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Posts Tagged ‘Backpage’

This is a moral crusade, dressed up as concern for women.  –  RCMP Superintendent John Ferguson

The Scarlet Letter

In Anaheim, California, anyone convicted of buying sexual services will have their names and mug shots indefinitely posted to a city web page…The Anaheim district attorney’s office says the scarlet HTML is meant to deter sex traffickers, which makes about as much sense as posting jaywalker mugshots in order to deter car thieves…”Public shaming as a form of punishment goes back to the days of Puritan colonists,” writes Los Angeles Times‘ Emily Foxhall…even…Melissa Farley…[admits] she’s unaware of any evidence that this kind of shaming results in long-term behavior change…

Follow the Leader

In September 2012, President Obama issued an executive order asserting a zero tolerance policy for government contractors who violated human trafficking laws.  He specifically targeted recruitment fees that workers in southeast Asia frequently pay for work with military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq…recruitment fees essentially create a system of indentured servitude.  Workers usually take out high-interest loans in their home country to pay the fee, and the payments can trap them in their new jobs.  Recruiters often mislead workers about their salary and the location of their job—promises of high-paying jobs in Jordanian hotels turn into custodial positions on U.S. military bases in warzones…The government says it has a zero tolerance policy, and yet there’s fairly credible allegations that these guys have been involved in trafficking and they continue to win government contracts,” says Steven Watt…at the ACLU…

See No Evil confused Pooh

Do Polish stuffed animal toys usually come with genitals?

Winnie the Pooh…has been banned from a Polish playground because of confusion about his sexuality and consternation at his attire.  Council members were debating which character should become the face of a new playground in the small town of Tuszyn, and…some on the board raised questions about Pooh’s “dubious sexuality” and “inappropriate” attire, and one even condemned the fictional character as a “hermaphrodite”…Ryszard Cichy…[said] “It is half naked which is wholly inappropriate for children…Pooh who is only dressed from the waist up”…[another council member fantasized that A.A. Milne]…”cut [Pooh’s] testicles off with a razor blade because he had a problem with his identity”…

Scapegoats

Maybe this guy thought it was a genital-equipped Polish stuffed horse?

[Florida] police have arrested and charged a 19-year-old man in a troubling case of alleged indecent exposure. Police accuse Sean Johnson of entering a Walmart…and committing a sex act on a stuffed horse…[then] putting [it] back on the shelf…

Above the Law 

A woman says she was raped in jail by a Ferguson [jail guard] while she was pregnant last year, according to a federal lawsuit…against the city and…Jaris Hayden…[who] now faces four felony charges…[the victim had been arrested because her] license plates were expired…and…During [her] booking, Hayden said to her, “You smell good,” and, “This will teach you a lesson”…

Useful Idiots 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein…is once again attempting to swell federal power and erode civil liberties by preying on fears about sexual exploitation….[with] the Combat Human Trafficking Act, a bill that would expand federal and state wiretapping authority, mandate that the Department of Justice…spend more time investigating and prosecuting [sex workers’ clients]…and increase criminal penalties for buyers by legally defining them as human traffickers…this is going to lead to increased harassment of…sex workers and enhanced monitoring of any space where they congregate…the bill also provides a potential direct mandate for DOJ to target sex workers and their clients…Dianne FeinsteinFeinstein’s press [pretends that] “83 percent of sex trafficking victims are American citizens, and the average victim is first trafficked between ages 12 and 14″…Yes, they’re actually claiming that American citizens make up all but 13 percent of global sex trafficking victims. It’s a bold move even within the typically-dubious realm of sex-trafficking statistics (the idea that the average victim is first-trafficked at 12-years-old is also suspect)…

I’m Sure You Feel Safer Now

This stinks on ice:

Little Rock Police have arrested a…[fireman] at a massage parlor after an undercover sting. Edwin Harris…worked at a business called Asian Massage…a female undercover detective paid for a massage in which she says Harris engaged in sexual contact…Harris was the only person charged at the business…

Social Construction of Eunuchs (TW3 #48)

Dataspelsbranchen, a Swedish games industry organization, has been given a 272,000 kronor (roughly $36,672) grant by the state…to study and create a system that would provide ratings for games released in Sweden indicating the level of sexism and/or whether or not the game promotes gender equality…their study…will also include analysis of developers already working to promote diversity and gender-equality in order to help others learn from their experience.

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake (TW3 #338)

Dancers at a strip club are due more than $10 million in back wages and tips, a federal judge ruled…And additional claims are headed for trial in the class action case, meaning there ultimately could be further awards to roughly 1,900 women who worked at Rick’s Cabaret in Manhattan between 2005 and 2012…Houston-based RCI Hospitality Holdings Inc., said it planned to appeal…

Held Together With Lies (Hysteria on Parade)

How much higher can this nonsense go?bogus trafficking map

Nearly 36 million people worldwide, or 0.5% of the world’s population, live as slaves, a survey by…Walk Free says…India has the most slaves overall and Mauritania has the highest percentage. The total is 20% higher than for 2013 because of [broader] methodology. The report…uses slavery in [the inflammatory] modern [misuse] of the term, rather than [correctly]…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #346)

A 14-year-old [South African] girl could be charged with perjury after lying about being held against her will and sold as a sex slave by her aunt…following her mother’s death…The teen alleged that her aunt later locked her in a room with six old men and one of them raped her…it was later established that the teenager had fabricated the story…

Welcome To Our World (TW3 #405)

Would anyone but a modern American “journalist” portray intercourse as a new and novel way to get pregnant?

Once upon a time, when single women and infertile couples wanted a baby, they would pay a sperm bank…thousands of dollars…But now…donors make their sperm available by offering to have sex for free. It’s a surprising — and some say unconventional — method of making a baby called “natural insemination”…

Finding What Isn’t There (TW3 #413) John Ferguson

few can agree on how widespread [sex trafficking] is, or how best to address it.  This troubles former RCMP superintendent John Ferguson:  “Are there victims?  Yes.  Is this a systemic problem?  The evidence tells us no.”  (Between 2005 and 2009, the RCMP reviewed 242 potential international human-trafficking cases, but made no convictions.)  He points to the absence of information:  Canada has no standardized system for the collection of such data.  Ferguson also points to a 2003 RCMP report that claimed each year 600 women and girls are trafficked into the country for forced sex work; the report has since been discarded by the RCMP itself…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The use of Backpage.com as a tool to catch criminals represents an interesting paradox.  While its critics deplore the ease and visibility the site offers to [sex workers]…those exact qualities make the site invaluable for people looking to [persecute them]…A small but growing number of law enforcement…begrudgingly defend Backpage…Three states have tried to take down [the site with unconstitutional] laws that…Backpage.com successfully [challenged]…and…the SAVE Act is almost certainly not legally viable for the same reasons…

Not What They Expected

Prince George’s County bucks the trend by claiming its “sex trafficking” rate has gone down…which is, of course, as much of a lie as the “King of the Hill” idiocy:

For the second consecutive year, Prince George’s County should see a reduction in human trafficking and prostitution, according to…police…Sgt. David Coleman…attributes the downward trend to the work of his unit and cross-agency initiatives like the county’s Human Trafficking Task force…“When we create a hostile business environment, it moves elsewhere.”

