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Posts Tagged ‘cult of the child’

Sex work can be dangerous; but those dangers are exacerbated, or in many cases even created, by criminalisation.  -  Jean Urquhart

Something Rotten in Sweden (December Updates) Maxine Doogan

sex workers [protested] a San Francisco anti-trafficking panel discussion…about “Discouraging Demand”…[including] the “John School”…Maxine Doogan…[of] the Erotic Service Providers Union…[said] “Using the term ‘john’ to describe our clients is like using the N-word…It’s a derogatory means of dehumanizing the customers.”  Law enforcement efforts that go after clients ultimately increase risks for sex workers, she continued.  “Any criminalization of our customers is going to bring us more violence”…Doogan also cited the Supreme Court of Canada’s landmark decision…striking down…anti-prostitution laws that the justices unanimously agreed were…dangerous…

For Those Who Think Legalization is a Good Idea

the law which regulates sex work in India today [is] the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITPA), 1956.  This does not criminalise sex work per se, but, as the Lawyers’ Collective that works for sex workers’ rights points out, it results in “de facto criminalisation through prohibition of soliciting, brothel and street work”, and this “has effectively undermined sex workers’ ability to claim protection of law”…Often sex workers are evicted from the only roof they had with their children in the name of “closing down brothels”…[the avails law] criminalises…their children as soon as they cross the age of 18, and old parents and younger siblings who many sex workers support.  However…“The criminalisation of soliciting is one of the most obvious legal problems…Sex workers are arrested even when they’re not soliciting”…

Against Their Will

This has a few irksome passages, but it’s probably much more palatable to rescue industry types than the way most sex worker rights activists might express it:

…Imagine someone flying across the country to pick up an individual they only recently met.  They are removed from everything they have ever known.  Then they’re placed in a home where they can’t have contact with anyone in the outside world.  Sounds much like trafficking?  It also sounds like a rescue…More often than not the story of Captain Save a Ho and the “fair maiden” ends with the girl running out as friends console the rescuer saying, “You did the best you could”…“She had too many problems”…or “Maybe she was wounded beyond repair”…The term “rescue” naturally implies that a person is incapable of helping themselves, and sometimes this is true…but the effects of being rescued can leave a lasting emotional mark on the survivor, which is difficult to overcome in the new life…

Saving Them From Themselves arrested teen girl

[Virginia] police say a teenager is facing child pornography charges after allegedly tweeting nude pictures of herself…The teen’s phone was confiscated for evidence, and she was charged with one count of distribution of child pornography…this could end up…with jail time…investigators say they are seeing a surge in these types of cases because teens see it as harmless sexting.

How dare they form their own opinions!  Only “authorities” have the right to determine what is harmless, and teens must be taught that by the infliction of much more severe harm.

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic

David Ley…and colleagues conducted a review [showing]…only 27 percent…of articles on porn addiction contain…actual data, while [most suffer from]…poor experimental designs, [low] methodological rigor and lack of model specification…The review…found very little evidence — if any at all — to support…the purported negative side effects…There was no sign pornography was connected to erectile dysfunction, or that it caused any [brain] changes…people reporting “addiction” are more likely to…have a non-heterosexual orientation …high libido…and…religious values that conflict with their sexual behavior and desires…the research team said pornography might improve attitudes toward sexuality…increase quality of life…and…provide…a legal outlet for illegal sexual behaviors or desires, and its consumption or availability has been associated with a decrease in sex offenses, especially child molestation…

Coincidentally, Dr. Ley also appears in “Horns” below.

Above the Law

The lengths to which prosecutors and reporters will go to avoid saying “rape” when the rapist is a cop are nothing short of amazing:

Sorrento Police Chief Earl Theriot admits he committed sex acts with an unresponsive woman…and now faces a federal sentence for lying to the FBI about it…Theriot…placed her in the front seat of his police vehicle and took her to his office where he “engaged in…sexual contact with her”…

And in Hawaii,

[Alexandria Gregg]…is suing the…department of public safety and [prison warden] Neal Wagatsuma…for…[sexually] shaming…her and other female inmates…“During open public meetings of male and female detainees…Wagatsuma repeatedly forced…[female inmates] to stand at a podium and speak about their private, intimate and traumatizing sexual experience”…the warden ordered [them] to elaborate on…incidents of rape as well as sexual preferences.  The public questionings were videotaped by male detainees…“Typically, the detainees selected for filming were young attractive women”…Press Freedom Index

Pyrrhic Victory

Presented with minimal comment: the US continues its descent in the press freedom index; it is now just below Papua New Guinea and Romania, and just above Haiti and Niger.

Naked Truth

A good article by Melissa Gira Grant on the real effects of political crusades against sex work.  Note that though Salon chose to point fingers at “the right” in its headline, the article itself makes no false partisan distinctions:

…Super Bowl lent the excuse for New York and New Jersey…to step up their routine anti-prostitution policing, in anticipation of an increased demand for commercial sex that, in Super Bowls past, has never been borne out.  NYPD’s vice unit coordinator Anthony Favale doesn’t even seem to mind that the hype is just that, telling Time, ”I don’t know if the increased number [of prostitutes] is a legend or not, but I am exploiting the opportunity”…Long before the media turned the Super Bowl into a…story of violence and exploitation…people engaged in the sex trade have been documenting…all the ways anti-prostitution policing pits them against law enforcement and puts them at risk when they need help…

Sex Work is Work

Sometimes the absurdity of the idea of consensual crime is blatantly obvious:

The European Union is [finally] enforcing laws which…require countries to estimate how much cash changes hands on their black markets.  Those figures will be taken into account when calculating national GDP and allocating the £120-billion Brussels budget.  EU officials say the change will ensure consistent economic comparisons between member states.  As prostitution and drug use is legal in some member states – like the Netherlands – officials say it’s only fair for other states to acknowledge those activities in their national accounts.  Prostitution in the UK is expected to be valued at £3 billion a year, and drug dealing at around £7 billion…

Train Wreck (TW3 #48)

An…NGO, Society Against Prostitution and Child Labour in Nigeria (SAP-CLN), in collaboration with Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) have elected to embark on a controversial campaign to rid Nigeria’s capital city of prostitutes…armed soldiers and police…run amok…[victims are charged] N5,000 each [about $30.50 US]…those [with] the money [are] released instantly [but] others [are held overnight to see a] magistrate…SAP-CLN has many [lawsuits] hanging on its neck [over this]…and…the… Dorothy Njemanze Foundation…has called on the Federal Government to stop SAP-CLN…The group said many female students …employees… shoppers and even married women have been brutalised and abducted…

