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Posts Tagged ‘hysteria’

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

Acting and Activism Scully confused

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

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

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

A Tale That Grew in the Telling

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

Law of the Instrument

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

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

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

Maier’s Law

When the facts don’t fit the theory

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

The obtuseness of both cops and reporter is almost Pythonesque.

The Law of Averages 13 cult

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

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

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

Profit from Panic

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

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

The Widening Gyre

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

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

Worse Than I Thought

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

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

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

Thought Control would-be censor Andrea Lavigne

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

King of the Hill

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

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

Checklist

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

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

The Widening Gyre (TW3 #314) Tracy Dean

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

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

Dysphemisms Galore

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

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

Profit from Panic (TW3 #321)

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

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

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

Schadenfreude (TW3 #322) Paul Libri

More of this, please:

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

Long Spoon

These people are NOT allies!

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

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

Vendetta

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

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

A Mound of Filth

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

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

Nice While It Lasted

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

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

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

Rough Trade

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

License to Rape

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

Lying Down With Dogs

From Vietnam:

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

Saving Them From Themselves

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

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

Schadenfreude 

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

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

The Sky is Falling!

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

A Broker in Pillage

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

An Example To the West

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

The Widening Gyre

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

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

King of the Hill

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

Shift in the Wind (TW3 #44)

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

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

Original Sin (TW3 #321)

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

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

Pimping the Pimp

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

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

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

Number Puzzle (TW3 #324)

Cathy Reisenwitz spoke to some German sex workers:

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

Nasty Words (Extra Edition) 

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

Whimsical Notions

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

Catastrophic Consequences

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

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

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

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

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

To Protect and Serve (TW3 #413)

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

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

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

This is a refreshing change:

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

Nice While It Lasted

Like hell it doesn’t:

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

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

Bad Girls Alix Tichleman

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

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

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

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

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

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

Rooted in Racism

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

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

They Just Don’t Get It (TW3 #18)

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

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

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

Whatever They Need To Say

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

Under Every Bed 

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

An Example to the West (TW3 #316)

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

Passive Voice

Radley Balko on a syndrome I’ve discussed before:

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

Policing for Profit Michael Mobley

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

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

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

Buttons, Bags & Banknotes

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

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

Traffic Circle

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

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

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

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

Down Under (TW3 #350)

Prohibitionists insist decriminalization doesn’t work:

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

What a Week! (TW3 #402)

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

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

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

Devil’s Advocate

Intellectual honesty is dead in the West:

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

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

Drawing Lines

Another excellent Marijke Vonk essay:

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

Maggie in the Media (TW3 #424)

Recorded while I was in Los Angeles early last month:

Schadenfreude (TW3 #425) 

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

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

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

Divided We Fall (TW3 #427)

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

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

Whither Canada? (TW3 #428)

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

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This essay first appeared in Cliterati on June 8th; I have modified it slightly to fit the format of this blog.

According to the popular narrative, sex workers are “bad” or “defective” or otherwise abnormal; we are not to be trusted even to run our own lives, so when “good” women who claim to want what’s best for us say that we need to be criminalized for our own good – that our statements should be ignored, our clients demonized, our workplaces raided by armed thugs who drag us away to cages where we can be subjected to degrading attempts to “correct” or brainwash us, and our organizations branded as a “pimp lobby” – the politicians side with them and the legions of the ignorant mindlessly parrot their drivel about “sex trafficking”. There are many of these righteous guardians of female purity; in Ireland, for example, they are led by Ruhama, an organization founded by the exact same nuns who ran the infamous Magdalene laundries, where sex workers and other “sinful” women were condemned to slave labor until they were completely broken. Among these outcasts were unwed mothers, whose children were ripped from them and incarcerated in hell-holes like St. Mary’s Mother and Baby Home:

The bodies of 796 children…have been found in a disused sewage tank in Tuam, County Galway. They died between 1925 and 1961 in a mother and baby home under the care of the Bon Secours nuns…historian Catherine Corless discovered the extent of the mass grave when she requested records of children’s deaths in the home…The vast majority of the children’s remains, it seemed, were [simply dumped into] the septic tank. Corless and a committee have been working tirelessly to raise money for a memorial that includes a plaque bearing each child’s name…death rates for children in the Tuam mother and baby home, and in similar institutions, were four to five times that of the general population. A health board report from 1944 on the Tuam home describes emaciated, potbellied children, mentally unwell mothers and appalling overcrowding. But, as Corless points out, this was no different to other homes in Ireland. They all had the same mentality: that these women and children should be punished…

Eden posterAnd yet, these nuns still receive funding from the Irish government and their lies about sex workers are still accepted unquestioningly by the Irish media. In the United States, laws and old prejudices prevent the Catholic Church from gaining quite such a powerful hold, but nothing short of absolute exposure stops sociopaths like Somaly Mam or the woman whose supposedly “true” story the movie Eden was based on:

…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 to her story. In fact, we found a lot of fraud, lies, and the most horrifically capitalizing [sic]…We have found several other organizations…who have been defrauded by Chong collecting money in their name…

When Eden came out many sex worker activists condemned it as a pack of lies; we’ve done the same about Somaly Mam for years. And despite their being exposed as charlatans, others very like them continue to cash in and exert such powerful influence over politicians that outrages like this are the norm these days:

…This cynical, dystopic model does not resolve the problems found by the Court in Bedford to be unconstitutional, and adds new ones such as the prohibition on advertising.  The Charter rights…[of] life, liberty, security of the person, freedom of expression and equality…are [all] breached…It is an unconstitutional variation of our broken laws that impose more danger, more criminalization, and fewer safe options, contrary to the requirement of the Supreme Court of Canada…All that will be required for police to surveil and target sex workers is the suggestion that a person under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present…purchase [of]…sex…[carries] mandatory fines…from $500 to $4,000, to five years in jail…Without the ability to advertise in newspapers, online, or other forms of media, sex workers will now have severely limited means for working safely indoors…

pile_of_bonesHow many more skeletons need to be found in closets or cesspools before the public wakes up to the evil of prohibitionism? How many more lies until the self-appointed saviors lose their credibility for good? And how many more women have to die before governments abandon their mad dream of controlling the sexuality of every individual within their borders?

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

Savaging

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

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

Parable

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

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

Saving Them From Themselves 

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

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

Saint Death Santa Muerte of Nueva Laredo

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

Finding What Isn’t There

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

Wise Investment (TW3 #335)

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

Innocence Never Had

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

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

Opting Out (TW3 #401)

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

Hall of Shame (TW3 #406) Dennis Hof

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

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

Drawing Lines

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

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

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

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

Marching Up Their Own Arses (TW3 #414)

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

The Mote and the Beam (TW3 #419)

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

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

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

The Course of a Disease (TW3 #422)

France avoids the Swedish rot for now:

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

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

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

If Men Were Angels

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

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #426)

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

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

Bread and Circuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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If [Bill C-36] becomes law, johns will become the new “fags” – the people fed into the fear factory of career-ending public exposure and the criminal underground because of their personal sexual choices.  –  Alice Klein

Think of the Children! 

But, but, he was in the same BUILDING!!!!!!!

John is a U.K.-based father and sex blogger who publishes original erotica and toy reviews on his website, the  Bawdy Bloke…Until recently, John also held what he refers to only as an unpaid, part-time “position of civic responsibility” in a local school.  Apparently John’s boss thought the two positions were mutually exclusive.  After discovering John’s career as an online erotica author, he asked John to resign from his position immediately…John…[did] not…work…with children in any capacity…it sounds like [his job was] a pretty general IT/administrative support role…

My Body, My Choice

A good essay against client criminalization; here’s the heart of it:

…I find it very ironic that many of the arguments used to suggest that it is morally offensive for men to buy sex from women are adopted from extreme feminist views.  Many of these same feminists are pro-choice, rightly declaring that no one has the right to tell a woman what she can do with her body…yet when it comes to sex, these very same people are now here to say that a woman does not have the right to choose.  Her body is her own so long as she does nothing with it that these moral guardians find objectionable…

Lying Down With Dogs

This was going on at the same time as the recent FBI pogroms in the US:

Amnesty International has drawn attention to violent police harassment of sex workers in Tajikistan…as part of the government’s “morality” campaign…500 sex workers have been arrested…since…June [6th]…Men suspected of “homosexual behaviour” have also been targeted…officers beat people…and…subjected to…forced testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections…[there were also] reports…of rape and…officers demanding sex in exchange for release…police allege that this violent crackdown is because they have been “inundated” with complaints from citizens…

Check Your Premises

Because 15-year-olds are only “innocent children” until cops say otherwise:

Three women and a 15-year-old girl were arrested…and booked with soliciting and inciting prostitution…at the 7 Star Foot Massage parlor in LaPlace…[after] a month-long investigation, dubbed Operation Happy Feet, by the St. John Sheriff’s Office…the 15-year-old girl was employed to work the front desk…

Parable

Bone of Contention

This is a good article about the myths surrounding streetwalkers, including 1) That they make huge amounts of money; 2) That they’re all addicts; 3) That they’re all foreign and “trafficked”; 4) That they’re dominated by pimps and gangs; 5) That they need rescue; and 6) That arrest and prison “help” them.  Unfortunately, it’s far too accepting of the false claims made by Swedish model proponents, which in the end makes it hard to recommend.

The Enlightenment Police

[The] European Court of Human Rights judgment upholding a…ban on wearing full-face veils in public…represents a profound retreat for the right to freedom of expression and religion…The…Court recognised that arguments for the ban based on security and gender equality were unfounded.  But it accepted the argument that wearing full-face veils runs counter to established social norms…The judgment was handed down by the European Court’s Grand Chamber, meaning it cannot be appealed…

Divided We Fall

It’s always great to see enthusiastic support from the queer community:

Sorry to ruin your WorldPride.  Sexual shaming is on the prowl, not just somewhere far away but, sadly, right here, right now…While [Toronto] celebrates our beauty and our outrageousness, the government is busy unleashing a moral panic…It used to be us, my queer brothers and sisters, who were the targets.  Now…men who purchase sexual services are the…new category to be targeted for their sexual preferences.  They are to be criminalized for what?  For seeking and hopefully finding an uncomplicated and pleasurable way to satisfy their sexual hunger?…

See No Evil

More people are beginning to protest this evil lunacy:

…If I…made a throw away mail account and sent you a file called “Very Important.pdf” but it was actually a .zip file of child porn, I could call the police and claim you had child porn in a disguised file — and that might well be enough to ruin your life, even if everyone involved was pretty sure you never even saw the pictures…prosecutors are so inhuman and irresponsible [that they]…charge people with crimes they know aren’t in the spirit of the law…The career incentives are that investigations must lead to charges, and charges must lead to convictions…once something is investigated prosecutors are motivated to make sure someone goes to jail…the law effectively treats every bit of crufty data, every teenage file system mistake or selfie indiscretion as if the possessor had abused the child themselves.  This is insane, and it doesn’t help children — it distracts time and attention from the real ways children get hurt…

A Whore in Church murder of Mariana Popa

A Muslim who stabbed a pregnant Romanian prostitute to death after warning her not to work near a mosque was jailed for at least 29 years…Farooq Shah, 21, plunged a knife into Mariana Popa’s chest while riding his bicycle along a stretch of road notorious for sex workers.  Miss Popa, 24, had been in Britain for just three weeks and was trying to earn the money to support her family when she was stabbed in Ilford, Essex…on October 28…

Harm Magnification (The Beat Goes On)

A recent study has concluded that the Nordic Model of prostitution laws could endanger sex trade workers…and does not affect the demand for prostitution…John Lowman, an SFU criminology professor, said that…similar policies in the 1990s…[created] “the killing field of Vancouver…where Mr. Pickton picked up most of [his] victims”…the report [states] that decriminalization of sex work…is the best way to ensure the safety of sex workers…

Above the Law

At least Los Angeles has the marginal decency to properly label sexual assault by a cop:  “A…detective pleaded no contest…to assaulting three [masseuses]…Oris Pace allegedly forced three women at separate [massage] parlors to undress…and fondled their bodies…”  Montana prefers to dismiss oral rape as “non-consensual oral sex“:

Michael Connelly…was sentenced…to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised release…the victim reported that Connelly took her to a secluded place on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation…and threatened her with jail if she did not perform oral sex…Connelly was acquitted of the sexual abuse charge and convicted of the civil rights and false statement charges…

The Widening Gyre

Cops demand everyone serve them as unpaid informants, or else:

…Police say the staff at the Super 8 Motel off Route 161 knew drug deals and prostitution happened inside the rooms, and possibly tracked it themselves…police [claimed] “…the motel placed the drug dealers and prostitutes in certain rooms…to keep them isolated from other guests.”  Police say that…[constitutes] promoting prostitution …charges could lead to a ten year prison sentence…

King of the Hill

Irish Central brags that “A new US State Department report has named Ireland the top destination and transit country for sex trafficking…”  And what prodigious number of wailing victims earned this dubious distinction? “44  potential trafficking victims were identified…”  That’s potential victims, i.e. someone a cop pointed to.  It is to laugh.

Buried Truth John Balyo

John Balyo…an on-air personality at WCSG-FM, a Christian radio station [in Michigan]…was arrested…[for] sexual encounters with minors…Balyo paid…Ronald Moser…to arrange sexual encounters with…young boys…

Monsters

A New Zealand trans woman is in intensive care, after she was savagely attacked by a group of unknown men.  Anahera Rangitaawa…was reportedly attacked by three men…while on her way home from a quilting exhibition.  [She] suffered multiple fractures, including her skull, cheekbones, shoulder blades, and eye sockets…[and] will require facial reconstruction surgery…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318) Anya17

I love scathing reviews of “sex trafficking” theatrical productions:

Anya17…[is an] 80-minute opera…which features an acerbic, graceless score by composer Adam Gorb  and a ham-fisted libretto by Ben Kaye, plunges the audience into the horrific milieu of international sex slavery…The degradation and brutality on display are almost unbearable…it was never clear what artistic purpose was served by these horrors.  Neither concrete enough to be journalism nor sufficiently probing or inventive for art, Anya17 winds up as simply a slog…

Tales from the Dark Side

The…conviction of a former New York City police officer in a plot to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women was overturned…by a federal judge…[for lack of] evidence…No women were ever abducted or harmed in the plot, but prosecutors [claimed] that [Gilberto] Valle had “crossed the line” while immersing himself in a fetish website where he communicated electronically with others…

Deafening Silence

The official narrative, touted by Western journalists and Maoist sympathizers, is that sex work was magically abolished by proclamation during Mao’s reign.  Here’s a refutation of that, courtesy of a former political prisoner:

…In China now, problems such as prostitution and crimes are often blamed as the results of spiritual pollution and capitalist liberalization due to Western influence…In fact, prostitution and crimes were not the results of the reform and opening-up but the results of Mao’s tyranny and Cultural Revolution…

Whither Canada?

A sensible article on this topic in a US newspaper is like a breath of fresh air:

…it’s clear that sex work takes place in Maine.  But public conversations…typically revolve around the same salacious and misinformed tropes…Meanwhile, just north of the border, Canada is taking a much different approach to policymaking around commercial sex…While Maine politicians, law enforcement officials, and social service agencies seem resistant to anything other than outright prohibition, more progressive thinkers should consider other ways of looking at this unnecessarily controversial issue…

And though they’re not so rare in Canadian papers, I still love them:

…non-coercive adult sexual behaviour lacks the element of potential misconduct that might justify bringing it into the ambit of the law in a free, secular society…[making] a man a lawbreaker because he offers to pay for a sexual service he could freely ask for as a gift or a favour…is a repudiation of the fundamental principles of free enterprise…Declaring female sexuality illegitimate, as patriarchal societies have done from time to time, has been as useless as declaring male sexuality illegitimate, as our matriarchal society is proposing to do.  The fact is, both are legitimate.  What is illegitimate is for the state to annoy and humiliate a taxpayer for attempting to communicate terms for a transaction that is nobody else’s business…

Rough Trade (TW3 #421)

More of this, please:

Four women raped by Danford Grant…have sued the Seattle attorney and his wife…Jennifer Grant…who helped hide her husband’s car from police after his arrest…Having denied the allegations and maligned his victims as lying prostitutes, Grant ultimately admitted to raping the women…

Comfort Zone (TW3 #422) criminals Obama wants to deport

It’s good to see the government hoist with its own petard:

The White House [wants]…Congress…to allow fast-track deportation of…unaccompanied children from Central America who cross the US border illegally…More than 52,000…have been stopped at the border since the start of October…many of them girls under the age of 13…The administration has had to adhere to anti-trafficking laws passed during the presidency of George W Bush which…[have] the potential for delaying deportation…Obama…is trying to counter a perception that unaccompanied children who arrive in the US are guaranteed the chance to stay…

The Roof Caves In

Boo fucking hoo:

In what appear to be Somaly Mam’s first public comments on…her resignation from the Somaly Mam Foundation (SMF)…last month, posts to one of her Facebook pages say that she will sell her house to support girls formerly under her care after SMF cut funding to an NGO she founded…In a number of posts…there is an outpouring of despair at SMF’s decision to cut off funding to Afesip…

If Men Were Angels

Police arrested a former church pastor on sex abuse charges…Michael George Sperou…used to be a senior pastor at North Clackamas Bible Community Church…the charges stem from a series of police reports involving juvenile girls who lived within the community in 1997…

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 The left-right divide might be a division between social identities based on class or region or race or gender, but it is certainly not a clash between different political ideas.  –  Crispin Sartwell

Reading Between the Lines

FBI myth: crack experts at hunting dangerous criminals.  FBI truth: lazy pickers of low-hanging fruit:  “…The Grand Junction [Colorado] Police Department…and the Federal Bureau of Investigation gathered evidence at [four] massage parlors…on possible human trafficking and prostitution…”  Here’s the FBI press release; note that they’ve realized huge numbers of sex worker arrests make them look bad, so they only provide figures for underage workers arrested (under the  euphemism “recovered”) and men (probably mostly male sex workers) accused of being “pimps”.  If the proportions hold from previous operations, over 2000 adult sex workers were arrested in all.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do 

This is especially hilarious given the location:  “Authorities…say they’ve arrested…Phoenix police officer…John Geroulis…as part of a multi-agency undercover operation targeting human trafficking and prostitution…the 25-year veteran suddenly retired [the next morning].”  But this one is even more so:

A sheriff’s deputy and SWAT team member in Washington state was arrested…Darrion Holiwell…physically abused his wife and promoted her as an escort on…backpage.com.  He is also charged with using and distributing steroids, and with stealing thousands of pounds of brass and bullets from the police firing range and selling them to gun shops…

It Looks Good On Paper

I get that the writer is a “feminist” rather than a journalist, but surely the New York Daily News has editors qualified to recognize an incoherent mess when they see it:

The world is awaiting the return of nearly 300 Nigerian girls abducted from their school…girls as young as 14…are a familiar sight in the sex trade.  Demand is so great that traffickers not only import women from abroad, but target…American kids…Brianna [was]…kidnapped…by a school janitor at the age of 9, she was sold to a pimp…The bill she is championing creates the crime of…buying a child for sex…

Change a Few Words

Note how little you’d have to change in this excerpt from the first draft of Radley Balko’s book to make it about the war on whores:

…Nixonians…pushed the idea that drug use was connected to crime…They took their…absurd estimate of heroin addicts…multiplied it by another absurd figure—the amount of money the administration estimated the typical heroin junkie spent each year to get high…then capped off the equation with a third faulty assumption: that heroin addicts steal all of the money…The resulting figures, which seemed to increase with each reiteration of them, were several times larger than the total amount of property stolen in the entire country…Nixon’s top aides themselves didn’t believe their own bull…They were knowingly lying to bring the country along on a drug war.  The press jumped in with sensational stories to help dehumanize the drug offenders…

Pick a Color

It’s such a pleasure to see someone admit this in the mainstream media:

…the left-right axis…is conceptually confused, ideologically tendentious, and…infested by contradictions…the idea that…political and economic power…can be pulled apart and set against each other…is…obviously false, because hierarchies tend to coincide…  corporate capitalism has always completely depended on state power, and the basic practical thrust of left statism has always been annexation of the economyThe…robber-baron period is often held to have been…[eventually]  constrained…by the state [but] the…procedures employed by [industrialists]…depended fundamentally on state sponsorship and state violence…in the so-called Progressive Era…specific cartels and fortunes were compromised, [but] the consolidation…continued, as…government became the central bank…and the modern bureaucratic corporation emerged…the…spectrum stretches from authoritarianism on…one end to authoritarianism on the other, with authoritarianism…between…Instead of left and right, we should be thinking about vertical versus horizontal arrangements of power and wealth.

Yellow Fever Pimp City

Jezebel swallows the “trafficking town” myth like a big, slimy…

In an extensive investigative series called Pimp City: A Journey to the Center of the Sex Slave Trade, Fusion explores Tenancingo, Mexico, a town that makes virtually its entire living from sex trafficking…According to the documentary…”women are actually a commodity to be used over and over and over again…a pimp can make half a million dollars a year with three women working for him, each seeing an average of 20 clients a day, each for 15 minutes”…

In case you didn’t know, Fusion is a site attempting to position itself as the sleaziest organ in the yellow corpus, like an unfunny Weekly World News.

Number Puzzle

…the Dutch National Rapporteur Human Trafficking...recommends…to register individuals as victims more frequently, regardless of if there is an indication of actual trafficking…she acts as if the false positives …are not a big deal…we’re making reports…of situations that have nothing to do with human trafficking, which is making our data completely meaningless…only 2% of the so-called victims want help…[laws] make it impossible for…a sex worker to arrange [travel or visa] for…yourself, but if you get help then that’s called trafficking…Having a guard is seen as suspect, having lots of friends, too, and also having few friends…[even] if an agent…“feels” that it’s trafficking…that’s [enough]…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #312)

…mayor…Tri Rismaharini…announced the closure of the “Dolly” prostitution complex in [Surabaya]…hundreds of prostitutes and others who said their livelihoods depend on the sex trade blocked streets…in protest…The government plans to provide $425 to each of about 1,500 sex workers to help them start a new life…

Sex workers have defiantly vowed the district will remain open despite the edict.

Under Every Bed 

One day, we’re going to look back on all this and laugh.  All of us, that is, except people rotting for decades in prison on bogus “sex trafficking” charges.

…”The truckers…of Montana have partnered with us to put…human trafficking awareness posters on their trucks,” said…Attorney General Tim Fox. “The truckers move all across the country, they’re in…a lot of places that human trafficking might take place…We’ve had…young girls…trafficked out of Montana…and…into Montana.  Even right here in Billings…because…we’re…in the intersection of I-90 and I-94″…

Traffic Jam (TW3 #318) Manon Lescaut

I welcome ugly bandwagon-jumping like this because it hastens the day when the public is utterly sick of “sex trafficking” nonsense:

There are few things in opera more depressing than watching great singers struggling in the face of an obstructive and pretentious production.  Yet alas that is the case with the Royal Opera’s first presentation of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut for more than 30 years.  Jonathan Kent…opts for a contemporary setting in which wide-eyed Manon arrives – from eastern Europe? – with her pimp of a brother at a sleazy casino and becomes the fluffy mistress of a banker.  He forces her into soft porn…and then kicks her into sex-traffic hell…Puccini creates an atmosphere of lush melancholy romance, but Kent can interpret it all only in terms of today’s headlines…

Only Rights Can Stop the Wrongs (TW3 #318)

It’s time once again for the pompous, asinine, methodology-free “Washington is the World’s Daddy” report (AKA the “Trafficking in Persons” Report), in which the US State Department presumes to judge and rank how every other country “deals with” an imaginary problem defined into existence by American prudishness and “analyzed” chiefly by how closely that country apes American anti-whore brutality.  Canadian prohibitionists are happy to cite the report this year in order to shore up their criminalization crusade, but New Zealand has no such agenda and therefore told Uncle Sam where he could stick his demeaning “report card”:

…The US State Department Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report…criticised New Zealand’s lack of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and recommended New Zealand’s legal framework be expanded to prohibit and punish all forms of human trafficking…The report [included evidence-free accusations]…of…children…subjected to street prostitution…[and infantilized Asian] women…at risk of coerced…prostitution…[Immigration Minister Michael] Woodhouse said all allegations of human trafficking were investigated, but none had resulted in substantiated evidence…

The Naked Emperor (TW3 #324)

In which danah boyd takes a few more steps toward the light:

…journalists and the public reify a Hollywood narrative of what trafficking is supposed to look like — innocent young girl abducted from happy, healthy, not impoverished home with loving parents and then forced into sexual acts by a cruel older man…the…reality…is much darker and implicates many more people in power…many youth…are not pimped…[they] begin trading sex for basic services — food, shelter, protection…when it comes to minors, most anti-trafficking advocates and government actors argue that it’s all trafficking.  Except when that label’s not convenient…

Magic Formulae

Most of this vile article glorifies the FBI’s pogrom against consenting adults under the guise of “fighting sex trafficking”, but this section needs to be pasted to the foreheads of every whore who believes in magic formulae:

…At least two of the women inquired…whether the supposed client was in fact a police officer…[one] woman…“did a cop check” on the officer and then said, “Okay, I just want to make sure you‘‍re not a cop.”  Undercover detectives agreed to a price…and exchanged the money — usually it had to be placed on a bedside table or television, as the women refused to handle the money directly.  The detectives then signaled for back-up, and detectives and agents swarmed the room…

Absolute Corruption (TW3 #326)

Jesse Friedman…filed a defamation suit against Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice for knowingly publishing false and defamatory statements in a report summarizing her review of Friedman’s 1988 conviction…In one example, DA Rice made the entirely fabricated claim that Jesse Friedman “wrote, possessed and distributed” shocking pornography involving incest, bestiality, and child rape while he was in prison.  The DA provided as proof a printout of a series of…stories…[from] the Internet, written by and credited to someone else, whose email address appears at the bottom with an invitation to contact her.  As the DA was well aware, Jesse Friedman was incarcerated at a maximum-security prison, and had no access to the Internet…

A Tale That Grew in the Telling (All Traffick, All the Time)

How low can they go?  “[Cop] Adam Kavanaugh…said…’[a sex worker] is a person who has been victimized and probably raped at age 8 if not earlier’…

Whither Canada? (TW3 #423)

While I’m happy to see political conservatives calling for decriminalization, I have to wonder why Tom Flanagan can’t see the moral panic is already well underway:

…Perhaps the most alarming thing about Bill C-36 is its potential to reunite the coalition of radical feminists, social conservatives, and law-enforcement authorities that gave us the triple moral panic of the 1980s over imaginary sexual abuse of children…I hope we’re not seeing a new moral panic over prostitution, but the signs are worrisome.  Conservative MPs are talking darkly about pimps in schoolyards.  The Minister of Justice has started to create a new class of folk devils by calling the customers of prostitutes “perverts”…

Hard Numbers (TW3 #424) 

I do keep telling you so.World Cup 2014 logo

…The World Cup is supposed to be good for sex workers’ wallets…But…sex workers aren’t having an easy time of things at Brazil 2014…with sex workers allegedly pushed out of their usual haunts by police looking to crack down…it’s…more difficult for the workers to find clients.  And when they do, the…crowd isn’t quite as imagined.  “They came here all dirty, thinking we are obligated to go out with them…They…get drunk and won’t spend money with us,” [one sex worker] said…

Feminine Pragmatism (TW3 #425) 

Matthias Lehmann, who studied Korean sex workers’ situations for several years, has some choice words for that “sex working grandmothers” story:

…Lucy Williamson…leaves out the police almost entirely…and…fails to mention the…[government's offer] to pay…rewards of up to one hundred million won (US$98,000) for tip-offs about prostitution activities…Williamson also omits that…South Korea’s constitutional court is mulling over the constitutionality of the country’s anti-prostitution law…

Cooties

Note the weird dehumanization of sex workers by calling them “networks”:

Swedish police have issued warnings that it’s increasingly common for prostitutes to rent apartments for work…”The better the hotel personnel get in seeing prostitution, the more unwilling these networks are to stay in the hotels” [said creepy cop Simon] Häggström [who] added that the number of rented apartments where prostitution occurs is minimal, but still “tragic”…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Would you care to comment on this?  “…this video…[shows] a boy [being] sexually assaulted and molested by an adult woman, to the huge entertainment of a bullying, out of control crowd.  The boy is obviously trying to go along with good humor, fear-grin plastered across his face, but as things progress it’s obvious he’s being humiliated, shamed, and disturbed over sexual behavior he doesn’t fully understand, and being mocked the whole time for it…

inappropriate lap dance(Readers can watch the video at the link if they like, but it isn’t necessary to follow my response).  As you probably know, I vehemently oppose characterizing adolescents of either sex as “children”; it’s hard to tell the boy’s age from that video, but I’d guess he’s in puberty rather than pre-pubescent, and therefore not a “child”.  And if he’s not a “child”, that can’t be “child molestation”, Q.E.D.  Furthermore, I consider the criminalization of every possible transgression to be a smoothly-paved road to totalitarianism; there are at least five distinct levels of offense, of which criminality is the most serious.  When one uses a legalistic term like “child molestation”, one is at least strongly implying (if not outright stating) that one believes state violence would be an appropriate response to the situation; I do not agree that sending a goon squad to beat, chain, humiliate, cage and ostracize that woman for life would be an appropriate response to her offense.

Next, we have to consider the principle of harm reduction.  No matter how much prudes and child cultists wish to pretend otherwise, the evidence is that adult-adolescent sexual contact usually has few if any long-term effects; as I wrote three years ago, “most of the trauma associated with sexuality involving minors derives not from some mystical property of sex itself, but from the considerable fuss adults make over it when it is discovered (including endless invasive and uncomfortable interviews with creepy strangers asking highly personal questions), not to mention guilt over getting someone else in trouble”.  When I was gang-raped by three cops (which I’m sure you will admit was a far more egregious violation of my person than what we see in this video) I did not report it because “from my viewpoint the rape could last an hour and be over except for nightmares and flashbacks, or I could let lawyers and judges and cops subject me to a waking nightmare, a slow-motion rape that might go on for months or years.”  Some people who have been raped or sexually assaulted want to go through the legal process in order to gain closure, exact vengeance or attempt to protect others from violation, while others do not; it is nobody’s business which the victim chooses but his or her own.  Even full-out aggravated rape is not the end of the world, and non-violent sexual humiliation far less so; in the case of the boy in the video, the emotional and psychological damage from a protracted criminal prosecution would be vastly greater than any he experienced during this episode, and to what end?  To please adults whose sensibilities were offended, or who just have an axe to grind?  I think not.

axe to grindThen there’s the issue of projection.  As a side-effect of empathy, human beings have the unfortunate tendency to project their own emotions onto other people; we ask ourselves, “how would I feel in that situation?”  When it helps us to connect to others, to view their hurts as serious and their needs as worthy of consideration, it is a good and positive thing.  But when it causes a person to overrule the statements or wishes of the other, to say, “no, you’re wrong, you don’t feel that way because I would feel differently in your place”, or to demand state violence be inflicted on someone against the wishes of the actual victim, that is a horse of an entirely different color.  It’s fine for you to say, “I would be humiliated and upset if I were in that boy’s place”, or even “I believe that boy was absolutely mortified and traumatized”.  It is not fine, however, for his parents to demand retribution unless he wants it himself, and it is tyrannous for the state to demand such retribution on the grounds that the “victim” is state property.  Moreover, it is absolutely outrageous for uninvolved strangers to demand such retribution against the victim’s wishes on the grounds that it made them uncomfortable; that is the basis for virtually all prohibitionism, and thus a moral and social abomination.

I believe that what that woman did was probably wrong (in a moral sense) and certainly inappropriate; since I know nothing about the people involved I cannot say anything else for certain.  If I had been there I would have put a stop to it, but since no responsible person did we are left with nothing but a very limited amount of information…far too little to ruin two lives over.

(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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