clients?

…Danielle Staub…of…The Real Housewives of New Jersey…[was] confronted…with…allegations of prostitution…Staub [pretends that]…she made money without actually having sex with her clients…”[Men] thought they were…paying for sex…but I was so good at twisting them into making sure that we didn’t have sex…They keep returning [to] me in hopes that it would happen…I made a lot of money doing it…”

Pull the other one, Danielle; maybe those who believe hookers can see 100 clients a day will believe men are that gullible, but don’t expect it from the rest of us.

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #420)

Cops are liars everywhere:

Politicians in Germany have called for the laws on prostitution to be tightened…the…Christian Democrats (CDU) want the minimum legal age of sex workers to be raised from 18 to 21…They also want…punishments…for men who [hire] women forced into prostitution, and for compulsory health checks…According to police, 50 to 90 per cent of the country’s prostitutes have been forced into the work…

Worse Than I Thought (Traffic Updates)

Expect this trope to become much more common in the next few months:

Last year, LifeNews shared a story about a woman named Veronica (referred to as ‘Ana’) who escaped forced abortion by jumping out of the window at an abortion clinic.  Veronica was a former sex worker trafficked from Albania…Although this case of sex trafficking occurred in London, the United States is a hub for predators who look to exploit women and girls.  Oftentimes, these predators are hidden by the abortion industry…

I Saw My Brain (TW3 #432)

Once in a while a reporter wakes up:

…many of the men whose mugshots have been paraded out by [Grady Judd and his ilk] in made-for-TV press conferences were not seeking to meet children online.  Instead, they were minding their own business, looking for other adults, when detectives started to groom and convince them to break the law.  While detectives used to post ads suggesting an underage teen or child was available for sex, they now routinely post more innocuous personal ads of adults on traditional dating sites.  When men – many of them under 25 with no criminal history – respond, officers switch the bait and typically indicate their age is really 14 or 15 years old.  However, sometimes the storyline isn’t switched until the men…start falling for the undercover agent…law enforcement is also now routinely making first contact with men who have done nothing wrong, responding to their ads on dating sites…after men start conversing with what they think are adults, officers change the age they claim to be, but try to convince the men to continue the conversation anyway…If the men indicate they [aren't] interested, they [are] still often arrested for just talking to [a cop]…

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The most dangerous prohibitionists…are those who oppose no particular behavior or thing, but rather the very freedom of choice itself.  –  “Thou Shalt Not

As I have pointed out many times in the past, all prohibitionism is the same:

…some object, substance or activity is depicted as intrinsically harmful regardless of context or actual outcome, a connection to children is invented if one does not exist, and the prohibitionists then argue that any abrogation of personal liberty (no matter how invasive) and any expansion of the police state (no matter how destructive, evil and counterproductive) is justified to stop the threat to Our Treasured Way of Life…

The primary tool used by prohibitionists to drum up support for their crusades is the Big Lie, a gigantic state-sponsored myth totally unsupported by facts which plays upon people’s primitive fears and tribalism to justify the criminalization of consensual behavior and the use of grotesque levels of state violence to suppress it.  For most of the 20th century the most aggressively-promoted campaigns of prohibition were those directed against intoxicants of one kind or another; first alcohol Prohibition, then the “War on Drugs“, were used to increase the power of the state to control, spy upon, harass, brutalize, rob, cage and murder its citizens, with the full approval of the useful idiots who never understand that once a weapon is forged, there is no way to stop government from expanding its use to persecute those who supported giving it to the government in the first place.

40 Years 0f Drug War FailureBut now, this abomination which has resulted in the deaths of many millions and the waste of several trillions is finally on the way to its long-overdue demise.  The week does not pass that some retired official or politician who fervently supported the depredations speaks out against it, governments all over the world are ponderously drifting away from drug-war policies, and one would be hard-pressed to find a reputable human rights or public health authority or organization which has not yet denounced the vile insanity of destroying the lives of large segments of the population in a futile attempt to stop them from enjoying themselves in a way the “authorities” disapprove of.  But most of the foes of prohibition, whether long-standing or Johnny-come-lately, are wrong in one vitally important respect:  many of them declare the Drug War a “failure”.  This is absolutely incorrect; prohibition can only be considered a “failure” if one accepts the rationale for it publicly promoted by politicians, that of actually stopping whatever it is the government claims it wants to stop.  But that isn’t the real reason for its existence, and never has been; if it were the government would surely have learned its lesson from alcohol Prohibition, and wouldn’t have begun its drug prohibition with those substances favored by three minority groups it wished to suppress (marijuana was favored in the Hispanic community, cocaine in the black community and opiates in the Chinese community).  Simply put, the Drug War exists as an excuse for expanding government power, and for no other reason.