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

Dr. Brooke Magnanti on the evangelical underpinnings of “sex trafficking” myth:

The scandal of counsellors in “crisis clinics” that claim to offer “abortion support” claiming that terminations can cause breast cancer and women to become child sexual abusers was exposed this week…The vast majority of such “clinics” in the UK…are run by…Christian Action Research and Education (CARE)…the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade.  This APPG aims to promote the so-called Swedish Model…It’s been revealed over and over again how far left second wavers are beholden to anti-homosexuality, anti-trans, anti-sex work and anti-abortion interests, yet many people refuse to acknowledge the truth…I think Pee Wee Herman says it best…


Deafening Silence

Time bravely denounces police violence against sex workers!  But only in China, of course; American anti-whore police violence is A-OK:

…A 6,000-strong [police] force reportedly raided 12 hotels and entertainment venues in Dongguan] leading to 67 arrests — 90-odd cops for each of the alleged perpetrators.  Two police chiefs were later suspended, according the South China Morning Post… “Swept Away: Abuses Against Sex Workers in China“…documented torture, beatings, physical assaults, arbitrary detentions and fines.  Another report, by Asia Catalyst, found that escaping custody meant paying bribes.  Periodic “busts” focus on shaming women, not stemming the trade.  In a now-notorious 2010 case, Dongguan officials publicly paraded male and female suspects, barefoot and handcuffed, through the street…But…China’s netizens know where the real shame lies…“clean [up] your so called police troops, that’s what people really want to see” [said commenters]…“Arrest 67 officials [instead]“…

Between the Ears (TW3 #322)

Once again:  female sexual desire has nothing to do with blood flow, to the genitalia or anywhere else:

…a pill dubbed “female Viagra”…containing an extract from French pine bark called pycnogenol, goes on sale this month…[under the name] Lady Prelox…The manufacturer…claims its product “boosts libido and increases arousal in women”, because it “encourages blood flow to the reproductive organs as well as the brain”…

Torture Chamber

the Dutch justice ministry announced the planned closing of…19 prisons…[due to] a continued decline in crime rates.  Additionally, those who are convicted are choosing electronic tagging instead of incarceration.  This allows people to go back to work and continue as productive members of society. It also saves about $50,000 per year per person…

Horns

B0000351 Human sperm showing exceptional sperm countFrom an evolutionary perspective, the idea that a guy would take pleasure from watching his wife with another man is counterintuitive.  Historically, men have gone to great lengths to avoid being “cuckolded”…fear of cuckoldry…shaped how our male ancestors approached sexual relationships and, to this day, is…the reason men tend to get more jealous…about…sexual infidelity than women…Increasingly, scientists favor a biological explanation based on a growing body of work on sperm competition.  Research shows that when one woman mates with several men, those men can display behavioral and biological changes intended to increase their likelihood of fertilizing her egg…David Ley…[thinks it’s related to] displaying…one’s sexy wife [as] a status symbol…

Innocence Never Had

More truthful headline: “Underage Sex Worker Murdered in Yorba Linda

A 17-year-old girl found stabbed to death in…Yorba Linda [California]…was a victim of human trafficking…about two weeks before she was killed…Officers identified Aubreyanna Sade Parks as a victim of human trafficking during a crackdown on prostitution in Santa Ana….Parks was turned over to county social service workers…[and] taken to a shelter but walked out in the following days…Larry Soo Shin [has been arrested for the murder]…

It’s bad enough that criminalization almost certainly contributed to this young woman’s death; do they really need to erase her agency in an attempt to increase that criminalization for living sex workers?

The Public Eye (TW3 #403)

Considering it’s in an Irish newspaper, this is nothing short of amazing:

…Watching [Northern Ireland’s justice committee] in action, you could very well be back in Salem in the final years of the 17th century…Laura…Lee’s treatment was so bad that she has registered a complaint with the Assembly…Lee does much of her sex work with terminally ill and disabled men, offering them a discount from her normal rate…In one of the most repulsive parts of the hearing, Paul Givan asked her, “Why would you exploit a disabled individual and make him pay?”, as though Lee was targeting defenceless men and entrapping them into having sex with her…[these] posturing men…clearly fancy themselves as grand inquisitors, when in reality they mistake boorishness and stupid sneering for incisive interrogation.  It is [they], not…Laura Lee, who should be ashamed of themselves.

Catastrophic Consequences (TW3 #406) Jean Urquhart

MSP Jean Urquhart did something extraordinary this week:

Jean has criticised Edinburgh’s decision to delicense its saunas and massage parlours, and called for a debate on decriminalising sex work in order to improve safety and decrease stigma.  Her intervention has been praised by…SCOT-PEP as “courageous”…Jean highlighted calls from sex workers’ organisations for full decriminalisation, as practiced in New Zealand since 2003…

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The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.  -  H.L. Mencken

Oppressions always start with those nobody is willing to defend.  Historically, that usually meant some unpopular ethnic or religious minority, or else whores or some other group who upset the prevailing mores of the time and place.  But since all law is built on precedent, it is only a matter of time before the same maltreatment is extended to successively larger and more broadly-defined groups.  As I expressed it in “Give Them an Inch”:

…if we don’t speak up for the rights of minorities, even small and unpopular minorities, the precedent set by their maltreatment will be expanded by slow stages until it encompasses everyone but the rulers themselves.  But it’s clear that most don’t grasp that truth fully enough to actually do anything about it; instead they say, “Oh, but surely that doesn’t apply to sex offenders, or terrorists, or illegal aliens,” or whatever other unpopular group they consider beneath basic human decency.  And then the number of groups so treated, and the scope of each group, expands…

Ashley Madison SingaporeThree examples of the principle came to my attention in November; each involves a violation of the rights of some odious character, and as a result few were willing to point out that horrible precedents were being set; in fact, in each case there were those who cheered and celebrated the infringement, completely oblivious to how the precedent might eventually affect them.  We’ll start with the mildest example:

Singapore’s government has blocked access to the popular adultery website Ashley Madison…ahead of the company’s planned launch of a portal for the city-state.  The Media Development Authority, which regulates the Internet, said…it has blocked access to the Canada-based website because it is in “flagrant disregard of our family values and public morality”…Thousands of Singaporeans, including a Cabinet minister, have expressed outrage and urged the government to block the website…

Long-time readers know that I have no love for Ashley Madison; its marketing is repulsive, its business ethics are nonexistent and its fake “press releases” are infuriating.  But Singapore did not censor it because it’s a massive fraud designed to bilk men out of their money, but because a lot of noisy prudes demanded it.  In Singapore, as in the UK and US, the moralistic minority often attempts to impose its views on the rest of society, and politicians listen; but while internet censorship may start with loathsome online businesses like Ashley Madison or “revenge porn” sites, it isn’t long before it extends to anything some politician dislikes.  And the only way to stop it is before the camel gets more than a nose under the tent.

