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Posts Tagged ‘drivers’

Pittsburgh skylineThe week after leaving Chicago had a much slower pace, which is probably for the best; if nothing else, I needed a break from driving in heavy traffic before moving on to Boston and New York City.  That’s not to say that driving across Ohio and Pennsylvania was relaxing, however; I’ve driven all over this country, and the highway signage in those two states is absolutely the worst I’ve ever seen.  Street signs are often tiny, badly-placed or entirely absent; many exits have names that seem to have little relationship to the place they exit to; junctions are not clearly marked, and the signs are sometimes placed so that by the time one sees them it’s difficult or impossible to decelerate and exit; and junctions with toll roads usually require exiting onto surface streets in order to connect with the freeway (and vice versa).  New York state’s “let’s number the exits by counting them rather than by the mile marker they fall nearest” strategy is positively sensible in comparison, though I have nothing good to say about the bizarre way that I-87 exits from itself at Albany and the New York State Thruway suddenly changes from I-87 north into I-90 west (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, consider yourself lucky).

The day after I left Chicago I went as far as Cleveland, and moved on to Pittsburgh the next day.  There I had a wonderful visit with Lucy Steigerwald and her mother; they took me to dinner and showed me the sights (including the absolutely gorgeous view of Pittsburgh from the south), then we talked late into the night at their lovely home.  They invited me to spend the night, and had I not already paid for my hotel I certainly would’ve; in fact, given that I got lost for almost an hour on winding rural roads in a thunderstorm, I was kicking myself for not accepting the offer!  Eventually I got where I needed to go (though not without asking directions three separate times) none the worse for wear, and the trouble was nothing in comparison with the wonderful evening which preceded it.  The next day I moved on to central Pennsylvania and had dinner with Mike Siegel; we talked about my work, his work and all manner of other things, and I apologize to Mrs. Siegel if I kept him out too long!

On Tuesday I drove in to Albany, where I had a book reading the next day at The Bookhouse; it was my smallest gig yet, but one of the attendees was an 80-year-old lady who nonetheless wanted to hear what I had to say.  The next two nights I went to dinner with two of my “Angel” patrons;the gentleman who took me out on Thursday also invited two other sex workers, and the gentleman who treated me on Friday turned out to be a lover of comic books and role-playing games, so we traded favorite stories for hours.  So although this week had only one public event, I still found it one of the most rewarding of my whole trip; I got to enjoy four separate evenings of dinner and socializing with some really great, generous, interesting people, and I’ll remember those events long after the details of the more public ones have blurred with time.

Here’s my tour schedule, which is now pretty tight; if your city isn’t on the list, but it’s within about four hours’ drive of another city which is on the list, just send an email asking me to visit.  Your request will have much more impact if you can actually make the arrangements yourself (in other words if it’s your store, club or whatever).

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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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I’m hungry, I don’t need respect, I don’t need honour, I just want three meals a day.  –  Elderly Korean sex worker

Think of the Children! 

A teacher who describes note-passing as “scary”?  The jokes write themselves.

A…woman has been charged with prostitution at the Tewksbury [Massachusetts] Public Library…a…plain clothes detective claimed Brittany Macintyre…handed him a pen and…paper.  The two passed notes back and forth until she allegedly asked for $60 in exchange for a sex act…one library patron [said] “I’m quite shocked because a lot of kids come here and I’m a teacher, so it’s pretty scary”…

Feminine Pragmatism Bacchus-D

Koreans could once be sure that their children would look after them in their old age, but no longer…As a result, some elderly women are turning to prostitution…”Bacchus Ladies” [are] older women who make a living by selling tiny bottles of the popular Bacchus energy drink to male customers.  But often that’s not all they’re selling.  At an age when Korean grandmothers are supposed to be venerated as matriarchs, some are selling sex…they invested their savings in the next generation.  In a Confucian society, successful children are the best form of pension.  But attitudes here have changed just as fast as living standards, and now many young people say they can’t afford to support themselves and their parents…The government…is scrambling to provide a welfare system that works [but] in the meantime…[the elderly] have no savings, no realistic pension, and no family to rely on…

One Born Every Minute

A neuroscientist who claimed to have fathered 58 children while running [an]…insemination service preyed on three women desperate to become mothers by sexually assaulting them…during the…process…[Professor Gennadij] Raivich told one alleged victim she had to give him oral sex repeatedly in order to get a sperm sample.  He told another she was more likely to get pregnant if she orgasmed…

Tyranny By Consensus

Michael Weinstein [spoke to]…the press…on the…condom mandate bill…armed with what he claimed to be the smoking gun that justified his campaign to force condoms down performers’ throats…a survey done by the UCLA School of Public Health which, according to Weinstein, proved that there was a “public health danger” involving porn performers…Weinstein presented this “pictographic”AHF Porn Study Propaganda Graphic which attempted to…paint a picture of porn performers as oppressed, drugged out, abused, exploited, and basically unable to think for themselves…[so] the state absolutely had to step in and rescue them with condoms…Both AVN’s Mark Kernes  and The Real Porn Wikileaks  have done fine efforts to debunk this agitprop, but there are some points that even their efforts do manage to miss which deserve additional attention…

A Procrustean Bed (First Updates of the Year)

The evil clownishness continues:

[Rhode Island Senator] Gayle Goldin…is urging her…colleagues to…reject [a "sex trafficking" bill which]…conflates sex trafficking with prostitution…the bill as written could mean that [a] cab driver [who carries a whore to a call could be convicted of] sex trafficking…Goldin said [a] slight change [to her original wording] has fouled the intent of the legislation.  It “would mean that the penalties intended specifically for the traffickers could also be used to penalize sex workers themselves,” she [wrote]…

A Whore in Church

This is absurd on so many levels:

The Roman Catholic sisters whose convent fence-line is mere inches from a flashy new strip club…were unable to prevent the business from opening last year.  But they haven’t given up…and…the Village Board of Melrose Park voted to join the nuns…in a lawsuit against…Club Allure…and the Village of Stone Park, which granted its license to operate…One of the main arguments in the lawsuit is expected to center on a provision of state law that…prohibits such businesses from operating within 1,000 feet of a place of worship…

Broken Record

I don’t know what’s more pathetic, Rachel’s idea of “big events” or her mathematical illiteracy:

Soon hundreds of thousands will pack [Omaha, Nebraska] for the College World Series…any big event…creates a bigger opportunity for…prostitution…Rachel Davis escaped such a life 15 years ago…[and] now helps others get out…“During…the world series…the Olympic Swim Trials, the Berkshire meeting…quotas…go up to $2,000 a night”…