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Bill C-36…has everything to do with moralism and pearl-clutching white saviours in Ottawa forcing a socially conservative agenda through…This is the same government trying to kill C-279, a bill that would ensure trans people are protected under…hate crimes provisions…Sex workers have started a letter-writing campaign to ask [Ontario Premier Kathleen] Wynne to refer the law to the Ontario Court of Appeal for a constitutional reference…[and] to instruct provincial Crown Attorneys not to enforce the new law until the Ontario court has ruled on its constitutionality.  Terri-Jean Bedford was the first to ask Wynne to intervene last month.  Next, sex worker rights advocate Nikki Thomas posted her own open letter.  And another.  And another.  Legal experts across Canada call the law blatantly unconstitutional…[Manitoba] actually plans to send sex workers to “camps” for “educational workshops”  hosted by the evangelical Salvation Army…Handing over our most vulnerable citizens to questionable religious groups has not ended well historically…Gay men and women should be the most vocal allies of sex workers. There was a time when the same arguments were made to keep being gay a criminal offence…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #428)

A coalition of civil liberties, publishing, and online commerce groups are asking Congress to oppose a piece of anti-speech, anti-sex work legislation known as as the “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation” (SAVE) Act…[which] would create harsh new criminal liabilities for websites and publishers, allow federal agents to censor online ads, make it harder for adult sex workers of all sorts to safely connect with clients…and…expose anyone advertising online to new privacy infringements…The SAVE Act would…create extensive record-keeping requirements for any…service…that hosts adult advertisements…require anyone posting an adult ad to submit photo identification…enable the Department of Justice…to ban certain “euphemisms” or “code words” from online advertising entirely, and…make websites that host user-generated ads criminally liable…even if they do not have actual knowledge that an ad for illegal activity appears on their sites…

Check Your Premises (TW3 #432)

It’s astonishing that supposedly rational adults in the Canadian government need this explained to them:

One of the lead detectives in the teen pimping investigation wants men who [hire] women for sex to ensure their clients [sic] are over 18 and are willing participants, but an advocate for sex workers warns doing so might put johns in an legal quandary…Carolyn Botting [imagines that sex workers will show clients their drivers’ licenses, but]…Chris Bruckert, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa, said…the federal government’s new prostitution laws…will put johns in an awkward situation…“If in fact they do call police because they suspect someone is underage or in a situation of exploitation, they’re actually setting themselves up to be criminally charged”…

Soap Opera (TW3 #441) not a brand

In which a common type of tattoo is recast as a “brand”.

…Reliable statistics are [nonexistent], but [trafficking fanatics pretend that] hundreds of thousands of women and girls…are sold for sexual exploitation in America’s $9.5bn human-trafficking industry. According to the US Department of Justice, 300,000 of those at risk are children. Branding, whether by tattoo or intentional scarring, has become a disturbing characteristic of…Pimp-led prostitution…Polaris Project [pretends to have]…come across hundreds of women and children who have had their arms, backs, legs, faces, breasts and even eyelids and gums marked with pimp’s names and gang tags or with barcodes, sexual slang words or dollar signs…it is now systemic in America…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #446)

My beloved partner “Isabelle”…is a sex worker in Toronto…[who] lives in my home about half of the time…We occasionally buy things together.  We sometimes pool money for grocery trips.  Occasionally, one of us picks up something for the other at the corner store…A couple months ago, I had some unanticipated emergency expenses resulting in negative cash flow.  Isabelle jumped right in to save me, contributing her money to my monthly housing expense…In short, we’re partners…It’s…against the law as of Dec. 6.  Section 286.2 subsection 1 of the code specifically criminalizes “everyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from (sex work).”  It’s an indictable offence, subject to a prison term of up to 10 years…

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What is wrong with a contract to sell sexual services between consenting adults who enter voluntarily into the transaction, neither of whom is harmed by the exchange?…nothing at all.  No harm is done here, so why should this be regarded as a crime?  –  Charles Hill 

Subtle Pimping

Two “artists” thought it would be “artistic” to exploit the poorest, most tragic, heroin-addicted Russian streetwalkers they could cajole by photographing them as fashion models:  “Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi constructed studio portraits of heroin-addicted prostitutes…adorning their subjects in [designer] clothing…[removes] them from the context of their daily lives…”  The results are predictably horrifying.

Crying for Nanny

Nick Kristof knows these lawsuits haven’t got a leg to stand on, and can’t be so ignorant that he doesn’t recognize the havoc which would result should one succeed.  But as with Somaly Mam, he pretends that he’s not responsible for promoting lies and myths which harm many thousands of people, and washes his hands when they blow up in his face:

Two young women who say they were…sold on Backpage at age 15…are suing the company in Boston in federal court.  Another suit is winding its way through Washington State courts, pursued by three girls who say they…were sold for sex…when they were 13…The suit charges that Backpage has “perfected a business model that profits substantially from aiding…pimps and traffickers in the sexual exploitation of children”…

Surplus Women

A British financier has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two [sex workers] were found dead inside the bloodied walls of his luxury apartment in Hong Kong…The body of one was heavily decomposed, stuffed inside a large suitcase left on the balcony…She was nearly decapitated and her hands and legs were bound with ropes…The other…was found with her throat cut, lying naked in the living room.  She had been stabbed multiple times…

With Folded Hands

Cowardice disguised as class warfare:

A brave test pilot is dead and another one critically injured—in the service of a millionaire boondoggle thrill ride…in the wake of this tragedy out at Mojave—not even the first time a SpaceShipTwo test has killed someone—we’re going to hear a lot about exploration, about pioneers and frontiers…and we should call bullshit on thatSpaceship Two crash…Virgin Galactic is building the world’s most expensive roller coaster…When it costs the lives of the workers building that system, we should stop accepting it…

Except neither Wired writers (nor those at Time or The Guardian) nor politicians nor rich people get to decide what any given individual thinks is worth risking his life for; the only person who gets to decide that is the individual himself.  And it doesn’t matter how stupid or pointless anyone else thinks it is, because his life is not theirs to manage.

Divided We Fall

When will Gay, Inc finally admit prostitution laws disproportionately affect its constituency?

…an Egyptian court convicted eight men for…their appearance in a video…depicting…the country’s first same-sex wedding party…Egypt…has no laws against homosexuality…the law that was used to prosecute the men is one…meant to rid the newly independent Egypt of the licensed brothels that had existed under British rule…it banned prostitution of all forms…and…also prohibited what it called “debauchery”—without actually defining [it]…

Enabling Oppression

Even some who believe in the “sex trafficking” myth are beginning to place the blame where it belongs:

…human trafficking is a parasite of legal prohibitionism…It is time for students of trafficking to call out states for creating the conditions that enable this crime…legislative and police efforts to suppress the sex trade are counterproductive.  They drive sex-for-money…further underground…You would think that Americans would know better.  Their first experiment in prohibition…should have brought home the message that prohibitionism cannot kill…commerce.  It only cordons it off inside a zone of non-regulated trade…The link between prohibitionism and trafficking has been most clearly documented in America’s war on undocumented immigration

The Rape Question Latiqwa Mayes

Neofeminists claim that false rape accusations are too rare to even consider, and that we live in a “rape culture” where rapists get away with it:

…Latiqwa Mayes was walking down [a Baltimore] street…when she saw…Donald Robinson…[who] had reportedly once assaulted her friend…Mayes was not happy that he didn’t receive a harsher sentence, so…in retaliation [she screamed] “He raped me!  He’s a sex offender!” …Almost immediately, a mob lead by Mayes’ father proceeded to beat Robinson and…pepper spray [him]…hours later, he died…Mayes and her father…have been sentenced to…six years…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Though my opinion on “sex robot” nonsense is well-known, this critic of it reveals that he’s just as ignorant about human sexuality (and sex work) as those he attacks, not to mention incredibly prudish and anti-whore:

David…Levy’s vision in Love and Sex With Robots is…profoundly creepy, and has troublesome implications now that sex robots are quickly becoming a reality.  He…[presents] sex robots as…the inevitable and desirable future…and it won’t just be the lonely men who are the usual clientele of prostitutes…he…even retrieves the long-discredited defense of pornography as a marital aid…Levy’s understanding of sex is almost entirely degraded…it’s the view of the chronic masturbator and porn addict…healthy sexual desire does not take as its object a mere sensation or state, but a person …the recognition of pornography addiction as a serious problem…is…evidence that something goes wrong when sexual desire is directed away from people…Just as with prostitution, the more sophisticated their illusions become, the more intense will be the guilt that comes after their mechanical gimmickry has done the job…

Show and Tell

It’s Ashley Madison’s turn next:

The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.  JDI…must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices.  The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.  JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet…The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships…

Something Rotten in Sweden (TW3 #36)

demand in the sex work marketEconomist Charles Hill explains why “end demand” strategies are not only morally bankrupt, but have the opposite effect their proponents claim:  “Economic analysis suggests that this policy may not have the desired effect.  In fact, I contend that it might actually have the perverse effect of increasing the supply of sex services…”  I’m not even going to try to synopsize this, but it’s definitely worth your time even if your eyes glaze over once the  statistical analysis starts.

King of the Hill

This is mostly about another rescue industry gimmick, but it contains the announcement that “San Diego is the 13th highest child prostitution area in the country, according to the FBI…1.2 million children are trafficked every year

Think of the Children! (TW3 #40)

[before] Arbor Day this year, Pornhub launched its “Give America Wood” campaign…to plant a tree for every 100 videos watched in the “Big Dick” category…[the NGO which got the check] “politely requested” not to be identified.  Pornhub ran into the same reluctance when they ran their  “Save the Boobs” campaign…in 2012…Komen…publicly rejected the money…Pornhub split the cash between three smaller unidentified organizations…this month, James Deen…was rejected by…a slew of major breast cancer organizations.  Instead, he’ll donate 50 percent of all profits from his website during…October to smaller organizations like The Rose and Living Beyond Breast Cancer…

On the Simultaneous Having and Eating of Cake

the state Supreme Court decided that dancers at one Las Vegas club are employees, not independent contractors, and are entitled to be paid minimum wage.  The unanimous ruling…was issued in a class-action lawsuit filed…on behalf of dancers at Sapphire Gentlemen’s Club…Clark County District Court…hearings [will] determine how much more than 6,600 current and former dancers at the club are owed…the amount could reach $40 million, including back wages, plus the return of “house fees” the dancers paid the club to be allowed to work…

Original Sin

Yvonne Zimmerman & Letitia Campbell on “sex trafficking” mythology’s roots in the evangelical/neofeminist alliance:

…As the members of the alliance worked together to combat pornography, some Christian groups began to incorporate [feminist] rhetoric …Soon…members of religiously conservative groups were rehearsing arguments about the degradation of women, violence against women, and even women’s inequality…the feminist-evangelical anti-pornography alliance was instrumental in setting the stage for the contemporary…anti-trafficking movement…the rhetoric of “sexual slavery”…appears much earlier (and with different meaning) in radical feminist critiques…[and] concerns about the media’s sexualization of ever-younger girls…remain a staple of the contemporary anti-trafficking movement…

Whither Canada?

As vile as any similar badge-lickery from the US:

Since three key prostitution laws were overturned nearly a year ago, Ottawa police have struggled with how to [harass sex workers and clients]…Insp. Mike Laviolette…[pretends] he wants to…keep an eye out for human trafficking…[and lied that] the average age of sex slaves…was 18 years old…

The rest includes a leering, lip-smacking description of a sleazy female cop used to trick men so they can be abducted and forced into “john school” and subjected to propaganda about “the dark and dangerous aspects of prostitution“.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

A Liberal senator will propose more amendments to the Conservative government’s controversial anti-prostitution bill as the clock ticks down on a court-imposed deadline…George Baker said…he intends to introduce 15 amendments…seeking to remove provisions which would criminalize those who sell sex…

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes (TW3 #429) 

Feminist T-shirts proudly worn by [British celebrities and politicians] are made in “sweatshop” conditions by migrant women paid just 62p [99¢] an hour…on…Mauritius…[the workers] sleep 16 to a room – and earn much less than the average wage on the island.  The £45 [$72] T-shirts carry the defiant slogan “This is what a feminist looks like”.  But one of the thousands of machinists declared:  “We do not see ourselves as feminists.  We see ourselves as trapped”…

Dysphemisms Galore (Traffic Updates) 

It’s good I got out of owning an escort service when I did, but how can even cops mouth these ridiculous dysphemisms with a straight face?

Dunwoody [Georgia] police said… they have busted a prostitution ring masquerading as high-end modeling outfits where clients paid $300 or more an hour.  Police have charged the owners and operators of Atlanta Fantasies and Ashley’s of Atlanta with human trafficking for sexual servitude, keeping a place of prostitution and racketeering.  Charged so far are Robert Tyler…and Donna Allen…Some 26 women — all adults — were identified as “victims” of the organization…

Imaginary Crises (TW3 #441) 

Mike Siegel corrects bad “campus rape crisis” math:

…the…0.2 percent rate touted in a recent op-ed…misses the mark because it uses the wrong numbers and some poor assumptions…The…National Crime Victimization Survey…indicates about a 10% lifetime risk or about 3% college-age risk…the one-in-five stat is inconsistent with another number claimed by advocates of new policies:  a reporting rate of 12%.  If you assume a reporting rate near that and use the actual number of reporting assaults on major campuses, you get a rate between 3% and 5%…Further research is consistent with this rate…Mark Perry finds 3-5%.  Texas schools show 5-6%.  NCVS and RAINN stats indicate 2-5%.  Basically, any time we use actual numbers based on objectives surveys, we find the number of women who are in danger of sexual violence during their time on campus is 1-in-20, not 1-in-5…if one in five women on college campuses are being sexually assaulted…we should shut down every college in the country since they are the most dangerous places for women in the entire United States…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #444) Tim Osrin

This isn’t the first time that South African swim coach has beat up a woman:

Tim Osrin claimed that he had never assaulted anyone before but had mistaken [Cynthia] Joni for a “prostitute” and “snapped”.  Now, a…sex-worker has come forward to claim that earlier this year, Osrin told her to “fuck off out of my street”, before hitting her so hard that he knocked a tooth out of her mouth.  The woman laid a charge of assault against Osrin…At least five sex-workers who operate in the area attested to [her] injuries and alleged they had also been harassed…

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Every civilization when it loses its inner vision and its cleaner energy, falls into a new sort of sordidness, more vast and more stupendous than the old savage sort.  An Augean stable of metallic filth.  –  D.H. Lawrence

bagasse moundsI grew up in an area of south Louisiana whose primary industry (in those days) was sugar production; one of the places we used to play was in a sugarcane field near our street, and from the late 19th century until the 1960s the majority of the area’s population worked for a large sugar refinery.  Once the sugar-bearing juice has been extracted from the cane, the remaining vegetable matter is called bagasse; it can be burned to generate power and is also used for an agricultural fertilizer.  But as you can imagine, it has a powerful odor, and the vast heaps of bagasse which are piled up in holding areas look and smell a lot like huge mountains of manure after sitting for a while in the damp Louisiana climate.

