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Posts Tagged ‘cops’

 Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard.  –  Sharee Sanders Gordon

Acting and Activism Scully confused

Another entry in the clueless celebrity division of “sex trafficking” fetishism:

Hollywood actress Gillian Anderson says the growing problem of human trafficking must no longer be ignored, and hopes her new film [Sold] about a young Nepali girl sold as a sex slave will highlight the horrors of the trade…Anderson…rose to fame playing Agent Dana Scully in The X-Files

Remember, kids, an actor doesn’t actually have to be skeptical or rational to play a rational, skeptical character on TV.  But really, Anderson’s right at home in a story based on ridiculous, exaggerated conspiracy theories, so I guess it makes sense.

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

This otherwise-typical collection of “sex trafficking” tropes contains an interesting inflation; prohibitionist politician Jeffrey Chiesa claimed that his favorite masturbatory fantasy “is most likely to occur at large stadiums or arenas with a steady stream of events”…in other words, he’s claiming that the so-called “trafficking” occurs at the stadium itself, merely than in the host city.  It’ll be interesting to see if this particular absurdity catches on.

Law of the Instrument

The need to see all transactional sex as coercive is a mental illness:

The Gucci handbag often gives her away.  Along with the expensive lingerie, the sex toys, the designer watch and the multiple iPhones.  But the dead giveaway is the tattoo, often of the pimp’s street name, marked on the back of her neck or the inside of her wrist.*  Sometimes, there is another woman in the hotel room known as the “bottom bitch” who is in charge of…ensuring the working girl hustles seven days a week and has sex with up to 15 men a day…young girls…are being trafficked by pimps…having sex with countless men and never seeing a dollar of their earnings**.  Everyone agrees they are victims…The girls are often beaten to keep them in line and some are fed drugs to get them addicted…[usually they] are hostile and refuse help, often suffering from Stockholm syndrome…

**See “The Widening Gyre” below.
*Except for the money they use to buy the Gucci handbags, expensive lingerie, designer watches and multiple iPhones, of course.

Maier’s Law

When the facts don’t fit the theory

…South Carolina…investigators are looking…for…indicators that [arrested masseuses] were involved in a larger-scale human-trafficking operation…the women…specifically told authorities they weren’t [coerced].  One…drove a BMW and another a Mercedes, and each explained to authorities that “this was just their job”…but the…case does share some similarities with many recent cases…that have been described as human trafficking.  From Colorado to Michigan and from Alabama to the Carolinas, dozens of…trafficking rings have been uncovered.  Many times, the businesses are masquerading as…massage parlors, but they offer no licensed therapists…

The obtuseness of both cops and reporter is almost Pythonesque.

The Law of Averages 13 cult

This particular myth-element has grown so large, it has become a cultic totem:

April Bentley…stood alongside more than 50 volunteers …on the steps of the Milwaukee Central Library to promote the campaign dubbed  “Unlucky Thirteen,” which…is meant to call attention to sex trafficking …through the number 13 — the average age a person starts being trafficked for sex…

As is typical, Bentley’s experiences supposedly took place decades in the past…much too long ago to actually check on.

Profit from Panic

Notice that none of those supposed activities actually produce any concrete, measurable results that might have to be reported to investors:

Through EPCAT USA, the leading anti-trafficking policy organization…the travel industry is taking an active role against sex tourism…with continued support ECPAT USA can continue fighting for these child victims of exploitation. A gift of $50, $100, $250 or any amount will be used to…advocate for improved…laws…Raise awareness that children are being commercially sexually exploited…Equip…students to fight this problem…[and] collaborate with ECPAT affiliates around the world…

The Widening Gyre

There’s a PhD dissertation in examining the absurdities people will believe without any proof whatsoever if they’re part of a moral panic:

Sharee Sanders Gordon…an…attorney in Los Angeles, said…One middle school…is having a serious problem with prostitution…“Young ladies are being grabbed off bus stops and forced into prostitution…and it’s happening in our own back yard”…According to Gordon, a pimp in San Diego County brands his girls with tattoos inside their mouths, as if they were property.  The branding is all part of the pimps’ indoctrination process…

Worse Than I Thought

However horrible a fad law is already, Louisiana politicians can figure out a way to make their version worse:

Governor Jindal signed four bills into law that will crack down on human trafficking in Louisiana…HB 1025…[creates] the crime of “unlawful purchase of commercial sexual activity” and…expands the definition of “racketeering activity” to include pornography involving juveniles [and] computer-aided [violation of any prostitution law]…It…[also permits] the court to seize…personal property…HB 569…[establishes]…human trafficking courts…HB 1105 …requires posting of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline in outpatient abortion facilities.  Often perpetrators of human trafficking force women and children to undergo abortions so that the victims can continue working in the industry…HB 1262…requires that, prior to undergoing an…abortion, a woman must be provided with information on coerced abortions and human trafficking…

Yes, the first law defines any sex worker who advertises on the internet and any client who contacts her via the internet as a gangster.  Note also the increasing connection between “sex trafficking” hysteria and abortion restrictions, which activists have been predicting for several years now.

Thought Control would-be censor Andrea Lavigne

Grosse Pointe Park [Michigan] residents demanded that the Metro Times be banned in the city and in libraries…[the excuses] went beyond typical complaints about obscenity when some charged the…tabloid’s advertisers with promoting human trafficking…the editor…countered that [sex work] ads are no more sexually explicit than many of the books on public library shelves.  And she said that complaints about sex trafficking should be taken to police, not to librarians…officials…[insisted] that constitutional freedom-of-speech guarantees would trigger a lawsuit…The…Library Board…then voted…to stack the Metro Times out of sight…Patrons…will have to ask for copies from now on…

King of the Hill

Forget about states or even cities; a New York politician claims he can place the “epicenter” of “sex trafficking” on one particular street:

…Sen. Jose Peralta…said…“Roosevelt Avenue is a mecca of human trafficking in Queens and throughout the five boroughs…[gangs] are participating in bringing women from all over the world…right to Roosevelt Avenue…It’s really a hub and epicenter of human trafficking”…

Checklist

This article includes the following telltale indicators of “sex trafficking”:

Warning signs include sleeping bags in nail salons…or workers who appear exceptionally young…a young girl might refer to an older man as her…”daddy”…Other signs might be security measures…[such as] barbed wire inside a fence or bars covering the insides of windows…

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) Tracy Dean

A young woman leaves home after telling friends that she was in some kind of trouble; naturally, all possible explanations are instantly discarded in favor of the panic du jour:

A 17-year-old Washington girl missing for the last [month] left a chilling message in her journal…”If you’re reading this, I’m either missing or dead”…Authorities fear she’s become a victim of human trafficking…The blue-eyed brunette left behind her cellphone, ID, bank cards and the eyeglasses she needs to see…”She had been telling some people for a while that she was involved in something, that she was in over her head, that she was scared. But they couldn’t get any more information than that out of her,” [said] her…mother, Lynda Jorgenson…