The next example is in a way less serious, because the company voluntarily withdrew the controversial product due to the bad publicity:

A Chinese website is under fire for selling disturbingly life-like child-size, sex dolls…an advocacy group…called Dining for Dignity…[pressured] DHgate…into removing the item…[with a petition reading] “This…is fueling human sex trafficking, pedophilia, violent rape, and more.”

child sex dollYes, it’s creepy…and it’s a piece of plastic.  It is not a human being, or any kind of living creature; it is an inanimate object without any feelings.  Apparently, Dining for Dignity believes in sympathetic magic and imagines that if a man uses one of these nasty things for gratification, somehow a real child elsewhere in the world will be magically raped.  Furthermore, the notion that such an object can “fuel” a sexual kink implies that adult people’s kinks are malleable and can be created or amplified by a sexual stimulus of the applicable type; this is exactly the same as the fallacy that having gay friends will cause a man to “turn gay”.  A man who is not sexually attracted to prepubescent girls cannot be “turned into” a pedophile by a doll, child porn or anything else; the idea that he could is deeply misandrous.  Furthermore, the belief that pedophiles’ desires can be made to vanish by repressing them is based in the same view of “voluntary sexuality” that leads to religious-based “pray the gay away” brainwashing programs: once the precedent is established that people with a kink can simply be ordered not to feel that way, the fallacious principle can be applied to everyone.  The last case is similar, but has more far-reaching implications:

A phenomena [sic] known as Webcam Child Sex Tourism–adults logging into sex-chat rooms with minors in developing countries–is on the rise.  It is estimated that tens of thousands of adults currently prey on children this way each day, and the number keeps growing according to international researchers…a team of coders, animators, and researchers announced they had created a…computer-generated 10-year-old girl named Sweetie, intended to catch predators in the act.  In just 10 weeks this bit of CGI wizardry and software caught 1,000 predators.  But…Sweetie is not a 10-year-old girl–no matter what she looks like.  She’s not even a “she.”  Sweetie is an “it.”  And it’s code…

Sweetie programThough the author of this article uncritically accepts the typical moral panic claims (the panic-object is always “on the rise”, involves “tens of thousands” or more, and must be “fought” with extraordinary – and often extralegal – means), he at least recognizes the deep ethical problems with luring a person into doing something and then arresting him for it (a situation that used to be called “entrapment”).  “Sweetie” is even less capable of being a “victim” than a piece of plastic, since it has no physical existence; it is merely a set of algorithms, instructions to a computer.  Furthermore, if these men can be considered guilty of “exploiting” an imaginary child, by that same token the entrapment team is equally guilty of “pimping” that same imaginary child, and of making imaginary child porn.  Now, do I believe that these men were blameless angels who were talked into doing something extremely nasty they would never have done otherwise?  Hell, no; I think they’re scoundrels who were caught doing something that they had done before and will again.  But when we allow the cops (or in this case, privately-funded vigilantes) to make accusations based entirely on what a person might have done, with no actual victim, we open the door to the entire panoply of abuses which have accompanied the various “wars” on consensual behavior for which modern society will be as harshly judged by our descendants as we judge our ancestors for allowing slavery.  And the wholesale erosion of civil rights deriving from those “wars” affects not only the unpopular folks they target, but every citizen living under the governments which conduct them.

(This essay previously appeared in Cliterati on January 5th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.)

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One of the hallmarks of a panic is that you don’t realize it’s a panic when you’re in the middle of it.  -  Debbie Nathan

Dan and Fran KellerTwenty years after the end of the Satanic Panic, its last few victims are finally being released from prison and in some cases even declared innocent, an extraordinary measure because it requires an organ of the State declaring that its predecessor was not only wrong, but committed a grave injustice.  In just the past few months we’ve seen the release of the San Antonio Four and Fran and Dan Keller; only one more victim of a strictly-Satanic case remains in prison, Frank Fuster in Florida.  There were, however, other hysteria-tinged cases near the end of the panic whose prosecutors avoided “Satanic” language because they saw the writing on the wall, and some of those victims (like Joseph Allen of Ohio) are still slowly dying in cages.  From the safe distance of a generation, reporters – some of whom are young enough to have been peers of the children forced by cops, prosecutors, and other fanatics to make horrible accusations – are now writing stories confidently declaring that the ritual abuse never happened and branding the hysteria a “witch hunt”.  But while I obviously agree with them, I find it both sad and telling that not a one of these reporters so smugly declaring their predecessors gullible have dared to denounce their generation’s revival of the panic, “sex trafficking” hysteria.  Last week, Slate published a column on the Kellers (and the panic in general) entitled “The Real Victims of Satanic Ritual Abuse”, and I’d like to share an excerpt with you.  I don’t think you’ll need much imagination to see how this applies equally well to the current popular hysteria, but to help you I’ve replaced words like “Satanists” with more general terms like “conspirators” [in brackets]:

…Why did psychotherapists and investigators conclude that these fantastic allegations were true?  Because at the time, pretty much everyone else in America did…hundreds of children, usually after lengthy sessions with coercive therapists, came forward to say that they…had been [subjected to bizarre mistreatment such as being transported]…to random cities for sexual abuse, or countless other bizarre stories…Media poured attention on the claims…As televangelists prayed for deliverance from Satan’s scourge, talk show “experts” claimed that every imaginable form of abuse was happening on a massive scale in America and that [conspirators were hiding everywhere…media figures] claimed…that more than a million [villains] were plying their evil trade in America right at the very moment…[books about the panic] appeared in libraries and therapists’ offices…“It sounds laughable,” says Debbie Nathan, an investigative reporter who co-wrote Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt about the panic and is now a director for the National Center for Reason and Justice… “Children symbolize the good things about culture, the innocence and purity, the future of the culture,” says Nathan.  When a culture feels under threat in some way, fear and anxiety focus on the safety of children…The fear…was perpetuated by both ends of the political spectrum…Most if not all of those involved believed they were acting in the best interests of the children—which meant that any healthy skepticism was interpreted as anti-child.  But extensive investigations revealed little to no truth to the…panic…Michelle RemembersEven so, people still believed…[“experts”]…testified that [organized sexual victimizers] are real, that they are widespread…Common sense and level-headed investigation would have found [these] claims incredible if…panic hadn’t lent a “distorted lens of hysteria” to the picture…

I look forward to reading articles like this about “sex trafficking” hysteria in the late 2030s (there’s a fair chance I’ll still be around; I’d be in my early 70s), but it’s a safe bet that the reporters mocking or marveling at it will be just as oblivious to the absurdity of whatever moral panic is going on then as today’s reporters are to the absurdity of “sex trafficking”.

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on September 29th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

Detail from The Sistine Madonna by Raphael (1512)I’ve often written about the Cult of the Child, that strange remnant of the Victorian Era which teaches that children (and their definition of the term extends far beyond that Nature uses) exist in what cultists term “innocence”, a state which they seem to equate with “purity” and Divine grace, but which in actuality means ignorance and sexual repression.  It’s easy to tell when a writer adheres to this strange belief system: she tends to depict teenagers as blameless angels absolutely nothing like any young person who exists in the real world, seems unable to remember what she and her friends were like when they were that age, and expresses surprise and confusion when a young person resists being treated like a convict, an infant or a potted plant:

A 15-year-old prostitute has left a Tulsa [Oklahoma] shelter and is back on the streets, saying she prefers the illegal sex-trade business to her home life, [police] spokesman Mark Woodward said…”She was in protective custody and doesn’t want any help…There is no indication of a drug history.  That’s the life she preferred.  There is no telling how much money she was making….She doesn’t like her family, and she didn’t want us to contact her family,” he said…

The story treats this as though it were something remarkable, but it is nothing of the kind; the majority of underage prostitutes (or as they’re now labeled, “sex trafficking victims”) in the US have been in the “foster care” system at one time or another, and in the UK about 90% of teen sex workers who are forced into the system will escape at the earliest possible opportunity (though their agency is denied by the myth-makers, who claim they are “tracked down by their traffickers and disappear from care”).  So entrenched is belief in the incompetence of young people, and so tenacious the need to believe in their asexuality and “innocence”, that child cultists prefer to imagine young sex workers as doggedly pursued by ninja “pimps” who can undetectably spirit them away from houses and institutions without ever getting caught, rather than recognize the obvious fact that they simply prefer self-reliance to regimentation, surveillance and virtual (or actual) imprisonment.  As I wrote in “Too Young To Know”:

With rare exception, teen runaways leave home for a reason; they’re not lured away by “bad influences” or abducted by “traffickers”, but rather pushed away by factors such as physical or sexual abuse or parental rejection of their homosexuality or transsexuality.  But because our laws define people under 18 as chattel, they can be arrested by cops and forced back into the situation from which they fled, or else sentenced to “child welfare” systems so horrible many of them return to the street as soon as possible.  Child labor laws keep them from getting regular work (and such work would expose them to capture by police anyway), which leaves them with roughly three alternatives:  theft, begging or prostitution; the latter is nearly always the easiest and most lucrative…the child cultists want to believe teenagers could never think of prostitution on their own, but this is total nonsense; teen runaways don’t need to be forced or indoctrinated into a form of exchange which predates the human species, and in fact (as revealed by a recent DoJ-funded study) 90% of them are not.  Yet, nearly all current programs for dealing with teen prostitutes are based on exactly the opposite assumption, and if such a girl denies she has a “pimp” she is assumed to be lying.

The latter assumption is even more destructive than you may realize:  it is entirely possible that some of these girls would be content to remain in custody and even submit to the (usually religious) brainwashing procedures such programs generally include, were it not for the repeated pressure from “authorities” to identify a “pimp” who exists only in their twisted minds.

Teenage Bad GirlThe notion that young adults are more like children than they are like other adults, with its corollaries that they are ignorant, incompetent and infinitely malleable, is of very recent vintage; throughout most of human history people assumed adult responsibility as soon as they were able (usually about 14), and there was no such thing as “adolescent rebellion”.  As psychologist Robert Epstein explains, “infantilization makes many young people angry or depressed…they can’t do anything meaningful without parental permission…and…the more [they] are infantilized, the more psychopathology they show.”  Teens who are at least treated well are usually content to put up with the restrictions, the arbitrary rules and other such annoyances in exchange for the privilege of living at home and not having to work, but those who are abused and/or rejected see no reason to do so…and who can blame them?  Once they get a taste of self-ownership, even at the cost of a dirty, dangerous, precarious life in the street, is it any wonder they reject attempts to cage and collar them again?  The dogma that most of them are “controlled” by “pimps” is literally 180 degrees from the truth: they reject institutionalization precisely because they aren’t used to being controlled by anybody, and have no desire to be.

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Proof of our society’s decline is that Halloween has become a broad daylight event for many.  -  Robert Kirby

sexy HalloweenFor the fourth time since I’ve been writing this blog, we’ve come around to my favorite day of the entire year – All Hallows Eve, which also happens to be my birthday.  This is the forty-seventh time I’ve seen this particular day (the first one hardly counts, since I arrived less than ninety minutes before the Witching Hour), and though I no longer observe it with the wild exuberance I did in my youth I still look forward to it every year, and still enjoy all the little rituals by which we celebrate it.  In last year’s Halloween column I listed a number of “spooky” columns which might put y’all in the mood, and this year I decided to expand those recommendations into a full column:  Monday’s “Trick or Treat“, which you really should read if you haven’t yet.

