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We never encountered any [people tortured in brothels], and we certainly looked for it…I think [sex trafficking fetishists have] been watching too many movies.  –  Thomas Steinfatt

Maggie in the Media

While in San Diego last Sunday I appeared on the Edge of Chaos podcast, which is now available; I was also interviewed for Reason TV the previous Friday, but that will take a few weeks to edit so watch this space.

Feminine Pragmatism

Women do whatever they need to do to survive in a worker’s paradise:

[Venezuelan] prostitutes more than double their earnings by moonlighting as currency traders…they are the foreign exchange counter for sailors in a country where buying and selling dollars in the streets is a crime — and prostitution isn’t…The bolivar has fallen to 71 to the dollar from 23 on the black market…[but] the official exchange rate…is 6.3 bolivars per dollar.  The dollar shortage is turning Venezuela into a two-tier society similar to the Soviet Union and Cuba…those with access to dollars such as prostitutes, tour agents, airport taxi drivers and expatriates are able to shield themselves from inflation by trading their greenbacks at ever higher rates.  Those who can’t are seeing their living standards decline…

Parable

Another spot-on sex work comparison:

…What if…the government legislated that piano teachers couldn’t…advertise…hanging out at houses of piano would be evidence you were illegally living off the avails of piano lessons…learning piano would be a crime, and so the piano teachers would operate in the dangerous shadows…some piano teachers might need to switch careers, but a police record won’t get them there, and…there are people adept and inclined and happy to teach piano…“But,” I hear some say, “why would a guy need professional piano lessons anyway?  It disgusts me.  Doesn’t he have a friend who can teach him piano?”…

Schadenfreude Chong Kim

Another “sex trafficking survivor”  bites the dust:

…Chong Kim whom [sic] has claimed to be a survivor of human trafficking is not…after thorough investigation into her story, people, records and places, as well as, [sic] many interviews with producers, publishers and…organizations, we found no truth…In fact, we found a lot of fraud, lies, and the most horrifically capitalizing [sic]…several other organizations…have [also] been defrauded by Chong collecting money in their name…

Follow Your Bliss

Yasmin Nair is on the same page as I am about Kristof:

…Nicholas Kristof’s collected work on sex trafficking constitutes a masturbatory text…there’s a pornographic impulse at its heart, a sexual fantasy about dark-skinned women and children being raped by sexual predators on the dirt floors of basements, until the white saviour smashes the door down to save them.  I don’t decry fantasy, but it’s about time we started to name Kristof’s fables of sex and rescue for what they are: Trafficking porn.  And it’s about time we started to openly question whether Kristof isn’t in fact actually projecting some of his own sexual fantasies onto helpless women across the world; little else helps to explain his excessive desire to probe…into the intimate details of his subjects’ lives…

Above the Law

FBI reports make rape sound humdrum and almost accidental:  “…Bryan Robert Benson pleaded guilty…to a civil rights offense for sexually assaulting a woman while transporting her to jail…Benson pulled into a parking lot….and engaged in intercourse with her against the police car without her consent…

Bad Fantasy, Good Reality (TW3 #12)

Sex workers who quit the trade will become eligible for low-interest loans this month of up to VND20 million (US$940)…But the scheme beneficiaries apparently don’t buy its efficiency…loan applicants must  produce certification from high-ranking commune-level authorities  that they have given up sex work….most young sex workers earn…more than VND30 million a month…[so] VND20 million is…unlikely to convince anyone to leave the business…

The Pygmalion Fallacy

Joyce Arthur pointed me to this amusing “future story” in a Canadian newspaper:

A Nova Scotia man is suing a pleasure provider after the sexbot he rented behaved erratically during their night together…Andy Smith is suing for $100,000 in damages he alleges were made to his vehicle when the sex worker began pounding the windshield with her fists and slashed the hood of his vehicle…BestSexEver (BSE)…is countersuing Smith, claiming that he disrespected the sexbot by ignoring her programmed suggestions for best sexual positions in a vehicle, and speaking rudely about robots in general…A witness at the scene said a naked Smith jumped from his vehicle and started yelling obscenities at the sexbot…

A follow-up story imagines sexbots demanding the right to unionize.