That was the image which entered my mind unbidden when I read this article  almost two months ago.  Like bagasse or manure, there is absolutely nothing new in it; it’s the end result of other processes, piled up in a 3000-word mound (and this is only part two!) and reeking to high heaven.  And like those vegetable waste products, this type of filth is also very useful as fertilizer; unfortunately, the only crop it works on is the unwholesome one called the police state.  “Sex trafficking” hysteria is prime manure for encouraging the growth of internet censorship, mass surveillance, border control, police violence, sexual repression and state control of women’s bodies, and though humanity would be better off if these noxious weeds were exterminated, all too many “journalists” are happy to nurture them instead by generating mounds of reeking rubbish like this one:

…“The technology of…phones and…computers and everything…is also a curse because we can’t track all the places our kids go,” said Kathleen Winn…[of] Phoenix’s sex trafficking task force…“we can’t control who reaches our children.”  Social media…provides an egress for pimps into the lives of their victims, and a way for them to monitor their victims, according to…Dominique Roe-Sepowitz…the Phoenix Dream Center, a task force affiliate…said…“We even try to break up Internet businesses…We are looking for ways…[to destroy] Backpage.com…they make millions of dollars a year on their adult services ads”…

One of the most psychologically fascinating things about fanatics is that they’re so completely unable to recognize their own fanaticism, they often make statements that blatantly demonstrate it.  The freakish need to “control” every interaction adolescents (the real meaning of “children” in this context) have with other people (at a time in their lives when they’re supposed to be learning how to function in adult society) is used as an excuse for schemes to “break up” internet businesses and a larger campaign to destroy the internet as we know it; this and the Luddite hysteria itself are openly avowed without any attempt to disguise them to fool non-fanatics.  I’ve noticed this about many articles (whether anti-sex, anti-migration or pro-censorship) coming out of Arizona these days; due to the process of group polarization  Arizonans seem completely unable to recognize how extreme their beliefs and rhetoric are in comparison with the rest of the country.  When delusional maniacs like Joe Arpaio or John and Cindy McCain start barking at the moon, they do not realize how deranged they sound to others because everyone in Phoenix political circles encourages and applauds their howling.  Dominique Roe-Sepowitz was completely unable to recognize what her creepy statement about “body fluids” and “normal relationships” sounded like to normal people until it started to be quoted in articles critical of Project ROSE; even then her response was not introspection, but simply refusing to give interviews to anyone other than a religious magazine.  But I digress:

Two years ago…a civil case was filed…“against Backpage.com and the pimps…alleging that these kids were trafficked on Backpage.com,” said Erik Bauer, a Tacoma-based attorney…

The article ignores the fate of previous frivolous suits like this one, and of every single law designed to destroy the internet in the name of “shutting down Backpage” for “THE CHILDREN!!!!!”  It also ignores the part where a federal judge forced Washington state to pay for Backpage’s defense on the grounds that it knew the law was unconstitutional when it was enacted; instead, it promotes an anti-sex lawyer’s spurious view that sexual speech is magically different from all other forms of speech:

Bauer predicted that Backpage’s future is foggy at best.  “There are some weird legal decisions in our country, and so far they have enabled Backpage to exist and even thrive,” said Bauer. “Blatant prostitution advertising is what they are…I actually believe that Backpage’s days are numbered…We have a legal theory that works and they don’t”…

Blah blah blah pimps, blah blah children, blah “promoting prostitution”.  I find it especially interesting that the only non-Arizonan quoted at length in this dungheap is from Washington…which foams at the mouth over sex nearly as much as Arizona does.  And that’s a lot of foam:

Katie Resendiz of Arizona Training and Resources to Stop Trafficking (AZ TRUST)…said…“The hypersexualization of the youth and commodification of women’s bodies is exactly why we have a sex-trafficking crisis in the United States.  We train young boys to think of women as objects and sex as something to be purchased, and we train women to think of their bodies as purchasable”…

Another astonishing aspect of “sex trafficking” rhetoric is the repeated assertion (not limited to Arizona) that prostitution is “accepted” and “normalized” in the United States, the only developed country in which the sale of sex is itself illegal.  It requires an almost incomprehensible level of provincialism and ignorance to make such a statement, yet we see it over and over again like the tenet of faith it obviously is (often in close proximity to “prostitution is not a victimless crime”).  And just in case you needed more proof of how deeply statist “trafficking” cultists are, Resendiz delivers this gem:  “If you see something, say something, because if it looks bad, it probably is.”  The conventional wisdom is that the police state, big religion and “feminism” are all different things, and some will claim that different proponents of “sex trafficking” hysteria have different motives.  But that simply isn’t so; even if it had been true before the advent of the moral panic it certainly isn’t now, and Arizona’s fascist “trafficking” establishment is a perfect example.  Much has been written about Project ROSE’s fusion of police state, religious and “feminist” social work elements, and the “Dream Center” featured in this article is no different:

…the Phoenix Dream Center is one of the municipal sex trafficking task force affiliates…There are 183 churches in the…Dream Center’s network.  Its $2 million budget is supported…[in part] through…government programs…Classes at the center are life-recovery and spiritually based, and are taught by retired police…The organization works intimately with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation…

Nor is it only streetwalkers they label as “trafficked”:

The organization is the largest strip club outreach in the region, and has handed out gifts to more than 800 women on its Phoenix route…“We have outreaches at the malls, games, concerts, and Backpage.  We’re working on the massage parlors, we will get there by 2015,” [operative Jessica] Knight said…“Whether it is a girl being trafficked…or a mom selling herself on Backpage to feed her family, we are there for them…[with] a…rescue squad that snatches the victim away from her pimp”…

Her ideas about “what sex trafficking abduction looks like” include “[letting] a person you do not know take pictures of you with their cell phone” and “kids talking to people they don’t know.”  And like Resendiz, Knight encourages adolescents to report “suspicious” people “to the proper law enforcement authorities”; after her “training”, one shudders to think how many men are being investigated by the Phoenix Stasi as “pimps”,dung critters especially given that her philosophy is “It is better to cry wolf and be wrong, than to have a friend, neighbor, or family member disappear and end up in slavery.”  Too bad for all the innocents who end up caged in Arpaio’s dungeon, I guess.

This article was a particularly large, particularly fragrant heap of prohibitionist manure, but the American journalistic landscape is dotted with them and they’re especially common in places like Arizona and Washington; puritanical control freaks are right at home in these mounds and can always be found wallowing ecstatically in their decomposing environment without as much as a clue about how they look and smell to everyone else.

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What would a young escort con/swindler look and behave like? And what her target most likely be like?