Dysphemisms Galore

Cops and prosecutors do their best here to make a perfectly ordinary escort service, much like the one I owned, seem like a sinister and nefarious criminal conspiracy; of course, any sex worker or client can tell this was written by a pompous clown:

Investigators say [Amber Batts, who is] accused of sex trafficking to roughly 800 clients in [Alaska] maintained a slick website and multiple payment methods — which led straight to her bank account [as opposed to where?]…“The website advertises for escort services…and is organized into different sections, including a…‘providers’ (listing the women being trafficked)…the Blog section… describes a sexual encounter for money.”  The material on the website also included advice for patrons of the sex trafficking ring…

Profit from Panic (TW3 #321)

Other countries teach their young people math and science; we indoctrinate ours in ridiculous myths and teach boys to demonize their own sexuality:

…20 [high school] seniors…watched a documentary about child sex trafficking and wanted to do something about it…The students…visited with a [cop] who specializes in [persecuting sex workers] and talked with [a politician]…”Harsher punishments for johns,” said Ben Prewitt.  “If there were harsher punishments, the demand would go down”…Prewitt wanted [paying for sex] to be a felony with a requirement to be registered as a sex offender…the average age of a victim is 16 with some as young as 8…Jeff Goode said he used to live behind three strip clubs…and saw some of the ugliness surrounding the places…

That “as young as 8″ is popping up often now; look for the focus to shift to that number soon.

Schadenfreude (TW3 #322) Paul Libri

More of this, please:

…Tim Taylor of the Metro Atlanta Human Trafficking Task Force…isn’t Tim Taylor.  His real name is Paul Michael Libri.  He has a criminal record and currently faces trial for impersonating a police officer…Libri…is seen as a pest by police officers – someone in the way when they are trying to solve trafficking cases…

Long Spoon

These people are NOT allies!

…anti-human-trafficking advocates raised concern about the arrests of adult females [in FBI raids]…even adult women in the sex trade likely began as trafficked children…“The vast majority of those people…are currently victims, or they have been victims,” said Lauren Hersh…Traffickers and pimps subject their victims to a process called  “seasoning,” involving rape and forced drug use to break down the woman who is to be sold…

Lauren Hersh is a prosecutor who resigned in disgrace for railroading men for rape; she’s a sleazy prohibitionist whose most recent scheme involved trying to set up fake sex worker organizations to lobby for imposition of the Swedish model.  Also note the latest “trafficking” fantasy-term no actual sex worker ever heard of.

Vendetta

There’s never a shortage of politicians willing to lick Swanee Hunt’s arse:

The city of Boston has launched an initiative to reduce demand for prostitution…by going after the men who buy sex…Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the program…at a [prohibitionist circle-jerk]…Boston…is partnering with Demand Abolition…to develop and implement campaigns…to disrupt the commercial sex industry…

A Mound of Filth

It’s hard to imagine how this article could be more fellatory:

…Young women who used to be dismissed as bad-girl prostitutes are now recognized as victims…That’s where Arizona is now, as police, prosecutors and courts look for realistic ways to deal with people whose histories left wounds and unspeakable scars…Making the effort to identify victims of sexual trafficking among minors arrested for…other crimes is part of the new paradigm…Gov. Jan Brewer gets credit for naming a task force…to look into how little girls become merchandise in the sex trade…Take a moment to savor this shining example of public officials doing absolutely the right thing.

Nice While It Lasted

How can the perpetrators of this violent GFE “circuit” hope to outwit a genius who can violate the Law of Conservation of Energy at will?

In an effort to combat prostitution and sex trafficking, California’s Oakland police department is engaging in…public humiliation…On a new website, the department lists the mug shots of alleged pimps and johns, along with their names, dates of birth and charges…Kevin Wiley…describes Oakland as “the hub of the West for child prostitution.”  Oakland and Eastern counterpart Atlanta, he says, tend to be entry points into “the circuit,” a human-trafficking ring that cycles victims around the country…Prostitution is becoming more…closely associated with shootings, homicides and the illegal drug market…“We don’t have a lot of resources,” he says. “But the ones we have, we dedicate 110%”…

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Several more children are likely to die waiting for New York to implement its medical marijuana program.  –  Judy Netherland

I apologize for today’s column being unfinished when it posted earlier; this is the sort of thing that will inevitably happen from time to time while I’m on the road, and I suppose I should be glad it didn’t happen prior to today.  Since Radley Balko had a slight lead over the other contributors I put his links before the first video, which was sent to me by my friend Phil; the second video is from Nun Ya, and the links between the two from Grace (“fiction”), Rick Horowitz (“curfew” and “animals”), Mike Siegel (“laws”), Jesse Walker (“lizards”), and Walter Olson  (“together”).

From the Archives

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Sex work is part of the human story.  Accepting and embracing sex work…should be our humane, as well as our pragmatic, approach to the reality of our human lives.  –  Richard Horton and Pamela Das

Rough Trade

Two [Frankfurt] men were sentenced…to long prison terms for raping and abusing two prostitutes…A 34-year-old has…ten years and three months…[while] his 33-year-old accomplice was sentenced to eight years and three months…

License to Rape

Two American paratroopers stationed at a US military base in Italy have been arrested for allegedly beating, raping and robbing a pregnant Romanian prostitute…The suspects…agreed to pay…But after the three reached a secluded area, they allegedly decided to get what they wanted for free.  The two…beat up and raped the prostitute…for…three hours…then…left [her]…in the…field…and made off with her purse…

Lying Down With Dogs

From Vietnam:

…the People’s Committee has asked the National Assembly to…[increase] the…penalties on sex buyers and publicly naming them in the local community and…[to replace] the words “sexual intercourse” with “sexual satisfaction” [in the law] in order to cover behavior causing sexual arousal and the sex trade of homosexuals…

Saving Them From Themselves

The UK continues its drive to become a colony of the US:

Police have warned teenagers of the risks that…”sexting”, can pose to their safety, with the possibility they could wind up on the sex offenders’ register.  Several teenagers have already been cautioned over the practice…and police have stressed the risk that sexting poses to teens’ future welfare, as well as their criminal record…

Schadenfreude 

I don’t think I’ll ever tire of seeing rescue industry figures exposed as frauds:

…Lady Katerine Nastopka…was surprised to see [reporters] at her fundraiser for the Rescue Children From Human Trafficking Foundation…In 2011, she made national headlines when she called herself a “Countess”…[and] claimed she had a connection to the famous Guggenheim family of New York.  Police arrested her and two others on charges of fraud for lying about the connection.  As part of a plea deal, she promised the court she would never use the Guggenheim name again…Nastopka…agreed to [speak to reporters but]…the interview never happened because [she] ran away…none of [the politicians she claimed as members of her board of directors]…know anything about [it]…

The Sky is Falling!