But now, that excuse is not working any more; few well-informed older people and virtually no younger people believe the propaganda, and even those who do often recognize the ruinous costs of the suppression.  Within a few years, it is very likely that drug prohibition will be scaled down dramatically or even ended entirely, and good riddance.  This does not mean, however, that governments will give up the powers they have granted themselves; far from it.  There are police budgets to be justified, prisons to be filled, minorities to be suppressed, populations to be terrorized, surveillance powers to be expanded and rights to be eroded, and if the Drug War no longer serves to allow those things the rulers will have to replace it with something else: that “something” is “sex trafficking”.  I have often demonstrated the interchangeability of the rhetoric used to justify suppression of drugs and of prostitution, and Carol Fenton and others have pointed out that “sex trafficking” laws are usually built on “drug trafficking” laws, right down to the terms used and the penalties inflicted (such as asset seizure).  Gangs which were targeted for drug-war operations are now blamed for “sex trafficking”, and the most stories in which some cop vomits out propaganda onto a passive reporter or credulous audience now contain some variation on the claim that “gangs are now switching from drug trafficking to sex trafficking, because a quantity of drugs can be sold only once while a sex slave can be sold many times.”  The truth, of course, is that gangs are doing nothing of the kind; it’s just that the “authorities” are switching to a new excuse to justify their anti-gang campaigns.

police stateIn some places, the new “anti-trafficking” operations are being carried out by the same police units that are assigned to harass people for drugs; in Oklahoma, for example, the “Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs” is the entity assigned to persecute sex workers and spread the new propaganda, and they didn’t even bother to change its name.  Even in states and cities with a slightly higher opinion of their citizens’ intelligence, however, the situation is the same: cops, funds, resources, policies and even laws are being gradually reassigned from inflicting violence in the name of stopping one consensual behavior to inflicting it in the name of stopping a different one.  And this pattern will continue until society rids itself of the evil delusion that governments own the bodies and lives of individuals, and therefore have the right to harm or even murder them for behaving in some way those governments have arbitrarily prohibited.

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Marijke Vonk is a Dutch sex-positive psychologist who specializes in working with sexual minorities; besides working as a therapist, she is a writer and lecturer on various topics concerning sexuality.   Since I discovered her blog a few months ago I’ve been repeatedly impressed by both her thoughts and the way she expresses them; if we had a thousand allies like her sex worker rights would be all but accomplished.  So naturally, I had to ask her to do a guest column for me!

When it comes to sex, the Netherlands is known as a tolerant country.  We’ve got marriage equality for same-sex couples, a usually laid-back attitude towards sexual diversity, famous red-lights districts and since 2000 legalised brothel-keeping.  But in recent years, the human trafficking panic has caught on and attitudes towards sex work have changed.  “The happy hooker does not exist” claimed Dutch politician Gert-Jan Segers, one of the initiators of new legislation to criminalise clients of sex workers.  “All prostitutes are forced” states Frits Rouvoet, an “expert” on sex work.  It’s interesting how these men will not change their minds, not even when numerous sex workers contact them to let them know they are indeed happy and not forced.

cops at brothelAs in the rest of the world, inflated numbers of incidences of trafficking are used to reduce sex workers’ rights.  The National Reporter on Trafficking in the Netherlands claims thousands of reported cases of possible victims of trafficking, but these reports include registration of non-sex worker women travelling alone (!) and sex workers visiting family abroad.  Even sex workers who buy new things, have a lot of friends or like their workplace are regarded with suspicion and reported as possible victims.  Sadly, these “thousands of reported cases” are repeated by politicians and NGO’s who claim more action (and money) is needed to combat this extensive problem.  When confronted with the inaccuracy of their claims they seem wholly uninterested.  “Maybe the problem is slightly exaggerated.  If that means we get more help for victims I have no moral objection”.