Damned If You Don’t

Among those arrested [in a Sacramento, California sting] was the Rev. John Oselsky…who…stopped at a fast food parking lot…to purchase a meal when he was approached by two women who knocked on his vehicle window…Oselsky…speaks fluent Russian, Ukrainian and Romanian.  But his English is not good…Oselsky never…offered money [and] had [only] $13 in his wallet…

An Example To the West (TW3 #39) Naked Football Club

Brazilian prostitutes…played a football match …in World Cup host city Belo Horizonte…to raise awareness about sex workers’ rights…the women set up an impromptu pitch using traffic cones for goalposts and played to the enthusiastic cheers of onlookers.  The prostitutes, calling themselves the Naked Football Club — though in fact they played in the green and yellow uniforms of Brazil — teamed up with the visiting evangelicals from the United States to take on a local university team…

Libertarianism Happens To People

Mark Shurtleff…Utah attorney general…set up a unit…[which] sent armed police to raid businesses that were suspected of employing undocumented workers…Shurtleff…also…[over]saw a dramatic increase in the use of SWAT teams and…opposed an important ballot initiative  to rein in the abuse of civil asset forfeiture…[now] Shurtleff…[is] under investigation for allegedly violating campaign finance law…and…”accused law enforcement agents of using ‘Dirty Harry’ tactics when they searched his house, breaking through his door and pointing automatic weapons at his children…

Somewhere in the Middle

Chris Atchison…[has] been studying [sex workers' clients] for about 20 years…[and] doesn’t think…there is…such a thing as a “typical john”…”People who purchase sexual services come from all walks of life…[and] all racial and ethnic categories…they don’t all [have]…identical reasons or…identical needs…Some…are physically disabled.  Some of these individuals have great social stigmas, social-anxiety disorders.  And some are individuals who…just…are lacking a partner, a widower, and so on and so forth…most [clients] would never hurt their escorts, from whom they mainly seek “companionship”…

Check Your Premises (Hysteria on Parade)

Another warped view of touring:

…Taken from one hotel to the next, she’s been forced to have sex with men for money again and again.  And there are many more like her.  Hundreds of young women and girls are coerced into doing this on any given day, police…say.  Most are…sent along what’s commonly described as The Pipeline, which takes them to cities such as Montreal, here to Ottawa and all the way to Windsor.  Shipping girls along circuits such as The Pipeline is a crucial component to a trafficker’s success.  The constant movement helps pimps avoid police detection, isolates the women and girls from their family and friends, and attracts a larger clientele by offering up fresh-faced girls…

Backwards into the Future (TW3 #352) ritual shaming

dozens of prominent legal experts…are calling for the abolition of the police-run “custody and education” system, which…resembles the “re-education through labor” system in all but name, and has no basis in Chinese law…which forbids the state to deprive citizens of their freedom without any basis in legislation.  The first…facilities began to be built in 2002, in line with a 1993 directive from…the State Council, which ordered that those found engaging in sex work should be given “legal and moral” education, subjected to tests for sexually transmitted diseases and organized to take part in productive work…a person can be incarcerated by police for up to two years without trial for involvement in the sex industry, whether as a sex worker or a client…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #418)

Another excellent essay from Felicia Anna:

…the [Dutch] minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten presented…the government’s…new campaign against human trafficking…[with] an overview of the results of the last campaign…[which] got 392 anonymous tips…[this was] 93% more…then the years before…[but] 392 reports out of 20,000 estimated legal working prostitutes in Holland isn’t very much.  In fact, it’s only about 2%…while the police [claimed] in their own ‘report’ “Schone Schijn“…that it was somewhere between 50 and 90%…of those 392 reports…the police only decided to investigate 250…a whopping 28 arrests where made, which comes down to about 7% of the total amount of reports…This means that only 7% of the reports leads to an actual arrest, and…93% of the cases are false alarm…In short, people report it much more then before, but the actual number of people arrested has not changed at all…

Choke Point 

A mysterious group of business people will spend up to $5 million campaigning against…”Operation Choke Point”…The United States Consumer Coalition says the…operation unfairly targets legal businesses by choking off their access to banks and third-party payment processors…Brian Wise, a partner in the Washington strategic communications shop Wise Public Affairs, began forming USCC at the beginning of the year.  A Facebook site was launched in March, and the group has stepped up its media campaign…[to] highlight…business that…have been hurt by Choke Point…

Property of the State

Tennessee moves to criminalize smoking during pregnancy:

When newborn babies begin to withdraw from powerful drugs, they shriek at a high, telltale pitch.  Cut off from the substances they ingested through their mothers, they convulse, projectile vomit or writhe from skin-scorching diarrhea.  Their tiny bodies shudder violently…Tennessee…has made its mark in trying to understand what triggers the painful symptoms in babies going through nicotine and opioid withdrawal.  Researchers and insurers alike are looking for ways to reach out to and treat pregnant women with addictions…

The Roof Caves In

The Somaly Mam Foundation has pledged to change its name following the resignation of its founder…executive director Gina Reiss-Wilchins says the organisation has ‘been working tirelessly to chart the best path for…rebranding, renaming, and re-launching our organisation’…”  Meanwhile, there’s a petition for the New York Times to fire Nick Kristof for his lies and his perpetuation of Mam’s scam.  But as Dr. Laura Agustin points out, it’s a mistake to concentrate on Mam and Kristof:government money machine

…if some [donors] do stop funding SMF, they will simply shift support to other similar institutions engaged in the same cause…And some new figure with the ability to stir feelings will eventually emerge from the hundreds of groups now dedicated to sex trafficking…The current fuss about Kristof and Mam reproduces the cult of personality that caused trouble in the first place.  To focus on individuals is to avoid addressing structures.  A couple of self-promoting showoffs pale beside proliferating government machinery that now churns out salaries and prestige for thousands worldwide caught up in a movement based on fraud.

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

In what was billed as a national day of action, rallies against the government’s new prostitution legislation were [held] in several cities…Dozens of demonstrators gathered around red umbrellas…in a downtown Toronto park to speak out against the proposed law, which would…”simply move sex workers out into more isolated and more marginalized areas of the city”…said Jean McDonald, head of…Maggie’s …She said that…the Conservatives are “spitting in the face” of the Supreme Court’s landmark prostitution decision and ignoring the vital input of sex workers…

Schadenfreude (TW3 #424) 

Noah Berlatsky on Chong Kim and Eden:

…Breaking Out, an anti-trafficking organization, announced that [it]…had been unable to confirm [her tale and]…is contemplating legal action against her.  Kim’s supposedly true story was the basis for a 2012 film, Eden…the…exploitation tropes…are clustered about so densely and insistently that it’s hard to believe anyone missed them.  There are women-in-prison shower scenes…The trope of giving prisoners kittens to love is straight out of Caged from 1950…There’s also some S&M fetish (again a staple of the genre), and…stylized violence a la Tarantino…To just point out the most obvious issue, the movie details a copious number of murders, several of them committed by the main character herself.  This is standard issue for a Hollywood film, but in real life, this amounts to mass murder, including the killing of multiple law-enforcement personnel…where’s the massive investigation?  Why is this being covered in an entertainment review, rather than on the front page?…

TRPWL presented a catalog of the many inconsistencies in Kim’s story, including her omission of the fact that she was convicted of fraud in 2009.