One of my very early columns was on just that subject; as you can see there are a number of different types, but I must point out that a con artist who can easily be identified as such wouldn’t be a very successful con artist.  The best rule for avoiding sex work scams is the same as the best rule for avoiding any other kind of scam: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  Beware of lowball pricing and exorbitant promises, don’t be in a hurry and look for signs like a well-designed website, good reviews and a businesslike manner.  Even if a lady doesn’t allow reviews, the fact that she invested in a good website and professional photos rather than relying solely on cheapie ads and motel-room selfies tells you she views her business as a business rather than as a con game, and that she’s in it for the long term rather than trying to get as much as possible as fast as possible before getting out.  Similarly, a professional manner of dealing with clients tells you that she’s been doing this for a while.

Though some clients would tell you that there’s no such thing as a good Backpage girl, I disagree; I have lots of friends who advertise there, and some say it makes them more money than the pricier, more “upscale” ads do.  A few years ago a regular reader told me he loved Backpage and had found plenty of good girls there; however, he kept the “too good to be true” principle in mind, looked at how she had written her ad, avoided ladies under 25 and took his time making the dates.  That last is very important; both con artists and cops will try to rush you, so it’s better to avoid anyone who does.

The last part of your question is the simplest to answer, but the one people are least likely to accept.  One of my university boyfriends used to say, “Nobody can take advantage of you unless you have larceny in your heart.”  In other words, the majority of scams are based on the mark’s desire for a free lunch, easy money, something for nothing, or some other unfair advantage.  If you’ve spent more than an hour perusing escort ads in your locale, you know what the going rate is; be willing to pay it and stay far away from “bargains”, “deals” and “specials”, and the chances of being fleeced are as almost as low as they are in any other business.

Without recommendations from friends, what’s the safest way for me to find out if an escort is real and not a cop?  I’ve found a girl based near me; she seems to tour, has all positive reviews for years, has appeared in a recent documentary, and googling her name brings up Eros and only a few other sites linking hers.  I’ve also googled escort busts in my area and come up pretty empty aside from a few streetwalker stings.  I feel like I’ve done all the due diligence that I can to ensure my safety, but wonder if there’s anything else you could recommend?

If she has a years-long history and reviews, and appeared in a documentary, I think you can be pretty sure she is what she claims to be.  Enjoy your date!

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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[Mary Anne] Franks couldn’t care less who is turned into a felony sex offender, as long as some variation of her pet law is enacted, the hated men go down along with the innocent, and she gets credit for it. – Scott Greenfield

The Red Umbrella

A [Filipino man]…fell to his death while trying to evade police arrest…for allegedly beating up a [sex worker]…the  man [hired] her…and…they had sex [but he] started to beat her after she refused to take [methamphetamine]…

The Mote and the Beam

Here’s a long, confused article on the latest attempt to destroy the internet in the name of “protecting children”.  Among its other lovely features:  it would criminalize advertising “illegal sex” on the internet.  The article is packed with the usual asinine claims (including the ludicrous assertion that 82% of all prostitution advertising is on Backpage) but does state that the proposed law is basically similar to the ones that judges keep striking down as unconstitutional.  You’d think they’d learn, but why bother?  The consequences don’t fall on them.  Politicians are like stupid kids egging somebody’s house:  it only takes them a short time and very little effort to “send a message”, but the mess they leave behind takes others a very long time to clean up.

Moloch

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is weighing whether it’s constitutional to force all juvenile sex offenders to sign up with the state sex offender registry…Pennsylvania law requires  anyone 14…or older who is convicted of [a sex crime]…to register for life…they can petition for removal…only after 25 years, and only if they’ve had no subsequent offenses, even of a non-sexual nature…

John Warhurst
Above the Law

Note that this particular rapist cop works for the same department that wanted to “live tweet” a prostitution sting:  “John Warhurst [was arrested] for sixteen…sex offenses…[including] rape…Warhurst is a Prince George’s County Police Officer…”  In a rather odd twist, his wife was also arrested on similar charges.

Broken Record

If you though a gem and mineral show as “sex trafficking” magnet was ridiculous

…twice a year High Point triples in size with crowds numbering more than 80,000 people…[for] the weeklong Furniture Market…[which] draws more people than any other event in North Carolina.  Unfortunately, with any large crowd there comes the opportunity for anonymity, and sex traffickers are all too eager to take advantage…

What kind of mind calls anonymity “unfortunate”?

The Widening Gyre

Lawheads are willing to shut down a city to stop consensual behavior, but can’t even conceive that maybe their stupid laws are the real problem:

[Cincinnati] police…[have installed] concrete road blocks all along McMicken Avenue…While most agree something must be done to stop human trafficking…some say stopping traffic all together [sic] isn’t the answer…officials plan to keep the closures in place for…three months…[and] are…considering other drastic measures…like publishing the names of people convicted of prostitution related crimes, notifying their spouses and increasing fines…

Thought Controldaily beating

Here’s an excellent article on how the amazing diversity of the Golden Age of comics was destroyed by the repressive Comics Code Authority, a sort of self-lobotomization performed to save the industry from Congressional censorship after Frederic Wertham’s witch hunt:

…Distributors agreed not to carry comic books that didn’t abide by the Code, making it functionally as effective as law…independent women, and people of color, and all sorts of stories that didn’t fit with the compulsory patriotism and cop-worship of the 1950s, essentially vanished from comics for decades…What was left didn’t interest adults nearly as much, and comics slowly began to become less ubiquitous and more associated with pasty adolescent boys…

Little Boxes (TW3 #40)

An American medical student is auctioning off her virginity…Using the alias “Elizabeth Raine” and operating a blog entitled, Musings of a Virgin Whore, the 28-year-old…said she is willing to submit to a medical examination or polygraph as proof to the winning bidder…[and will consummate]…in Australia [to]…circumvent…American prostitution laws…Raine says she does not care about being labeled a prostitute…and…while she does not advocate prostitution she supports [its] “decriminalization and destigmatization”…She has promised to donate 35 percent of the auction proceeds to a charity “that brings education to women in developing countries”…

Caring Professionals

When they’re not infantilizing sex workers and demonizing our clients, they’re doing the exact opposite:

A disabled British retiree has ended up in court after he punched a council official who stopped him from seeing a prostitute.  Alan Thipthorpe, 88, was furious after he was prevented from seeing…Terri-Lee Pearce…[who] had regularly visited his care home.  Swindon council…stopped the visits because [they accused Pearce] of fleecing him out of his life savings…An angry Thipthorpe said…he should be able to spend the money how he wanted…


Under Every Bed

A “sex trafficking” cluck lectures us about the importance of word order, but apparently isn’t too concerned with number agreement:  “There is no such thing as children prostitutes, they are prostituted children who can be found in…any neighborhood and any town.”  Whenever I read something like this, I hear the voices from Chickenman crying “It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere!”

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #316)

There cannot be a complete ban on Internet pornography in [India]…the government has told the Supreme Court…the…servers…are…quite often located in foreign countries, where such publication is permissible…even if a website is blocked, the same content can be hosted on a different server, may be in a different country, within a few seconds…

Birth of a Movement (TW3 #323)

a few hundred women [marched] down a busy commercial street in Mexico City during a May Day demonstration…to highlight the rights of sex workers… members of la Brigada Callejera (“the Streetwalkers Brigade”)…emphasized that…marchers were in the sex trade of their own free will…Mexico City’s government is currently attempting to redevelop La Merced and close down various hotels that it [pretends] are involved in trafficking…

Magic Formulae

A Minnesota law firm posted a page busting the common myths I’ve often written about, such as the notion that there are certain things cops can’t do or that one is safe if one has some kind of payment ritual.  I’d really like to see more whore-friendly entities posting information like this.