Unfortunately, Halloween has in our culture become merely a ghost (pardon the jest) of its former self; it is now largely an adult celebration, just a second carnival out of place in mid-autumn rather than where it belongs in the dead of winter.  Today’s children are completely cheated of the holiday as it was meant to be celebrated; as I wrote in “The Day of the Dead“,

…our decaying society is far too obsessed with “safety” to let the kids be kids.  It’s a peculiar paradox:  the Child Cultists enshrine an idealized, romanticized view of childhood “innocence” to the point of trying to force it upon young adults who have long since grown out of it, yet are so frightened of the imaginary haunts their timid souls see in every shadow that they cheat actual children of the joys of childhood…And though we once understood that an annual dose of controlled fear and mild chaos helped children to cope with the existence of Mortem Imperator Mundi in much the same way vaccines protect them from disease, we have forgotten the former (and many of us the latter as well)…

Now, more than ever, we need Halloween.  Death will claim us all soon enough; it’s both foolish and counterproductive to waste one’s life trying to escape the inescapable, and to suck all the marrow out of its bones in a futile attempt to delay the inevitable.  Today is the day to flirt with the Reaper, to dance on one’s own grave, to play with skulls and to have fun with the gruesome…because the more familiar one is with something, the less terror it holds.  And the less we fear death, the freer we are to enjoy everything life has to offer.

Happy Halloween, Dear Readers, and Blessed Be!

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

History, it is said, repeats itself.  And while the parallels are never exact, they are often pretty damned close.  Witness, for example, the new Victorianism which has engulfed Western society:

…we have become shockingly hypocritical about sex and grant our governments tremendous power to suppress it while simultaneously spending tremendous amounts of time and money on it…We have revived Victorian ideas of government-enforced temperance and “social progress”, and the…“Cult of the Child”…which…preaches that children [including adolescents] are as emotionally fragile as soap bubbles and the merest hint of sexual imagery…can cause irreversible trauma…is…pressed into service for sex issues which have nothing to do with children…prohibitionists [have resurrected] the late Victorian “white slavery” moral panic under a new name, “child sex trafficking”, and [wield] it as a bludgeon against adult whores…lest anyone balk at treating adult women as children, there’s a Victorian answer for that as well; prostitutes are  abnormal, defective “victims” of men who have to be protected from our own choices, which are clearly irrational.  Similarly, trafficking fanatics classify brown people as…too stupid and unsophisticated to move between countries on their own without being “trafficked” by gangsters, so by the Victorian “white man’s burden” philosophy they need to “save” these poor victims, whether they want to be “rescued” or not

Traffic in Souls (1913)But while the racist, colonialist, prudish, censorious and paternalistic attitudes we see around us, especially in speeches by politicians and articles from the mainstream media, are straight out of the late 19th century, at least the language used is still modern, isn’t it?  Well…not quite.  In recent decades we’ve seen the return of tortured, obfuscatory euphemisms and circumlocutory, polysyllabic abortions used in place of clear words and direct phrases, and nowhere is this more true than in prohibitionist anti-sex work screeds larded with cumbersome, politicized passive-voice constructions such as “prostituted women” or even “women victimized by systems of prostitution”.  And in recent months, it’s been growing steadily worse; yellow news stories steeped in purple prose extol the supposed “horror” of sex workers’ lives in lurid detail, women are described as utterly helpless and hopelessly naïve, and sexual behavior is described in phraseology that would not seem out of place in a hellfire-and-damnation revivalist’s tent.  And really, that’s not surprising; the equation of all prostitution with “sex trafficking” goes back to the 1880s, and one of its chief originators at that time, The Salvation Army, is also one of its chief proponents now.  The “trafficking” mythos is deeply rooted in Protestant Christianity’s obsession with “pure and pious womanhood, and even when there is no Christian group involved in a prohibitionist scheme the same themes of sin and degradation echo through their rhetoric, even if translated for a non-Christian audience.

To be sure, some of them are very subtle, contenting themselves with merely denying that sex work is work, equating all sex work with survival streetwalking and using Victorian phrases like “selling their bodies”.  Others absurdly state that “prostitution is not a victimless crime”, deny sex workers’ agency (“When you are bought and sold for sex…does that make it a freely made choice?”), misdirect attention from the real issues with simple-minded morality plays featuring demonic pimps and heroic cops, and ignore the coercion implicit in the “diversion programs” they tout.  Still others feature cops using language that sounds plagiarized from penny dreadfuls: “[The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics] is committed to dismantling organizations involved in the seedy world of prostitution and ultimately human trafficking.  Our agency…[is] determined to make a positive impact in a dark world that troubles the soul. Women that are used as a commodity sickens ones hear [sic].”  But others aren’t nearly as restrained:

The struggle against human sex trafficking in Israel has made appreciable progress in the past decade.  Mass media have better informed the public of the severity and dimensions of this vast criminal enterprise…The Sinai fence and more effective border patrolling has appreciably, though not totally abrogated the tacit understandings between the IDF and Beduin [sic] smugglers that annually brought thousands of sex slaves into Israel’s brothels…girls as young as 13, are coerced by the ravages of poverty, incest and rape…into sexual servitude.  Procurers and their underworld bosses subjugate them in lives almost never truly rehabilitated by even the most valiant and dedicated social welfare agencies…tens of thousands of [men]…continue to buy women’s bodies in order, as they commonly express it, “to make them do whatever I want”…the purchase of sex is about power, not about sex, about societal toleration of the abuse of women’s bodies – and souls…

If not for the uniquely modern idiocy that sex isn’t sex, one could easily mistake this for a description of a Victorian or silent-film melodrama, complete with bearded Bedouin slave traders (no doubt carrying their struggling captives on camels); note also the revoltingly misogynistic assertion that whores are “fallen” women who can “never truly [be] rehabilitated”, a common Victorian prostitute-motif which persists in modern “sex trafficking” myth and is echoed in theSalome by Jean Sala characterization of rape as uniquely destructive, a “fate worse than death”.