A reporter breathlessly asks if dating sites have a “prostitution problem“, in other words if sex workers use them to advertise.  You know, like sex workers have been using personal ads to advertise for as long as such things have existed.  But poor little Caitlin seems to imagine that the practice only started with “the advent of Craigslist”, and furthermore that large numbers of professional escorts will waste their time going on dates without first ascertaining whether money is forthcoming.  Her ignorance is so pronounced that it merely comes across as cute rather than deeply insulting when she suggests that it’s sex workers who need (presumably compulsory) “safe-sex education” rather than her fellow amateurs.

A Broker in Pillage

…the US Embassy in Pretoria…announced that the Department of Justice was conducting a workshop to teach South African law enforcement the practice of civil forfeiture…civil forfeiture is anti-democratic, and allows law enforcement agencies in the executive branch to attain some degree of independence from civilian or democratic oversight…foreign partnerships in law enforcement investigations allow the DOJ the ability to use worldwide NSA dragnet surveillance to find and acquire targets for asset forfeiture, particularly under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)

An Example To the West

retired sex workers in Zimbabwe have opened a prostitution consultancy…to help young women protect themselves from being taken advantage of.  Lima Mankarankara (65) said they teach the new sex workers about the industry and how it works.  They also teach them how to handle clients…pizza girl

The Widening Gyre

I have a mental bet with myself about how silly these “slavery” claims will get before the end of the panic.  Bonus meme: pizza!

…Newspaper Expressen reported earlier this week that human traffickers had gone from “just” selling sex to selling women as lifelong slaves.  The newspaper’s sources said the cost for a slave…is €2,000 ($2680).  For 700 kronor ($100) one can rent a couple of girls for a day, for cooking, cleaning, or anything else…”It’s like ordering a pizza,” Per Hjort, a Stockholm detective, [said]…

King of the Hill

Most of this is the typical masturbatory filth (including the vile claim that most men who pay for sex are pedophiles), but it does include a link to the DoJ fantasy “report” which produced the infamous “top 13 child sex trafficking hubs” list: Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Dallas, Detroit, Tampa, Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, New York, Washington, Las Vegas and St. Louis.  I do not believe these are intended to be in order of magnitude, so I’ll just count them as “top 13″ claims. Lancet sex work infographic

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #44)

The biggest news story of the week was the release of a World Health Organization report calling for total decriminalization of both drugs and sex work; it was accompanied by this reiteration of The Lancet‘s support for our position:

Sex work must be decriminalised if the world is to stand a chance of controlling the AIDS pandemic, say scientists contributing to a series of research papers in the Lancet medical journal.  Sex workers…are subject to repression, violence and abuse…at the hands of those who are supposed to uphold the law, according to the series of seven research papers presented at the International AIDS Conference…decriminalisation of sex work…across all settings…would reduce HIV infections by 33% to 46% over the next decade…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Neofeminist rhetoric and pop “addiction” charlatanry has now been completely incorporated into evangelical Christian beliefs about sexual “sin” to form a fully-developed “sex trafficking” religion:

Opposition to sex trafficking is almost universal…But many also…believe pornography production and distribution is a “victimless crime.”  They don’t connect the dots that lead from pornography directly to sex trafficking.  Pornography is a powerful stimulant that can actually alter brain patterns, creating addiction…Our sexualized culture, with its constant sexual portrayal of women, affects not only boys and men but girls and women, too.  Mass-marketing advertising campaigns directed at young girls seem to dictate that they must dress and act like prostitutes to be valued…girls increasingly view themselves as objects in a process called “sexual self-objectification.”  One result is today’s epidemic of “sexting”…Catherine Mackinon says that consuming pornography is an “experience of bought sex and thus it creates a hunger to continue to purchase and objectify, and act out what is seen.”  Pornography, she says, is “advertising for trafficking”…

Pimping the Pimp

Nevada “authorities” continue to use ridiculous “pimp” myths to enrich themselves and increase their power:

…A bill which would provide more resources for victims of human trafficking passed in the House of Representatives…Metro Police’s Vice Section rescued 91 women from the slave trade last year and 148 the year before.  The legislation could have an impact on men who trap these women. The prosecution of pimps wouldn’t be possible without the rehabilitation of survivors…The bill accesses millions of dollars for non-profits, who apply for money to serve homeless, runaway victims of severe trafficking…

Presumably, “rescued from the slave trade” actually means “arrested and caged for consensual sex”, because all the police departments in the entire country don’t discover anything like 91 coerced prostitutes per year.  And “serving victims” seems to mean “locking up whores indefinitely until they agree to participate in kangaroo courts.”

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324)

Cathy Reisenwitz spoke to some German sex workers:

…Germany’s decision to legalize prostitution not only helped sex workers, but actually decreased the number of human trafficking victims…According to the data, violence against sex workers is down, while sex workers’ quality of life is up…From 2001…to 2011, cases of sex-based human trafficking shrank by 10 percent…The mean age of a sex worker in Germany is 31.  Besides not being supported by data, the claim that legalizing prostitution increased human trafficking also defies common-sense economics…sex slang

Nasty Words (Extra Edition) 

The guy who did the massive Timeglider charts of slang terms for genitalia has unveiled three new ones: slang for sexual intercourse, for oral and anal sex, and for orgasm, bodily fluids and contraception.  Because he could.

Whimsical Notions

A group of former prostitutes has filed a lawsuit against the South Korean government seeking more than $1.2 million in compensation, alleging that it exercised significant control over their activities…The women worked in special government-designated areas near U.S. military bases beginning in the late 1950s…[the regime included] mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and women who were infected were sent to government-run camps…[where] their human rights were violated…It is thought to be the first such legal action taken by women — now elderly, but known as “western princesses” during their youth — who once worked in brothels that catered primarily to U.S. troops…in the decades after the Korean War…

Catastrophic Consequences

SCOT-PEP…exposed proposals from Police Scotland to impose unannounced “welfare visits” on sex workers who work from home…”Operation Lingle”…includes a programme of increased online surveillance of suspected sex workers, a clear violation of the civil liberties both of sex workers and the general public.  Members of the public will also be asked to speculate about which of their neighbours might be a sex worker and report them to the police, despite the fact that selling sex remains legal in Scotland…

As you may recall, we’ve seen this tactic before in Canada.