Acting and Activism (Extra Edition)

Another empty-headed actress attacks the less-privileged branches of our shared profession with stupid lies and moronic myths:

Jada Pinkett Smith…[is working on] a CNN documentary…about…sex trafficking.  Jada…had her eyes opened wide by two strippers who made clear to her that strip clubs in Atlanta, ground zero for the sex trafficking industry —are a gateway to…slavery…

Little Tin GodsLTG Ed Brown

Sheriff Ed Brown considers himself to be the owner of every human being…in North Carolina’s Onslow County – but he counsels his subjects not to worry, for his is a benevolent dictatorship administered by quasi-divine people endowed with transcendent wisdom…in [an ad] for his re-election campaign  [Brown wrote] “Those in the law enforcement profession have complete power over you, your life, your family, your loved ones, your rights, your freedom, your future and everything precious to life”…After the ad prompted criticism…Brown objected that his words were misunderstood…Brown apparently can [also] command the very elements themselves to surrender valuable secrets that remain inaccessible to lesser men.  While investigating the murder of…Maria Lauterbach, the Sheriff didn’t bother to collect shoeprints, choosing instead to conduct a forensic investigation using a divining rod made from a coat hanger

Sex Rays

…For months, Amazon has been deleting the wish lists of porn performers, models, and other…adult [entertainers]…Often, Amazon will cite “inappropriate” use of the wish list, such as it being used for “bartering” purposes…even when…there is no real evidence to that effect…Amazon has also deleted adult entertainers’ wish lists on the grounds that they include “inappropriate” items, such as adult toys or DVDs, despite the fact that Amazon offers these products…

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #344)

New York City has agreed to pay $450,000 to settle a lawsuit…by a man who said he was falsely arrested on a prostitution charge outside a Manhattan adult video store…Robert Pinter…says the settlement was a victory for 40 or so men…targeted [because cops] believed [them] to be gay…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (TW3 #345)

So much for “Sin City”:

…the [Las Vegas] Police co-sponsored [a] “Choose Purity” event…to show young girls what can happen when they don’t wait until marriage to have sex…Typically four things:  sexual assault, gangs, drugs and prostitution.  Avoid sex and avoid those perils, [organizer Regina] Coward said…The room of about 125 parents and children watched recorded interviews with a pimp and prostitutes, learned modern-day slavery exists in the form of the sex trade, and saw grisly images of…a woman who’d lost limbs in a methamphetamine lab explosion and a man who’d had his face partially gnawed off by a meth user…The monologues concluded with each girl getting on a gurney and into a body bag…

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

When Mary Anne Franks began her Jihad against revenge porn, it was pointed out that…her law would also criminalize the revelation of Anthony Wiener’s dangerous selfie…Franks adamantly denied her law suffered from significant…deficiencies.  But quietly, while no one was looking, the law morphed to include a…“Sydney Leathers exception”…even though few people know or care who Sydney Leathers is…Then came the viral twit…of a woman whose model plane strayed off course…and some snarky lawyer pointed out that anyone who retwitted it may well have committed a crime under Franks’ law.  Deniers strained to contend that could never happen,  convincing no one.  But it didn’t take long before…Arizona [enacted]…its…revenge porn…law…The crime went from misdemeanor to felony…and it has no “Anthony Wiener Sydney Leathers exception”…The sound you hear is Mary Anne Franks applauding as Crazy Joe Arpaio rounds up as many people…as he can find…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #352) letter from Njong

Stephanie Wilson was reaching for a receipt inside a paper shopping bag from Saks Fifth Avenue when she found a letter pleading, “HELP HELP HELP”…from a man who…made the bag while being unfairly held in a Chinese prison factory…The note…was signed Tohnain Emmanuel Njong and was accompanied by a small passport-photo sized color picture… DNAinfo New York…located…Njong…who…said he had been teaching English in…Shenzhen when he was arrested in May 2011 and [wrongly] charged with fraud…he was forced to work long days in a factory, starting at 6 a.m. and continuing as late as 10 p.m…in December 2013…he…was put on a plane back to Cameroon…relatives…had believed him to be dead…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #415) 

Can you imagine this in an American paper?

…the government is leaning heavily towards the…Nordic model…as featured in [Joy Smith’s] Tipping Point report…Smith starts with a pre-conceived notion that presumes something which is simply not true, but is rather a sop to her own sensibilities…Eliminate prostitution?  With a law?…Maybe if Smith jumps up and down, holds her breath until she turns blue, and wishes really, really hard that’ll happen.  But I doubt it…

Best part:  the author’s an ex-cop.

All About the Men

Heather Berg’s criticism of Katha Pollitt’s ninnyish “OMG, men might see WHORES!!!1!!” essay from early last month makes the same point I made in “Dilemmas”: workers are not responsible for the moral failings (real or imaginary) of those who employ them.

…By making sex work exceptional, analyses like [these] ask us to forget that the wage system functions precisely by compelling us to work…If only everyone who opposes forcing people to work under threat of poverty and homelessness would join the struggle for a guaranteed annual income…the nature of a product is irrelevant to how we should theorize, legislate, or organize the labor involved in producing it.  Workers are not socially accountable for whatever may come from their work.  To accept otherwise encourages the over-identification with work that management finds so efficient in getting us to do more for less.  It allows capital to extract not only time, but also ethical responsibility from workers…

Though Berg’s view proceeds from a Marxist background and mine from a classical liberal one, we agree on both this subject and on the advisability of a guaranteed income.

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Project ROSE is a diversion program like a person who pushes ten people onto the train tracks and pulls three off is a hero.  –  Ryan Beck Turner

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

It’s especially satisfying when a vice cop is the victim:

…Denver police detective…Michael Ryan…[is under] investigation [for] solicitation of a prostitute…Ryan works in DPD’s Vice and Narcotics unit and was instrumental in the investigation that led to federal judge Edward Nottingham resigning in the face of accusations he had patronized prostitutes.  Ryan…also served on a human trafficking task force…

A False Dichotomy 

Another good essay from Belle Knox:

…The concept of the desperate exchange permeates discussions about sex work…People assume that my support for sex workers and porn is somehow invalidated because I chose to do porn for the money rather than for love.  They act as though this is some shocking victory for them because being a sex worker wasn’t my dream job…it now somehow reverts to being morally wrong, and I become another pitiable whore to be dismissed at leisure…of course I do porn for money.  It’s a job, not a summer retreat…The majority of people don’t work every day for fun; they do it because they want…something in exchange.  Do you honestly think that the people working at McDonald’s flipping burgers and responding to rude customers on a daily basis would come to work every day if they weren’t getting paid?  Moreover, do you think as a child their dream job was to do this?…

Rooted in Racism

Police in southern France have been accused of racism after asking local hotel owners to report the arrival of Eastern European guests, in a bid to crackdown on certain crimes like pimping…a national police union official [pretended]…”(It) would not violate the values of the Republic by advocating snitching…in the fight against pimping speed is essential”…French authorities have taken a hard line against the presence of Roma people from Romania and Bulgaria, repeatedly bulldozing their unsanctioned settlements and expelling them from France…

For more examples of “sex trafficking” and “the fight against prostitution” as excuses for racism and xenophobia, see here, here, here and here.