Broken Record

On a really big tour bus with 40,000 seats, plus a Cadillac for the pimps:

Texas ranks second only to California…[in] human trafficking, according to the FBI.  Right now, San Antonio is in the national spotlight…[because of] the Spurs…”The sexual trafficking rings…are attracted to San Antonio,” said…Michelle Lee… “They travel much like a band would travel”…

See No Evil (TW3 #41)

Residents of wealthy Old Westbury, N.Y…[are] concerned…that a millionaire neighbor will plop a 33-foot, painted bronze sculpture of a beyond-naked pregnant woman with an exposed fetus on his front lawn…

It Looks Good On Paper (TW3 #311)

18 months for whores, 8 hours for clients. Yeah, that’s fair.

Los Angeles police…announced plans…for a prostitution crackdown…The city is working with the Mary Magdalene Project…to provide an 18-month course to help prostitutes find another career.  Those arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitutes may be given a chance to attend an 8-hour “John’s School.”

Under Every Bed 

IT’S EVERYWHERE, IT’S EVERYWHERE!!!!!  In Missoula, Montana (population circa 69,000):

…pimps are often former drug dealers…[ignoramus Guy Baker said] “I have an ounce of cocaine and I sell it for a gram.1  I get my money but I lose my product.  But with a human…it’s a re-usable commodity2…[a cop arresting a sex worker is] their knight in shining armor”3…Baker says 77% of adult prostitutes were lured into the sex trade when they were juveniles4.

and in La Crosse, Wisconsin (pop c. 52,000):

It can happen in Internet chat rooms, private parties and even at home…Stopping the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children…was sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration…and other local groups…organizers hope to draw attention to sex trafficking…of children in the La Crosse area…[ignoramus Alan Krok said] “The exploiter’s teaching them that the police are the bad guys”3

and even in Cheboygan, Michigan (pop c. 5000):

Theresa Flores…was talking about the growing…practice of human sex trafficking…According to recent estimates by the  FBI5, approximately 293,000 American youth are at risk of being trafficked…students were “dumbfounded” that…trafficking could happen so close to home…Malls are popular locations…along with any major gathering of people like the North American International Auto Show…girls…said…it made [them] scared6 because [they] go to the mall often…

1If these dudes were trading an entire ounce of coke (28.35 grams) for a gram, it’s no wonder they couldn’t make any money at it.
2Standard gang-flavored “trafficking” rhetoric these days.
3Cops trying desperately to pretend they aren’t the bad guys in prohibition.
4Bogus stat pulled totally out of his arse, and smells like it.
5Actually, a bad 13-year-old guess from Estes & Weiner.
6Exactly the point

Cuckoo Advertising

Will these “reporters” never wake up?

A new survey conducted by Ashley Madison…[asked] 105,000 of its members…about their religious affiliation…one in four…who responded described themselves as “born again” Evangelist Christians.  Catholics comprised the next largest group at 22.75 percent, followed by Protestants (22.7 percent)…

Mumbo Jumbo

Here’s the magical pimp mind-control philter again:

…800,000…victims are added each year…Anti-Trafficking signs are posted in seven different languages in rest stop bathrooms along Interstate-90…“They just keep them so drugged that they don’t even know what’s happening to them,” said AmberDawn McCall, who was…was born into the world of human trafficking…[and] trapped…until the age of six…every child is a target, and traffickers…look for kids at places where no one is watching…

And in this one, we learn that “By just saying hello, a human trafficker can know whether or not a young boy or girl is worth pursuing as a victim…

Innocence Never Had

The truth about “child sex trafficking”:

The media warns readers about violent pimps stealing girls from malls, but most victims’ stories are very different…I was a teen trafficking victim, and my experience reflects much of the research that’s been done…When my dad pimped me out during the Clinton era, the state called his crime “sexual abuse of a minor.”  When the cops decided to try to “rescue” me when I was 15, they pressured the state to take custody of me…[though] I had been living independently and with friends for years…Most of my foster-home stints lasted less than a week…I was lucky.  Other teens have been raped and pimped in foster care…Within a few months, the state had run out of foster homes for me, so they dumped me in a youth shelter…my caseworker…[stole] my money, saying that I would probably spend [it] on drugs…

Please, please read this in its entirety.