Most people involved in the Dutch rescue industry don’t seem to mean any harm towards sex workers themselves, they genuinely appear to want to help victims.  They don’t see the harm, and I think that’s where one of the major issues in Dutch sex workers’ rights lie.  They truly don’t see how their actions are harming both victims and sex workers.  And from a psychological viewpoint this makes sense:  it feels good to fight for a just cause, to help powerless innocent victims, to be one of the good guys.  Accepting that the “victims” not only refuse your help but are actually victimised by your actions causes a great deal of cognitive dissonance, something we all try to avoid.  It’s no wonder then that rescuers deny facts and sex workers’ experience, but their ignorance is far from harmless.

During recent raids on legal brothels hundreds of policemen violently forced their way into the workplace of twenty or thirty sex workers, smashing up their belongings, taking their earnings and bringing the women, their clients and anyone else near the establishment to police stations for questioning.  Scaring clients of sex workers is currently a popular method, not only by harassing them during raids but also by lying about the prevalence of forced prostitution: This has caused a noticeable drop in business for Eastern European sex workers in red light districts.  New legislation is being proposed to criminalise clients of sex workers when they “should have known” those sex workers are forced to work.  To be clear, sex with people who are obviously forced is of course already illegal and called rape.  But the major initiator of this new legislation is of the opinion that all sex workers are forced, this is simply a step towards end-demand laws.  Eastern European women are disproportionally stalked by police under the guise of anti-trafficking, they are followed around airports and stopped and questioned in public areas.  Prostitutes working from home are raided, their belongings confiscated and are even kicked out of their homes.  Necessary permits for brothel-keeping are impossible to get, which has resulted in a strong power imbalance between brothel-workers and the proprietors, a situation which almost begs for abuse and exploitation.  Sex workers have no legal way of arranging a work place for themselves.  The lies about trafficking and forced prostitution have resulted in increased funding of rescue organisations and ceased funding of sex workers’ rights organisations.  Actual victims are becoming more and more invisible under all the bloated claims, making them harder to reach.  Outside of the Netherlands the situation is even worse; anti-trafficking laws and regulations have hurt the position of sex workers and has increased police brutality towards sex workers.  Rescue organisations are currently the biggest perpetrators of human trafficking in the world, abducting women and girls from their homes and workplaces, keeping them in shelters against their will and forcing them to do manual labour under terrible circumstances and for a criminally low wage.

A stone bridge, Gapstow Bridge, in Central Park, NY.In order to change this, we need to make people see the harm they are doing.  But it’s difficult to convince people of the idea that they believe in lies and that their actions have resulted in the harm and even death of others.  In couples therapy I often explain the idea of “the golden bridge out” of a conflict.  If you and your partner disagree you need to give the other person a graceful way of admitting they are wrong; if the only way they can change their mind and agree with you is by agreeing they are a lying piece of garbage with no sense of empathy, they’re not going to agree.  Always give the other person a golden bridge out, a graceful way of changing their minds that doesn’t necessarily involve crushing their self worth.  I think we need such a bridge out for the antis, the rescuers, a graceful path for them to change their minds without having to state they were the bad guys.  They need a story in which their egos can stay intact.  They need a golden bridge out of their far from victimless crimes.

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There may be people who like centipedes.  I have seen people handling tarantulas and scorpions, but never a centipede handler.  Personally, I would regard such an individual with deep suspicion…If such a man exists, I say kill him without more ado.  He is a traitor to the human race.  –  William S. Burroughs

The first video this week was contributed by Angela Keaton; it’s really the only important comment on Arab-Israeli hostilities you’ll ever need.  The second video, and the links above the first, were provided by Jesse Walker, and the links between the videos by Korhomme (“buttocks”), Dave Barry (“recipe”), Saladin Ahmed  (“Venn”), Michael Whiteacre (“accident”), Grace (“Nazca” and “dog”), Radley Balko  (“satire” and “ticket”), Luscious Lani (“employee”), Cop Block (“police state”), Nun Ya (“rescue”), and Police Misconduct (“medal”).