Umpteen Thousand People Can’t Be Wrong

It takes a special kind of stupidity for a reporter to call for censorship:

Young girls are being sold online for sex…but not much is being done to stop…the most popular websites…Backpage.com…makes millions of dollars each month from “escort” and “body rub” listings.  Portland police…said it’s frustrating to know Backpage.com makes money off illegal activity, but if it went away, another similar site that is less cooperative with law enforcement would likely pop up…

Divided We Fall

when…Queer Strike “named and shamed” LGBTI organizations who they said were refusing to help decriminalize sex work in the [UK], the picture they gave was misleading…in most cases it simply wasn’t part of those organizations’ remits.  This is a particular issue under British charity law, which means they have to stick to their stated “charitable aims”…

Feet of Clay

I’m really pleased to see Reason doing a lot more on sex worker rights these days, and doubly glad to see “sex trafficking” in scare quotes:

…If you could put a date on when modern-day progressives fully re-inhabited the moral rigidity of their…forebears, it might be September 24, 2012.  That’s when Village Voice Media…split off…Backpage.com after a years-long, progressive-led campaign to shutter the site over claims that it facilitates “sex trafficking”.  “If street pimps go to jail for profiteering on under-age girls, should…Village Voice Media really get a pass?”  New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the country’s most prominent progressive scold, wrote in a March 2012 column that blamed Backpage for the 2003 peddling of a 16-year-old prostitute, even though the site didn’t exist in 2003.  “Paradoxically, Village Voice began as an alternative newspaper to speak truth to power.  So it’s sad to see it accept business from pimps”…Kristof had the paradox almost exactly backward.  It is he and his fellow crusaders, not the buyers and sellers of controversial products and services, who are aggrandizing power at the expense of the little guy and mangling truth in the service of that unseemly goal…

True Colors

This title of this New Yorker article would seem to indicate a general piece about HIV in the American South, but it’s really much more about Deon Haywood, Women With a Vision and the arson which destroyed their offices on May 24th, 2012.  The responsible party was never caught, but here’s a clue:  the fire was started by piling up all the reproductive health models and posters in one room and setting them ablaze.

Think of the Children! (TW3 #23) Christy Mack

Sex rays can apparently enter one Lego construction and be randomly emitted from other Legos elsewhere, presumably via quantum tunneling:

[In January]…Christy Mack…tweeted [“Whoever builds me the best Lego creation to put in my house gets a blow job”]… The response on Twitter was enthusiastic, to say the least…Unfortunately for Mack’s fans, and toy store proprietors nationwide…the Lego challenge drew to an abrupt close…[when] lawyers for the company had contacted her, objecting to her usage of the Lego name…

Broken Record

They won’t stop until they extend the “gypsy whores” myth to every possible event:  “An undercover sting operation targeting prostitution and child sex trafficking netted five arrests in Augusta [Georgia]…because of the Masters Golf Tournament…

Another Example of Swedish “Feminism” (TW3 #36)

Who cares that a woman was stabbed?  The sadfeelz of naïve prudes are much more newsworthy!

Hookers are using…Airbnb…to turn prime Manhattan apartments into temporary brothels…One apartment…belongs to publicist Jessica Penzari…But when a hooker got slashed by a client in the…apartment over the price…Penzari got a call from cops…Airbnb put her up in the swanky InterContinental hotel in Times Square for two nights…and also paid to change her door locks, clean her apartment and replace her pillows and other belongings…Airbnb said…“we have zero tolerance for this activity”…

According to the Post, having a snack at your desk is “turning prime office space into a temporary restaurant”.

Under Every Bed

The underworld of prostitution and human trafficking is a dark one, often hidden from the public eye, but it exists in [Alabama] a lot more than one may think…”We used to be just a pass through state,” said Pat McCay with the Madison County Human Trafficking Task Force.  “They would come from Atlanta to Memphis…Now they are staying”…

The event which sparked all this portentous talk of vast criminal cartels?  A cop arrested a massage girl.  Of course the reporter has to get the usual self-important bile from a “legitimate” masseuse.

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) 

As the days pass with no sign of [missing 8-year-old] Relisha [Rudd], some…believe she may have been sold into a child sex trafficking operation.  They point to the wads of cash and expensive items Relisha’s mother and boyfriend flaunted on Facebook in the days following the little girl’s disappearance…Andrea Powell…of FAIR Girls…says, “There’s kids as young as 5, 6, 7.”  The average age of entry into this dark and devastating underworld is 13…Relisha RuddIn Washington, D.C. alone, the trafficking of children is a $100-million industry…

Given that the population of the Washington metro area is 5.8 million, that would make the “trafficking of children” worth over $5 billion in the US as a whole.  The level of mathematical illiteracy required to believe such a blatant absurdity constitutes a national crisis vastly greater than “sex trafficking” could ever be.

I Saw My Brain

Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Fla…brought felony charges…in October 2013 against two girls, 12 and 14, after the suicide a month earlier of a third girl, Rebecca Sedwick…[Judd] charged the two girls, Katelyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, with aggravated stalking and released their names and mugshots…He made it sound like they posed an urgent risk…A month later, prosecutors dropped the charges after…failing to find evidence of [Judd’s claims]…Judd’s tendency to overdo it isn’t news to the voters who elected him…a…suspect [was shot]…68 times…he boasted of arresting a man for running an Internet pornography site out of his home…[he] took the basketball hoops out of the local jail and stopped supplying inmates with underwear…[he uses] pepper spray on detained juveniles

Micromanagement

Is there anything more worthless than an “authority’s” promise?

French investigators began taking DNA samples…from 527 male students and staff at a high school…as they searched for the assailant who raped a teenage girl on the closed campus…All those who received summonses…were warned that any refusal could land them in police custody…Authorities have promised to discard the DNA collected once a donor is eliminated as a suspect…

One Born Every Minute (TW3 #338)

A French fundamentalist priest repeatedly raped three teachers at the school he ran in…Paris during so-called exorcisms…[he] was indicted this week on charges of rape, cruelty and torture…he had first raped one teacher during an exorcism to purge her of the “evil” from a previous sexual assault…[then] used his “spiritual influence” to convince two [others]…to undergo similar exorcisms…[which included torture with] a broom, a toothbrush and scissors…Police became involved only last year when two of the women reported the rapes to authorities…[but] several years ago the…society of St. Pius X tried him in a religious hearing and sentenced him to two years in a monastery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #343)

A strong criticism of the ethical bankruptcy of Project ROSE from academics studying “human trafficking”:

This program is ostensibly designed to “rescue” victims…of sexual exploitation, yet there is no form of victim identification at any point in the process.  Rather than attempting to assess whether someone is being coerced…they threaten the arrested person with prosecution…If sex trafficking victims/survivors do not meet the “perfect victim” criteria and are convicted, they will face mandatory minimum sentencing in Arizona’s particularly brutal prison system…It…bears little resemblance to anything that could be considered an anti-sex trafficking program…and…is a tragically absurd version of a “diversion” program.  Instead of keeping people out of the criminal justice system, it sweeps them up and funnels them in…Project ROSE is responsible for at least 100 percent more incarcerations than “diversions”…ASU social workers…are acting like colonial missionaries – they offer to “save” the sex workers they perceive as helpless and damaged, but should [they] not gratefully accept…“help,” then armed…men are at the ready – “for their own good.”