Stupor Bowl

The Bay Area tries desperately to cash in on the “gypsy whore” myth before it collapses completely:

As football fans wait…for Super Bowl…in February 2016…officials and advocates are bracing for what they expect to be a perfect storm for human trafficking during that game…The last Super Bowl held in the region was in 1985…human trafficking may have been occurring but was not quite identified as prevalent as it is today…

Choke Point 

Possible good news:

The House of Representatives passed an amendment…to stop all federal funding to…Operation Choke Point…“This is a major victory for consumers, law-abiding businesses, and anyone who believes in due process and restraint of government encroachment,” said the Community Financial Services Association of America…“Our banking system…[should]  not…police customers or make judgments about the political popularity of businesses”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #422)

Sonja Dolinsek on the harm caused by the “gypsy whores” myth in Brazil:

…human trafficking and its connection to sports events have been discussed since the World Cup 2006 in Germany.  Big and costly media campaigns warned of the rising problem…not only [were] media estimates of…victims for both South Africa and Germany…exactly the same (40,000 people), but…after both events, there was no evidence…many of the migrant sex workers who had arrived in Germany hoping to earn more money left earlier because business did not increase as they had expected.  The same was true for South Africa…the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW)…criticised the…uncritical…reporting…as counter-productive and even harmful…the way human trafficking is represented resembles more a myth than…reality…

The Roof Caves In

Last Saturday, Kristof the Rat turned on his “hero” and downplayed his pivotal role in enabling her depredations on Cambodian sex workers:  “I wrote one column about her life story in 2008 after her autobiography was published in the U.S., and made several references to her after that, most recently in 2011…”  Kristof’s numerous columns on Mam, his “live tweeting” of one of her brothel pogroms, his spending a large fraction of his Half the Sky catechism on her…all would be flushed down the memory hole if he had his way, though the readers aren’t having it (see the comments) and neither is at least one editor of Kristof’s own newspaper.  Kristof wants to pretend that he was no more gullible than others, that everyone shares his credulity and his perverse need to impose his Gorean BDSM fantasies onto the lives of real women; he states “we were all hoodwinked” despite the fact that Cambodian sex worker activists have been documenting Mam’s lies and abominations for years.  He also wants people to keep believing in the “sex trafficking” mythology he’s been so instrumental in building, but that’s starting to unravel, too:

…willing sex workers who had been rounded up off the street during a police raid and…confined…for months as purported victims…[were] instructed by [Somaly Mam] to tell foreign visitors they had been trafficked…Although [her personal] stories…have now been widely scrutinised in the media, less examined have been Mam’s frequent embellished statements about the scale and nature of sex trafficking in Cambodia.  The term “trafficking” has become trendy…in the Western world…but it leaves out a whole spectrum of complex choices and negotiations, and often erases women’s agency entirely…

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I have not been in many relationships and am still a technical virgin at 25.  In the past that was mostly due to a desire to wait until marriage (inspired by a Catholic upbringing and severe OCD), but more recently a busy grad school/work schedule and a plethora of painful “female problems” have made a healthy, happy sexual relationship an impossibility.  Despite the physical issues, the biggest impediment to physical intimacy is my mind; I allow myself to be on the receiving end, but find myself unable to reciprocate.  I want to be physical and uninhibited, but I find myself frozen and cannot get past it to take an active role in pleasing a man; though my OCD is better it isn’t gone, and I can’t let myself lose control.  I want to be a giving, honest lover, but something in my head just stops me and I feel indifference, if not aversion.  I have a therapist, but I need any advice you can give; chronic pain and no physical intimacy makes you feel dead.