But the myth of the harlot as a passive, pathetic victim of the Almighty Phallus is a comparatively recent one; for the majority of the past two millennia (and for centuries before that among the Jews), we were cast by prudes and religious fanatics as powerful figures akin to witches, vile temptresses sent straight from Hell to seduce godly men into wrongdoing.  A few of their modern successors still prefer that sort of rhetoric, and demand that whores be made into outcast pariahs who can be persecuted by the “authorities” at will:

…New Port Richey [Florida]…Police Chief Kim Bogart…suggested the city consider crafting an anti-prostitution ordinance that makes it easier for police to arrest known “ladies of the night.”  He’s hoping the ordinance would be worded so that if such a woman even waves or makes a certain gesture to someone, it would be justification for arrest…Councilman Jeff Starkey took aim at the city’s prostitution problem.  “It’s unbelievable how brazen these nasty, nasty, nasty women are”…he said…

Of course, before we were witches and temptresses we were priestesses; many ancient religions believed that sacred whores were a way for men to connect with their goddesses.  The practice still existed in the early Christian era, much to the chagrin of early Church fathers (who had inherited the long Jewish tradition of hatred for whores).  Our last (and most fiery) example of retro anti-whore rhetoric derives its inspiration from that time period:

…Preaching from 1 Corinthians 6:15–7:5, [Russell] Moore likened the present-day cultural saturation of pornography with the first-century pagan practice of temple prostitution.  “The temple prostitution of Corinth has been digitalized and weaponized…and brings with it the kind of illusion and anonymity that the temple prostitutes could never promise…there are digital harems of prostitutes, available and pushed upon every single population in the United States of America and increasingly every single population in the world,” Moore said…

As I’ve said before, if I’m going to be insulted and lied about I’d rather be cast as a powerful succubus than a weak and deluded victim.  Given the choice between two ridiculous stereotypes from the past which have somehow held on into the 21st century, I prefer to be a living weapon so dangerous she must be arrested on sight than an infantilized defective who needs to be locked up because she’s too stupid to know what’s good for her.

(This essay was inspired by Dr. Laura Agustín‘s “tweets” about how silly prohibitionist language has become lately; she and Mistress Matisse provided most of the featured examples.)

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

radioactiveWhat, you didn’t know that sex produced radiation?  It’s true!  Adult sexual activity is so dangerous to the “purity” and “innocence” of “children” (sorry for all the scare quotes) that any adult who has sex should be kept away from all children at all times.  Sex rays, you see, induce the dreaded “premature sexualization”, without which “we would all grow up in a blissful, chaste state and never, ever, ever be interested in dirty, nasty sex”.  The dirtier and more “illicit” the sex, the more intense the sex rays:  regular missionary-position marital sex conducted once per month or so while the wife looks at the ceiling and thinks of England produces such a low concentration that ordinary walls can stop them, but BDSM and swinging emit concentrations that can contaminate surrounding objects, and sex work produces such intense levels that sex workers cannot be allowed near children  ever again for the rest of their lives.   Even objects we handle  (including money and virtual objects such as emails) must be kept far away from “children” (including young adults), and the danger is so great that kids inadvertently exposed to the dreaded rays must be quarantined from other kids.

Obviously, if people really believed this nonsense, they’d demand their own children be taken away and placed in the care of nuns.  But they certainly act as though it were true, to the point that (especially in the US) terms like “family-friendly” are euphemisms for “totally sexless”.  If any openly-sexual person (especially a sex worker) has anything at all to do with children, or even non-child-related sacred cows like breast cancer research, you can bet there will be a hue and cry in which words like “disgusting”, “inappropriate” and “creepy” will figure prominently.  Sex workers often have their children abducted from them  by prohibitionist regimes on the grounds that having consensual sex makes them “unfit parents”; the children are then handed over to either abusive spouses (as in both the linked cases) or sexually abusive “foster parents”.

Nor is it only fundamentalist Christians, repressed bureaucrats and the gullible, hysteria-prone masses who practice this anti-sex bigotry; some people who pretend to be educated and might even call themselves “sex-positive” are right along with them.  Take the staff of Jezebel, for example; though they proclaim themselves “feminists” and even adopt some sex-positive trappings such as enthusiasm for sex toys and (some) porn, in reality they feel a deep ambivalence for sex workers which bursts forth every so often.  I once wrote that “I think of them as something like a gaggle of debutantes volunteering at the local homeless shelter because they think it’s the right thing to do, but unable to really disguise their disgust for the ‘icky people’.”  Here’s a recent example in which writer Tracie Morrissey’s belief in “sex rays” is blatantly obvious:

…Farrah Abraham tweeted a link to her Amazon wish list, asking fans to purchase her more than $13,000 worth of gifts—and they did.  Now the reality star/“sex tape” star has replenished her list, asking for some more furniture, kitchen appliances, and odds and ends for her home…Creating an Amazon wish list is a common practice among porn stars, strippers, and escorts…[Abraham’s list includes]…clothes…dining room furniture…a laptop…a sleeper sofa, a juicer, a Pyrex measuring cup, etc.  The saddest thing of all though, is her request for a $52 crib mattress and $12 mattress cover.  It’s like, either keep your kid out of your weird sugar daddy arrangements or at the very least, get her the good, expensive shit.

Farrah Abraham with daughterYou know who else has Amazon wish lists?  Lots of people.  And you know who else gets gifts from strangers who admire their work?  Many, many entertainers and celebrities, including relatively minor ones like yours truly.  So, if Penn and Teller get a present from a fan, is it a “weird sugar daddy arrangement”?  Or is it only female entertainers?  If someone sends Neil Gaiman a gift to thank him for the pleasure he gave the sender, is that “creepy” and “bizarre” as Mamamia opined (“Who would actually fork out their hard-earned cash for such a thing? Does it make people feel good about themselves?”), or is that only reserved for female writers like Maggie McNeill?  Because, O ye Jezzies and MMs, this is beginning to look awfully…well, sexist.  Perhaps this is a Madonna/whore thing?  Is it only because Abraham currently does sex work that this is somehow suspect, and therefore I’m in the clear?  Or does my having sold sex in the past eternally condemn my Amazon Wishlist to skeeviness in the eyes of those who write for blogs like Jezebel and Mamamia, even if the readers who send me nice things have never seen me have sex?  Both websites seem to take issue with the fact that some wish list items are inexpensive; do they think the fun of gift-giving should only be reserved for the affluent?  Or is this somehow intermingled with sex work in their minds, so that an economical present somehow equates to cheap sex?  One would think, considering their rather insulting belief that a woman’s sexual skills aren’t worth paying for, that they would be less offended by the cheap gifts than the expensive ones, but that would require at least the rudiments of rational thought.  And that, I’m afraid, is something in very short supply in the brain of anyone who believes in anything as ludicrous as sex rays.