King of the Hill (All Traffick, All the Time)

Having his ridiculous numerical claims debunked multiple times in the national media hasn’t stopped Texas politician John Cornyn from making more of them:

Child sex trafficking has historically had a huge effect on the current immigration crisis in the U.S., and according to two Texas congressmen…hundreds of thousands of victims [have been] identified…”At least 700,000 people were reported as victims of international trafficking each year, 14,500-17,500 of which are women and children who are trafficked specifically into the United States”…

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #413)

Since their local case was dismissed, they took it to the feds:

…30 strippers are suing the San Diego police department after cops…forced…[them] to pose “nearly nude” for photos taken by members of the police department’s vice squad…approximately 10 officers detained the women for nearly an hour without a warrant or probable cause, and…cops made “arrogant and demeaning comments” while “ordering the women to pose in various positions and expose body parts so that the police could ostensibly photograph their tattoos”…Police department spokesperson Lt. Kevin Mayer described the raids and photos as a “routine” part of the city’s permit to regulate establishments with nudity…and…is meant to deter the women from engaging in “illegal acts”…

The Public Eye (TW3 #423) Land of Smiles poster

This is a refreshing change:

The phrase “human trafficking” conjures thoughts of sex slaves.  Most people mentally picture oppressed and exploited women…chained to a life of prostitution from which they must be freed…Erin Kamler…[traveled] to Thailand…and…found that things are not that simple…she discovered a world where politics and morality trumped human rights…feeling the need to educate the masses, Kamler…wrote a musical about Thailand’s anti-trafficking movement.  The Los Angeles premiere of Land of Smiles will run Wednesday-Saturday, July 23-26, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, before heading to Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August…[in] the story…Emma…arrives in Thailand an abolitionist wanting to “rescue” all the sex workers.  After speaking with Lipoh, who is being held at a detention center following a raid of the brothel where she worked, Emma begins to question what “rescued” really means…

Nice While It Lasted

Like hell it doesn’t:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence…Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system…he said…”This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty”…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 15th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Emperor JulianDuring the reign of the Emperor Julian a man named Numerius, who was governor of Narbonensis (what is today southern France), was accused of embezzlement by one Delphidius; because Numerius was a high official his trial was presided over by the Emperor himself.  Numerius’ defense consisted entirely of denying his guilt, but since Delphidius had no actual evidence this was enough.  When it became clear that his attempts to trick Numerius into self-incrimination had failed, and that the charge would fail with them, Delphidius cried out, “Oh, illustrious Caesar!  If it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?”  Julian’s famous (and quotable) reply was, “If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?”

The principle was not new in 4th century Rome; it is clearly stated many times in Roman law, appeared in both Athenian and Spartan legal codes, and traces of it appear in Deuteronomy.  From Rome it passed into the Western legal tradition, and it is one of the pillars of English common law.  Indeed, every schoolchild knows that a person on trial is presumed innocent until proven guilty.  However, this is no longer true in many cases; all over the West, but especially in the United States, this powerful defense against tyranny once enjoyed by everyone from beggar to prince has been slowly eroded away in the name of expediency.  Prosecutors eager to “score” convictions take advantage of the vast arsenal of overlapping laws to charge people with so many different crimes for one supposed act that conviction on even a small fraction of them would result in decades of imprisonment; the frightened (and often completely innocent) victim nearly always agrees to some lesser charge rather than face the prospect of spending most of his life in a cage where he may be repeatedly raped, tortured  and denied even the respite of death.  Intimidating a victim into confession circumvents the need to have any evidence at all, much less enough to secure conviction in court.

In some kinds of cases, however, prosecutors don’t even need this kind of barbaric threat to induce a confession, because the presumption of innocence is either directly weakened or effectively nullified by other prosecutorial weapons; or, the accusations are handled in special kangaroo courts where the presumption does not exist; or, the accused is simply punished directly by the police without the need for a trial, evidence or anything else.  And what kind of crime, you may ask, is so heinous that it justifies undermining a venerable principle and virtually ensuring that huge numbers of people will be punished for things they did not do, or else receive punishments that are wildly disproportionate to something they did do?  Mass murder, perhaps?  High treason?  Burning down orphanages?  Stealing war widows’ pensions?  Plunging whole countries into economic depression?  No, something that in the minds of American is far worse than any of those:  pleasure-seeking, especially sexual pleasure.

In many American states, if a neighbor calls the cops because the couple next door is fighting, “the husband is arrested…no matter what the wife says…and prosecuted.  Because many wives rightly refuse to cooperate with such proceedings, the Office on Violence Against Women…authorized so-called “evidence-based” prosecutions, kangaroo courts in which…hearsay…is allowed and the accused man is denied the constitutional rights of confrontation and cross-examination.”  On university campus, a similar third-party accusation can subject a young man to a “campus tribunal” such as the one described here:

…the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved…for citizens’ protection…the…allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible…Nor were [they] supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.  The [accused]…was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel…The many pages of written documentation…were dismissed as somehow not relevant…witnesses against him were not identified…nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser… 

The war against people who enjoy ingesting substances spawned an even viler abrogation of the presumption of innocence:  civil asset forfeiture, by which the police or a court can steal a victim’s property under the ludicrous pretense that it (the property) has committed a crime; since inanimate objects have no rights, the state can take it unless its owner can prove its innocence (a reversal of  the normal burden of proof).  From the drug war the practice expanded to the War on Whores, and in the US and UK the police now routinely rob sex workers and clients of money, vehicles and other property.  And when there’s nothing else for greedy cops to steal, there’s always a victim’s reputation:

[St. Louis, Missouri] police are reviving a push to…humiliate…those prowling the streets for prostitutes.  “Johns”…will receive postcards…admonishing them for their crime, giving reminders about…sexually transmitted diseases and listing their court dates…In addition, police say they plan to routinely provide local news media with mug shots of those charged with prostitution crimes…

Pillory stocksThese so-called “Dear John” letters are not unique to St. Louis, nor even to the United States; the practice of publicizing “mug shots” on television, the internet  or even billboards is also widely used.  The pretense used to justify this is that these shaming tactics are not punishments but merely “public records”; I’m sure people who lose their jobs or families due to these actions are comforted by the distinction.  The truth is obvious to anyone whose mind is not warped by the “law and order” sickness:  all of these practices – the extrajudicial punishments, the legally-sanctioned robbery, the kangaroo courts, the plea bargains – are just ways to get around the inconvenient necessity of actually having to prove a person has done something wrong before subjecting him to violence.  Oh, well, presumption of innocence had a good run, almost 3000 years; I suppose we should be grateful for that much.  But it sure was nice while it lasted.

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Defense counsel:  So you entered the house based on a lie?
Cop A.B. Beck:  Yes.
Defense counsel:  And this is your policy for domestic violence warrants?
Cop A.B. Beck:  Yes.

Usually I’m very conscientious about recording where I saw a given item first, but I’m afraid I lapsed in the case of today’s first video.  Weird Al Yankovic has released a new video every day this week to promote his new album, and so many people have tweeted them I lost track of who went first; this one was my favorite, and I think you’ll find it appropriate.  The second video (which I’m sure everyone with BDSM experience will appreciate) was sent me by Libertine Video, everything above the first was provided by Grace (who also gave us “how about now?”), and the links between the videos were contributed by Radley Balko (“fascism”), Amy Alkon  (“God”), Walter Olson (“pig”, “colony” and “police state”), Teller (“centennial”), Jesse Walker (“nightmares”), Aspasia (“not Florida”), Rick Horowitz (“terrorist”), and Popehat (“caste” and “records”).