cluttered deskWhen one is trying to deal with a problem, and I mean any problem, it helps to be able to clearly see what you’re working with.  If you were trying to repair something or get your tax papers in order, you’d be wise to clear off the table before putting your work there; extraneous clutter gets in the way of seeing whatever it is you’re trying to focus on, and might even result in some important part or paper being lost among things that have nothing to do with the problem at hand.  Personal problems aren’t any different; trying to focus on one while there are a number of others in the way can make it difficult or even impossible to deal with the main issue.  Unfortunately, clearing away mental and emotional clutter is vastly more difficult than transferring a bunch of junk from the table to the sideboard and wiping the surface down; furthermore, it’s not always possible to tell which bits and pieces are pertinent and which extraneous.  However, it’s vital that you at least make the attempt.  Any one of the issues you have listed could present a barrier to intimacy, and you have several; the first step in solving your main problem is therefore dealing with as many of the underlying ones as possible.

First, you speak of your OCD in the past tense; I’m guessing that most of that is due to therapy, but if you’re taking medication for it please be aware that psychoactive drugs often have sexual side effects.  I am not advising you to go off any meds; what I’m saying is that you need to be aware of the way in which they may help or hinder your quest for intimacy.  Since your issues are “better but not gone”, it goes without saying that you need to keep doing whatever you’ve been doing, so as to continue toward they day when they are largely behind you.

Next, there’s the issue of your schedule.  I understand better than most people that economic realities supersede considerations of what we “want” or what might be convenient, but at the same time you need to realize that work- and school-related stress can be huge barriers to emotional intimacy, even for people without your other problems.  I suggest examining your schedule and trying to find ways in which it can be made less busy so that you have more time for you.  Perhaps you need to take fewer hours; perhaps you need to pace your course work out more; perhaps you need to find an alternative source of income so as to lessen your need to work (obviously, in your case sex work would not be a good idea).  Failing everything else, perhaps you may need to take a sabbatical from relationships until you finish school:  I was largely celibate from early 1995 to late 1997, and avoided sexual relationships until the end of 2000, and it really helped me to discard a lot of the heavy emotional baggage I had been carrying around for the better part of two decades.  Only you can determine which of these approaches is right for you, but I’m sure your therapist and/or trusted friends can help you to think it through.

Then there are the female problems; as I’m sure you’re already aware, two of the three you listed are often (if not usually) of psychosomatic origin, and therefore may not truly be separate from the psychological and emotional issues, especially considering that those issues are related to your aversion to premarital sex.  Though Christian anti-sex propaganda teaches that sex is better for those who wait, this is rarely true and is often a blatant lie:  women who have been afraid of sex and avoided it for their entire adult lives don’t suddenly open up and lose their fear merely because Church and State give them a signed permission slip.  More often, they are unable to relax until days, weeks or even months after the wedding, and as an escort I saw many clients whose wives were still highly sex-averse after decades.  What this means to you is getting a competent gynecologist to determine whether your physical problems are somatic or psychosomatic, and to proceed with whatever therapeutic regimen is indicated for each one.

The Sheik (1921)Finally, there’s the passivity issue.  This is actually less unusual than you might think; every escort has heard things like “my wife gives me sex, but she won’t give head”.  Many women, especially those from Christian backgrounds, view sex as a thing to endure  rather than to participate in; since sex is “sinful” they’re “bad girls” if they initiate any sexual act, but “good girls” if they passively submit to a husband’s desires without actively doing anything themselves.  This is one of the reasons rape and bondage fantasies are so popular:  they allow women with this kind of programming to subconsciously say, “this isn’t my fault; he made me do it”.  It may be that you will need to explore that side of your sexuality; embracing submissive fantasies may let you short-circuit the guilt that comes from active participation, and that can (paradoxically) open the door to full acceptance of yourself as a sexual being.  Think of it as a mental judo move:  rather than trying to take on your inner nun directly, you’re using her own attack against her.  The very impulse to avoid responsibility for sex could be the back door into enjoyment of it.

I used the word “finally” above, but there’s nothing “final” about this discussion; as you begin to sort through the problems, you may find others waiting underneath to jump on your hands.  Don’t let that discourage you; it’s part of the process, like having to pay an overdue bill that you discover while clearing off the table.  It’s going to take you some time, so you must be patient; however, you’re still young so that is to your advantage.  I was 28 before I even began to deal with my issues, so you’ve got a three-year head start on me.  And as you make progress with separating the important issues from the incidental ones and the easily-cured ones from those that will take a lot of work, remember that any advice I can give you is yours for the asking.