From the Archives

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Law enforcement stings designed to shame men who pay for sex are nothing more than the state blowing its own morality horn.  –  Jim Norton

Rough Trade Jason Oates

A convicted rapist…has been jailed for 11 years…Jason Oates…approached [a sex worker]…and agreed to pay £20…but…produced a large-bladed hunting knife…and demanded that she submit…to sex without charge…Oates…[previously served] three…years [for another rape]…

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

I just can’t imagine how it got there:

Gardai are investigating after a laptop and documents belonging to a garda were discovered in a brothel in Amsterdam…The high-level investigation will probe how the individual’s bag was found in the brothel…

Check Your Premises

Cops in a country preparing to criminalize the purchase of sex insist men won’t be arrested if they confess to attempting to buy sex:

…PACT-Ottawa [reported that] more than half of…sex buyers they surveyed…said they…would call police if they suspected coercion.  That jibes with research…by sociologist Chris Atchison…Sextrade101 founder Natasha Falle, who [claims] she [was] trafficked…[in] her teens…[pretends that] “They never questioned our bruises, our broken bones…I used to see between one and five guys a night and I was in it for 12 years”…Det.-Const. Chris Lavergne has yet to field a call from a client…”Is there a way to make Johns understand, you’re not going to get in trouble for calling the police and giving us the information”…

1) Falle is full of shit; I bruise easily and was quizzed every time I had an unusually large one. I daresay nearly every sex worker has had that experience.  I do, however, think it’s interesting that she reports a realistic number of clients; I’m sure it will grow later.
2) Lavergne can’t conceive that the reason he “has yet to field a call” is that overt coercion in the sex industry is actually pretty rare.

The Scarlet Letter

What is it with New York state DAs and their sophomoric attempts at “humor”?  “Albany County DA David Soares rolled out a new initiative…to combat sex trafficking…Frontpage…will post a photo of every person convicted of paying for sex in the county…”  And this op-ed commenting on the “strategy” is so over-the-top it almost has to be a joke:

Some people say that prostitution is a victimless crime…but…there are victims.  A lot of them.  Children are often forced or compelled into prostitution at an early age…drug addicts sell their bodies to support their habits…prostitutes are often beaten and raped in order to keep bringing in the money for their pimps.  Families are harmed by the “johns” patronizing prostitutes.  Full neighborhoods fall victim to the plague.  Diseases are spread. Human trafficking — a $32 billion-a-year business in New York alone — is now an international crisis…

Saving Them From Themselves

If it had been pictures of himself, I’m sure the cops would’ve taken action:

A mother in South Carolina called sheriff’s deputies on her [15-year-old] son…after finding porn playing on her living room TV…the [woman] “immediately turned off the TV” and ushered her 2-year-old daughter out of the room…before calling the police on her son…the sheriff’s office did not make an arrest or issue a citation…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic Joshua Baron

A federal judge has sentenced a 40-year-old suburban Chicago doctor to nearly six years in prison for using a classified-ad site to trade prescription pills for sex.  Joshua D. Baron…blamed what he called “demons” of sexual addiction…the pediatric neurologist placed ads on Craig’s List [sic] offering pills for sex and requesting photos of respondents.  He later e-mailed hospital website links to prove he was a physician…

An Example To the West

Patoo Abraham has led protests…to ensure that prostitution is legalized in Nigeria and that sex workers be protected and respected…“We are tired of dying in silence; we want to be able to practice our profession with pride like every other person…Sex work is normal work and there are sex workers everywhere under one form of disguise or the other”…

Stand-Up Guys 

Comedian Jim Norton’s article in Time is definitely flawed, but I applaud any client who comes out and has the balls to write about it:

I’m not ashamed to pay for sex—and other men shouldn’t be either…The illegal aspect of prostitution has never deterred me, nor would legalizing it cause me to engage in it more…in a free society, people must be allowed to make choices for themselves that are incomprehensible to others.  By keeping prostitution illegal and demonizing all of its parties, we (you) are empowering pimps and human traffickers and anyone else who wants to victimize sex workers…