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Preteens selling goodies, the police…lectured [her]…was unfair to establishments…like Starbucks.  –  Robert Fernandes

Juxtaposition

Popehat suggests we compare and contrast this:

Just days after Iran’s president denounced Internet censorship as “cowardly,” six young Iranians were arrested and forced to repent on state television…for the grievous offense of proclaiming themselves to be “Happy in Tehran,” in a homemade music video  they posted on YouTube…The arrest of the young dancers, and their televised public humiliation, angered Iranians at home and abroad…

And this:

U.S. Park Police arrested five people…at the Jefferson Memorial.  Their offense?  Dancing.  The dancers were protesting an appeals court ruling…that the national monuments are places for reflection and contemplation — and that dancing distracted…

Real People Maria Isabel

Photographer Bénédicte Desrus spent six years…documenting Casa Xochiquetzal, a home in Mexico City for…retired sex workers…She only took photographs of the women who gave her permission and provided them with prints, which often inspired other women to participate…Desrus then teamed up with journalist Celia Gómez Ramos, who began interviewing and transcribing the residents’ stories.  They eventually decided to publish…as…Las Amorosas Más Bravas (The Toughest Lovers)…

Check Your Premises

34-year-old…Vanessa Gumataotao of Sacramento…was arrested on suspicion of prostitution…as well as child abuse and endangerment for allegedly using [a] 17-year-old [boy] as her pimp.  The…boy was arrested on suspicion of pimping…

If It Were Legal

Too bad he lost the suit; this kind of ethical breach is unforgiveable:

A top London solicitor who had sex with a Chinese law student [and sex worker]…has lost his claim for damages after she told his daughter and colleagues about previous affairs.  The solicitor…identified only as AVB, sued the young sex worker, known as TDD, for breach of confidentiality…after she found information about past liaisons on his laptop.  Senior…Justice Tugendhat…said TDD broke a duty she entered when she accepted money for sex.  But…AVB…would not receive damages because although he experienced “some embarrassment” he “has suffered no real distress”…

Something Rotten in Sweden (July Updates, Part One)

Cops busting kids’ lemonade stands isn’t news any more, but this is a new low:

[San Francisco cops busted] two…lemonade stands…the 11-year-old proprietor of one…was informed that simply giving away the fudge brownies and lemonade the police forbade her…to sell would result in a $1,500 fine…Not long after police cleansed the…area of unlawful lemonade dispensaries…they returned due to complaints about “a live band.”  This stemmed…from a neighborhood tradition of setting up a drum kit during [a public event] and allowing local kids to keep the beat.  At the time the police showed up, the unlicensed live bandmember was…a toddler…

The Punitive Mindset

Because obviously, female guards’ delicate ladyfeelings are more important than men’s lives:

…Bradley Ballard, a…schizophrenic [inmate at New York’s Rikers Island] died…after he was confined to his cell…for seven days for making a lewd gesture at a female guard…Denied…his medication, the agitated inmate tied a rubber band tightly around his genitals…Ballard was found naked and unresponsive on the floor, covered in feces, his genitals swollen and badly infected.  He died at a hospital of…[massive systemic] infection…

Above the Law

Two [Atlantic City cops] have been arrested on charges they sexually assaulted a 16-year-old in separate incidents…Andre Corbin and…Ralph Pereira…were…[each] charged with…sexual assault…endangering the welfare of a child and official misconduct…

That Old Black Magic

A man was killed by a mob…in…Burkina Faso, after being accused of making another man’s penis “disappear”…a local mechanic…claimed that his penis had been “stolen” by the second man, who was not from the district.  The first man called the police.  But by then…the residents decided to lynch the man in the middle of the street…

I’ve mentioned West African “penis stealing” hysteria before in Links #141.

Traffic Jam (TW3 #51)

The acquittal of the 13 people “sex trafficking” fanatic Susan Trimarco implicated in her witch hunt provoked such an outcry among her disciples that two of the three judges were pushed into retirement, the third has been threatened with impeachment and the Argentine president swore to “reform” the judiciary because it is too objective and not sufficiently influenced by public opinion.  A higher court then convicted ten of the 13 defendants on charges of running an “evil network of sexual exploitation…with…international connections, and satanic rituals.”  Still think this hysteria is different from the Satanic Panic?

The End of the Beginning

The California Sex Offender Management Board…[recommends] that lawmakers…overhaul registration laws so that some offenders can be removed from the list after 10 or 20 years.  The list — which currently includes almost 100,000 registered offenders — is too large to be useful to law enforcement or the general public.  Under current laws, all sex offenders must register for life regardless of the offense they committed…[the list] includes…almost 900 [people] who have not committed a sex-crime in more than half a century…Ninety-five percent of sex-crimes are committed by individuals who are not on the registry, and the existence of the registry has not worked as a deterrent…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #320) Louie Gohmert

The endgame of “sex trafficking” hysteria:

…U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) said the debate over…immigration reform is prompting undocumented minors to enter the United States… “And…you know that some get sucked into sex slavery,” Gohmert said…adding…“This administration, and this Congress also, is complicit in helping lure people into sex trafficking”…

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #349)

The [French] National Consultative Commission on Human Rights  (CNCDH)…has [rejected] the law…which seeks to punish “the purchase of sexual acts”…[The Commission] consulted many experts…and…[outlines] the three-point position of the committee:

  • “Chosen prostitution” is legal, so clients are not criminals.
  • Legal prostitutes should be easier for clients to access.
  • Victims of trafficking and exploitation need better support…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #351)

Mobs with torches are back in fashion, it seems:

An international association of Catholic nuns has launched a public awareness campaign to combat human trafficking and prostitution during the World Cup in Brazil.  The nuns will use social media, billboards and rallies…to draw attention to the heightened risk of exploitation…Sister Gabriella Bottani said…that for previous World Cups in Germany and South Africa, the level of “exploitation” had gone up by 30 per cent and 40 per cent respectively…Among past and upcoming initiatives will be…a torchlit procession in Brasilia…and handing out pamphlets at…beach resorts…

Naturally, the usual predators are taking advantage of the anti-whore hysteria:

…police…invaded…a building where…prostitutes operated…in [the suburbs of]… Rio…Without a warrant, police…[arrested] more than 100 women…and seized their goods.  Women were attacked and raped – police forced them to perform oral sex and put their hands on the women’s genitals…One woman…had…[her] whole week…[of] money…robbed, including any money to take the bus home…

Guest Columnist:  Sarah Woolley (TW3 #406) 

Amnesty International has urged Northern Ireland’s politicians to ditch plans to criminalise the purchasing of sex.  The human rights organisation wants a clause contained in a bill against human trafficking to be excised because…it would create a “hierarchy of criminal liability” among sex workers…Amnesty stressed it was not taking sides on the debate over sex work and prostitution, but said sex work and human trafficking were “two very complex social phenomena” that required different laws…

“Those who…sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.” – Max Frisch

Sex Work is Work (TW3 #407)

Another blow against the absurdity of consensual crime:

…Italy’s national statistics office, will include estimated dealings from drugs, arms trafficking and prostitution in its GDP figures from now on…This move should increase Italy’s economy by at least 1.3 per cent in the first year, helping it to comply with EU rules on indebtedness, which limit member countries to spending no more than 3 per cent of their GDP…the calculation would also include revenues from contraband tobacco and alcohol…The Bank of Italy estimated the value of the criminal economy at 10.9 per cent of GDP in 2012…The move…is motivated by the EU’s desire to measure its member countries’ economies more closely…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #409)

community members carrying information and harm reduction supplies were threatened with arrest and were not allowed to communicate with sex workers…who had been…forcibly transported to Project ROSE…[which has] come under intense scrutiny because of a long list of rights violations…advocates from the Best Practices Policy Project and SWOP Phoenix traveled to the United Nations to raise concerns about these abuses to the Human Rights Committee…a group of social workers, Social Workers United for Justice, is petitioning the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to “demand an end to Arizona State University School of Social Work’s involvement with Project Rose” because it violates socials work’s core professional principles…

Gorged With Meaning (TW3 #410) Alyssa Funke

Unfortunately, not every outed sex worker has Belle Knox’s incredible strength and resolve:

Nineteen-year-old Alyssa Funke…bought a shotgun, drove to her family’s boat, and killed herself there on April 14.  Students at her former high school had outed her as the star of a “casting couch” porn video, and her parents say the subsequent online harassment contributed to her suicide.  Funke…did her first and only porn video…earlier this year…Soon after the video went up, Funke  started getting nasty Twitter and Facebook messages from students at her former high school in Minnesota, calling her a slut and worse…Funke’s parents said she had long suffered from depression, but they believe the harassment…played a major role in her [suicide]…

Belle also wrote an open letter to Alyssa after hearing of her death.

Deafening Silence (TW3 #413)

discussion of whether the sex trade should be legalised [in China]…came to the fore…after Huang Haibo, a 39-year-old actor best known for his “nice everyman” roles, was arrested…for allegedly soliciting prostitutes…The news led to a surprising outpouring of sympathy on social media…after the crackdown in…Dongguan…[there were many] online comments like “Dongguan, hang in there” and “the public has your back”…

The Missing Word

Silly preacher, only politically-connected companies are allowed to do this:

A South Carolina pastor has been accused of turning his Bible College into a forced labor camp for foreign students.  Reginald Wayne Miller…made the teens toil for no or little pay for more than 50 hours a week while housing them in rooms without hot water, heating or air-conditioning.  He…threatened to revoke their student visas if they complained or failed to comply with his demands…Students reportedly told [federal] investigators that classes “were not real” and that the main focus of the school was to have them working full-time at its campus and Miller’s home…In 2006, [Miller] was…detained on charges of lewdness and prostitution for exposing himself to an undercover cop in a bathhouse…

Three Steps Back (TW3 #418)

A bill designed to help New Orleans police crack down on prostitution is headed to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk…The legislation…makes it illegal…to solicit money or rides with the intent to exchange it for sex acts.  Marjorie Esman [of the ACLU says the law]…does nothing that isn’t already covered by Louisiana law.  Esman also had problems with an earlier version…[that banned] solicitation for any purpose…which…would have effectively outlawed panhandling…the bill gives police a mechanism to [harass] suspected prostitutes…enough so they might move on…

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

The US House of Representatives passed all five of the “sex trafficking” bills before it; most of them are the usual political boondoggles, but one creates a “criminal advertising” crime to stack on people being railroaded for “sex trafficking”, and the most dangerous one allows the federal government to give even more money to local cops for sex work stings under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”.  But the most shocking example of political hubris comes from Representative Randy Hultgren of Illinois, who seems to imagine that the U.S. Congress has the power to criminalize prostitution in foreign countries; he supports this with a lot of nonsense including the discredited Neumayer, Cho & Dreher report.

Blood on the Sand

[Vanessa] Stiviano…is now the subject of a criminal probe…[due to] accusations that Stiviano sought money from Sterling to stop her from releasing more recordings…Stiviano’s attorney has denied she leaked the recordings that set off the scandal, saying a friend did it without her permission.

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Did I dream of becoming a sex worker when I was a little girl?  No.  But I didn’t dream about working at McDonald’s either, and yet that was my first job.  –  Celine Bisette

Real People

Good satire sticks close to the truth:

…stripper Nicole Timbers does not live the…exciting and scandalous life many friends had hoped for.  “When we met Nicole, we figured she would have the craziest stories,” said Diana Alvarez…“but our friend Ashlynn’s actually had sex with more guys than Nicole – and she’s a preschool teacher”…When Timbers is not taking off her clothes onstage, roommate Sarah Kelvin-Fan confirms she “mostly just studies for her LSATs” and “wears men’s sweatpants – not even the cute, booty-hugging kind.  She won’t teach me how to give a lap dance, and she seemed kind of annoyed when I asked if she could strip at my birthday party”…

Because We Say So

A report on the havoc wrought by “sex trafficking” hysteria on Nepal:

…The hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid that flow into the country…enable corrupt outfits…to flourish…the groups…[claim that] thousands of Nepali women and girls are lured each year into the sex industry…NGOs…inflate the number of people they’ve helped and the size of the problem…Their shock tactics include street performances featuring young girls being dragged off to brothels by traffickers…In one remote…village, parents pulled their daughters out of school after an NGO performed such a skit for fear that traffickers would kidnap the girls if they left the house…

It Looks Good On Paper

Here’s yet another teary-eyed article breathlessly extolling the virtues of a “safe harbor” law while negating the agency of women, belching up ridiculously-inflated figures and presenting a sales pitch for the Swedish model:  “This bill is consistent…with a…policy shift around the world that recognizes the need to target traffickers, pimps and buyers and move away from criminalizing those exploited in prostitution – predominantly women and girls…

The Course of a Disease

Swedish cultists are so delusional they want disagreeing with them to be illegal:

The Nordic Model Australia Coalition “NORMAC”, has…[called on the government] to cut funding to the Scarlet Alliance and redirect it to [Swedish model proponents]…Scarlet Alliance is clearly focused on lobbying for liberalised sex laws, rather than [promoting belief in]…human trafficking.  Their estimate of the number of ["victims"] is alarmingly low…“Scarlet Alliance’s core beliefs and ideology seem deeply opposed to [believing in Swedish ideology]”…

Above the Law

Sometimes the state mildly punishes rapist cops:

Bradley Schnickel, the…Minneapolis police officer who used the Internet to lure adolescent girls into sex…was sentenced…to 30 months in prison, minus 197 days for time already served…his remaining prison time could be reduced to less than 14 months…Judge James A. Cunningham sentenced Schnickel…to less than one-fourth of the nearly 12-year sentence that prosecutors sought…there were 18 known victims…

And sometimes it punishes their victims instead:

The former madam of an escort service in Hawaii alleges she was sexually abused and extorted by a federal agent she has known since childhood.  Malia Arciero [says]…Ryan Faulkner…forced her to work as his confidential informant….[after handcuffing] her to a table…and sexually [assaulting] her…He told her:  “I’m your handler and I own you.”  Arciero faces 10 years in federal prison after Faulkner arrested her on drug charges in October 2013…Faulkner [has been obsessed with her since]…1997 when she was a 16-year-old [stripper]…

The Law is an Ass

A prostitute and her parents [were] arrested in [a Tennessee sting]…Christy…Huxoll’s parents…were arrested [for]…bringing condoms…[because] it [kept] her off the streets…”  The state expects parents to “control” their 33-year-old daughter, abandon her, or turn her in to the cops.

Bullies With Badges

police officers physically and verbally abused the manager of a tanning salon and massage parlor during her arrest…and [threatened her with death]…the cops [eventually realized they were] on camera…[and looked for the recording to destroy it] but didn’t find it because the video was stored off-site…two of the officers…were accused of abusing an immigrant [sex worker] in a previous lawsuit…

First They Came for the Hookers…

If they can use these tactics against legal businesses, is anyone safe?

…Club Lace…[was] accused of maintaining a house of prostitution…[Phoenix] police began investigating…several years ago…[making] seven traffic stops near the…club…[and interrogating] customers…they stopped a security guard…[and searched] his vehicle [without a warrant,  supposedly finding] numerous used condoms and envelopes containing ledgers of earnings…

Translation:  they threatened the customers and security guard with bogus charges, and promised the guard immunity to keep his mouth shut about the manufactured “evidence”.  Unless you really believe that drivers go around with loads of other dudes’ used condoms, and that brothel managers maintain records with names, sex acts and exact amounts on them.

See No Evil (TW3 #31)

So, would a photo of a “topless” male baby also be banned?

…Heather Bays, a [Toronto] maternity photographer…said her [Instagram] account was deactivated…[the night] before Mother’s Day…[after] someone posted a negative comment on a selfie of her breastfeeding her 20-month-old daughter…Hours later, Bays…received several emails from [Facebook-owned] Instagram saying some of her pictures violated its terms of use…After…a…social media [backlash]…Instagram agreed to reactivate her account but with…seven photographs removed…a horrible, dirty, evil, dangerous selfiebecause [they] showed Bays’…daughter topless…Facebook’s community standards state that it has a “strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved…”

Soap Opera

It really is like a cult:

…Indiana State University students…will…shine a light on human trafficking ahead of next week’s Indy 500…SOAP…volunteers will…visit hotels, bars and strip clubs near the…Speedway to distribute soap labeled with the human trafficking hotline number…”Most people don’t know that human trafficking is the second leading crime worldwide*, and that it happens in Indianapolis too,” [Tracy] Pruitt said. “Unfortunately, victims are sometimes picked up on college and university campuses…Research is still being done on the effectiveness of outreaches like this**, but we do know that at least 20 girls were rescued during the Super Bowl***”…

*No, it isn’t.   **No, it isn’t.   ***No, they weren’t.

King of the Hill

There are eight Ivy League schools, so I’m going to count this bizarre assertion as a claim to the top eight:  “…Milwaukee is known nationwide…as the ‘Harvard of sex trafficking’, [Sandra] Malone said…’It’s pervasive.  Everyone is at risk’…Part of it…is [being] near Chicago…

Pearls Firmly Clutched

Is the Crown Prosecution Service now hiring bad TV writers to produce the scripts for their accusations?

A lesbian madam…forced a record-breaking athlete into prostitution …Tatiana Shmyrova…exploited the Bulgarian former runner after she was lured to Britain with the promise of work…[defendants] were…part of a “ruthless” sex ring which ran a lucrative business “by bartering in human…bodies”, said [an absurd little] prosecutor…

What a Week! (TW3 #336)

Kim Jong-Un’s ex-lover who he ordered to be executed is said to be alive and well.  The Korean singer, Hyon Song-Wol…appeared on state television…[where she] expressed gratitude for Kim’s leadership and pledged to work harder to “stoke up the flame for art and creative work”…

Torture Chamber 

A…mentally ill inmate at [Miami prison]…was [forced] into [a] locked shower [under scalding water]…and…left…unattended for more than an hour [until]…his skin was so burned that it had shriveled from his body…nearly two years after [Darren] Rainey’s death…the…medical examiner has yet to complete an autopsy and…police have not charged anyone…The shower treatment was only one [tactic used]…by…guards to [terrorize] mentally ill patients…In September, another inmate…hanged himself from an air conditioning vent…[leaving] a suicide note…claiming he and other prisoners were sexually and physically abused on a routine basis…

Secret Squirrel (TW3 #344)

Among the latest gadgets…is the MiniBrake:  A remote control for your child’s bike…Go into any AT&T store and you can buy the FiLIP,” a cute little tracking device…Japan has taken kiddie surveillance once step further and developed a prototype…worn on the chest, measuring a child’s heart rate.  If that rate goes up, the…monitor immediately snaps a photo of whatever…the child is facing.  The idea that the child’s heart is racing because she’s running around doesn’t seem to come into play…Parents may go so far as to give their kids ingestibles” — tiny, swallow-able sensors that emit signals that can be picked up by a smart phone.  These already exist, but their signals are weak.  Eventually, these may be strengthened and fine-tuned to measure whatever [biological] metric parents want to know about…

Down Under (TW3 #350)

In New Zealand, sex workers are protected from buyer’s remorse; I’m not optimistic Texas will be that enlightened:  “A Houston…stripper is being sued…by one of her customers…Robert [no last name]…says she owes him about $3,000 worth of Harry Potter DVDs, a laptop and cash…

Traffic Circle (TW3 #402)

We’re seeing more and more stories like this:

…a myth that comes up every year there’s some big…draw like the Super Bowl…[is that] there’s an influx of sex trafficking.  Last week the Comic-Con of the oil and gas industry, the Offshore Technology Conference, came to [Houston], and with it there was an alleged bump in business for…prostitutes…[and] strip-club[s]…but…that’s just not the case, and the whole sex-trafficking myth is usually perpetuated by…faith-based groups…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #413)

While US newspapers print ignorant opinions from cops and prohibitionists, the Ottawa Citizen publishes articles by sex workers:

Member of Parliament Joy Smith…claims that people only engage in prostitution due to “economic need”…As far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of people…in any field engage in labour because of “economic need”…people work for money, not for fun.  Some of us are lucky enough to wake up every day and feel thrilled about going to work, but most of us probably don’t.  Folks work in the fast food industry for money.  They work in retail for money, and they collect garbage for money.  Do any children dream of doing these jobs when they grow up?  Probably not…We all need to work, and we can’t all be the next Stephen Hawking or Madonna…

The Missing Worddefinitely not trafficking victims, no sirree

As we all know, the New York Times hates “human trafficking”, yet the word is entirely absent from this article about exploited workers in Abu Dhabi.  Their agency is recognized; their motive is correctly stated as money rather than a bad childhood or being abducted by “pimps”; the paper doesn’t call for their work to be abolished or the people who hire them to be prosecuted; there is no talk of sending cops to arrest them under the guise of “rescue”, and Nick Kristof is nowhere to be found.  But of course these workers are men and their work doesn’t involve sex, so that makes it completely different.

Rough Trade (TW3 #417) 

Having attacked his accusers as vengeful prostitutes and attempted to hide evidence of his crimes…Seattle attorney…Danford Grant pleaded guilty…as a jury was being selected…Grant, a former city prosecutor…was…a serial rapist, “obsessed with Asian women,” who preyed on immigrant masseuses…

Dutch Threat (TW3 #418)

Another excellent essay from Felicia Anna:

In the summer of 2007 the city…of Amsterdam [began to]…close…dozens of windows.  Not because they found criminal activities, since they lost every single court case on that…[they] simply…bought out the owners…Where the women have gone…nobody knows…Did the city government offer them…another job?  Did they offer them another place to work?  Did they ever ask…how these girls could now pay the rent to their apartments?  Did they ever ask those girls how they could live without a place to work?  No!  The city government didn’t do anything, for those girls they supposedly were “so worried” about.  Instead, all they did was buy more windows, leaving less room for girls to work in, pushing them away into nothingness…

Choke Point

Gun retailers say the Obama administration is trying to put them out of business with regulations and investigations that bypass Congress and choke off their lines of credit, freeze their assets and prohibit online sales…Operation Choke Point…has prompted some banks to cut ties with online gun retailers, even if those companies have valid licenses and good credit histories…

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We only have so many criminal justice dollars, and we need to apply them…toward the areas where we’re afraid of the perpetrators…We’re not afraid of prostitutes. We’re just mad at them.  –  John Whitmire

R.I.P. Virginia Johnson

Virginia JohnsonThe female half of Masters and Johnson, the pioneering sex researchers, has died at the age of 88 (Dr. Masters died in 2001).  Though she never got a degree, Johnson’s intelligence, insight and willingness to speak candidly about the female sexual experience allowed the duo to accomplish what Masters’ academic credentials alone could never have: a thorough exploration of the sexual responses of both men and women, with a strong emphasis on direct measurement rather than the omnipresent questionnaires of most latter-day sex research.  Johnson’s importance to sexology cannot be overstated; it is not an exaggeration to say that modern women, in large part, are indebted to her for their current ability to openly discuss sex and sexual needs.

Bad Girls

How much of this story about the “Starlet Bandits” (a gang of hookers turned bank robbers) is true, and how much a combination of moral panic, journalistic exaggeration and Tarantinoesque tale-telling from a pimp who wanted to be a star?  There’s no way to tell, but I won’t be at all surprised to see it presented as a movie in about seven years.

Reading Between the Lines

Yet another “Operation Cross-Country” has resulted in the persecution of many hundreds of American sex workers.  The FBI is crowing that it “rescued 105 child sex-trafficking victims” and arrested “150 pimps”, but in reality the young women claimed to be “rescued” were also arrested, as demonstrated by this video released by the FBI itself.  As in the last couple of raids, officials are hiding the number of adult hookers busted in this vast boondoggle; however, if the proportions are the same as in the last case for which full figures are available, there were almost 1200 of them.  Even the identities of the so-called “pimps” (most likely male sex workers, drivers, etc) and “rescued children” (some of whom might actually be the children of the arrested women) are in question because the FBI plays fast and loose with the facts.  Consider that in the initial press release it was claimed that the youngest “victim” was 9 and another was so happy to be “rescued” she consented to an interview; later it came out that the youngest was 13 and the interviewee was actually an informant who has been working with them for years.  I suggest you judge the veracity of the other claims by that measure.

Real People

Cathryn Berarovich, a sex worker who writes a column for The Gloss, interviews a streetwalker who has recently gone indoors via online advertising.  Not only is the interview itself quite interesting, so is the story of how Cathryn met her.Tizzy Wall

What the Hell Were You Thinking?

Tizzy Wall (one of my pals from the Desiree conference) recently published “Safety Tips from Sex Workers”, in which she teaches amateurs how to use some of our screening tricks to keep safe:

Although meeting someone at a bar is not necessarily any safer, removing the ability to judge someone’s mannerisms and demeanor can understandably make the less tech-savvy nervous.  Who knows if that hottie on Grindr is going to turn out to be scary?  Even common dating sites like OkCupid host their fair share of creeps who can put the bravest of romance-seekers on high alert…Thankfully, the web offers a bevy of nifty little options that allow us to vet someone before a face-to-face meeting.  You may not be able to screen just like a sex worker, but you can still get some use out of their tools.  This may be the one (and only) time you find a sex worker giving tips rather than collecting them, so take note of these hard-earned harm-preventative measures that anyone can use…

Peeping Toms

…In…at least a dozen cases since 2011…[the Baton Rouge] Sheriff’s Office…used [Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law, which was struck down by Lawrence vs. Texas a decade ago]…to ensnare men who merely discussed or agreed to have consensual sex with an undercover agent…District Attorney Hillar Moore III said his office refused to prosecute…the cases…a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman…denied that investigators had been misapplying the…law [because it] remains among the state’s criminal statutes…Peter Renn, an attorney with Lambda Legal…said the pattern…suggests authorities are using the stings as a means to harass gay men…“This is basically like the police putting up a sign that says ‘Please sue me’”…

The Mote and the Beam

You know that quote that says insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results?