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

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I just had a baby and it looks like the man I had the baby with.  It doesn’t look like me at all and I’m scared that he was cheating on me with another lady and I had her kid.

Though I was still quite busy this week, the only day I had to spend most of in a car was Tuesday (when we drove from San Francisco down to Los Angeles), so I had a lot more time to do blog work and was able to gather a reasonable number of links.  Everything down to the first video was provided by Radley Balko, and the video itself by Wikileaks; it’s a parody of Swedish attitudes from Russian television.  The second video is by Rachel Bloom, and the links between the videos are from Amy AlkonScott LongMichael WhiteacreJesse Walker, Ed Krayewski,  Popehat, Jason KuznickiMike Siegel and Scott Greenfield (in that order).

From the Archives

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If Minnie could take off her head and vomit, then what would stop me from eventually going on a date with a man that preferred to be called “$bill”?  –  Claire Meyer

I apologize for the very short column this week; though I did yesterday’s TW3 column before I left home, I had so little free time over the past few days I really couldn’t find the number and variety of links I can usually uncover.  All the links above the Disney villainess apologia are from Radley Balko, and those between the two videos are from Neil GaimanMike SiegelRick Horowitz and Jesse Walker (in that order).  The second video is a full Tom Lehrer concert; I was inspired to dig it up by the article I linked last week.

From the Archives

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Whiter Shade of Pale was a great song but you’ve gone too far in Nigeria.  –  Wise King Aido

This week, our videos are a couple of commercials.  The first (via Zenon Evans) is a Danish PSA intended to encourage young people to vote; it was pulled after only 24 hours, not for its mockery of nanny-state micromanagement but rather for “sexism”.  The second (via EconJeff, who also contributed “Tom Lehrer”) is a sweet ad for a new airport in a remote part of Turkey; you don’t need to speak the language to appreciate it.  Everything down to the first video was provided by Radley Balko, and those between the videos by Jesse Walker (“headline”),  Furry Girl (“Pygmalion”), Wikileaks (“Sweden”), Dave Barry (“crocodile”), Rick Horowitz (“electrocute” and “contempt”), Cop Block (“together”), Ally Fogg  (“conspiracy”), and Grace (“libertarianism”).

From the Archives

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on April 20th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

One of the tragic flaws of the human race is that the mass of people are wholly unable to see the big picture, which gives a powerful advantage to people and institutions wise enough and patient enough to invest their energies in a long game. While many people can recognize the immediate problems with some new, bad law (which is to say most of them, since virtually all the necessary laws were made long ago), they are completely unable to grasp how it fits in to the big picture. The purpose of government is to concentrate power in the hands of a few, and the purpose of getting involved in government is to be one of that few.The Blob movie poster And while the ways in which different politicians conceive of exercising and expanding that power may vary somewhat by individual and party, together all of these actions add up like countless threads in one vast fabric of tyranny.

Bureaucracy (the form of government firmly established in the US and UK) is essentially government by nobody; no matter who holds power at any given time, the whole amounts to a colossal, blind, amorphous entity whose only purpose is to grow and increase its grip on everything in its reach, especially people. One of its most potent mechanisms to accomplish this is what I call universal criminality, which is the establishment of…

…so many complex, broad, vague, mutually contradictory and intrusive laws that every single person is in violation of at least some of them at any given time. Then when any “authority” from the chief executive down to the lowliest cop wants to teach one of the peons a lesson, all he has to do is find a law to charge him with and the machine then proceeds to grind him up psychologically, financially, politically and often physically.