Traffic Jam

This farrago of racism, xenophobia and “sex trafficking” nonsense is even over the top by Daily Mail standards:

…London has become the hub, the epicentre for a global trafficking enterprise involving thousands of children for exploitation, sexual abuse and even…ritual voodoo killing…Hundreds of children have been abducted from their families in Africa and trafficked to the UK…Many are raped and sexually abused…there is a vast reservoir of lost children…anonymously shuffled from flat to shabby flat – a dark pool feeding child exploitation and misery across the planet…Britain’s generous child benefits system has become an international magnet for fraudsters who…traffick…thousands of children into this country every year to take advantage of payments and these young victims are prey for other vices, too – a ready made market for sexploitation…

I love the way it grows from hundreds to thousands in just a few paragraphs; in his next article I’m sure it will be millions. naughty girls

First They Came for the Hookers…

These “complaints” are always from cops:

An Oshkosh [Wisconsin] strip club is closed [after]…the…District Attorney’s office filed a civil suit against the owner…in response to several prostitution complaints…The assistant district attorney says Naughty Girls is a nuisance to the community.  He is asking a judge to close the business for a year and that all moveable property be sold…

Yellow Fever

Bars and clubs = “hub for underage prostitution” because travel agents say so:

Indian men are flocking to Kazakhstan in droves, if travel and tour operators are to be believed…Reason?  The thriving sex industry.  Thailand, Singapore and Dubai have been the traditional destinations; but that is changing…Kazakhstan…has become a hub for underage prostitution over the past few years…bars, cafes and club [sic]…are used as pick-up joints…

King of the Hill

Are you slipping, Toledo?  In the original “King of the Hill” entry you were #3, but according to WKYC you’ve dropped to fourth place.  Maybe if you give grants to “pimps” to build more hair salons you can reclaim your lost glory from Miami or Tampa Bay.

What the Hell Were You Thinking? (TW3 #135)

The term “rescue” used in this context is utterly tone-deaf:

…[South African] University students…[designed] a device intended to…help sex workers’ organisations keep an eye on the safety of their members…[it] has eight Wi-Fi transmitters linked to armbands that will be worn by the sex workers in the vicinity…the armband…[has] four buttons…on-line, off-line, jump [check in to a call] or panic…Should a sex worker send a distress call, the control room will forward her…precise location…to sex worker organisations who will alert the emergency services…

I Saw My Brain

Polk County, Florida…Sheriff Grady Judd assembled a press conference…[to brag about a huge sting operation, but] either didn’t realize – or didn’t care – that a number of the 132 men whose faces appeared on his mugshot “big board” had already been cleared of committing crimes…”It’s fair…Because…when we arrest them as ‘sexual perverts on children,’ I’m going to call them [that]…we have a very liberal…criminal justice system, sometimes it’s more difficult to prove ‘beyond…every reasonable doubt’…”

Given that our “liberal” incarceration machine imprisons five times as many people as civilized nations do, imagine the nightmare that would result if maniacs like Judd got their way.

Dysphemisms Galore 

Even by the low standards of the modern American press, this article is hilariously yellow:

…Domestic sex trafficking…is an increasingly common and highly lucrative underground business …involving American girls and young women (but sometimes boys) forced into sex slavery by sick pimps…in places as unassuming as a mall or a train station.  Pimps can earn $150,000 to $200,000 a year on each victim they force into prostitution…experts say Philly’s location creates a particularly attractive opportunity for the brokers of enslaved women.  “We are sort of in a unique hub area because we’re between New York, Atlantic City, Washington, D.C., Harrisburg – all of which have child-prostitution problems,” said Michelle Morgan, an assistant U.S. attorney…”There are a lot of places for pimps to go from here to make more money, to buy new girls, to trade girls, so it’s a lucrative area”…Tiffany…[was] swept into the dark underbelly of sex trafficking…she [was forced]…to sell her young body to dozens of men…she would have sex with them or do whatever else popped into their twisted minds…

One can barely help picturing “journalist” Morgan Zalot masturbating furiously as he writes those last few lines.  The mall occupies the place in modern “white slavery” hysteria that the ice cream parlor did in the first cycle a century ago.