Crumbling House

We are aware of certain allegations that have surfaced…regarding Somaly’s history…We are treating these accusations with the utmost seriousness…the Foundation has recently launched an independent, third party investigation to further examine these claims …

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

According to STRASS, sex workers are increasingly marginalized and insecure since the parliamentary debate on the criminalization of clients…attacks against prostitutes have increased…On the night of March 31…a Chinese prostitute was stabbed to death…“Her assailant was known to be a bad customer so she would have refused him if she had the means.  But she had been unable to work for several days, due to constant police operations targeting Chinese women, and was therefore unable to take the time to choose her customers” said a STRASS statement…The police harassment has been repeatedly denounced by Doctors of the World…

Surplus Women (TW3 #413)

Remember, three weeks ago they were saying there was no serial killer.

Two registered sex offenders have been arrested in connection with killing four women in Orange County…[targeting them] because of their ties to prostitution or escort services, and investigators suspect there are more victims yet to be identified…Franc Cano…and Steven Dean Gordon…were arrested Friday evening…

Uncommon Sense (TW3 #415)

the Upper House of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat, passed a resolution calling for an objective debate…amid plans by the ruling coalition of Conservatives and Social Democrats to reform the German Prostitution Act of 2002…The Bundesrat found that debates in the public sphere and in the media were still based on prejudices, a lack of knowledge and sensationalism.  The Bundesrat particularly opposed the blanket equation of prostitution and human trafficking…[and] opposed the introduction of mandatory health checks, judging them as unreasonable and hardly expedient…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on March 23rd; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

The Vestal Virgins were among the most important people in classical Roman society; they were charged with keeping the sacred fires burning, and accorded numerous privileges in return.  One of the greatest of these was that their persons were sacrosanct; in other words, no person could touch them without their permission, upon penalty of death.  That meant no one at all, not even high state officials; a Vestal could not be touched even if she were convicted of the greatest crime of which she could be accused, that of breaking her vows by having sex or allowing the sacred fires to go out.  Because these offenses were believed to anger the gods and thus risk the safety of all Rome, the penalty for them was death; but since nobody could touch them to administer the sentence there was only one way carry it out:  the dishonored priestess was buried alive.  In order to avoid breaking another law against burialVestal Condemned to Death (attributed to Pietro Saja, about 1800) within the city, the tomb was provided with a candle and a small quantity of food and water in order to establish the legal fiction that it was a “habitable room” rather than a sepulcher, and the unlucky woman was thus left to a lingering death by slow suffocation to preserve the illusion of piety which would have been shattered by spilling her blood.

Whores are in many ways the diametric opposites of the Vestals:  we are as far from virgins as it’s possible to be, are stigmatized and rejected by our societies rather than being honored by them, and are responsible for banking men’s sexual fires rather than keeping actual ones burning.  But in the past few decades, there has arisen a legal doctrine which represents all women as helpless, pure and sacred; we are supposed to be delicate flowers who are irremediably damaged by the evil lusts of brutal men, from whom the Sacred State must “protect” us.  Harlots sin against that precept by being strong, self-willed beings who deal with men on equal ground and make a living from male lust rather than being “ruined” by it as the catechism claims we should be.  We must therefore be punished, but since Holy Writ has declared us blameless victims how can that be accomplished?  The answer, as it was for the Vestals, is slow suffocation…though in this case economic and social rather than literal.

The tomb disguised as a “habitable room” into which prohibitionists want sex workers sealed is called the “Swedish model”; just as the Vestals’ persons technically remained inviolate, so women under this abominable regime are not technically criminalized.  Our meager provisions consist of the fact that we can, on paper, carry out our work unhindered.  But just as the Vestal was prevented by the earth above her “room” from getting any more food, water or air, so Swedish prohibition attempts to starve and suffocate their victims by persecuting their clients, getting them evicted from their homes, hounding them with police surveillance, denying them social benefits and even stealing their children.  Swedish proponents even go so far as to proclaim that sex workers are “decriminalized”…just as the Romans could say that the condemned Vestals had not been directly executed.

In all of Roman history, only ten Vestals were ever condemned to this horrible fate.  But unfortunately for the mad totalitarian dreams of the prohibitionists, there are millions of whores in the world; it would be absolutely impossible for them to ever entomb all of us, no matter how fervently they might wish to do so.  In order to advance their scheme to extinguish as many of us as possible, they must find and close up every possible gap through which economic sustenance might flow, and that means eliminating our means of attracting and contacting clients.  Increased police surveillance could drive street workers into the dark, dangerous places where the Pure and Holy need not see them, but street work has always been a minority of all sex work and that’s even more true now thanks to the internet (which allows incredibly cheap advertising with greater reach than even the most expensive venues had twenty years ago).  Banning escort advertising has no effect whatsoever; there is no way to stop people from hiding commercial sex adverts within other, unbanned forms, and almost no way to stop buyers living under such a censorship regime from accessing websites hosted outside its jurisdiction.  This utterly infuriates the prohibitionists, who are well aware of sex workers and clients conducting our business right under their noses; they have therefore embarked upon an all-out effort to destroy its most visible manifestations, no matter what the costs in human rights.  Irish prohibitionists have proposed giving police the power to steal sex workers’ phone numbers in order to convert them into traps for clients.  Scottish prohibitionists, defeated in their attempt to impose the Swedish model, are trying to drum up support for advertising censorship by demonizing clients.  And American prohibitionists are willing to totally destroy the internet as we know it:

…members of Congress have asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute Backpage.com for its role in prostitution and sex trafficking or to recommend legislation that would make prosecution possible…[they claim] that…tens of thousands of children are sold for sex…every year…Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 protects websites from liability for content posted by a third party. That means a website can’t be prosecuted when someone posts an illegal ad on their website…

Vestal Condemned to DeathWere websites to be held liable for third-party content, they would have no choice but to shut it down.  All of it.  Amazon reviews, YouTube videos, comments on websites, free hosting of sites like mine on larger entities like WordPress…all gone, wiped out overnight.  If you think this only applies to American websites, guess again; a large fraction of the internet’s backbone is on American soil, and the US government has given itself the power to shut down any website in any country which it decides has violated some US law, through the simple expedient of shutting down traffic to it at the point it passes through the US.  And while the article above restricts its language to “children”, others are more honest about the politicians’ intent:

…proposed legislation…would allow for federal felony charges to be brought against operators of web sites that fuel the illicit sex trade through commercial ads…Under the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation Act, individuals would face felony charges for promoting an advertisement…that…facilitates any of numerous crimes against children and adults in the sex trade, including…pimping and prostitution.  The legislation would also allow federal authorities to shut down advertisements…

What these megalomaniacs seek is nothing less than the power to shut down any escort’s ad and to prosecute the website that carries it; even websites outside the US could be attacked as described above.  There is probably very little danger of the Roasting the Pig By Burning Down the House Act going through, or of it withstanding a challenge even if it did; US judges have repeatedly proven themselves wiser than politicians by striking such laws down every time they’ve been tried.  But the fact that they do keep trying is a measure of their hatred and disdain for the women they wish to suffocate in the name of “protecting” our sacred bodies from “violation” by consensual sex.

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