The machine sometimes even acts (seemingly) by itself due to the processes which were previously established; this can be seen whenever there is some awful prosecution that nobody is willing to take credit for, and officials stand around using words like “unfortunate” and excusing their inaction with tautologies like “the law is the law”. But to a large degree, they really are being honest about their inability to rescue a victim from the gears: it took hordes and generations to build this great Moloch, and it would take the concerted efforts of many thousands to dismantle it. Once a law or policy has been created for use against one group, the precedent it sets is gradually increased to affect others the original instigators never intended or even considered; single-minded fanatics with agendas like “decency” or “women’s empowerment” or “the children” never, ever understand that the weapons they demand for their “champion” today will not disintegrate with his regime, but will be inherited by his successors in years to come, and that the noose which fits the necks of “conservatives” will suit equally well to hang “liberals” (and vice-versa).

Over the last few centuries, would-be rulers slowly came to realize that sex laws were especially useful for establishing absolute control; before that such laws were largely concerned with maintaining public order and the purity of bloodlines. But since virtually everyone has sexual impulses, and many if not most people commit some sort of sexual indiscretion from time to time, sex laws are among the most effective methods of establishing universal criminality (which probably accounts for their increasing popularity over the last few decades). If all men can be vilified as “rapists”, “potential rapists” or supporters of “rape culture”, it’s easy to keep them under control; women, however, are a little more complicated. While underage women are effectively neutralized by classifying them as passive, asexual “children”, and any adult woman with a public or social life is vulnerable to accusations of “prostitution”, adult women with very private, monogamous sex lives are harder to target.

Fortunately for the control freaks, Nature burdened women with a built-in and highly exploitable weakness, namely pregnancy: the typical woman who has any sex at all will eventually end up pregnant, at which point she becomes uniquely vulnerable to state control via the child. While in pre-industrial times dependent children were basically classed as the property of their parents, in the past century they have been increasingly defined as the property of the state; a mother is therefore classified as the custodian of state property, and it’s a small matter to control her by threatening to take that property away. Because this is such a powerful tool of control, the state has worked diligently to maximize its period of absolute ownership by defining all legal minors as “children”, then pushing the upper age limit up and the lower age limit down to the period before birth, an historically-unprecedented power grab made possible by modern technology and expanding legal precedent. And so we get abominations like this:

The Tennessee…legislature gave final approval…to a bill that allows women to be charged with assault if they have a pregnancy complication after using illegal drugs…Farah Diaz-Tello…with National Advocates for Pregnant Women [said]…“The law…in no way limits the prosecution to misdemeanor assault, nor does it limit the prosecution to women who are illegally taking narcotics”…In other words, any woman who gives birth to a baby with health problems, or who loses a pregnancy at any stage, could be subject to criminal investigation, “because criminal investigation is the only way to rule out an unlawful act”…The most severe crime a pregnant woman could…be charged with under the new law is aggravated assault, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison

Women in Mississippi, Indiana, Alabama, Utah, Louisiana, Texas and El Salvador have already been charged under similar laws; women in Wisconsin, Ohio, Oregon, Washington, DCEngland and Brazil have been subjected to shocking human rights abuses using similar logic; and politicians in New South Wales and Queensland have demanded similar control over pregnant women’s lives.  Nor does the nightmare end at birth:

Prosecutors successfully argued that a grieving mother was in fact a killer…[because] prescription painkillers [supposedly] tainted her breast milk and caused her infant’s death. Her sentence for this tragic accident…is 20 years in prison. Stephanie Green…was injured in a debilitating car accident…[and] also suffered from fibromyalgia…[so] she took doctor-prescribed morphine…At six weeks old, her daughter, Alexis…stopped breathing…it was determined that the baby had morphine in her system…there is little scientific evidence that morphine can gather in breast milk to toxic levels…Prosecutors [claimed] she “worked the system” to get her pain pills, did not keep all of her doctors in the loop, and should have known better…

Of course, birth control can prevent a woman’s coming into possession of state property to start with, so naturally many of those in power want to control access to it or at least hide information about it, but really that’s just gilding the lily; the majority of women do eventually want children, bringing them (and the fathers of those children) firmly under state control. Those who don’t want children usually still have sex lives, and everybody has to eat; once politicians realized the public would accept the morally-absurd concept of consensual crime, the achievement of universal criminality was just a matter of time.