A Procrustean Bed (TW3 #339)

Because “rehab” to “get us off the streets” is a perfect “solution” for the 90% or more of sex workers who are neither “on the streets” nor addicted to any drug:

Members of the Zanesville City Council attended a neighborhood barbecue…to discuss…prostitution…Sandy Gentry…said…the…ideal response…would be to create some kind of rehabilitation facility where prostitutes could go to get help and get off the streets…helping reform their lives would be the best solution…

Vendetta

Buried under all the monstrous male-demonizing and female-infantilizing rhetoric is the unstated fact that the “National Day of Johns Arrests” ballyhooed in this article is the brainchild of one sad, sick woman acting out her twisted psychodrama on thousands of strangers who never did anything to hurt her:

Law enforcement agencies across the country collaborated in a recent series of sex stings that netted the arrests of almost 500 men seeking to buy sex and 14 pimps and traffickers…[as] part of an annual “National Day of Johns Arrests”…Officials said 111 prostitutes were recovered during the operation, including 13 juveniles…

“Recovered” means “arrested and caged”.  Note that this big “rescue” found only 13 underage girls in 14 states; so much for the “epidemic of child prostitution”.  Phoenix can always be counted on to put an extra-stupid spin on a story like this; a cop with the Dickensian name Trent Crump blathered, “We want people to understand this is not because of Super Bowl, but with the Super Bowl coming, this may be a venue in which people believe and people believe they can come here.”  Trent, Maggie McNeill believes and Maggie McNeill believes that you are an idiot.

Remembrance (TW3 #410)

A sequence of a dozen images…taken by [an English] Lieutenant…are believed to be the only photographs ever to surface of British officers from the 1914-1918 war inside a “blue lamp” – the refined category of brothel reserved by secret edict of the British army for the officer classes…Other ranks…were restricted to crude “red-lamp” brothels…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #415)

This is mostly a lot of asinine and self-contradictory political “sex trafficking” bullshit; for example, the mayor belches out “The program saves women’s lives,” but two short paragraphs later the women morph into teens (all of whom are said to be “12 to 14 years old”), and four paragraphs later they’re vomiting out “the needs of the child”.  The really interesting thing is the continued harping on “gangs” and the obvious grooming of “sex trafficking” to be the new excuse for the police state once the drug war inevitably dies: “Gangs and other criminal organizations prefer humans [to drugs] because they’re a reusable resource; they can be resold…

Facts in the Case of Monica JonesLaverne Cox

Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox of the hit series Orange is the New Black is lending her support to [Monica] Jones [during Jones' appeal of her conviction for "manifesting prostitution"]…Cox, like Jones, is a transgender woman of color.  She has some serious concerns about the Phoenix law, which some call “walking while trans”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 22nd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

There’s a persistent belief that some areas in the United States are more liberal and urbane than others, and while I suppose that’s true to some extent the differences are generally cosmetic.  It would be more accurate to say that some areas enjoy pretending to be more sophisticated than others, or at least that they delude themselves into believing they’re more sophisticated.  But pull back the curtains or lift the rug just a bit, and you’ll find the vilest and most disgraceful ignorance collected there, just out of view.

Seattle stereotypeTake the state of Washington, for example; it has a reputation for being very liberal, modern and forward-thinking, as exemplified by its being one of only two states to decriminalize recreational cannabis, and by being home to grunge rock, Microsoft and Starbucks.  But while Washingtonians may be very accepting of tech, drugs and rock and roll, they behave like pearl-clutching Victorians when the subjects is ess-ee-ecks and positively foam at the mouth if such impurity exists anywhere in close proximity to money.  For example, Washington is one of several states that forbid alcohol in strip clubs, and cities there regularly enact bizarre and schoolmarmish restrictions on lighting levels, the distance dancers must keep away from patrons, etc.  And when it comes to prostitution, they’re completely barking mad:

…some of the silliest, most absurdly exaggerated and just plain  stupidest “trafficking” tripe in the entire country erupts forth from the Pacific Northwest at least once a week these days…in the name of “fighting sex trafficking” the Washington legislature actually passed a law which would have totally destroyed the internet as we know it, and despite a federal slapdown they’re at it again; this is also the state which devotes hundreds of man-hours to trying to trick coffee-stand waitresses into flashing their tits so they can be charged with “prostitution”.  And who could forget the hilarity which ensued when Shared Hope International held a program warning high school girls, “Don’t run off to the other side of the country with strange adult men after turning over your life savings to them, because pimps are cool and abortion is sex trafficking”.  Or something like that…

white trash capital of the worldThe crusade against caffeine-dispensing harlots mentioned above is largely concentrated in Snohomish County, in other words suburban Seattle.  The police of the county’s largest city, Everett, are especially obsessed with the wanking fantasy that there are whores hiding in every coffee stand, and have aggressively persecuted a number of shops for years.  But they’ve apparently tired of this game, and decided to go after a bigger target:  rather than trying to “end demand” for coffee, they now want to regulate the sun on the grounds that it causes “sex trafficking”:

When the weather gets nicer in Everett, the number of suspected prostitute sightings increases…(the SUN) appears to be a strong factor in the increase in traffic.  Although, website traffic for prostitution maintains a steady pace throughout the year [sic].  We believe there is evidence that people are brought to Everett from neighboring states/counties by pimps…

I can’t help but be fascinated by this reporter’s idiosyncratic capitalization, fondness for sentence fragments and creative use of scare quotes:

…there are many factors that may lead someone into the “sex trade” and…some women are independent “workers”…

But the cops’ un-self-conscious hypocrisy is even more fascinating:

…There are many reasons and/or intricate layers involved for someone to enter the sex trade (either voluntarily or by force).  Drug addiction, mental health, lure of money, survival and forced/coercion just name a few [sic].  The bottom line:  Women are human beings; someone’s daughter, sister, mother or friend.  Treating them with respect and dignity is our priority…

Because deceiving, hunting, beating and caging a woman, subjecting her motivations for consensual behavior to state scrutiny, denying her right to choose her own work, thinking of her not as an individual but only in relation to some man, and referring to her normal economic needs with the dysphemistic phrase “lure of money”, constitute dignified and respectful treatment in the minds of Everett cops.  The rest of the article refers to other “end demand” practices embraced by the Everett police, including “Stay Out of Areas of Prostitution” orders, which are essentially similar to Britain’s ASBOs; in the United States, however, such practices are flagrantly unconstitutional and can only continue until challenged in court – which, needless to say, means they’ll probably be around until at least the end of the “sex trafficking” panic.

As I said at the beginning, there’s a persistent belief that some areas in the United States are more liberal and urbane than others; the actual truth is that they’re all pretty authoritarian and unsophisticated where sex is concerned.  It’s just that some places seem less aware of how ridiculous, childish, bluenosed and tight-arsed their anti-sex policies make them look to the adults of the world, and within those areas are cities which, due to being surrounded by normalized prudery, feel free to carry their priggishness to truly clownish levels.

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The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout.  There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men.  For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy; and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own for the children, and the children yet unborn.  And the pity of it is, that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.  –  Rod Serling

The Monsters are Due on Maple StreetIn the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, the residents of an ordinary suburban neighborhood – people who have lived alongside one another for years – quickly turn paranoid and hostile when weird phenomena convince them that they are witnessing the beginning of an invasion from outer space.  Every nonconformity, every idiosyncrasy, every unexplained incident, every behavior or characteristic even slightly outside the local norm, serves as the basis for accusations that certain individuals are either alien collaborators or even aliens in disguise; naturally, witch-hunting and violence soon ensue.  And though the pace of the hysteria’s development is obviously exaggerated so the drama can fit into a 26-minute television episode, the basic psychology is correct:  in a moral panic, humans will inevitably try to cast some of their own as members of the “enemy” (witches, communists, Satanists or whatever) and to lynch those so selected, with or without the formality of a kangaroo court to declare the victims members of the (largely or wholly) imaginary bogeyman hordes.