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Perhaps one day our culture will grow up enough to stop trying to tell adult women what we can do with our bodies and adult men what they can do with adult women, but in the meantime military men…will continue to seek us out despite the whimsical notions of those who think Nature can be controlled by legislation.  -  Maggie McNeill

PentagonSome of the worst of all lawheads, those most wedded to the farcical concept that reality can be shaped by the declarations of authorities and most detached from the actual consequences such declarations may have, exist in the rarefied atmosphere of high-level military command.  Even politicians have to be somewhat concerned about the consequences of their decisions, at least when those consequences are apparent to those they rule; after all, if things get bad enough they can be voted out of office.  But military commanders can only be removed from above, not from below; so as long as they please their own masters (which at the very top, means the political establishment), they can count on a long and distinguished career no matter how miserable the troops are or how much morale damage, physical and psychological harm, and  friction with allies their orders may cause.  Moreover, while a politician cannot readily insulate himself from the complaints of those harmed by his ill-considered diktats, it is only too easy for the Top Brass to shut themselves off from the troops and to ignore their responsibility for the results of their stupidity and shortsightedness.

The prevailing belief in the United States is that sex is unnatural.  Now, if asked, most who aren’t totally steeped in religious fanaticism will say the opposite, that sex is normal and natural.  But they don’t actually believe this; what they believe is that children are born “pure” and asexual, and remain so indefinitely until they are “sexualized” by outside contamination which ruins their sacred “innocence”.  Furthermore, they believe that even adults deprived of external sexual imagery or interaction will remain relatively uninterested in sex until such time as the government declares it’s acceptable for them to have it, and that sex without a government license is always harmful to women unless it’s completely buried inside a childish romantic fantasy.   The average American believes that “illicit” (i.e. unlicensed) sex is not only “harmful” in some way he cannot adequately explain, but also excites desire in some way that “good” sex does not, leading to “addiction”, “exploitation”, “negative secondary effects”  and other vague bugaboos for which not the slightest proof exists in reality.  Of course, regular readers know the opposite is true; porn and readily-available prostitution decrease rape and other social ills rather than increasing them, and men deprived of sexual stimulation become erratic and unhealthy  rather than lapsing into a docile, effeminate and celibate state.

A well-run military establishment would recognize that if there really is an “epidemic” of sexual assaults within the corps, the way to solving it is not to embrace moronic feminist assertions that “rape is caused by rage, not lust”, nor to “crack down” on assaults as though servicemen were unruly children in need of being “scared straight”.  No, Toru Hashimoto was right (though he seems unable to grasp the whole “consent” thing); military men do need “legal facilities for releasing sexual energy” in order to avoid problems which in extreme cases can grow into violence.  Unfortunately, the US military establishment is not well-run, and the Pentagon is far more concerned with promoting the government’s current political agenda than with the health and well-being of the troops, and so we get idiocy like this:

The U.S. military is cracking down on troops who support businesses connected to human trafficking, blocking airmen from spending money at so-called “juicy bars” and reminding all personnel of the prevalence of the problem businesses around bases in South Korea.  Leaders in the region have issued a series of directives to remind troops that prostitution and human trafficking are illegal…the three-star general in charge of the 7th Air Force in South Korea issued a stern warning…that…“Airmen…shall not provide money or anything of value to an employee or establishment…for the primary purpose of obtaining…company or companionship”…The prohibitions include paying fees to play darts, pool or other entertainment or buying a drink or a souvenir in exchange for an employee’s company …“disreputable establishments” near Air Force bases…take advantage of people, usually young women, and force them to work in bars.  The employees are subjected to debt bondage and forced to sell themselves as “companions”…

juicy bar protestOf course, we know the truth about this so-called “force”, and understand that for the military to deny these young women the right to make a living by the most lucrative means available to them   keeps them in poverty and may, like “end demand” schemes everywhere, force them into worse situations.  This destructive and wrongheaded policy helps nobody but the politicians who wish to pander to the whimsical notions of fanatics, but harms a great many people:  the young men deprived of an outlet for their natural sexual urges; the young women in host countries deprived of the best means of income available to them; the other young men and women subjected to sexual assault by those whose judgment and self-control has been eroded by a policy no less inhumane than starving them and depriving them of shelter; the businesses cheated of income from a large segment of the population in their areas; and the lower-echelon officers and NCOs who will be blamed for the damage caused by the refusal of their superiors to face reality.

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We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd.  -  Norman Mailer

Vermeer by numbersSome of my readers say they need to keep a dictionary handy while they read my essays.  That works fine for regular words, but sometimes I use metaphors that may be a bit obscure nowadays.  Do most of y’all remember paint-by-number kits?  Do they still sell those?  For those who have never seen one, a kit consists of a board on which is a line drawing, and each area contains a number corresponding to one of the containers of oil paint that come with the set.  One simply paints each area with the proper color, and if properly done it looks (almost) exactly like the picture on the box; if clumsily done, it at least resembles the picture.  “Sex trafficking” stories are a lot like that; most of them start out with the same basic outline, and then the copyist reporter simply fills in the details by the numbers.  If done properly, it almost looks like something a third-rate journalist might turn out, but if done clumsily …well, it’s easier to show you.

Many Morris County activists are counting the days to…Super Bowl XLVIII…but not for love of football. They’re already working to reduce the human trafficking that inevitably happens when tens of thousands of tourists assemble…

Our would-be artist, Lorraine Ash, must think that little reversal is very clever; unfortunately, the brainpower she devoted to it would have better been spent on a few minutes of research.  Had she done so, she would have discovered things like this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and even this…which prove that the word “inevitable” is about as far from the truth as it’s possible to get.  Oh, dear; I do believe Lorraine mistook the “6” for a “9” and used the wrong color here.  But no matter; let’s see how she does on the next one:

…“There are four times as many people enslaved today than there were in the 1800s,” said Linda Michalski…campus minister at Benedictine Academy…“The value of a slave has actually decreased …Frederick Douglass was sold for $792.  Today, somebody is sold for $70 in our country in the 21st century. How can this be?”

Well, at least here she’s only quoting, so someone else looks like a moron instead of poor Lorraine.  The pretense that “trafficking” (which is highly illegal) can be compared in any valid way with chattel slavery (which can only exist where there are laws and social structures to support it) is a common, if especially idiotic, claim of the “trafficking” fetishists, as is the use of novel definitions for the word “sold” which do not actually involve transfer of property.  But in this case, the apples-and-oranges comparison of the sale price of a chattel slave with some apparently-random sum of money (a streetwalker’s fee, perhaps?) is so deeply stupid it even confuses a high-school religion teacher.  But let’s move on to the next number in the pattern:

…Michalski and…other activists…want people to understand that human trafficking…is real and happens in New Jersey.