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I think I’m in favor of this but I would not want to go to court for a 5- or 10-year-old and say: “You’re charged with a misdemeanor” – Lula Davis-Holmes

A little busier this week, except for videos; still, I thought you’d enjoy this lovely example of why correlation does not equal causation, contributed by Pope Shakey.  Everything above it is from Radley Balko, who also wrote the last one above the video; however, I gave credit to Rick Horowitz for first calling my attention to an earlier (but less powerful) report of the incident.  The video was provided by Zander Falcon, and the links above it by Clarissa (“honest”),  Michael Whiteacre (“important”), Jason Kuznicki (“garbage”), Jesse Walker  (“hypocrites”), Grace (“guns”), and Gideon (“throat”).

potato chips & wheelchairs

From the Archives

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

The Red Umbrella

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

The Mote and the Beam

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

Moloch

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

John Warhurst
Above the Law

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

Broken Record

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

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

What kind of mind calls anonymity “unfortunate”?

The Widening Gyre

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

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

Thought Controldaily beating

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

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

Little Boxes (TW3 #40)

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

Caring Professionals

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

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


Under Every Bed

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

The Pro-Rape Coalition (TW3 #316)

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

Birth of a Movement (TW3 #323)

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

Magic Formulae

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

Acting and Activism (Extra Edition)

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

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

Little Tin GodsLTG Ed Brown

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

Sex Rays

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

Lack of Evidence (TW3 #344)

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

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

So much for “Sin City”:

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

Shame, Shame (TW3 #348)

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

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

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

Whither Canada? (TW3 #415) 

Can you imagine this in an American paper?

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

Best part:  the author’s an ex-cop.

All About the Men

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

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

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

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Every nation has the government it deserves.  –  Joseph de Maistre

It is often said that large companies are amoral, and commit myriad sins in the name of profit.  At the same time, it’s clear that companies like Google, Paypal, Facebook, Chase and Amazon police “morality” and discriminate against anything to do with sex.  Oddly enough, though the concept of an amoral morality cop would seem oxymoronic, it’s actually fundamentally correct; though corporations are not completely amoral, most have only one moral principle: responsibility to their stockholders.  A corporation is both legally and practically bound to protect its investors and to maximize their profits, and unless the board of directors is dominated by unusually-principled shareholders, all other moral precepts are subordinate to that one.  Readers who are my age and older will recall that in the ‘70s and ‘80s companies weren’t nearly as bluenosed as they’ve become in the last two decades; as I explained in “They Don’t Want To Know”, “It’s not that the owners of these companies are all a bunch of prudes; it’s that far too many of the people who buy their products are, and they can’t afford to take chances in a world where ‘offense’ is as fetishized as it is today.”

Choke PointBut while this was sufficient motivation for some companies who were both controlled by a small number of executives and image-conscious to the point of paranoia (e.g., Paypal and Facebook), others needed a stronger impetus to induce them to reject piles of lovely money merely because a few of their customers might clutch their pearls if they discovered sex workers or other businesspeople they deemed “shady” were also customers.  Naturally, the US government was happy to provide that stronger motivation.  The latest in a long tradition of government programs designed to criminalize private behavior and harass nonconformists, minorities, the poor and those with unpopular opinions and pastimes is Operation Choke Point, which started in March of last year but has only recently come to light due to a few high-profile effects.  Jason Oxman of the Electronic Transactions Association explained it thus:

…the Department of Justice and other federal agencies are…[pursuing] disfavored – but legal – categories of merchants by targeting our nation’s payments systems…as more details of the program become public, more concerns are raised.  The “chokepoint” in this operation is the nation’s payments infrastructure…Federal law enforcers are targeting merchant categories like payday lenders, ammunition and tobacco sales, and telemarketers – but not merely by pursuing those merchants directly.  Rather, Operation Chokepoint is flooding payments companies that provide processing service to those industries with subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and other burdensome and costly legal demands.  The theory…has superficial logic: increase the legal and compliance costs of serving certain disfavored merchant categories, and payments companies will simply stop providing service to such merchants.  And it’s working…Thus far, payday lenders have been the most frequent target…what category will be next and who makes that decision?