We are unfortunate enough to be living in a real-life version of “The Monsters Are Due”, but instead of aliens, the panicmongers claim we’re being invaded by “sex traffickers”; instead of the action unfolding over one night in a small neighborhood, it has unfolded over ten years on a rather provincial little planet.  And while there really are aliens about in the Twilight Zone, the villains on our real-life Maple Street are the self-proclaimed leaders and invasion “experts”.  One thing is the same in both stories, however:  once the panic reaches a high enough pitch, the hysterics start pointing fingers at each other for the flimsiest of reasons.  Submitted for your approval one Troy Martinez, who inhabits a twilight zone called Las Vegas:

A Las Vegas pastor’s idea to report to police suspicious businesses who decline to display a human trafficking hotline poster is being met with skepticism by business and civil liberties leaders.  The new human trafficking awareness effort is being suggested by Pastor Troy Martinez, of the East Vegas Christian Center as part of his involvement with…Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s Faith Initiative…on…human trafficking.  Martinez presented a hypothetical scenario of his plan, which is in its infancy, at a meeting Thursday.  Picture this:  A few…volunteers go to a…bar and ask the owner to put up a poster with the national human trafficking hotline.  The owner agrees and a volunteer notes it on a form before moving to another business, a nail salon, perhaps.  The salon owner doesn’t want to hang the poster, and someone makes note of it on a form.  Maybe volunteers observe a lot of single men hanging around the establishment and decide that is suspicious, so someone writes that down, too.  Then, those notes might get passed on to law enforcement.

j'accuse Maple StreetThe scenario drew suggestions from those attending…[a] working group meeting that the bar seemed forthright, but the nail salon was a different story.  “Well they’ve got something to hide.  They don’t want the poster.  They don’t want to cooperate,” one member said.  The idea of citizens informing on local businesses who rejected displaying a poster bewildered Tod Story, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada…[who] said it sounded like the [US government's] “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign on steroids…Martinez’s idea is modeled after a Los Angeles law that requires establishments — including adult or sexually oriented businesses, massage or bodywork services, emergency rooms and bars — to post the national human trafficking hotline…volunteers filled out a questionnaire noting if the owner was in compliance, aware of the law and if the owner agreed to hang the poster.  According to Martinez, the community began to identify which businesses were legitimate and which businesses were being used as fronts for human trafficking or sex trafficking…Martinez [claimed] that…“a lot of people…were rescued because of the reporting system”…Martinez’s conclusions, however, don’t match what actually has happened in Los Angeles, according to a leader of the grassroots campaign…who…said while the potential is there for volunteers to stumble on a human trafficking front and report it, that has yet to happen.  Also, no one has been rescued as a result of the poster outreach survey…

Case in point one moral panic, a phenomenon in which people voluntarily relinquish their reason, their knowledge, and their consciences in pursuit of ghosts and shadows, and in doing so plunge themselves, their neighbors and those they believe they have cause to fear into a nightmarish, yet very real Twilight Zone.

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YOUR PRAYERS ARE GOING STRAIGHT INTO MY SPAM FILTER.  PLEASE TEXT ME FOR QUICKER RESPONSE.  –  The Lord God

This week’s first video was featured by Jesse Walker in his “Friday AV Club” feature at Reason; it’s an early “stranger danger” scare film from 1963, and as Walker points out the most interesting thing about it is that it demonstrates just how much freedom kids used to have and how comparatively sensible most of the suggestions are (“don’t play in isolated industrial areas” rather than “don’t play outside”, and “stick together with friends” rather than “never get out of the sight of some authority figure”).  Walker also discusses the film’s creator, Sid Davis, and mentions that he also made the infamous “Boys Beware”, an anti-gay scare film.  I decided to feature that one as today’s second selection to make a point: compare the bogeyman myths the film promotes about gay men to the actual gay men you know, and then recognize that the same kind of lies are spread today about sex workers, our clients and our associates.  All the links above the first video were provided by Popehat, and those between the videos by Radley Balko (“yabba” and “droit”), Jesse Walker (“irony”), Clarissa (“addiction”), Nun Ya (“unexpected”),  Jason Kuznicki (“mannequins”), and Molly Crabapple (“gang”).

From the Archives

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