Kirkland police served a search warrant against the infamous online ad company backpage.com, seeking information about its alleged promotion of prostitution…at the Motel 6 in north Kirkland…State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced…he and 49 attorneys general are asking Congress to give them the power to fight online ads promoting prostitution…

Say, Bob, how’d it turn out last time y’all tried that?  Oh, yeah, the State of Washington admitted it knew trying to hold websites responsible for third-party content was unconstitutional.  But hey, the $200,000 the judge made y’all pay Backpage didn’t come out of your pocket, so it’s no big deal to you, right?

Law of the Instrument (TW3 #25)

Another case of “human trafficking” meaning whatever the “authorities” want it to mean:  “Two men who were arrested…in connection to a large marijuana growing operation are now facing human trafficking charges…the pair brought a 15-year-old runaway girl from Southern California to their grow location [and] sexually assaulted her…”  She was not forced to work in any way; in other words, this is a case of abduction and rape.  Remember this next time you see “trafficking” statistics.

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #35)

Spongebob upsetMorality in Media’s campaign to get men’s magazines banned from military property has failed, sort of.  While the Department of Defense stated categorically that “the department’s Resale Activities Board of Review previously…concluded those magazines do not meet the definition of sexually explicit material under the [Military Honor and Decency Act of 1996], and are permissible for sale”.  However, Army and Air Force Exchange stores have announced they will no longer sell them:

…the decision…was not based on morality, but merely because the magazines were not selling, as people now get their pornography online…AAFES said it was permanently removing 891 magazines from its stock, including SpongeBob Comics and the Home Buyers Guide…to…create 33% more space in the stores to sell items such as DVDs and video games…

There is no word on whether the separately-run Naval Exchange stores are planning to do the same; SpongeBob was not available for comment.

King of the Hill

Cleveland obviously couldn’t stand Toledo claiming to be the biggest “sex trafficking hub” in the region:  “Ohio is a major pipeline for human trafficking, taking young, lost girls and turning them into sex slaves…the average age is now 12 for entry into this dark world…”  I just love the expression “turning them into sex slaves”; it sounds so science fictional.

Down Under (TW3 #40)

The predictable result of the years-long “crackdown” on street work in St. Kilda:

Members of the Victorian sex industry are calling on the state government to decriminalise street-based sex work after the death of a woman in St Kilda…Tracy Connelly, a 40-year-old sex worker known professionally as Kelly, was murdered in daylight…on July 21…Police said she had severe face and upper-body injuries and had suffered a “horrific” death…Janelle Fawkes…of…Scarlett [sic] Alliance, said by decriminalising street-based sex work, workers would look to police as protector rather than prosecutor, and thus feel safe to speak out when threatened or assaulted…

Follow Your Bliss (TW3 #44)Larry Kobielnik

As previously explained, “The TSA attracts criminals and those with personality disorders that exaggerate control and sociopathic tendencies…”:

A former [Florida] police officer kidnapped a woman at gunpoint and raped her while he held her captive for several hours…Larry Kobielnik, 37…an officer with the [TSA] for 11 years…offered the 30-year-old a ride…then pulled out a handgun and a police badge, placed the woman in handcuffs and told her she was under arrest…[he then] drove her…to a house…where he raped her…he [eventually] fell asleep, allowing her to escape and record his car’s license plate number…

The Public Eye (TW3 #49)

Here’s an interview with Kristen DiAngelo about her film, American Courtesans; it was screened at Desiree, but for some reason it was scheduled last in the evening (after two other movies I didn’t want to see), so I was not able to attend.  The interview doesn’t cover any new ground for readers of this blog, but note the venue (MSN) and the positive attitude of the interviewer.  Given some previous pro-decriminalization stuff from the Gates Foundation, perhaps Microsoft may eventually develop into a real ally.

Skin To Skin

Since prostitution is already legal in Spain, I’m guessing this campaign wants to ensure that no ridiculous “pimping” laws can be used to harass organizations which connect sex workers with disabled clients:

A Catalan organization which helps provide disabled people with sexual relations is pushing for “disability” prostitutes to become legal in Spain…Jaume Girbau…is…the engine behind Sex Asistent Catalunya…[which] wants the…government to…make sexual assistants legal as they already are in many countries across Europe, including Germany, Switzerland, Holland and Denmark.  Some of these countries pay for the services with public funds…The group is already putting together the teaching material with the aim of offering those interested inEscape from the White Savior Industrial Complex professional training a…university degree…

FarmVille (TW3 #138)

Escape from the White-Savior Industrial Complex”  is a simple parody of Nicholas Kristof’s Half the Sky FaceBook game, designed and programmed by a recovering Kristof groupie.  Can you help Radhika escape “rescue”?

Coming and Going (TW3 #311)

You know that Texas “diversion” program that’s supposed to be so bloody wonderful?  One of things it does is teaches the women to blame themselves for the state’s criminalization of consensual behavior.

Dutch Threat

Amsterdam city council can continue with its policy of reducing the number of brothel owners in its red light district, the government’s highest advisory body…said…The city council began cleaning up the red light district in 2008 and has now introduced new zoning laws which make it possible to evict brothel owners who are uncooperative.  The aim is to reclaim one of the oldest and most picturesque parts of the city by encouraging exclusive shops to open there…62 red light windows will have to close…

Credit Where Credit is DuePat Robertson

Pat Robertson seems to be slowly going sane:

…Pat Robertson said on his show…that he believes transgender people are real, and that there’s “no sin” associated with that.  While Robertson’s entire comment isn’t perfect, it’s still surprisingly positive… “There are men who are in a woman’s body… it’s very rare but it’s true, or women that are in men’s bodies, and they want a sex change…I don’t think there’s any sin associated with that.  I don’t condemn somebody for doing that.”

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

Nicaraguan sex workers have…set up an office to assist in protection from abuse, violence and discrimination…Prostitution is illegal in Nicaragua but authorities often turn a blind eye to it…Retrasex is part of a Latin American and Caribbean network of 1,000 affiliates…[which] is fighting to change the vocabulary used by media and official institutions to…the term “sex workers.”  The organization also seeks to influence social, health and education policy, as well as push for rights…

Celebrity

Steph Wilcock, another of my friends from Desiree, has unveiled her “Sex Workers Speakeasy” project, “the aim of [which] is to allow current and former sex workers a platform from which to express our experiences of working in an industry besieged by blame, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma.”  It will consist of very short videos like the one at this link, which Steph made of me just before we went to the after-party on Thursday night; if you’re a sex worker who’d like to participate, Steph explains how following the video.