From the Archives

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An abolitionist is an abolitionist…whether Radfem or Muslim.  It is a little bit moot whether you kill someone with a bullet or by making their lives impossible while cranking up the stigmas…You are still just as dead, and in my honest opinion the bullet is quicker and cleaner.  –  Maggie Jones

Bad Girls Alix Tichleman

Ladies, it is NEVER a good idea to provide drugs to a client, because if something goes wrong they’ll be looking for a scapegoat:

An alleged prostitute has been charged with manslaughter for injecting a Google executive with heroin and then leaving him to die of an overdose…Alix Tichelman …is being held on…$1.5 million [bail]…Forrest Timothy Hayes…died Nov. 23 on his 50-foot yacht, Escape…His body was discovered the following morning by the yacht’s captain…Police say security footage from the yacht shows…Tichelman… gathering her belongings including drugs and needles, downing a glass of wine and lowering the blinds before leaving…Tichelman had an “ongoing prostitution relationship” with Hayes that began when she met Hayes on SeekingArrangement.com…

Only the sick mind of a cop could belch out a phrase as moronic as “ongoing prostitution relationship.”

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

Get it straight, cops; you have to rape a whore not to get in trouble.  Fairly paying her demonstrates you’re not the kind of person they want in their ranks: “[Florida cop Trenton Moore] was arrested for soliciting a prostitute.  Now he’s out of a job…”  And stealing the cash from the leaders of your cop gang is an even worse idea:

….£120,000 of seized criminal cash was taken from [a Scottish] police office by…Robert Moffat…£90,000 of that cash was found in Moffat’s house and buried under a slab in his back garden…That cash was then taken by…Dean Burnett as part of a £205,000 haul he blew on gambling and vice girls…Burnett…was jailed for 45 months…but was only ordered to pay back £5000…

Rooted in Racism

Sometimes “trafficking” just means “bringing in black people“:

A 30-year-old man has been sentenced to six months in prison for attempting to smuggle refugees into Sweden, after claiming he met them at a wedding in Germany and offered them a lift back…the man…hired a car from a rental firm in Stockholm.  He opted for a vehicle which could accommodate seven people, arguing that he needed the space as he intended to transport a set of large loudspeakers…He offered a lift to six people from Eritrea, who…were seeking asylum in Germany.  He said he received €600…as a thank you…but when he was picked up by border police he had €1,150 in his pocket…

They Just Don’t Get It (TW3 #18)

Reading stuff Pennsylvania reporters write about cops is like watching fellatio porn:

…Sgt. Rick Blake said…he’s discarded the notion that prostitution is a “victimless crime” because women choose to sell their bodies.  He said many women are forced into it…”backpage.com…is a way for them to advertise without being directly out in the view of…law enforcement,” Blake said…”None of them want to lead this life”…When a Florida woman was picked up in a sting…”She thanked us because this was truly her only way to escape from the people she was being used by”…

As Mistress Matisse pointed out, “women we arrest thank us” is the moral equivalent of “she liked it when we raped her”. 

Whatever They Need To Say

Bangladesh’s oldest brothel has been shut down following pressure from local clerics and politicians…More than 750 prostitutes in Tangail City were forced out of a cluster of houses that made up the 200-year-old Kandapara brothel…after the dwelling’s owners ordered them shut…[following] a march last week demanding the eviction of the sex workers…Monowara Begum, who heads a sex-workers group at Kandapara, accused the local mayor…of…threatening the women…“He…sent dozens of young men…they told us that we have only one hour to leave…or they would burn down the brothel with kerosene”…

Under Every Bed 

Just the same old revolting “all prostitutes are pimped addicts”, but nearly all of these wastes of ink include this nowadays: “South Burlington [Vermont] is a busy city of more than 18,000 people…right on Interstate 89…

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

To commemorate the National Day of Sex Work, the Secretariat of Labour and Employment Promotion (STFE) of [Mexico City] gave 50 credentials to persons exercising sex work and recognized them as self-employed workers with social and labor rights.  The event…represents the second delivery of these documents…since last March, when the first group of 19 persons filed an injunction against the Law…which criminalized prostitution [in the city] as a crime “against the peace of the people”…[agency head] Patricia Mercado… admitted that public policy change was driven by the “Elisa Martínez” Street Brigade in Support of Women directed by Elvira Madrid and Jaime Montejo…[and] litigated by attorney Barbara Zamora…

Passive Voice

Radley Balko on a syndrome I’ve discussed before:

…Use of the passive voice in an admission of wrongdoing has become  so common that the political consultant William Schneider suggested a few years ago that it be referred to as the “past exonerative” tense.  You’ll often see a similar grammatical device when a police officer shoots someone.  Communications officers at policy agenies are deft at contorting the English language to minimize culpability of an officer or of the agency…

Policing for Profit Michael Mobley

When you’re a cop, armed robbery becomes “misdemeanor embezzlement” and decades in prison becomes a few weekends in the county jail:

[Virginia cop Michael Mobley] was sentenced to 30 days in jail…for stealing more than $3,000 from three prostitutes…he…pleaded guilty…to two counts of misdemeanor embezzlement…[and] can serve his sentence on consecutive weekends…Mobley…questioned [the victims] under the guise of a police investigation…[and stole their] money…

If he’d turned the money in to the head thugs, this would’ve been legal.

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the latest development in British “feminism”:

…Twitter has been a-bubble with prominent feminists endorsing Who Made Your Pants, a company which employs refugee women…to sew…underwear…with prices between £18 and an eye-watering £21.50 a pop…the implication (from people on Twitter, not the company itself) that not wearing them makes you not ethical or not feminist leaves a bad taste in the mouth…Many of the people who can’t afford to spend £20-plus [$34] on purportedly feminist knickers are themselves workers in a marketplace that devalues their labour.  This does not make them bad feminists, bad consumers, or bad people.  If we who are in a position of financial privilege are unable to recognise that, the fault lies with us – not with them…

Traffic Circle

Even the more ethical “human trafficking” folks are now starting to distance themselves from “sex trafficking” hysteria:

Human trafficking has become the cause célébre for sensationalist…media…a great deal of the…content is both inaccurate and irresponsible …[This] sensationalizing or falsification…is often excused…[as] “raising awareness”…[but] misinformed people…support policies and  organizations that are ultimately counter-productive…

The author, Ryan Turner, goes on to list what he considers the worst offenses:

…All human trafficking statistics should be regarded with some  skepticism…Misleading statistics obscure the true nature of the problem and…when…inevitably exposed as false or methodologically unsound, it undermines the credibility of the whole anti-trafficking movement…Conflation of sex work and sex trafficking often leads to policies that criminalize prostitution, making sex workers more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.  Meanwhile, the distinct needs of trafficking survivors are ignored in favor of “demand reduction”  programs that…harm…sex workers…Reveling in graphic details does not help victims and survivors, nor does it contribute in any meaningful way…The myopic focus on sex trafficking…draws attention away from the fact that the tomatoes we eat may be the product of forced labor in Florida…

Down Under (TW3 #350)

Prohibitionists insist decriminalization doesn’t work:

Police resolved a dispute between a sex worker and a client who refused to pay — by escorting the man to a cash machine to settle his $100 bill…A [New Zealand] police spokesperson said…”It…is a routine thing. Police would help any citizen having a disagreement whether they were a sex-worker or working in a pizza shop”…