The next big target, predictably, was sex work:  under government pressure, Chase Bank has been closing down the accounts of anyone with any connection to porn, and though Paypal is very tight-lipped about it, there seems little doubt that the same program was the reason that it suddenly and without warning threatened to cut the crowdfunding platform Patreon off entirely due to “adult content” on the site.  Lest you think this is going to stop with sex work, I call your attention to this list of businesses the FDIC considers “high risk”; many of these are already being targeted, so the rest won’t be far behind:

Ammunition SalesCable Box De-scramblers

Coin Dealers

Credit Card Schemes

Credit Repair Services

Dating Services

Debt Consolidation Scams

Drug Paraphernalia

Escort Services

Firearms Sales

Fireworks Sales

Get Rich Products

Government Grants

Home-Based Charities

Life-Time Guarantees

Life-Time MembershipsLottery Sales

Mailing Lists/Personal Info

Money Transfer Networks

On-line Gambling

PayDay Loans

Pharmaceutical Sales

Ponzi Schemes

Pornography

Pyramid-Type Sales

Racist Materials

Surveillance Equipment

Telemarketing

Tobacco Sales

Travel Clubs

Operation Choke PointWhile some of these (such as get-rich and Ponzi schemes) are undoubtedly sketchy and others (credit repair, debt consolidation) have strong potential to be, some of the others (escort services, gambling) are on the list due to a high chargeback rate, while others (gun & ammunition, drugs & tobacco) are purely political targets.  But whatever the reason, the government’s growing tendency to force private entities to act as arms of the fascist state is incredibly alarming, not merely to those who care about human rights and individual liberty, but even to bankers:

The Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point” is…being pushed far beyond its stated objective…and is having potentially devastating impact on lawful check cashing and small loan businesses.  This in turn will cut off tens of millions of people from much needed access to money to meet emergency needs…No matter what your personal view [of targeted industries]…Operation Choke Point should be both alarming and repugnant.  It is a direct assault on the democratic system and free-market economy that have made the United States the most powerful and prosperous nation in world history.  Without color of law and based on a political agenda, unelected bureaucrats at the Department of Justice are coordinating with some bank regulators to deny essential banking services to companies engaged in lawful business activities.  Bankers operating under the yoke of an oppressive regulatory regime are being cowed into compliance.  If lawful payday lenders and check cashers can be driven out of the banking system because someone in the government doesn’t like them or what they do, what lawful businesses are next?…

Note that two of the articles I’ve quoted here ask the sensible question, “Who will be targeted next?”  As I’ve pointed out many times, campaigns of persecution always start out with unpopular entities (in this case payday lenders and sex workers), but absolutely never stop there.  Paypal would have shut down all of Patreon because some of its clients produced erotic art; by the same token, what’s to stop Operation Choke Point from attacking convenience stores for selling tobacco, liquor, lottery tickets and men’s magazines?  There are always useful idiots who will support tyranny against things they don’t like (such as guns, tobacco or porn), and are20000 Leagues Under the Sea then shocked when the same legal tools are used against things they do like (such as birth control).  For now, legal-but-disfavored businesses can turn to bitcoin and offshore payment processing.  But while the DoJ is currently satisfied with mere financial harassment, it wouldn’t be hard for its prosecutors to invent spurious charges using vague statutes (“conspiracy”, “wire fraud” and “money laundering” are very handy that way) to persecute targeted businesses which keep going despite the government’s attempts to stifle them.  I can’t say where it will all end, but I can say this: it won’t stop on its own.  The institutions behind it must be hacked apart, before they strangle us all.

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What, Me Worry?  –  Alfred E. Neuman

This was an odd week; it was apparently so dominated by several big stories that the smaller ones were swamped out.  Nobody contributed more than one link this time, so they all appear between the two videos.  The first was provided by Jesse Walker, and definitely isn’t what Hank Williams, Sr would have considered a typical country song; for the second, I decided to remind y’all just how weird (and even creepy) Sesame Street‘s short videos could be.  The links between are from Radley BalkoMancrackBrooke Magnanti, Gideon,  Clarissa, Jasper Gregory, Popehat and Carol Fenton (in that order).

From the Archives

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