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Only crime and the criminal…confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.  –  Hannah Arendt

Most of you probably heard about this on Thursday:

A [San Antonio, Texas] jury…acquitted Ezekiel Gilbert of murder in the death of a 23-year-old Craigslist escort…Lenora Ivie Frago…died about seven months after she was shot in the neck and paralyzed on Christmas Eve 2009.  Gilbert admitted shooting Frago…but said the intent wasn’t to kill.  Gilbert’s actions were justified, [his lawyers] argued, because he was trying to retrieve stolen property:  the $150 he paid Frago.  It became theft when she refused to have sex with him or give the money back…Frago walked around his apartment and after about 20 minutes left, saying she had to give the money to her driver…[who] was [allegedly] Frago’s pimp and her partner in the theft scheme.  The Texas law that allows people to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft was put in place for “law-abiding” citizens, prosecutors…countered.  It’s not intended for someone trying to force another person into an illegal act such as prostitution…

Ezekiel GilbertThat article, which was reasonably objective by the low standards of modern American journalism, was not the one which was bruited about the most, however; that honor went to Gawker‘s Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You”, whose inflammatory headline masked its essentially-similar content.  Jezebel’s take on the matter, “How an Insane Texas Law Made It Legal for a Man to Kill a Prostitute”, carried it another step farther away from the real issue at hand, but Huffington Post won the obfuscation hat trick with “Ezekiel Gilbert Acquitted Of Murdering Woman Who Wouldn’t Have Sex”, a headline which almost completely obscures the real point.  But before we expose the moral putrefaction which made this deplorable outcome possible, let’s dispense with a few other distractions.

One:  This is not about Texas per se, no matter how much regionalists are trying to make it so; nor is it about “American gun culture” or any other such crap.  Pretending it’s about that is an unhelpful distraction from the real issues at hand, and therefore NOT A WELCOME TOPIC FOR DISCUSSION IN THE COMMENT THREAD.  Nearly every place in the world would excuse behavior not materially different from Gilbert’s as long as “authorized” people are shooting at those designated as criminals, and arguing about which specific circumstances justify it is a red herring.

Two:  I don’t really feel comfortable with using a woman who at first glance appears to be either an extortionist or a really inept cash-and-dash artist as a poster child for violence against sex workers.  No, petty theft doesn’t deserve death, but at the same time it’s really stupid, dangerous and unethical to go into a strange place alone with a strange man and attempt to cheat him (if Gilbert is telling the truth, which is by no means certain).  This is not “victim blaming”; it’s insisting that discussions be grounded in reality rather than some imaginary Utopia where life is fair.

Three:  To those who insists that Gilbert was essentially trying to rape Frago, because escorting is a legal business and it says right there in the ad that “money exchanged is for time and companionship only” and “this is not an offer of prostitution”:  Please shut the fuck up.  You are an idiot, you’re not helping, and you need to reread the last line in the item above and then get a life.

Four:  No, it really doesn’t matter that she had a vagina and he had a penis; the advantage of a gun is that it removes physical size and strength from the equation.  The core issues here would be exactly the same if a female drug user had shot a male drug dealer for selling her a bag of cornstarch for $150 instead of the heroin she was promised.

Lenora FragoThat last conveniently introduces the real issue here, the rotten core of this whole rotten situation.  In Texas (as in most of the United States), the exchange of money for sex is illegal in and of itself.  I’ll clarify that for international readers:  in the US, just talking about something or agreeing to do something completely legal suddenly becomes illegal if certain taboo magic words are spoken or even implied.  Let that sink in:  no evidence of any kind is necessary, just the cop’s accusation.  And it swings equally both ways:  a policewoman can accuse a man of soliciting her just as easily as a male cop can accuse a woman, and the chosen victim will be arrested and “named and shamed” with no due process whatsoever, just on a cop’s say-so.  Furthermore, in Texas and ten other states, prostitution can be a felony (i.e. the same class of crime as assault, rape, grand theft, manslaughter, etc); under rapidly-spreading “end demand” and “sex trafficking” laws, hiring a hooker can be as well (with a potential for decades in prison and other serious consequences).  In Craigslist-style hooking, there’s no screening in either direction; both parties know the other could be a cop, and that makes both of them understandably nervous…possibly nervous enough to walk around for twenty minutes and then lose one’s nerve, and possibly nervous enough to get trigger-happy.

And that’s just the beginning of the rot.  Consider that the prohibitionists have been spreading anti-whore lies for a very long time; we’ve been “degenerates” or “monsters” for centuries, “criminals” for one century and the victims of brutal “pimps” (who may also be international gangsters) for over a decade now (there was an alleged “pimp” right outside, remember?)  Which of these overlapping myths did the jurors believe?  The law used by Gilbert’s defense was enacted to allow homeowners to defend themselves against robbery, which Texas law pretends is no worse a crime than compensated sex.  The defense portrayed Gilbert as a man facing a “criminal” defined by Texas law as being at least as anti-social as a burglar, whom neofeminist prohibitionists have painted as being desperate, emotionally crippled and dominated by brutes.  Prosecutors like to select jurors who display strong “law and order” attitudes; it appears to me that this time, they succeeded better than they had hoped because the jurors simply refused to see the “criminal” Frago as a victim.  But before you condemn them as sociopaths, let’s try a thought experiment:  go back to number four above.  Can you imagine a big outcry in that situation?  If both participants in that incident were black, can you even imagine it becoming a national news story, let alone a source of outrage?  And if Gilbert had been wearing a certain blue costume, and his victim had been young and male, and the so-called “crime” had involved buying drugs rather than buying sex, it might never have made it into the San Antonio Express-News as anything other than a line item under the heading “police reports”.

rotten appleThis is the putrid heart of the whole stinking business.  Though we may disagree on the particulars (such as allowed levels of provocation and lethality), most people will agree that individuals have the right to defend themselves against criminals.  But when “authorities” and other dangerous busybodies stretch the definition of “criminal” to include people engaged in voluntary transactions, then spread propaganda in order to convince the populace that individuals so engaged are criminals in a true and meaningful sense rather than a merely arbitrary one, and then pass laws so dangerous and repressive that those individuals fear for their safety and actual criminals are drawn into the resulting black market, is anyone surprised when twelve ignorant people with no personal interest in the matter can be swayed by whichever of two important-looking men makes a more convincing argument?  Because that’s exactly what happened here, folks:  in matters of great complexity, when neither of the sides seems terribly sympathetic, our legal system is on exactly the same moral level as trial by combat; the contest is decided by the relative skill of the opponents rather than the salient facts of the question to be decided.  As long as we allow and even encourage our governments to criminalize private, consensual behaviors with no clear victim and no actual corpus delicti, lots more people are going to be senselessly killed and lots of senseless killers are going to get away with it.  And no hypocrite who supports such a system has any business whatsoever complaining about that inevitable and highly-predictable outcome.

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