What a Week! (TW3 #402)

Gunmen…attacked two buildings…in Baghdad’s Zayounah neighbourhood, killing at least 33 people including 29 women…there are suspicions the buildings were being used as a brothel.  The words “This is the punishment of those practising prostitution” were scrawled in black on one of the buildings…Michelle Obama bring back our girls

Here’s an excellent commentary on the story from another Maggie:

…where is the outrage…Where is the team of “British specialists” sent… to Bagdad to investigate…Where is Michelle Obama gormlessly holding up a #BringBackOurGirls sign?  Where is the hysterical Twitter campaign?  Perhaps if we were to relabel those women as “vulnerable victims of evil sex traffickers” their death might attract more sympathy?  As independent women…supporting themselves, not relying on some well funded NGO organisation to “rescue” them…they were…simply the “wrong kind of women” to be deserving of the ritual hand wringing…

Devil’s Advocate

Intellectual honesty is dead in the West:

Once we start creating sex-robots, what will be the limits we put on them?  It’s not a human being so you should theoretically be able to rock your human-like Rumba however you want, but there may be some situations that create moral panics even if the Cylon-victim involved is just a bundle of algorithms and plastic.  I asked the panel how society would deal ethically and legally with a hypothetical company that starts producing child sex-robots to satisfy deviant sexual desires…

You can guess the result.  Nobody wants to admit that a child-shaped toaster is still a toaster.

Drawing Lines

Another excellent Marijke Vonk essay:

…It’s a mistake to think that prostitutes are fundamentally different from other people…that sex is obviously and clearly different from non-sex, that sex work is strictly different from other types of work, that prostitution is clearly different from non-prostitution.  Violence against sex workers should be stopped…but it’s a mistake to think that violence won’t harm us all.  There’s no clear line between sex workers and the rest of us…

Maggie in the Media (TW3 #424)

Recorded while I was in Los Angeles early last month:

Schadenfreude (TW3 #425) 

More and more reporters are discovering the truth about “sex trafficking”:

Eden supposedly follows the life of Chong Kim…whose…story has been trumpeted [by "trafficking" fetishists while]…activists…have been busy poking holes in…it…In 2004, Kim published an essay titled “Nobody’s Concubine”…[which] has little in common with Eden.  Kim writes that she suffered abuse at home and was…raped by an acquaintance…She started working as a stripper and then for an escort service after escaping an abusive boyfriend and falling on hard times…Missing…is the desert warehouse full of teenage sex slaves in Nevada and the daring escapes described in her later accounts.  Over the years, Kim’s story has grown more lavish and sensational as the bad guys morphed from abusive clients and boyfriends to international gangs of kidnappers, pimps, human traffickers and johns that included law enforcement agents and even an unnamed former state governor…

Consult my research paper “Mind-witness Testimony” for an explanation of the psychological mechanism behind the inflation of stories like Kim’s.

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

Canada’s Bill C36 is merely the hook for this excellent essay against sexual prohibition:

…“unnatural” sex has always been problematic for moral crusaders.  For example, masturbation and homosexual acts were previously depicted as “harmful” to individual and collective health; yet such claims proved not only to be unfounded, but dangerous.  This, however, has not stopped the perfectionists among us from endorsing a new cause:  the present obsession with prostitution …the so-called deleterious effects of masturbation [were] widely discredited in…[the early] 20th century…and…by 1973, the American Psychiatric Association no longer considered homosexuality a disease…Yet here we are in the 21st century, justifying state repression of prostitution…we can get over our anxiety…whenever we come to realize that sex workers and their clients do not require “treatment”…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #428)

Many religious groups in Canada…have been enthusiastically supporting the government’s new prostitution bill…But dozens of Anglican clergy say the proposed law is immoral and endangers sex workers, and they are urging the government to withdraw it.  Rev. Bruce Bryant-Scott…has submitted an open letter to the justice committee signed by 33 of his…colleagues…

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There is little doubt…that Curtis Scherr intended to inflict severe emotional distress on his daughter-in-law and succeeded in doing so.  –  Richard Posner

Not too many good links this week; the World Cup and hearings on the new Canadian Prohibition dominated my timeline, so if there were any other good links I missed them.  Most of these items are wholly absurd; some are funny-absurd and some horrifying-absurd, but most point to a world gone mad, especially where politics is concerned.  Everything down to the first video is from Grace; the links between the videos are from Jasper Gregory (“war”), Michael Whiteacre (“LOL”),  Popehat (“bureaucracy” and “trademark”), and Mike Riggs (“horrible”); and the second video (via Brooke Magnanti) is the world’s oldest surviving song, which may help you relax after all the brain-strain produced by the other items.

From the Archives

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Theoretically, all children in the United States are at risk of being trafficked.  Theoretically, I’m at risk of drowning in a bucket or getting eaten by a cannibal.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Savaging

Enjoy this thorough denunciation of sex work “abolitionism” as “the worst abomination created by [neo]feminism” (from the French):

…these vile bastards…attempt to starve the prostitutes, to make them homeless, to…force them to change jobs…They claim that the vast majority of prostitutes are sex slaves enslaved by pimps…[feminists] are…[as] proud of the damage [they do] as the soldiers were once proud banner of the Crusades because each pillage every rape, every murder was an expression of superiority over the enemy…they pull figures out of nowhere…and prostitutes are not allowed to talk at their meetings unless they “repent”…

Parable

Another excellent parody of “sex trafficking” nonsense, this one from Marijke Vonk:

…“Marriage is happening right in our neighbourhoods” warns Angela Tite, co-founder of Concerned Maidens for America, a non-profit organisation against domestic abuse and romantic slavery…“Young women are lured in with promises of love and respect, only to find themselves entrapped in what can only be called modern-day slavery…it is estimated that over 70% of wives experience some form of violence or coercion…Nobody would choose that kind of life voluntarily” …According to the FBI, the average girl becomes involved in romantic relationships between 13 and 15, and some 500,000…are at risk of becoming victims of marriage and domestic violence every year.  “Child abuse is most commonly found inside homes” explains Mary Addington of No Child Left At Home…Over three thousand children and women  have been taken out of homes into…protective shelters, where home-raised children and wedlocked women are rehabilitated…deputy [Tom] Kreapy makes it very clear: “if it saves just one child, we must continue home-stings and neighbourhood raids”…

Saving Them From Themselves 

Cops want to create “child porn” to prosecute teen for creating “child porn” of himself.  I am not making this up:

A Manassas City [Virginia] teenager accused of “sexting” a video to his girlfriend is now facing a search warrant in which…police and…prosecutors want to take a photo of his erect penis…by taking him to a hospital and giving him an injection, the teen’s lawyers said…The teen is facing two felony charges, for possession of child pornography and manufacturing child pornography, which could lead not only to incarceration…but inclusion on the…sex offender data base for…life…

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

the “indicia” of drug-dealing has always been…bizarre…The defendant had $324 in cash in his pocket?  Proof he’s a drug dealer…If he has no cash…it’s proof he’s a major drug dealer…[who has] people who do the dirty transactions for [him]…It used to be the beeper that proved someone was a drug dealer…Then it became cellphones…The prosecution will put a cop on the stand…to explain to the ignorant…jury why that cash in the defendant’s pocket is so fundamentally different than the cash in their pockets.  (Hint: It’s because he’s a criminal)…the latest…is  [representing icons of] Santa Muerte…[as] “tools of the drug traffickers’ trade”…the…notion [of] “narco-saints” borders on incomprehensible…But give it a cool name like “narco-saint” and it suddenly turns religion into proof of guilt…

Finding What Isn’t There

At least US “authorities” don’t yet lock up people who debunk “sex trafficking”:  “Police in [The Gambia]…detained Sanna Camara, a journalist…as a result of a story…[in which police officials] admitted that [they] face challenges in combatting human trafficking…due to the unwillingness of victims or their families to aid investigations…”  In other words, those identified as “victims” refuse to play their assigned roles.