A flawless execution of the Profession of Faith!  And then she puts her own artistic touch on the classic “100,000 to 300,000 trafficked children” myth by attributing it to the Department of Homeland Security instead of the usual FBI or Department of Justice.  Estes & Weiner sure do work for a lot of government departments, don’t they?  And what “trafficking” masterpiece could be complete without a “King of the Hill” section?

…New Jersey is a big destination state for traffickers because of its ports and because…trains and buses leave from here and go all over the country.  There are three airports in the area.  Also, because of I-95, it’s very easy to move people through New Jersey and all the way down to Florida…

Trains and buses and airplanes!  And an interstate highway, even!  Why, no other place has those!  What were the madmen who laid out New Jersey thinking to allow so many dangerous things all in one locale?  Well, we know what they weren’t thinking of:  THE CHILDREN!!!!!

But wait, it gets worse:

There is a prevailing notion that human trafficking does not happen in Morris County because of its wealth, according to Maria Vinci-Savettiere…“The demographics don’t matter…Trafficking is happening here.”

One Profession of Faith per story is enough, Lorraine; your attempts to look more-credulous-than-thou are rather transparent.

“Our focus is on radically changing the way we view the issue,” said Beth Hyre, spokeswoman for the League [of Woman Voters]. “According to law enforcement, our children, our grandchildren, the children we teach, and the children we supervise and mentor are prime targets for traffickers.  Our complacency that the issue doesn’t directly affect us enables predators.”

Yes, Lorraine, we’ve got it.  People think that trafficking doesn’t happen in New Jersey, but it does, and every single child in the entire state should be kept away from cars, trains, buses, airplanes and football games.  You can stop repeating the same color now.

The public also is invited to stand for a maximum of nine hours Oct. 27 with Stand Against Human Trafficking, a gathering on the Morristown Green.  Each hour signifies 3 million people enslaved worldwide, according to organizer Yvette Long of the Morris County Human Relations Commission…

Are they going to sway back and forth singing “Kumbaya” as well?  Because I don’t think it’s possible to have a really effective lawn-standing session without singing “Kumbaya”.

The New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking…is planning a Super Bowl Hotel Outreach in September…“We’re asking hotel management to accept materials…set protocols, and train their staff to spot human trafficking,” said [Melanie] Gorelick, the group’s facilitator…“A lot of times it would be the janitors or the cleaning people who would see a victim…What if a person comes in through a back door? The front desk wouldn’t even see that person”…

bad dogBut wait, what about the bars of soap emblazoned with subtly huge red labels?  WHAT IF THE TRAFFICKERS ARE HIDING IN THE LAVATORY, MELANIE?  Without handy hotline numbers, how can they be stopped then?  Didn’t think of that, didja Miss Smarty-Pants?

Well, I think you get the picture; too bad most of those who read this story without my helpful annotations won’t.  Like most people who attempt painting by numbers without a modicum of skill, some rudimentary sense of proportion and at least a minimal level of judgment, the results are, to the educated viewer, not exactly what their creator intended.

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The danger of crippling thought, the danger of obstructing the formation of the public mind by specially suppressing…representations is far greater than any real danger…from such representations.  -  George Bernard Shaw

broken wingsThe last week of September is Banned Books Week, an occasion which interests me as a librarian, as a sex worker and as a steadfast supporter of individual liberty.  The urge to ban books is the urge to control thought, and the only way to control thought is to cripple it, to stunt its growth, to break its wings so badly it can no longer fly free.  Furthermore, the belief that the state or collective has the right to do this is an abomination; it is nothing less than the dogma that the state owns every individual, body and soul, and has the right to torture or maim those individuals as it pleases.  In last year’s “Thought Control” (which I urge you to read if you haven’t yet), I wrote:

…the urge to censor is a mental illness…In earlier times…people imagined “evil” as some sort of tangible thing that could affect everyone around it…though that sort of booga-booga nonsense would be laughed out of the conversation now if expressed directly, it still sells quite well as long as it’s expressed  indirectly by referring to unproven “negative secondary effects” or burbling inane and incomprehensible neofeminist drivel about how all women are as mystically interconnected as a hydra’s heads.  And of course…anything (no matter how repressive and totalitarian) can be sold to the Great Unwashed if it’s depicted as being intended to “protect” children, with “protect” in this case…[meaning] “lock into a permanent passive and vegetative state”.  Young people, we are told, can somehow be “harmed” by encountering ideas and concepts that they are “not ready for”, like the protagonist of an H.P. Lovecraft story driven mad by the blasphemous cosmic truths he discovers in some forbidden eldritch tome…

The stupidest part of this whole moronic belief system is that these “forbidden ideas” aren’t cosmic truths about man’s utter insignificance and the impending awakening of horrific multidimensional entities which regard us as nothing more than troublesome insects to be exterminated; hell, even I might be convinced that keeping that sort of knowledge from the easily-panicked masses would be a good idea.  No, these supposed threats to sanity and spiritual health, these books (and movies, and websites) which are so horribly dangerous that the amelioration of the peril they present justifies abrogating civil rights and choking off the air of free thought, these cognitive gorgons which will surely petrify any child (or, often, woman) who has the bad luck to encounter them due to insufficient censorship by their Wise and Benevolent Rulers…are nearly always about sex.  You know, the thing every macroscopic organism on Earth (and even some of the microscopic ones) already knows about.  The reason every creature reading this even exists in the first place.  The process that excessive ignorance of is incredibly more dangerous than knowledge of.

In our sad, sick and twisted society, the desire to suppress knowledge and images of sex is so powerful that those afflicted with it are willing to devote tremendous amounts of money and manpower in a futile quest to that end; they are willing to deny millions of women income and freedom, to expose all women to much greater chances of rape, to risk the death of their children from disease, and to cripple the greatest tool of communication ever devised.  This is not rational behavior; it is a mental illness, and for sane people to give in to the censors merely exacerbates their condition and locks all of us up into a vast Bedlam with them. The Interior of Bedlam by William Hogarth (1763)

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