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

The Chief Justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court, Allan McEachern, ruled on July 4, 1984, that sex workers on the Davie Street stroll were a “blatant, aggressive, and disorderly public nuisance”…and…banned [them] from their neighbourhood…[they] were forced to relocate…to what became the killing fields of…Downtown Eastside, with 65 women murdered since the mid-1980s…we seek a formal, public apology from Vancouver…[and] financial reparations…for a permanent memorial near the corner of Bute and Davie streets…

Innocence Never Had

Emi Koyama on how the “trafficking” paradigm harms young sex workers:

…please don’t refer to the youth as “children”…most are 16- and 17- year olds who resent being referred to as “children”…”Rescue” approach presumes that young people have a safe home to go back to and the only problem is the presence of the “trafficker.” That is not the reality for the vast majority…Youth often engage in sex trade in order to escape from violence and abuse at home or in the child welfare system…”Rescue” only sends them back to the unsafe situation that they are escaping from in the first place…It may be convenient for…society to pretend that…violence only comes from pimps and sex buyers, but it is not true…police, hospitals, and schools are much larger source of violence than pimps in the life of street youth…

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

The parental filters of U.K. ISPs are blocking 20 percent of the 100,000 most-visited websites…according to the Open Rights Group…”Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people…can’t access their websites…there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked”…

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

Your periodic reminder that Dennis Hof really is a revolting excuse for a human being:

The man who owns a well-known brothel in Nevada…is submitting plans to Phoenix city leaders asking permission to open a similar business…a month before the Super Bowl and then close it down a month after…”After [an] initial $500,000 up front, the city would take in additional tax dollars…I was raised in Phoenix…and prostitution was rampant then and is still a problem now…I do background checks on all my girls, they get tested frequently, I will cut down on the pimps and the clients will not go to an illegal source for sex if they have a legal source…Phoenix is one of the worst sex trafficking places in America and this will combat that”…

Drawing Lines

Another good one from Belle Knox, this time on Jezebel:

…I am often asked if there is solidarity among sex workers.  The answer, as I’ve come to slowly and painfully discover, is no.  We’re all essentially doing the same job — selling tickets to a fantasy — so you might imagine that, like retail, food service, or any other profession, we might have some form of solidarity.  But what I’ve learned about the…whorarchy…has helped shed some light on some of the lies I believe all women are buying to one degree or another…

Meanwhile Margaret Corvid, the dominatrix whose writing I criticized in the original of this title, apologized for her original wording and wrote this article to demonstrate her real feelings on the subject:

…I’ve seen the reports of people…forced to do sex work.  They are called trafficked women, and are often depicted at the point of a police raid, with flashing cameras shoved in their faces…I write today to stand with Agustin, Grant, and Maggie McNeill, who have so powerfully argued that this portrayal, and the very concept of “sex trafficking” that underpins it, is a myth…[which] deprives sex workers of agency and identity, as it…fetishises our lives and bodies…

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

If your local cops claim that “prostitution is…one of the biggest problems they face,” I suggest it’s time to stop wasting money on a police department.  The most hilarious part of this article: the idea that there is such a thing as a “legal escort service” that can be “differentiated from illegal prostitution”.  Blah blah blah “not a victimless crime”, blah blah children, blah dirty whores, blah disease, blah licenses, booga booga SEX TRAFFICKING!

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

Elizabeth Brown analyzes the danger of the latest “sex trafficking” Trojan horse:

The “Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act“…would…require all sites that host adult advertising (whether paid or free)…to review ads before publication, request a valid telephone number and credit card number from each poster, “prohibit the use of euphemism and codewords”…and prohibit the use of prepaid debit cards or cryptocurrencies in placing paid ads.  For sites that run paid adult advertisements, publishers would be responsible for verifying the identity of every person who placed an adult ad by obtaining a copy of a government-issued ID containing their name, photo, and date of birth.  The publisher would have to hold on to these records for seven years and make them…available to the ["authorities" on demand]…The bill insists that information won’t be used against registrants in criminal proceedings unrelated to sex trafficking.  But knowing how fond government and law enforcement officials are of privacy and keeping promises, you can see why those advertising adult services…may be reluctant to hand over such information…

The most important real-world effect of this law would be to drive virtually 100% of adult advertising to sites hosted outside of the US.

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

A landmark bill in France that would see clients of prostitutes hit with fines of up to €1,500 may never see the light of day after senators voted to scrap the legislation…Senator Esther Benbassa cited the bad example…[of] Sweden where…it has failed to reduce prostitution and simply made life more dangerous for sex workers…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423) C-36 protest

The proposed prostitution bill could make sex work even more dangerous and may be unconstitutional, more than 200 legal experts said in an open letter to the prime minister …In fact, they argue, it’s no better than the old law struck down by the Supreme Court late last year for violating sex workers’ Charter rights…

If Men Were Angels

A job centre employee has admitted demanding sex from unemployed former prostitutes in exchange for work…[and] is now facing sexual assault and bribery charges…The man had been responsible for a project since 1990 in which women who wanted to escape prostitution were found work…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

Digging through the prohibitionist nonsense in this article yields this kernel:

…Dolly has been home…to 1,187 sex workers and 311 pimps (according to official data)…Unofficial reports found no fewer than 9,000 people, including those operating hundreds of lodges, cafés, karaoke bars, massage parlors and food stalls, were involved either directly or indirectly in the…sex industry…The possible massive exodus of former Dolly residents has caused great concern among provincial and regional governments…health campaigners, women and human rights advocates and members of community-based organizations across Indonesia, especially in Bali, which many consider a…perfect spot for sex tourism…“Within the framework of our [Bali’s] efforts to end the HIV epidemic, the closure of Dolly could become a time bomb — a social and health disaster for the island,” a doctor who conducts outreach programs for sex workers…said…

Bread and Circuses

The June 25 seizure of…MyRedBook…by the FBI has been heralded by some as another win in the war against…child sex traffickers…the FBI and CNN…fail to mention that the site also functioned as a critical exchange for sex workers looking to reduce harm and share best practices…the seizure has not only cut off a source of income for sex workers, but also a source of information and community…among crusaders committed to criminalizing sex workers and the people who purchase their services…sex workers…are either trafficked girls shackled to beds when they’re not servicing sadistic ghouls, or they are thrill-seeking degenerates blissfully unaware of their privilege…The former daydreams of a police raid that will liberate her…while the latter feverishly supports the “Pimp Lobby” from Twitter…The massive gulf of silence between these two caricatures gives space to a convenient narrative that…the overwhelming majority of sex workers require intervention by benevolent law enforcement agencies…

Lucy Steigerwald points out that there are scary implications for amateurs, too:

…The warning on My Red Book states that domain names count as property, therefore they can be taken under racketeering laws.  But that is a wide and rocky road towards censorship which needs to be challenged.  A website is speech…Shutting one down without due process is nothing more than censorship.  Just because the federal government wants to shield our eyes from prostitution doesn’t mean we should let it…

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 29th; I have modified it slightly for time references and to fit the format of this blog.

MyRedbook seizureOn June 25th, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation seized the venerable San Francisco escort website, MyRedbook, under the usual vague and evidence-free charges the US government always uses when it wants to destroy peaceful businesses who have hurt no one.  This time, as you can see above, the pretenses are “money laundering” and “racketeering”, but others cases include “conspiracy”, “mail fraud” and “tax evasion”.  You may believe that these are actual crimes, but the truth is they aren’t (except on paper); they’re simply blunt instruments defined so vaguely that any competent prosecutor can jam nearly any business into one or more of them.  Here’s how it works: “racketeering” can mean criminals operating a legitimate business, like when a mobster owns a restaurant.  So a “racketeering” charge usually means “we think you committed crimes but can’t prove them, so we’re just going to assume you’re a criminal and prosecute you for owning a regular business.”  Any money you’ve deposited is then called “money laundering” on the grounds that you deposited “criminal proceeds” from your imaginary crimes into your legitimate account; “tax evasion” is based on the pretense that you have failed to pay taxes on imaginary income they can’t prove you actually made; “conspiracy” means merely talking about committing the imaginary crimes, and so on.  And if you believe that the targeted business is protected by the presumption of innocence, think again.  The FBI’s excuses are partly visible in this article:

…Eric Omuro, 53, and Annmarie Lanoce, 40, were arrested during a FBI raid…Both are charged with…interstate travel in the aid of a racketeering enterprise, and Omuro is charged with…twenty-four counts of money laundering…prosecutors say the pair used the mail and the Internet to facilitate prostitution…”The website hosted advertisements for prostitutes, complete with explicit photos, lewd physical descriptions, menus of sexual services, hourly and nightly rates, and customer reviews of the prostitutes’ services”…The indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million in property and assets Omuro allegedly gained by facilitating prostitution…CNN reports  that the shutdown was part of a broad FBI crackdown on child prostitution…In 2011, San Mateo County prosecutors used the site to arrest…suspects who were believed to be pimping underage girls…

The lies about “child prostitution” (unproven three-year-old police “beliefs” do not constitute evidence) are designed to throw up a smoke screen in front of the real motive for the prosecution: “…the indictment seeks the forfeiture of more than $5 million…”  That profit motive is both direct (through stealing the owner’s assets) and indirect:  though the “sex trafficking” hysteria has proven a bonanza for cops (via government “sex trafficking” grants) and “rescue industry” organizations (via gullible donors), the “authorities” need to manufacture at least a few “victims” and “pimps” to justify the tremendous amount of bread being flushed down the “trafficking” toilet.  Every year the FBI conducts a massive series of “sting” operations designed to deceive and entrap sex workers so they can be arrested by local police; their children are abducted and labeled “child sex trafficking victims”, and their spouses or drivers (and male sex workers) are arrested and labeled “pimps”.  After the first few operations the FBI announced how many adult sex workers had been arrested, but for the last two years it has hidden that data because a few in the media were beginning to question the morality of spending millions and brutalizing more than 10 women for every teen “recovered”…especially since their “pimp” conviction rate is a mere 4.06%.  Given that the label “pimp” is applied willy-nilly that low rate isn’t surprising, but actual convictions aren’t necessary to maintain the appearance of “doing something” against the phantasmal bogeymen the government has conjured to distract the populace from the real economic and social problems it can do nothing about.

Of course, somebody has to pay for this monumental show; as mentioned above, some of the cost is recouped by stealing the victims’ possessions, and the taxpayers (or rather, their children and grandchildren) are stuck with the rest.  But there is another cost, a human one, which is mostly borne by sex workers.  I estimate more than 2000 sex workers’ lives were destroyed in the latest “Operation Cross-Country”, and the attack on MyRedbook (which was timed to coincide with the “anti-trafficking” games to as to make them seem related when they actually weren’t) will have enormous repercussions for California sex workers:

…My Redbook not only served as a transparent marketplace…for…adult services — it also provided free advertising for sex workers, community for an isolated and marginalized population, and a tool for avoiding dangerous clients.  My Redbook served as a stable and thriving online business district for thousands of…workers and a centralized location for welfare, anti-trafficking, and HIV-Prevention services to reach geographically dispersed and hidden target populations.  The…action against My Redbook resulted in the sudden loss of a resource thousands of west coast sex workers use to help build community, screen clients, stay safe, and attain economic stability and well-being…The arrest of My Redbook’s owners and the site’s sudden closure epitomize the disruptive, destabilizing and harmful impact of criminalization on the lives of individuals involved in the sex trade.  So long as this industry is criminalized, any marketplaces, networks, and community spaces its’ members work to create are subject to criminal proceedings and can easily disappear overnight…

This prosecution also sets a very dangerous precedent; if it succeeds, other advertising and review sites may be next, cutting US sex workers off from the safest, most effective way to work until companies based outside the US appear to fill the gap.  One might question the wisdom of attacking an entire industry in such a way as to ensure that money which previously circulated within US borders will now flow overseas, but only if one misunderstands the purpose behind the attacks.  The “sex trafficking” hysteria in general, and gigantic police actions in particular, are Roman circuses; they are intended to pander to the bloodlust of the masses rather than to actually accomplish anything concrete, and judged by that standard these tremendous anti-whore pogroms are a howling success. 

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Rock ‘n’ roll will never die.  Heavy metal fans should rock on.
–  Dr. Ariyan Islamian

The links were so uniformly bleak this week (appropriate for Independence Day, eh kids?) that I’m really pleased to be able to share the first video with you (via Michael Whiteacre); it’s of Dolly Parton performing three songs, the second of which is “Yakety Sax”.  And that makes everything better.  All the links above the first video are from Angela Keaton, the second video (a trailer for a new Lovecraft movie) is from Cthulhuchick, and the links between the videos are from Clarissa (“law”), Nun Ya (“epic”), Grace (“God”), Scott Greenfield (“rarest”),  Radley Balko (“efficiency”), and Popehat (“Facebook”).

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